Engineering Professional Ethics

All jobs that require higher standards of conduct are commonly referred to as professions in contract with simple jobs or trades such as supermarket sales girl, bar or filling station attendants , bus conductors or even slightly complicated trades. The society expects more care and protection from the people that impact in their live and safety. This is where professional ethics come in. In addition to their personal integrity professional ethics also requires professionals to go beyond red tape of duty.

Engineering ethics is the discipline or study of the moral issues arising in and surrounding engineering practice. It is the field of applied ethics which examines and sets standards for engineers’ obligation to the public, their clients,employers and the professions.

Professional work like engineering is more ethically demanding because any simple Mistake can Endanger the Lives of Hundreds or Even Thousands of Lifes.

 

WHO IS A PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER?

Being accorded with the title ‘professional’ is an honor that should not be treated with levity. Engineers are expected to bring integrity and competence to whatever work they undertake.

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A professional in any field of practice is commonly identified by the following characteristics:

[1] A core of basic knowledge and some advanced techniques are mastered before offering service to the society.

[2] Recognition and approval by society as minimally competent to exercise this knowledge in a practical way.

[3] Adherence to a code of ethics published by leading representative organizations.

[4] Subjection to a governing body of peers who enforce provisions of an engineer’s practical act.

[5] Accept a high level of responsibility for work completed personally or under direct supervision.

 

REASONS WHY ENGINEERING PROFESSION IS SPECIAL AND UNIQUE

The principal characteristics that make Engineering profession special and unique from others jobs or trades are as follows:

[1] Engineering Professions require significant amount of training.

[2] The training requires some significant intellectual component.

[3] Engineering Professional work provides an important service to the society.

[4] Engineering Professionals have a great deal of latitude to exercise their skills to protect the public.

[5] Most often Engineering profession fosters the networking of large groups of other professionals in the field and thus leading to creation of professional societies such as the Nigerian Society of Engineers and Engineering Council of India e.t.c. It is these societies that are charged with fashioning the profession’s code of ethics and credentialing newcomers to the field.

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It is instructive to note that for the good of society all works are very important, however the profession’s place in the society is such that it can cause more harm than average jobs or professions. It is due to this societal vulnerability that the society will just not function safely without the professionals acting ethically.

All professional practices are regulated by law. However, the general law cannot encapsulate the peculiarities of individual professions. Professionals are therefore their own policemen and watchdogs and they hold their members for any shortcoming in the corridor of unethical behavior.

 

ETHICAL THEORIES

There are five main ethical theories identified which are applicable to professions and these are:

[1] VIRTUE ETHICS

The virtue ethics emphasize the fact that character, whether good or bad defines a person.

[2] UTILITARIAN ETHICS

Utilitarian Ethics focuses on the consequences of a person’s actions.

[3] THE ETHICS OF PRINCIPLE

The ethics principle separate human beings from all other animals in the animal kingdom. It is important to note that principle is not synonymous with rules. Rules are a set of guidance imposed by external authorities while principles are laws that are applied to oneself or that is personally embraced.

[4] CONTRACT THEORY

The contract theory puts ethics on actual agreement between human beings. The theory focuses on the contracts people formulate if they were thinking rationally.

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[5] COMMON SENSE

The commonsense is simply implies doing onto other what you will want them to do onto you. This mainly appeals to common sense.

 

CONCEPT OF ETHICS

There are many different concepts of ethics but the primary one is good behavior. Engineering ethics is the discipline or study of the moral issues arising in and surrounding engineering practice. It is the field of applied ethics which examines and sets standards for engineers’ obligation to the public, their clients, employers and the professions. Engineering does not have a single uniform system or standard of ethical conduct across the entire profession.

 

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