Ethical Problem-Solving Techniqu

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					Ethical Problem-Solving
  Presented by:   Julie Barnas
                  Jamie Caloras
                  Mike Fant
                  Coleman McClain
•   Introduction
•   Questions Arising from Ethical Issues
•   Need for New Methods
•   Analysis of Issues
•   Resolution of Issues
•   Line Drawing Technique
•   Flow Chart Technique
•   Conclusion
                Ethical Issues
• Engineers often come across problems where a product
  or process they are designing has a safety risk
  associated with it.

• “A new lawsuit and medical experts are making noise
  over the health risks posed to users of portable music
  players such as Apple's iPod, which can play music loud
  enough to lead to hearing loss”

• “Genetically engineered foods are now starting to appear
  in shops even though many scientists say that
  genetically modified foods could cause serious damage
  to health and the environment.”
         Questions that Arise
• There are two questions that surface when
  problems arise in product or process design:
  – Is it ethical to work on a particular product or
  – What tools are there for an engineer who needs to
    decide which is the ethically correct path to take?

• We will focus on analysis and problem-solving
  strategies to help answer these questions and
  put ethical problems in the proper perspective.
        Need for New Methods
• The calculated, problem-solving approach often
  practiced in engineering is useless for ethical problem

• There are no easy “plug-and-chug” methods for reaching
  a solution.

• Many of the situations encountered by practicing
  engineers are ambiguous.

• We will examine methods for analyzing ethical problems
  and see how to apply them.
   Analysis of Issues in Ethical
• Understanding
  – Factual
  – Conceptual
  – Moral

• Resolution
• A factual issue has two characteristics
  – It is a disagreement over a matter of fact
  – This matter of fact is crucial to resolving the

• Example: water quality tests and reports
  – Method one: water is good
  – Method two: water is contaminated
  – Which to report?
• A conceptual issue has two characteristics
  – It is a disagreement over the definition of a
  – It is crucial to solving the problem

• Example: moderate impact
  – The gas tank of the car must withstand
    moderate impact
  – Is moderate 35 mph or 45 mph?
• Usually a conflict between two or more
  values or obligations

• Example: grease money or failure
  – You must complete the project for the
    company and also the local economy
  – It will not be completed without grease money
  – What should you do?
• Factual: research the problem further to
  establish truth

• Conceptual: continued analysis and
  agreement on terms will help

• Moral: agree about which moral principles
  are relevant and how to apply them
      Line Drawing Technique
• Useful decision-making technique for situations
  with “gray area” of which ethical principles apply
      Negative                           Positive
      Paradigm                          Paradigm

• Various similar examples are placed
  appropriately along the line
• Moral problem is placed on line relative to the
      Pitfalls to Line Drawing
• Politics and community relations may also
  influence decision, but are not considered
  in this technique

• Must be used objectively and honestly to
  be effective
    Example: New Orleans Levee
•    Problem: The Army Corps of Engineers is
     racing to rebuild the levee by June 1, resulting
     in substandard construction. Additional repairs
     will not be made until 2007.

•    Examples:
    1. New levee will be as strong as before
    2. New levee weaker than before, but no further
       repairs will be made
    3. New levee weaker than before, but repairs will
       continue throughout hurricane season
                 New Orleans Levee
              NP                                 PP

                       2             3   1
Levee that will fail                         Stronger levee than
in weakest storm                             before

    Where should the problem lie on the line
              NP                                 PP
                       2             3   1
Levee that will fail                         Stronger levee than
in weakest storm           PROBLEM           before
        Flow Chart Technique
• Flow charts are familiar to engineering students

• They are most often used in computer
  programming development

• They help in analyzing sequence of events and
  consequences flowing from specific decisions

• Key to effective use of flow charts for solving
  ethical problems is to be creative and not be shy
  about getting a negative answer
                 Flow Chart
• No unique flow chart is applicable to any one

• Different aspects of one problem can be
  emphasized with different charts – put a spin on
  the chart depending on your intentions

• It is important to be objective and honest in
  creating flow charts. Otherwise, you can
  rationalize any decision.
                 Example 1
Employee “A”
 would like to
sabotage his                         No – don’t
                      Will it
  company.                           sabotage
                    benefit the

                                    Yes –
                 Example 2
Student would
 like to cheat      Do you want    Yes – do not
                     to study?        cheat

                                   Yes – do not
                  No - Personal
                  ethics object?

                                   No – do not
                    No – Is it       cheat
                    worth the
    Yes -            risk?
• Types of ethical issues
  – Factual
  – Conceptual
  – Moral

• Line drawing technique
  – Applicable moral principles clear, but “gray area” of
    ethical principles to apply

• Flow chart technique
  – Sequence of events to be considered