‘Engineering ethics’ refer to the ethical issues involved in the engineering profession. Ethics are concerned with moral decisions in professional behaviour. Whilst morality generally refers to any aspect of human action, ethics is concerned with making the ‘right’ decisions in a professional context. Engineering ethics and consideration of the impact of engineering on the environment are issues of relevance and importance to any engineer or engineering student.
Ethics is concerned with utilitarianism – the production of the greatest good for the greatest number. A contentious ethical issue for engineers is when to privilege their work over the environment. Engineering impacts both positively and negatively on the environment. Current and future engineers need to holistically consider all aspects of the environmental impact of their work, and its ethical implications. All interactions with the environment have the potential to create an ethical dilemma of progress versus sustainable development.
Stakeholders may include individuals, groups or organisations which affect or are affected by the actions of the relevant parties. When analysing environmental impact, the interests of the people, flora and fauna in the area are relevant considerations to be taken into account. It must be borne in mind that projects may have positive socio-economic effects – most notably job creation and the development of infrastructure. Negative effects such as pollution and resource depletion must be actively combated. Furthermore, a significant impact on an environmental area may influence other areas in the future.
The stakeholders in this situation are numerous and varied, owing to the size and diversity of any given environment. It is in the stakeholders’ interest to create a symbiotic relationship with those affected. A balance between the engineering practice and environmental well-being must be established. The impact of the engineering practice should