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Chapter: Professional Ethics in Engineering - Engineering as Social Experimentation

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Ethics and Positive Roles of Code of Ethics

One of the trade marks of contemporary professions is code of ethics. Codes of ethics are propagated by various professional society.

ETHICS AND POSITIVE ROLES OF CODE OF ETHICS:

 

Introduction:

 

One of the trade marks of contemporary professions is code of ethics. Codes of ethics are propagated by various professional society. These codes of ethics are guidelines for specific group of professionalism to help them perform their roles; to know how to conduct themselves; and to know how to resolve around various ethical issues. These codes convey the rights, duties, and obligation of the members of the profession.

 

What is code of ethics?

 

ü   The primary aspects of codes of ethics are to provide the basic framework for ethical judgment for a professional.

 

ü   The codes of ethics are also referred to as the codes of conduct, express the commitment to ethical conduct shared by members of a profession.

 

ü   It expresses the ethical principles and standards in a coherent, comprehensive and accessible manner.

 

ü   It also defines the role and responsibility of profession.

 

ü   It helps the professionals to apply moral and ethical principles to the specific situations encountered in professional practice.

 

ü   These codes are based on five canons i.e., principle of ethics-integrity, competence, individual responsibility, professional responsibility, and human concerns.

 

ü   It also be noted that ethical codes do not establish new ethical principles. They use only those principles that are already well established and widely accepted in society.

 

ü   Thus the code of ethics creates an environment within a profession where ethical behavior is norm.

 

Positive Roles of Code of Ethics

 

The code of ethics propagated by professional societies play a vital role. They are,

 

1.     Inspiration

2.     Guidance

3.     Support for responsible conduct

4.     Deterring and disciplining unethical professional conduct

5.     Educational and promotion of mutual understanding

6.     Contributing to positive public image of profession

7.     Protecting the status quo suppressing dissent within the profession and

 

8.     Promoting business interest through restraint of trade.

 

Limitation of codes:

 

The four major limitations of codes of ethics are as follows:

 

1.     Codes of ethics are broad guidelines, restricted to general and vague wordings/phrases. The codes cannot be applied directly to all situations. Also it is impossible to predict all aspects of moral problems that can arise in a complex, dynamic engineering profession.

 

2.     Engineering codes often have internal conflicts, which may result in moral dilemmas. That is, several entries in codes overlap with each other, so there are internal conflicts. But the code doesn‘t provide a method for resolving these conflicts.

 

3.     The codes cannot serves as the final moral authority for professional conduct.

 

4.     The proliferation of codes of ethics for different of engineering gives a feeling that ethical code is relative.

 

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