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DVC-ENGIN110: Engineering ethics and social science issues 9

R. A. Borrelli

R. A. Borrelli

on 21 October 2017

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Transcript of DVC-ENGIN110: Engineering ethics and social science issues 9


Engineering ethics
Social science issues

Bob Borrelli
Outcomes for this lecture(s)
Understanding different ethical principles

How they are formed as ‘professional ethics’

Developing your own professional ethics ideas

Being ethical v applying ethics

Understanding new technologies may need new ethical approaches

Professional responsibilities in terms of what that means ethically (basically the ePortfolio contributions).

Most ethical/moral theories deal with individual behavior, but modern technologies have more larger societal issues

This is from the work I did on ethics at UCB
Contemporary engineering ethics has to deal with this face to face issue
Nuclear engineering is unique (imo) because of 'historical inertia,' but still applies to other topics
August 1964 New York Times Magazine:

“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophes. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.”
What is the culture of engineering?
How can risk and ethics then be integrated? Or should it?
Risk assessment quantifies bad things happening

But does not consider a human factor except as ‘error’

Excludes institutional factors

Should it consider the factual + axiological?

Axiological = study of values, judgments, morality, organizations
Professional ethics = ethics + morality
Ethics = The Good
Morality = The Right
Meaning of life
Good life
I suggest that the lack of intuition and emotion is problematic
Can you think of an example?
Culture arises out of a context or
; values, ethics and morality are culturally dependent
Comprehending the paradigm will help with understanding the culture and then how professional ethics fits within that context

It's about what to do beyond just the technical

And realizing that the technical expertise is only a part of professionalism
What is culture then?
Where does culture originate? How does it affect professional ethics?
Country of origin

Individual and societal cultural conditioning, for the most part, lies at the level of the unconscious (
) and the sub-conscious (
) that we are mostly unaware of how they drive our motivation (
how we feel
), intention (
how we think
) and action (
how we act

Basically, each person’s culture is going to affect engineering culture and we need to be aware of this.
People have been thinking about ethics for a long time
We can classify three eras of human development (ethics/philosophy-wise not like evolutionary)
Axial age (800 - 200 BC) where societal principles are laid out

(17th Europe) lots of ‘logical reasoning’ developed
(18th Europe) looking to individual
(19th Europe/USA) about industrialization

Now (everywhere) post-industrialization

Interesting point...the East never went through an western style enlightenment period

Japan basically went from feudal to industrial
Nuclear power development as economic tool
The Axial Age is where nomadic people came together to form communities
Technological development was based on physical labor



‘Revelation’ (not reasoning)
Common factors in Huston Smith's work forms a basis for ethical thought or vice versa
Western virtues
Charity (acting as one)
Veracity (more than just telling the truth)
Eastern poisons
These are things that can be developed and learned
Not revelation

Anything missing? Or is this too simple?
Ethics can also be traced back to the famous Greek philosophers
Life in search of the ‘good,’ particular to each of us
Through dialogue the “truth” emerges
Humans possess certain virtues and the most important are philosophical or intellectual virtues

Morality is absolute; rules govern morality
Abstract, universal forms exist independent of the mind
‘Philosopher king’ form of government

There must be many kinds of good
Observed human nature to understand this
Eudaimonia (not just a game store) = ‘flourishing’
Virtue is learned over time
Aristotle also had something to say about engineering education apparently
From class 2.3:

Human skill based on a set of principles derived from practices and capable of being taught

Knowledge, which consists of knowing why or knowing that

The end of which is realized in the very doing of the activity

Practical wisdom

But, where is the praxis for professionalism and ethical training?

How can practical endpoint and practical wisdom be integrated? Or considered on equal footing?

Just 'taking a class' is not sufficient imo
The Enlightenment transitions from the collective to the individual
Technological development was based on machines to replace physical labor and mass production

Search for universal rules and principles; physical, natural, social

Logic and reason-based approaches (not revelation)

Newton invented calculus (thanks a lot)
Universal law of gravity
The Enlighment started many schools of thinking
Morality/Rules/Universal truths
Pure reason (Plato)
Descartes (mind/body split)
Locke (rights ethics and the smoke monster)
Kant (duty ethics)
Bentham/Mill (utilitarianism)
Rawls (justice ethics)

Understanding through experience (Aristotle)
Hegel (geist)
MacIntyre (virtue)
Dewey/Rorty (pragmatism)
Taylor (communitarianism)
Dreyfus (skill-based) -- now

Supplementary reading - ‘Ethics of emerging technologies’
Rules-based thinking was looking for universal
principles to apply to everything
: (1596-1650)
Analytic thinking process and breaking things down to smallest component; emotions excluded from reason

: (1632-1704)
Acts are morally right when they are the best way to respect the rights of everyone affected (except when Ben Linus hangs you in your hotel room); legal rules; influenced Declaration of Independence

: (1748-1832)
: (1806-1873)
Acts are morally right when they produce the
greatest good for the greatest
; rational decision maker maximizes own utility

: (1724-1804)
Moral law is independent of experience; ultimate moral authority is pure reason;
do not treat people as means to an end
; motive, not consequences (categorical imperative), murderer example

Ethical life is embedded in culture (institutions) and demonstrates belief of collective spirit
: (1770-1831) was quite critical of Kant
Too formalized and lacking context

Human freedom cannot be understood as purely rational
self-determination or in opposition to subjective sensibilities

Zeitgeist = spirit of the age

Right and wrong is a matter of individual conscience imbedded in a social ethic and demonstrated in terms of patterns of customs or conventional practices
Context depends on culture and knowing this would lead to ethical behavior
: (1859-1952)
: (1931-2007)
Moral theories are to be regarded as hypothesis, tested by how well they resolve a problem

: (1929-)
Acts are morally right when they most fully manifest or support relevant virtues, (traits of character making possible the achievement of social goods); emphasis is on practices in the community (from Aristotle)

: (1931-)
Everything fundamental in ethics derives from communal values, the common good, social goals, traditional practices and cooperative virtues; critical of rights or duty ethics because social good and notions of good derived from community and communal life
Dreyfus (UCB) argues a skill-based model is needed to develop ‘ethical expertise’
Noticing objective features and rules (time the shifting according
to speed)

Advanced beginner:

Maxims are phrased in terms of context dependent aspects versus rules which are context free (shift up according to speed and when motor sounds like it is straining)

Emotions play a role in learning to differentiate rules (to decide when to let up on the gas; relief will imprint the set of circumstances)

A competent performer stops reflecting on problematic situations as detached observer (changing radio stations while driving)

Related to phronesis (driver knows by the feel and familiarity when slowing down is required)

Similar to engineering technical developement

This paper is posted
The structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn first defined the ‘paradigm’ in 1962
In its established usage, a paradigm is an accepted model or pattern

Instead, like an accepted judicial decision in the common law,
it is an object for further articulation and specification under
new and more stringent conditions

I’m saying identifying a paradigm provides the context for developing
professional ethics
Paradigm will change by recognizing where it fails
…novelty ordinarily emerges only for the man, who knowing
with precision what he should expect, is able to recognize that
something has gone wrong. Anomaly appears only against
the background provided by the paradigm

The more precise and far-reaching that paradigm is, the more
sensitive an indicator it provides of anomaly and hence of
an occasion for paradigm change

That is why a law that cannot even be demonstrated to one
group of scientists may occasionally seem intuitive to others

Equally, it is why, before they can hope to communicate fully,
one group or the other must experience the conversion or a paradigm shift
You can’t ‘have your foot in either paradigm;’ it is one or the other
Just because it is a transition between incommensurables, the transition between competing paradigms cannot be made a step at a time, forced by logic and neutral experience

Like the gestalt switch, it must occur all at once or not at all

Being able to 'step out' (meta-level) from that helps

In that paradigm informs perspective
Newtonian paradigm
The Newtonian paradigm is based on direct, observable processes
1473-1543: Copernicus

1600: Astronomical observations (Brahe/Kepler)

1600: Mechanical experiments (Galileo)

1630: Observation that rusted metal is heavier than original metal (Jean Rey)

1637: Analytical geometry (Descartes)

1687: Theory of mechanics (Newton)
The Newtonian paradigm is based on three main rules
the system is the sum of its parts and you can take it apart and put it bck together again

input is proportional to output

Subject/object dualism
observation does not affect the system being observed, and that the laws governing a systems behavior can be deduced from objective empirical observations (objectivism)

This is also contained in the concept of linearity
Let’s look at more Newtonian systems over history
1756: Theory of metal rusting (Lomonossov)

1766: Force between electric charges (Priestly/Coulomb)

1785: Conservation of mass in chemical reactions (Lavoisier)

1789: Chemical compounds (Lavoisier)

1826: Current/Voltage Relationship (Ohm)

1833: Electrolysis (Faraday)

1847: Circuit Analysis (Kirchhoff)

1864: Theory of Electromagnetics (Maxwell)

1887: Light Speed Measured (Michelson/Morely)

1889: The Three Body Problem (Poincare)

1893: Black Body Radiation Law (Wein)

1896: Radioactivity Discovered (Becquerel)

1898: Radium Isolated (Curie)
Does the paradigm trickle down into the culture?
Monet, Sunrise (impressionism)
Monet, Woman in a garden (impressionism)
Monet, Nympheas (impressionism)
Monet, Woman with a parasol (impressionism)
Renoir, Luncheon of the boating party (impressionism)
Renoir, Dance at Bougival (impressionism)
Van Gogh, Still life: Vase with twelve sunflowers (postimpressionism)
Thanks to Eleven and Amy Pond
Van Gogh, The starry night (postimpressionism)
Then what happened?
The Newtonian paradigm begins to give way to quantum mechanics and relativity
1901: Energy quantum (Planck)

1905: Brownian motion (Einstein)

1905: Modern physics (Einstein)

1909: Alpha particle (Rutherford)

1911: Atomic nucleus (Rutherford)

1913: Atomic structure (Bohr)

1924: Wave Nature of Matter (de Brogle)

1926: Quantum Mechanics (Schroedinger/Born/Heisenberg)

1932: Discovery of the Neutron (Chadwick)

1938: Nuclear Fusion (Bethe)

1939: Nuclear Fission (Hahn/Strassman/Meitner/Frisch)

1942: First Nuclear Reactor (Fermi)

1945: First Nuclear Weapon (Oppenheimer, et al.)

1947: Transistor Invented (Bardeen/Bratton/Shockley)

1953: DNA Described (Crick/Watson)
What are some common characteristics?
What are some common characteristics?
We contrast the Einstein paradigm with the Newton paradigm
the system exhibits properties that are not contained the parts alone

Chaotic (math)
small changes in input can lead to large changes in output and/or there may be many possible outputs for a given input

some aspects of the system may not be d
scribable by objective means

This is also contained in the concept of nonlinearity and formally, complex systems [link]

There is then the question of how the system is defined

Can you think of some examples of complex systems?
Complex systems even have their own kind of math
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

There is an
emergent property
of the system that is not
exhibited in the parts alone

The system is self-adapting = achieve equilibrium on its own based on positive/negative feedback

Examples? From the reading assignment?
Can we interpret social context as complex systems or Newtonian systems?
Geographically local repercussions

Observed in real time

Slow change and reversible
Geographically global repercussions

Imperceptible in real time

Rapid change and irreversible
Complex systems have additional uncertainties to consider
Natural variations in the physical world

Lack of knowledge of the physical world
Nonproportionality of input to output
Range of output may be uncertain

Input may lead to a number of
uncertain outcomes (bifurcation)
More with the virtues/poisons
As for the kind of person we should try to become, the virtues point the way

Asia, interestingly, has the same three, by speaking of poisons, or traits that keep virtues from flourishing in us

To the extent we expunge the poisons, the virtues flood our lives automatically

The question is why they are framed in that way
Georges Seurat, Sunday afternoon on the island of the Grand-Jatte (impressionism)
Acrobat and Young Harlequin, by ? in 1905
Leaning Harlequin by ? in 1901
Ma Jolie by ? in 1911
Mandelbrot set
Some natural complex systems are 'self similar'
Like the Mandelbrot set

This means you cannot tell scale or where you are


Math as a power law

What else?
There is a famous problem about this that proves the coast of Britain is infinite
Obviously it isn't infinite

But it proves that the measured length of a topography depends on the scale of measurement

This proves 'self similarity' by inference, sort of

Panda is also self-similar
Japanese conceptions of ethics are dominated by
relativistic and situational group norms

Japanese social context is influenced both by the Asian
traditions of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism

Emphasis on the group over the individual

Focus on family and clan

Priority being given to loyalty and hierarchy

Sacredness associated with the elements of nature
An integrated perspective on body and spirit

Religious connotations associated with the emperor and
the land of Japan itself as having divine origins

*The concept of “engineering as a profession” was absent

Understanding culture is important to engineering ethics
Fukushima example of flooding the containment

Experts have defined four levels of engineering ethics
The ‘nature’ of engineering

Relationship between society and engineering

Institutional issues related to engineering and engineers/organizations
This is where help from social scientists are important

Acts of individual engineers/organizations

But this is not a hierarchy

Is there a role for public communication?

Would this have been useful for the Ford case?

Ethical decision-making by Prof. Tom Budinger

Supplemental material

Engineers want a 'toolbox,' but ethical problems are not like that
But the 4 As might help

Acquire facts
Define uncertainties, clarify ambiguities

Develop solutions/methodologies based on the facts

Evaluate based on professional ethics framework or micro/meso/macro/meta approach

Identify and prioritize stakeholders affected by the decision

Perform risk analysis when appropriate

Adjust, adapt, revise, find the optimal approach

Also, Ross (1930) devised
prima facie
priorities to inform moral decision-making (duty ethics based)

1. Fidelity: Keep commitments. Duty to a professional code.

2. Reparation: Correct past wrongs.

3. Gratitude: Repay (or maybe ‘charity’ in terms of wisdom traditions).

4. Justice: Prevent unfair distribution of benefits (utilitarianism?).

5. Beneficence: Increase general happiness.

6. Self-improvement: Better oneself. Professional duty to education (service).

7. Non-malfeasance: Prevent harm (or perhaps serve public good).

Derived from Kantian formulations of duty
Kind of universal principles

But, consequences of ethical decision-making may
lead to a ‘slippery slope’

This refers to unwanted results that cannot be controlled

Usually, this is an issue when individual rights are purposely
limited, where if granted could lead to unethical consequences

Or if motivated by expediency (problematic with multiple stakeholders)

Can we think of anything?

Homme a la pipe in 1968
(more) Examples.
Full transcript