Document Type

Conference Paper


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



Publication Details

International Symposium for Engineering Education, Cork, July, 2010


There is an increasing diversity in approaches to teaching engineering ethics due to increasing dissatisfaction with the dominant approach which uses case studies focused on moral dilemmas confronting individual engineers. There has been a demand for a greater consideration of the organisational and social context in which engineers work and for a shift in focus from micro ethics issues concerning individuals to macro issues of concern to the engineering profession. Further, there has been a demand that engineers focus on societal decision making about technology and their role in policy development. Drawing on the work of the American sociologist George Ritzer, which focuses on micro/macro integration and the subjective and objective dimensions of sociological analysis, this paper provides a framework for understanding different approaches to engineering ethics. In moving towards an integrated approach, it is argued that a key issue confronting engineers is how to change the economic and social context in which they work so that it enables rather than constrains the development of sustainable engineering solutions. It is also argued that an integrated approach should focus on integrating the different levels of analysis into accounts of ethical issues.