(a) The above argument is very convincing to me. In the beginning, it may seem that the relationship between ensuring safety in engineering designs and products is linear. However, eventually it will reach a point where safety begins to decline for those using or participating in the product designed by engineers.
In a classic study of risk, it was found that even if many safety devices and mechanisms were added to an engineering system, human behavior would change so as to increase the probability of an adverse event. (b) So we have to ask ourselves, what is our role as engineers in preventing accidents?
I will first address the question of whether or not we, as engineers, are responsible for the safety of the public. Engineering is the application of science to the needs of humanity. (c) The main purpose of engineering is to make things work in a safe and reliable way. So, if we want to argue that engineers are not responsible for safety, we would have to say that it is not part of our job to make sure that things work in a safe and reliable way. But that would be a hard argument to make. Instead, I will argue that engineers are indeed responsible for safety, but that our responsibility is limited.
The reason why our responsibility is limited is because we cannot control everything. We can only control what we design and build. We cannot control how people use our products. We cannot control the environment in which our products are used. And we cannot control the behavior of people using our products. All we can do is design and build things that are safe and reliable, and hope that people will use them in a safe and responsible way.
The above argument raises the question of what is meant by “safe” and “reliable”. These are not easy concepts to define. In general, we can say that something is safe if it does not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to people or property. And we can say that something is reliable if it will work as intended, under the conditions for which it was designed. But there are many different ways to interpret these concepts, and different people will have different opinions about what is safe and what is reliable.
For example, some people might say that a car is safe if it has airbags and seatbelts. Others might say that a car is only safe if it can never be involved in an accident. And still others might say that a car is only safe if it can never break down. Similarly, some people might say that a bridge is reliable if it can support the weight of the cars that will cross it. Others might say that a bridge is only reliable if it will never collapse. And still others might say that a bridge is only reliable if it can be repaired quickly if it does collapse.
As you can see, there are many different ways to interpret the concepts of safety and reliability. And different people will have different opinions about what is safe and what is reliable. So, when we design and build things, we have to make choices about what is safe and what is reliable. We have to decide how much risk we are willing to take, and how much safety and reliability we are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve other goals.
For example, when we design a car, we have to decide how big the airbags should be, and whether or not to include seatbelts. We also have to decide how strong the brakes should be, and how much weight the car can carry without breaking down. When we design a bridge, we have to decide how wide it should be, and how deep the foundation should be. We also have to decide how much traffic it can support, and how long it will take to repair if it does collapse.
These are just some of the choices that we have to make when we design and build things. And our choices will be based on our understanding of what is safe and what is reliable. But our understanding is always imperfect, because we can never know everything about the world, and we can never predict the future with 100% accuracy. So, even if we do everything right, there is still a chance that something will go wrong.
The argument that accidents are caused by poor or unethical engineering methods is based on faulty logic. Even though it is our ethical and moral obligation as engineers to guarantee safety during design and construction of projects, there can never be a guarantee no matter how flawless we attempt things to be (Davis, 1998). The society requires new ideas, and it is our professional duty as engineers to develop them.
However, this does not mean that we should sacrifice safety for innovation. Engineering ethics is the field of applied ethics and system of moral principles that apply to the practice of engineering.
The main objective of engineering ethics is to protect public health, safety, and welfare. Engineers should always consider the possible consequences of their designs and act in a way that minimizes foreseeable risks of injury or damage (Fleddermann, 2011). This means that engineers need to be competent and exercise sound judgment in order to make sure their designs are safe. Furthermore, they should take responsibility for their actions and be transparent about any potential risks associated with their designs.
Engineering has a direct and significant impact on society and the environment. As such, engineers must adhere to a set of ethical principles in order to protect the wellbeing of society. The most important principle is that of public safety. Engineers should always design their products and systems with public safety in mind. Other important principles include honesty, competence, fairness, and transparency.
Engineering ethics is a complex topic with many grey areas. In general, engineers should always act in a way that minimizes foreseeable risks of injury or damage. They should also be honest about any potential risks associated with their designs and take responsibility for their actions.