Articles  |  ,   |  July 24, 2012

Ethics and the Engineer: Professional Codes and the Rule of St. Benedict

Article by W. Richard Bowen. Published in Studies in Christian Ethics.


Engineers make an enormous contribution to promoting the wellbeing of individuals and the communities in which they live, but engineering may also give rise to adverse consequences. Engineering therefore requires ethical awareness, and professional engineers often use ethical codes to guide their actions. The content of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s authoritative Statement of Ethical Principles is discussed and compared to the paradigmatic Rule of St Benedict. This leads to suggestions for the development of an enriched code for engineering that considers not only what actions are desirable but also how and why they should be carried out. Issues arising in the formulation of an enriched code acceptable also to those of no explicit faith or of other faiths are considered. It is suggested that the development of enriched professional codes is a general and strategically important challenge for theological ethics.