318: Professional Ethics
Outline of McGinn Essay
Here are the highlights of the case study:
ETHICAL ISSUES IN THIS CASE
Smith tries to "buy" an endorsement. Brown refuses to comply. However, Brown is slow to tell Z that Smith is incompetent. It seems that Brown was, by his initial silence, willing to let Z waste its time and money.
Brown's presence at the meeting with Smith and Z would normally have been understood by Z as meaning that Brown supported Smith; Brown should not have been there unless Brown was sure that Smith deserved support. Did Brown attend to support Smith, or to undermine Smith?
When Z tries to hire Brown, Z puts Brown into competition with his own employer, Smith.
Brown ignored the direct instructions of his contact at Z. Brown decided that Z did not know its own interests! (Or, at the very least, that the person in charge of the situation did not, or had personal interests for not doing so.) Brown correctly guessed that it was better to improve the existing product than to take the RISK of putting a new product on the market (a product that was not yet tested by real users on a large scale).
When Brown showed the unauthorized plan to Z, Brown advised the client in an area where the client did not seek advice. Did Brown engage in self-interest? Did Brown do something beyond the requirements of duty? Perhaps both?
McGinn's View of Moral Decision-Making
McGinn proposes that the bicycle case shows the importance of TWO MORAL PRINCIPLES that hold for engineers.
McGinn thinks that what's good and bad in the interactions of Smith, Brown, and Jones can be understood by reference to these two.
Last updated Jan. 14, 2009