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The Code of Ethics for Engineers Essay

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Updated: Aug 20th, 2019

One of the main conditions of the modern society’s successful development is its dependence on the moral principles and canons which are worked out and accepted by the society in order to regulate the character of relations within it. Moral principles belong to the field of ethics which influences all the aspects of the people’s life.

Thus, people are oriented to following the moral norms which are developed to control the elements of their personal life and interpersonal relations, and there are also moral codes and canons which can be successfully used for realizing business activities and business relations.

These principles are in the field of the business ethics. Moreover, each profession has its own code of ethics according to which the relations within the definite industry or company are realized. It is important that the codes of ethics for different professions as the aspects of the people’s life depend on the traditional approaches to moral norms and principles which were argued by such philosophers as Aristotle, Kant, and Bentham.

Thus, the canons, rules of practice, and professional obligations for engineers are based on the elements of the ethics developed by these philosophers in the context of the person’s voluntary nature to perform this or that action, with dependence on his or her moral duty for this action, or on discussing this action according to its right or wrong consequences.

It is stated in the preamble to the code of ethics for engineers that “the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare” (“NSPE Code of Ethics”). Thus, the activity of engineers as professionals is oriented to those moral concepts which are also accentuated as influential ones in the persons’ everyday life.

Furthermore, these concepts are also associated with the group of moral virtues such as truthfulness, forgiveness, and integrity which were determined by Aristotle. Shrader-Frechette indicates with references to Aristotle that “one can deliberate only about what is within one’s power to do” (Shrader-Frechette 187).

That is why engineers should focus on their specific responsibilities with paying attention to their code of ethics which regulates the moral aspect of the relations between the employers, employees, partners, and clients.

The code of ethics for engineers is based on a range of the fundamental canons in relation to which the rules of practice and professional obligations are stated. Thus, engineers should “hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public” (“NSPE Code of Ethics”).

That is why engineers should orient to the necessities of the public, and one of the engineers’ professional obligations is based on this principle, and it is formulated in such a way that “engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest” (“NSPE Code of Ethics”).

In this case, Bentham’s ideas about the benefits of the actions are met, and Kant’s categories of the universal law and the moral duty are realized according to which a person uses his or her will and control the actions in order to address the interests of the society (Birks; Velasquez).

These notions are addressed in the context of engineers’ rules of practice in which the main accents are made on the justice, legitimacy, and truthfulness. The mentioned principles are also associated with the canon according to which engineers should “issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner” (“NSPE Code of Ethics”).

Thus, objectivity and truthfulness as the representations of Aristotle’s moral virtues become the main aspects of the positive atmosphere of the professional communication.

One of the rules of practice for engineers states that they “shall perform services only in the areas of their competence” (“NSPE Code of Ethics”). Why is this rule so significant with references to the ethical canons? A person should be always responsible for his or her actions.

The person’s actions should be supported by the sincere desire of realizing the good action and motivation to do it in relation to the highest good to which it is aimed. Thus, Aristotle indicates that there are many goods which depend not only on the virtues and the balance between the extremes but also on the human voluntary nature and the person’s intention to reach the happiness in the life (Curzer).

If Aristotle accentuates the human voluntary nature, Bentham develops this notion and indicates that people in their actions should orient to the benefits which could satisfy a number of persons. That is why these actions should be not only good but also competent.

Moreover, the person’s actions should be so good that they could be perceived as addressed to the universal laws and that is why, according to Kant, they should form the categorical imperative. Thus, not to make harm to those people who are involved in the process, engineers should be competent in their actions and be responsible for their performing.

Engineers’ professional obligations also include such a point according to which engineers should “adhere to the principles of sustainable development in order to protect the environment for future generations” (“NSPE Code of Ethics”).

The problem of the technological sustainability is closely connected with the possible technological risks which can be the results of the industry’s activity. Shrader-Frechette argues the fringe between the advantages of those technologies which are risky and the moral obligation of those persons who are involved in their producing (Shrader-Frechette).

If the person’s moral task is to orient to the benefits for the people, is it possible to realize the hazardous technologies which can be harmful for the public and nature?

According to the ideas of Utilitarianism, these technologies have both the right and wrong consequences for various people and different aspects of life (Birks). However, according to Kant’s principles such a situation is morally wrong because it is not universally good (Velasquez).

To present the universally good actions, a person should not be influenced by any other opinions or visions of this or that issue. From this point, Aristotle emphasizes the necessity of the personal self-control and liberality as one of the influential virtues (Curzer).

To be satisfied and happy without the inclination to experience the impact of the other people’s ideas on the morality, an individual should be independent and should not concentrate on his or her financial state and as a result, betray the moral principles. However, one of the main risks for the person is the orientation to the pleasure which is accentuated as an important concept by Aristotle and Bentham.

People can also strive to reach the pleasure with references to immoral or wrong actions. That is why it is mentioned in the list of the engineers’ professional obligations that they “shall not be influenced in their professional duties by conflicting interests” (“NSPE Code of Ethics”). This obligation is associated with the problem of the person’s moral choice.

In spite of the fact the majority of people are inclined to admit the necessity of following the life according to the moral virtues proclaimed by Aristotle and according to the principles stated by Kant and Bentham, a person always tries to find the most beneficial approach for his or her, and this approach can be based on any bad factors which can lead to the negative consequences.

Thus, the origins of the person’s morality and the person’s own code of ethics are in his voluntary nature which forms motivation and in his will and duty. To follow the universal moral laws or live according to the moral virtues are not an easy task, but according to the philosophers, it is a single way to the happy life full of pleasures which is in harmony with the laws of nature.

That is why people develop the codes of ethics in relation to which it is possible to regulate the aspects of life in society and also use these principles in the organization of their professional activity.

Any company functions as a group of people which are in constant relations, and to guarantee the development of the company with a minimum of negative and conflict situations, it is necessary to work out the code of ethics according to which the interactions are regulated and controlled.

Moreover, many professions have their specific features which should be also reflected in the code. That is why the code of ethics for engineers which depends on the main moral principles is significant for the profession’s development.

Works Cited

Birks, Thomas Rawson. Modern Utilitarianism; or, the Systems of Paley, Bentham, and Mill Examined and Compared. USA: Nabu Press, 2010. Print.

Curzer, Howard. Aristotle and the virtues. USA: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers 2006. Web. <www.onlineethics.org/Resources/ethcodes/EnglishCodes/9972.aspx>.

Shrader-Frechette, Kristin. “Technology and Ethics”. Philosophy of technology. Eds. Robert Scharff and Val Dusek. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2003. 187-190. Print.

Velasquez, Manuel. “Moral Reasoning”. The Blackwell Guide to Business Ethics. Ed. Norman E. Bowie. USA: Blackwell, 2002. 102-116. Print.

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