This course aims to familiarize students with ethical argumentation in connection to specific problems of the profession of engineering. In this, special attention will go to the functioning of engineers in the context of enterprises.
No knowledge of ethics is required.
Is also included in other courses
- Master of Bioscience Engineering: Biosystems Engineering 120 ects.
- Master of Physics (Professional Option) 120 ects.
- Master of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (no new enrolments in 2012-2013) 120 ects.
- Master of Engineering: Energy 120 ects.
- Master of Engineering: Mathematical Engineering 120 ects.
- Master of Engineering: Civil Engineering 120 ects.
- Master of Engineering: Materials Engineering (Programme being phased out as from 2012-2013) 120 ects.
- Master of Bioscience Engineering: Food Science and Technology 120 ects.
- Master of Bioscience Engineering: Catalytic Science and Technology 120 ects.
- Master of Bioscience Engineering: Agricultural Sciences 120 ects.
- Master of Bioscience Engineering: Land and Forest Management 120 ects.
- Master of Bioscience Engineering: Biomolecular Engineering 120 ects.
- Master of Nanosciences and Nanotechnology 120 ects.
- Master of Engineering: Traffic, Logistics and Intelligent Transport Systems 120 ects.
- Master of Bioscience Engineering: Environmental Technology 120 ects.
- Master of Engineering: Computer Science (new programme, start in 2010) 120 ects.
- Master of Engineering: Electrical Engineering (new programme, starts in 2011-2012) 120 ects.
- Master of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 120 ects.
- Master of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (new programme, starts in 2012-2013) 120 ects.
- Master of Engineering: Materials Engineering (new programme, starts in 2012-2013) 120 ects.
In this course, two partial aspects of ethics of the engineer will be discussed. In the first part, an overview will be given of the professionalizing of the engineering profession as well as the development of engineering ethics. In this, attention mainly goes to the various deontological codes, including, among others, a discussion of the code of the K VIV.
It will be shown that a purely deontological approach does not suffice and that engineering ethics contain more than a more application of professional codes. In connection to this, various ethical ways of reasoning are discussed:
- deontological ethics (with the problem of duties in relation to the orgnization in which one works and possible role conflicts, such as the case of 'whistleblowing'; as well as the role conflict between engineer and manager (cf. the case of the space shuttle Challenger)
- consequentialistic ethics (with the Ford Pinto case)
- ethics of justice
- ethics of virtue.
Attention will also go to the interaction between the personal level, the meso level (the enterprise) and the macro level (society and technology). Taking into account the fact that the professional life of the engineer mainly takes place in the context of enterprises, the ethics of engineering are connected to ethics of enterprises in the second part. Starting from a number of general considerations on the 'stakeholder' concept, the social responsibility of enterprises and the influence of the enterprise on personal responsibility, the following problems will be discussed:
- responsibility for the quality and safety of products (various cases)
- ethics of staff policy (with as subaspects: rights and duties of the engineer as an employee, payment, privacy, participation)
- responsibility for the environment and the rights and duties of the stockholders (with special attention for the problem of 'corporate governance' and of the correct reporting of company results (with as a case: Enron, Lernout and Hauspie)
- the whole of the course will be ended with a lecture on ethics and spirituality of leadership
The students will receive a syllabus with the structure of the course and, per topic, a relevenat bibliography with references to cases. They will also receive a file with texts and cases. Recommended literature for this course:
- B. HERIARD DUBREUIL, Ph. GOUJON (ed.), Technology and Ethics. A European Quest for Responsible Engineering, Leuven, Peeters, 2001.
- J. VAN GERWEN, L. VAN LIEDEKERKE, J. VERSTRAETEN, Business en ethiek. Spelregels voor het ethisch ondernemen, newly revised edition, Tielt, Lannoo, 2002.
- Very usbale for self-eduction, with more than 200 cases and interactive cases on CD-Rom is Ch. E. HARRIS, M.S. PRITCHARD, M.J. RABINS, Engineering Ethics. Concepts and Cases, Wadsworth ed., 2000.
The students can choose between
- an oral or written exam on the subject matter (2 to 3 questions, including at least one question testing the ability to analyse cases)
- a paper of 10 to 12 pages in which a theoretical question is analyzed in depth, or a concrete case is analyzed and discussed in the light of general theory. This paper is discussed orally during the exam.