Thoughts on Engineering Ethics The objective of this paper is to express the author’s thoughts and feelings on engineering ethics. Engineering ethics, to me, means working or performing a service for mankind in the hopes of creating a better and more peaceful world, and also bearing the responsibility to do no wrong. The real question to think of is whether or not the decision(s) that I am making is(are) good or bad. There is no simple black and white divide when it comes to ethics; I believe there is a very large grayscale that lies between.
It is when I am making a decision that lies within that gray area that I run into ethics issues, because what some might feel is the right decision might be completely wrong to others. I believe that Roger M. Boisjoly’s actions, in trying to gain support to stop the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, were ethically correct, and although he did try to stop the launch, I feel that he should have done more. However, I cannot state what I think he should have done, because of the gray area of ethics.
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Should he have risen above the chain-of-command, or was it reasonable to have stopped where he did? For example, if he had sabotaged the mission in the interest of preventing risk to the astronauts, would the decision itself have been ethically wrong, even if it ended up saving lives? Another question that comes to mind concerning ethics is to ask myself whether or not, in the case of a product, I would feel safe allowing my spouse and/or children to use or operate that product if I knew that there was a risk of them being injured or even killed.
If my answer is “no”, then the answer to whether or not it would be ethical to advance the product for purchase by consumers would be also be “no”. However, I feel that in some cases that statement itself could be ethically wrong. If the product, despite posing a risk to a member of my family, was of great benefit to the safety and health of the general public, it would be selfish to say that it should not be available to consumers. In conclusion I feel that ethics is a continuing process and it will be for a long time. Ethical decisions are a very important way to prevent foreseeable problems and to stop them from happening.