Chapter: Professional Ethics in Engineering - Engineering Ethics

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Moral Autonomy

What is meant by moral autonomy? Steps in confronting moral dilemmas?

MORAL AUTONOMY:

 

What is meant by moral autonomy?

 

ü   As already discussed, the practical aim in studying and teaching this engineering ethics course is to foster the moral autonomy of future engineers.

ü   Autonomy means 'self-determining‘ or 'independent‘.

 

ü   Moral autonomy is the ability to think critically and independently about moral issues and apply this normal thinking to situations that arise during the professional engineering practice.

 

ü   In other words, moral autonomy means the skill and habit of thinking rationally on ethical issues based on moral concern.

 

ü   That is, it is concerned with the independent attitude of an individual related to ethical issues.

 

ü   It is the ability to arrive at reasoned moral views based on the responsiveness to human values.

 

Steps in confronting moral dilemmas

 

In order to face/overcome the above said moral dilemmas, one can follow one or more of the following steps.

 

Step 1: Identifying the pertinent moral factors and reasons. It involves addressing solutions for conflicting responsibilities, opposing rights, and incompatible ideals involved.

 

Step 2: Collecting all the available moral considerations, which are relevant to the moral factors involved.

 

Step 3: Ranking the above collected moral considerations on the basis of importance as applicable to the particular situation.

 

Step 4: Making factual inquires. In other words, finding alternative courses of actions to resolve the moral dilemmas and following the complete implications of each.

 

Step 5: Inviting discussions, suggestions from colleagues, friends, and other involved persons to critically examine the moral dilemmas.

 

Step 6: Taking the final decision. That, is selecting the more reasonable solution by weighing all the relevant moral factors and reasons.

 

In practice, exercising the above skill to face moral dilemmas is very difficult. The study of engineering ethics helps the engineers to develop and strengthen the skills in resolving various moral dilemmas.


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