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This paper is focused on the teaching of engineering ethics (EE). Through a focus on safety and the lens of what sociologists call the agency/ structure relationship it examimes various approaches to this teaching. Drawing on Critical Realism it argues there are deficiencies in both the dominant approach and a number of proposed alternatives as they suffer from various forms of conflationism . By drawing on Critical Realism (CR) a more robust agenda for teaching engineering ethics can be developed. It is argued that CR offers a basis for understanding the range of factors which lead to accidents and disasters. It allows for a fuller consideration of agency/structure relations and the importance of changing the contexts in which engineers work in order to allow them to hold paramount the health, safety and welfare of the public.
Conlon, E (2015) A Critical Realist Approach to Engineering Ethics. IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society, Dublin, 11-12 November 2015.