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What can be done to improve the ethical decisions made by engineers?

Morley, Helen Ruth (2014) What can be done to improve the ethical decisions made by engineers? PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

We can improve the ethical decisions made by engineers by altering what information they perceive as relevant when making their decisions. If we want engineers to make better ethical decisions it is essential that they can “see” ethically pertinent information. We can think of how engineers view the world as shaped in two ways; the narratives that they use to define the world and the metaphor of photographic vision. Narratives shape engineers’ thinking and decision making by suggesting that certain roles and beliefs about the world are true. This can lead to filtering - as a result of the narrative the engineer believes that certain information can be safely ignored. Photographic vision (metaphorically viewing the world through a camera) demonstrates that with the limited human ability to perceive information we lose potentially important information as a result zooming past it, zooming too far out to see the detail and by filtering out particular types of information, or by focussing on the wrong parts. Engineers’ perception of what information is pertinent is influenced by their view on what an engineer is, or should be, along with their experience as an engineer and their engineering education. We can alter this perception by changing the environment they experience (professional and educational), by providing them with new information, highlighting information they already have, and by encouraging personal reflection. Encouraging engineers to develop narratives of engineering as a profession, with an awareness of their role as risk imposers and as constituents of professional bodies can alter how they approach their decision making. Developing new ways to describe what an engineer does will provide educators with a different understanding of their role which can influence how future engineers are taught.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-932-6
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Mechanical Engineering (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.631403
Depositing User: Leeds CMS
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2014 11:44
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7483

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