Humanistic Values and Ethics in Engineering

Topics: Ethics, Business ethics, Sociology Pages: 8 (1890 words) Published: May 23, 2010

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ABSTRACT

An Engineer’s job today presents a greater degree of challenge than ever before. The engineering organizations are often exposed to an endless stream of problems that arise from the changes in the attitudes and beliefs of the interest group (which includes customers also), cross border transaction and its impact on the domestic business culture. In this context, it becomes necessary for the engineers to understand the magnitude of the problems and obstacles that make them ignore the ethical and value dimensions of human life. According to a French proverb, a child learns social values not from its parents but from the bed stories of grand parents. Learning social values needs a sort of intimacy between the parties concerned and such intimacy cannot be developed among students and teachers within a short span of time in educational institutions. Any decision to teach social values to students pursuing technical education need not be processed through structural programmes alone. Exposure methods can also be practiced to this end. Co-curricular activities, cultural programmes, and extra curricular activities can be designed in such a manner as to effectively expose social values to the student population. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The word ‘ethics’ refers to principles of behaviour that distinguish between good and bad; right and wrong. It is a person’s own attitude and beliefs concerning good behaviour. Ethics reside within individuals and as such are defined separately by each individual in his own way. What may be ethical behaviour to ‘X’ may be unethical to ‘Y’.

It is generally known that, ethical standards do differ among societies and nations. This has long been true. For example, in some societies business organizations are permitted to make contributions to political parties, government officials and other persons who undertake liaison activities to ensure favourable handling of business transactions. The same activities are regarded as unethical bribe in some other societies. What ethical standards should we follow? That is purely situational.


Ethics may refer to the following:

Ethics are principles of personal and professional conduct. Ethical behaviour may differ from society to society. For example, birth control is mandatory in communist societies but not in Catholic Christian societies. Ethical standards are ideals of human conduct. Defining ethical standards is not an easy task.

Thus, personal ethics has been referred to as “the rules by which an individual lives his or her personal life,” and accounting ethics pertains to “the code that guides the professional conduct of accountants”. Business ethics is concerned with truth and justice and has a variety of aspects such as the expectations of society, fair competition, advertising, public relations, social responsibilities, consumer autonomy, and corporate behavior in the home country as well as abroad. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Professor and Head, Department of Humanities, PSG College of Technology Coimbatore – 641 004, E-mail:

Ethical issues are considered very important for engineers for various reasons. If ethics are missing, business and society as a whole cannot flourish. Likewise, when job values are in conflict with individual expectations, productivity suffers. The job holder remains unhappy and discontented.


The main objectives of this paper are...

References: 1. Heinz Weihrich and Harold Koontz, “Management A Global Perspective”, Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi, 2001.
2. Rushworth M. Kidder, “Universal Human Values”, The Futurist, 1994.
3. R. Srinivasan, “A study on student Leaders in Coimbatore District”, Unpublished Thesis, 1995.
4. S. S. Iyer, “Managing for value”, New Age International Publishers, 2003.
5. Sapna Parashar, “Perception of Values: A Study of Future Professionals”, Journal of Human Values 10:2, 2004.
6. Thomas Donaldson, “Values in Tension”, Harvard Business Review, 1996.
7. V. S. P. Rao and V. Hari Krishna, “Management – Text and Cases”, Excel books, New Delhi, 2002.
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