Beyond the Code : A Philosophical Guide to Engineering Ethics book cover
1st Edition

Beyond the Code
A Philosophical Guide to Engineering Ethics

ISBN 9781138183865
Published July 28, 2021 by Routledge
274 Pages

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USD $59.95

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Book Description

For over 80 years, the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) has been a leader in the promotion of ethical practice within the field of engineering. One of the Society’s greatest contributions is the formation and adoption of the NSPE Code of Ethics. But the code, with its six "Fundamental Canons," is only truly instructive if engineers can bridge the gap between principles and action. Here there is no substitute for personal reflection on the ethical and philosophical issues that underlie the code. If done well, such reflection provides an indispensable basis for moral problem solving. Beyond the Code: A Philosophical Guide to Engineering Ethics is designed to complement the NSPE Code of Ethics by helping readers "go beyond" in their understanding of the philosophical issues bound up in the code. Each chapter addresses one of the Fundamental Canons of the NSPE code, and provides a philosophical analysis of the various parts of each canon by employing contemporary and classical texts. This unique approach to engineering ethics guides students and professionals in their readings of the appended selections to refine their understanding of the code in order to apply it to the practical challenges of today’s engineers.

Key Features:

  • Is the first introduction to engineering ethics that helps students understand and apply the NSPE Code of Ethics to engineering practice
  • Includes a Preface from Arthur E. Schwartz, NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel, and NAFE Executive Director
  • As a hybrid text, includes primary philosophical texts with extensive introductions and guided reading questions from the book’s three authors
  • Offers case studies from the NSPE Board of Ethical Review, allowing students to see a direct connection between the issues discussed in the text and real-world engineering practice
  • Includes the following pedagogical aids:
    • "Key Terms and Concepts" for each chapter
    • "Preparing to Read" sections before each primary source reading
    • "Guided Reading Questions" after each primary source reading
    • "Going Beyond—Our Questions for a Deep Dive" after each case study.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Arthur E. Schwartz, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the NSPE


Introduction: Concepts
Normative Ethics
Applied Ethics
Moral Theories as Imperfect Tools
Value Conflicts in Applied Ethics
Morality and Law
Philosophy of Science
Why Metaethics and Philosophy of Science?
Guided Core Reading I.1: ‘An Ethical Framework for Evaluating Experimental Technology’ by Ibo van de Poel (excerpts)
Guided Core Reading I.2: ‘Why Ethics Matters for Autonomous Cars’ by Patrick Lin (excerpts)
NSPE Board of Ethical Review Cases
Guided Further Reading

1.Public Wellbeing
Public Welfare
Technological Mediation
Distributive Justice
Guided Core Reading 1.1: ‘Integrating Ethics in Design through the Value-Sensitive Design Approach’ by Mary L. Cummings (excerpts)
Guided Core Reading 1.2: ‘The (Mis)Framing of Social Justice: Why Ideologies of Depoliticization and Meritocracy Hinder Engineers’ Ability to Think About Social Injustices’ by Erin A. Cech (excerpts)
NSPE Board of Ethical Review Cases
Guided Further Reading

2. Competence
Complications for Determining Competence
Ethical Competence
Practical Judgement
Moral Exemplars
Ethical Engagement
Technological Rationality
Excellence and Expertise
Getting it Right
Technical and Moral Expertise
Guided Core Reading 2.1: ‘Mentoring, Some Ethical Considerations’ by Vivian Weil (excerpts)
Guided Core Reading 2.2: ‘Changing the Paradigm in Engineering Ethics’ by Jon Alan Schmidt (excerpts)
NSPE Board of Ethical Review Cases
Guided Further Reading

3. Objectivity
Descartes, Objectivity and Science
The Method of Doubt
Fallacies and Objectivity
The Fallacies of Risk
Social Engineering
Engineering and Scientific Objectivity
Scientific Integrity
Lack of Integrity in Science and Engineering
Academic Pressures
The Obligation to Explain Well
Guided Core Reading 3.1: ‘Fallacies of Risk’ by Sven Ove Hansson’ (excerpts)
Guided Core Reading 3.2: ‘The Integrity of Science: What It Means, Why It Matters’ by Susan Haack (excerpts)
NSPE Board of Ethical Review Cases
Guided Further Reading

4. Loyalty
Fiduciary Obligations
Divided Loyalties in Engineering
Predatory Loyalty
Narrow Loyalty
Attitude Loyalty
Genuine Loyalty
Guided Core Reading 4.1: The Philosophy of Loyalty by Josiah Royce (excerpts)
Guided Core Reading 4.2: ‘Whistleblowing: Professionalism, Personal Life, and Shared Responsibility for Safety in Engineering’ by Mike W. Martin (excerpts)
NSPE Board of Ethical Review Cases
Further Guided Reading

5. Honesty and Deception
Lying and Deception
The Value of Honesty
Honesty and Happiness
Honesty and Power
Honesty and Autonomy
The Problem of Full Disclosure
Honesty: Some Unanswered Questions
Understanding Trust
Trust and Reliance
Trust and Vulnerability
Understanding Self-Deception
Questions Regarding Self-Deception
Plagiarism and Deception
Guided Core Reading 5.1: ‘The Ethics of Truth Telling and the Problem of Risk’ by PB Thompson (excerpts)
Guided Core Reading 5.2: ‘
Trust and Anti-Trust’ by Annette Baier (excerpts)
NSPE Board of Ethical Review Cases
Further Guided Reading

6. Professional Honor
Problems for Professional Responsibility
Rethinking Responsibility
Personal Meaning
Guided Core Reading 6.1: ‘Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Social Forces’ by Michael Davis (excerpts)
Guided Core Reading 6.2: ‘
Responsible Engineering: The Importance of Character and Imagination’ by Michael S. Prichard (excerpts)
Guided Core Reading 6.3: ‘
Personal Meaning and Ethics in Engineering’ and ‘Moral Creativity in Science and Engineering’ by Mike W. Martin (excerpts)
NSPE Board of Ethical Review Cases
Guided Further Reading

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Heidi Furey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Manhattan College. She has authored several publications on professional ethics in leading research publications.

Scott Hill is a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His papers have appeared in American Philosophical Quarterly, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Ergo, and Erkenntnis.

Sujata K. Bhatia is Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware, where she teaches design courses for chemical engineers and biomedical engineers.


"I am extremely pleased that Heidi Furey, Scott Hill, and Sujata Bhatia have written this impressive text.... In my legal practice of almost 40 years and as an engineering society executive, I have had the opportunity to review a range of books and publications addressing the issue of engineering ethics. In my opinion, Beyond the Code is singular and exceptional in the manner in which it addresses the topic of engineering ethics. The text combines the theoretical and the practical in a way that will delight readers.... I congratulate the authors on a job well done!"
Arthur E. Schwartz, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, NSPE (writing in his Foreword to the book)

"Beyond The Code: A Philosophical Guide to Engineering Ethics is a unique text for engineering educators to teach the complex topic of ethics, as well as for professional engineers seeking to deepen their knowledge on the subject. It is organized such that each chapter focuses on one of the six fundamental canons of the NSPE Code of Ethics, providing the reader with underpinnings from a philosophy perspective (ideas and literature that most engineers may not be exposed to or even seek out on their own) coupled with relevant case studies for discussion and reflection. A well-written, interesting, and enjoyable read!"
J. Patrick Abulencia, Chemical Engineering, Manhattan College, USA