ECE 316 - Ethics and Engineering

Semesters Offered

Official Description

Ethical issues in the practice of engineering: safety and liability, professional responsibility to clients and employers, whistle-blowing, codes of ethics, career choice, and legal obligations. Philosophical analysis of normative ethical theories. Case studies. Course Information: Same as PHIL 316. Credit is not given for both ECE 316 and CS 210. Junior standing is required. Prerequisite: RHET 105.

Subject Area

Core Curriculum

Course Director

Description

Ethical issues in the practice of engineering: safety and liability, professional responsibility to clients and employers, whistle-blowing, codes of ethics, career choice, legal obligations; case studies.

Notes

Same as: PHIL 316

Goals

  • To read and think critically
  • To develop moral reasoning skills
  • To improve writing skills in an engineering context
  • To understand multiple perspectives and to respect others of diverse persuasions
  • To study the fundamental structure of human personhood — what does it mean to be a human being — the grounding of moral action, and the development of moral character as the precondition of integral work in a profession and the essential foundation necessary for our life together in society

Topics

  • Ethical Theories: Teleological and Deontological Perspectives
  • The Nature of Engineering: Experimentation, Safety, Risk, and Liability
  • Attributes of a Profession, Relationship with Clients
  • Obligations to Employers: Loyalty, Conflict of interest, Confidentiality
  • Whistle-Blowing (i.e., Bringing Moral Issues to Light), Rights of Engineers
  • Codes of Ethics
  • Career Choice
  • The Profession and Legal Obligations, Licensing
  • Social Impact of Technology, Environmental Ethics, Stewardship and Sustainability

Detailed Description and Outline

Same as PHIL 316

See "Goals" and "Topics"

Computer Usage

Word processing (and Microsoft "Track Changes") needed for submission and revision of papers.

Topical Prerequisites

Beginning Level Composition (Expository Writing)

Texts

  • Charles E. Harris, Jr., Michael S. Pritchard, Ray James, Elaine Englehardt, Michael J. Rabins, Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases (Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2019)
  • A three-volume integrated set of course readings — Volume 1: Introduction, Volume 2: Normative Ethical Theories, and Volume 3: Windows into Applied Ethics — available in the textbook department at the Illini Union Bookstore
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017) — available online through the University Library home page at www.library.illinois.edu. See the direct link through the course home page under “Important Tools” at http://publish.illinois.edu/ecephil316/.
  • William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1920) — available online through “Project Gutenberg.” See the link on the course home page under “Important Tools” at http://publish.illinois.edu/ecephil316/.

ABET Category

Humanities: 100%

Course Goals

See the beginning category of "Goals" above (after "Notes").

Instructional Objectives

Instructional Objectives

Charles E. Harris, Jr., et al., Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases (Boston, MA: Cengage)

  • To read critically — and to engage in informed in-class discussion and dialogue — selected chapters from Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases. [4, 5, 6]

Reflection Papers (eight one-page reflection papers during the course of the semester on the assigned readings — submitted electronically and evaluated with comments)

  • To develop the skill of critical reading and writing. [4]
  • To relate all that we read to our career-path responsibilities. [5]
  • To understand and inculcate the importance of life-long learning. [6]

Writing Skills Assessment (take-home assignment of ten questions over the assigned readings and discussions in class).

  • To learn the skill, the purpose, and the logic of source citation — using Chicago Manual of Style “notes and bibliography” citation format [4]
  • To understand and apply the principles of effective writing [4]

Response Paper One: Article Analysis (three pages, evaluated draft + final version)

  • To write a clear, accurate, and concise summary of the mains points of an article. [4]
  • To identify an author's implicit presuppositions and informing worldview. [4, 5]
  • To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of an argument in an article. [4, 5, 6]

Response Paper Two: Normative Ethical Theories (five pages, evaluated draft + final version)

  • To explore the grounding of the fundamental principles of moral action that will guide a person throughout one’s life, and will provide a worldview perspective informing all of one’s decisions in one’s chosen career path. [5, 6]
  • To acquire some of the tools necessary to evaluate possible consequences to proposed actions from both a teleological and deontological perspective. [5]
  • To express ideas in clear writing — and in dialogue with one’s neighbor in peer-review analysis. [4, 7]
  • To revisit the readings from the beginning weeks of the course in light of our work together on normative ethical theories, and to apply worldview analysis and moral principles in our study of the readings and case studies in the final stage of the course entitled “windows into applied ethics.” [4, 5, 6]

Final Research Project and Paper (nine pages, evaluated draft + final version)

  • To use the library and electronic tools to find scholarly sources that will enable one to engage and explore a contemporary ethical issue. [5, 6]
  • To formulate a thesis statement, to construct and focus sound arguments in support of the thesis, and to address possible counter-arguments to one’s position — clearly in writing. [4]
  • To learn the importance of peer-review analysis, continuing the peer-review exchange and discussion with one’s neighbor that was begun in the review of response paper two. [4, 7]
  • To develop skills in spoken communication by presenting the main conclusions of the research project in a five minute slide presentation, followed by five minutes of questions and dialogue with the class. [4]

Personal Mission Statement (three pages, evaluated draft + final version)

  • To explore the relationship between moral character and professional identity by relating personal goals to vocational objectives. [4, 5, 6]
  • To develop the skill of textual analysis, interpretation, and application — beginning with the study on one’s own self — addressing the constraints and obstacles one may face (internally and externally) that could block, hinder, or diminish the actualization of one’s goals and professional responsibilities. [4, 5, 6]

Last updated

4/23/2018by Philip Hillmer