Books  |  , ,   |  March 15, 2012

Ethics, Technology, and Engineering: An Introduction

Book by Ibo van de Poel and Lambèr Royakkers.
Published by Wiley.
376 pages.

Featuring a wide range of international case studies, Ethics, Technology, and Engineering presents a unique and systematic approach for engineering students to deal with the ethical issues that are increasingly inherent in engineering practice.

  • Utilizes a systematic approach to ethical case analysis — the ethical cycle — which features a wide range of real-life international case studies including the Challenger Space Shuttle, the Herald of Free Enterprise and biofuels.
  • Covers a broad range of topics, including ethics in design, risks, responsibility, sustainability, and emerging technologies.
  • Can be used in conjunction with the online ethics tool Agora (
  • Provides engineering students with a clear introduction to the main ethical theories.
  • Includes an extensive glossary with key terms

Table of Contents

1 The Responsibilities of Engineers

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Responsibility
1.3 Passive Responsibility
1.4 Active Responsibility and the Ideals of Engineers
1.5 Engineers versus Managers
1.6 The Social Context of Technological Development
1.7 Chapter Summary

2 Codes of Conduct

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Codes of Conduct
2.3 Possibilities and Limitations of Codes of Conduct
2.4 Codes of Conduct in an International Context
2.5 Chapter Summary

3 Normative Ethics

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Ethics and Morality
3.3 Descriptive and Normative Judgments
3.4 Points of Departure: Values, Norms, and Virtues
3.5 Relativism and Absolutism
3.6 Ethical Theories
3.7 Utilitarianism
3.8 Kantian Theory
3.9 Virtue Ethics
3.10 Care Ethics
3.11 Applied Ethics
3.12 Chapter Summary

4 Normative Argumentation

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Valid Arguments
4.3 Deductive and Non-Deductive Arguments
4.4 Arguments in Ethical Theories
4.5 Fallacies
4.6 Chapter Summary

5 The Ethical Cycle

5.1 Introduction
5.2 Ill-Structured Problems
5.3 The Ethical Cycle
5.4 An Example
5.5 Collective Moral Deliberation and Social Arrangements
5.6 Chapter Summary

6 Ethical Questions in the Design of Technology

6.1 Introduction
6.2 Ethical Issues During the Design Process
6.3 Trade-offs and Value Conflicts
6.4 Regulatory Frameworks: Normal and Radical Design
6.5 Chapter Summary

7 Designing MoralityPeter-Paul Verbeek

7.1 Introduction
7.2 Ethics as a Matter of Things
7.3 Technological Mediation
7.4 Moralizing Technology
7.5 Designing Mediations
7.6 Chapter Summary

8 Ethical Aspects of Technical Risks

8.1 Introduction
8.2 Definitions of Central Terms
8.3 The Engineer’s Responsibility for Safety
8.4 Risk Assessment
8.5 When are Risks Acceptable?
8.6 Risk Communication
8.7 Dealing with Uncertainty and Ignorance
8.8 Chapter Summary

9 The Distribution of Responsibility in Engineering

9.1 Introduction.
9.2 The Problem of Many Hands
9.3 Responsibility and the Law
9.4 Responsibility in Organizations
9.5 Responsibility Distributions and Technological Designs
9.6 Chapter Summary

10 Sustainability, Ethics, and TechnologyMichiel Brumsen

10.1 Introduction
10.2 Environmental Ethics?
10.3 Environmental Problems
10.4 Sustainable Development
10.5 Can a Sustainable Society be Realized?
10.6 Engineers and Sustainability
10.7 Chapter Summary

  • Study Questions
  • Discussion Questions
  • Appendix I: Engineering Qualifications and Organizations in a Number of Countries
  • Appendix II: NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers
  • Appendix III: FEANI Position Paper on Code of Conduct: Ethics and Conduct of Professional Engineers
  • Appendix IV: Shell Code of Conduct
  • Appendix V: DSM Values and Whistle Blowing Policy

About the Authors

  • Ibo van de Poel is Associate Professor in Ethics and Technology at Delft University of Technology. He is an associate editor of the Handbook of Philosophy of Technology and the Engineering Sciences (2009) and co-editor of Philosophy and Engineering (2010).
  • Lambèr Royakkers is Associate Professor in Ethics of Technology at Eindhoven University of Technology, and Associate Professor in Military Ethics at Netherlands Defense Academy. He is also Project Leader of the research programme Moral Fitness of Military Personnel in a Networked Environment, sponsored by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.