Practice Papers

Document Type

Conference Paper


The implementation of ethics in engineering courses often faces several intertwined problems. For example, there is widespread moral relativism, ethics is often confused with moralism on the one hand and with pro-contra discussions on the other, there are difficulties with the degree of abstraction being too high, or ethics is relativised as one method for decision-making among many others. Furthermore, in many cases, ethics is suspected of being artificially introduced into engineering. In the context of a project-based course at a German university, we took up these challenges and developed an innovative teaching format whose focus is not on theories and methods. Instead, we implemented ethics education as a practical exercise of reflection. Based on situations in students’ project life, we engaged in open conversations addressing aspects of their practice that tend to be overlooked under conventional conditions: boundary conditions of their engineering actions, preconditions of their judgements, and criteria for justifying their decisions. Instead of reacting to problems reflexively, and thus blindly accepting them, we wanted to enable students to examine problems critically. In this way, we aimed to enable the students to adopt a (reasonable and therefore) responsible attitude toward their actions and their boundary conditions. In our contribution, we first discuss the preconditions: the project-based four-month full-time course with an industrial partner. Second, we explain and justify our philosophical approach. Third, we describe the implementation of our approach followed by the evaluation. Finally, we conclude our findings and outline next steps.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.