Document Type

Book Chapter


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Book Series: The Engineering-Business Nexus. (Springer)


This chapter will focus on how engineering practice is conditioned by an economic system which promotes production for profit and economic growth as an end in itself. As such it will focus on the notion of the captivity of engineering which emanates from features of the economic system. By drawing on Critical Realism and a Marxist literature, and by focusing on the issues of safety and sustainability (in particular the issue of climate change), it will examine the extent to which disasters and workplace accidents result from the economic imperative for profitable production and how efforts by engineers to address climate change are undermined by an on-going commitment to growth. It will conclude by arguing that the structural constraints on engineering practice require new approaches to teaching engineers about ethics and social responsibility. It will argue that Critical Realism offers a framework for the teaching of engineering ethics which would pay proper attention to the structural context of engineers work without eliminating the possibility of engineers working for radical change.