Ethics Essay Assignment

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Ethics Essay Assignment
Due:  11April 2018 – please upload to the Canvas “Ethics” assignment
 
You are asked to provide a response to the following ethics question.  The raw material for your answer will come from your reading of:
Kidder, Chapter 1
Ford, Chapter 11
Stieb, “Understanding Engineering Professionalism:
A Reflection on the Rights of Engineers”
Our class discussion of the topic
The “Outside Voices” Presentation by Dr. Ruzyllo
Other readings posted to Canvas
 
Below, you will find two questions to consider.  Please pick one as the basis of your ethics essay.  Be specific and use examples from the readings or from your own experience.  If you would rather write about an ethics topic or event of more immediate concern to you, please do so.
 
I hasten to point out that this essay should not be considered ‘technical writing’.
 
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  • What is the limit of technology? The essence of this question is whether there is a line beyond which technological solutions are inappropriately applied to human affairs.  I have asked this question in the past in relation to medical technology and whether is it inappropriate to intrude in the intrinsically human process of dying.  When should we simply refrain from invasive, dangerous and costly procedures and prosthetics when the likelihood of prolonging life is small or when the quality of that life is lessened?  Where is that line and who should decide?  You can see that these questions are “typical” in that they involve having to make a momentous decision with incomplete knowledge in an emotionally charged situation.

 
Recently, this question has taken a different form:  What is (and what should be) the role of social media and personal data in the political and cultural life of our society?  Typically, when we face a problem in our society, we turn to technology to fix it.  Suddenly, in this case, technology IS the problem.  How should we arrive at an answer?  What is the role of the engineer in this problem?
 

  • In our discussion of ethics, we have emphasized that your ethical stance must be based on self-knowledge. The values that you hold immutable are your strength in resisting actions that could cause emotional damage and impair your ability to perform at a high level.  We said that you should be on guard to make sure you are not maneuvered into a situation where you are forced to make an impossible choice.  This implies a line that “you will not cross”.   As you continue to grow and mature, you should revisit and renew your set of inviolable convictions.  This question asks you to consider to be short of that line:  Discuss one or two values that are commonly held up as foundational that you do not consider to be so important.  In other words, what values could you cite that you would be willing to compromise or trade or ignore in order to safeguard some “higher” value?  Stieb does this expertly in his article.  You should draw on the readings and class discussion, as well as your experience to bolster your case that these values do not threaten your more closely held principles.

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