Books  |    |  June 18, 1998

Thinking Like an Engineer: Studies in the Ethics of a Profession

Book by Michael Davis.
Published by Oxford University Press.
256 pages.

Michael Davis, a leading figure in the study of professional ethics, offers here both a compelling exploration of engineering ethics and a philosophical analysis of engineering as a profession. After putting engineering in historical perspective, Davis turns to the Challenger space shuttle disaster to consider the complex relationship between engineering ideals and contemporary engineering practice. Here, Davis examines how social organization and technical requirements define how engineers should (and presumably do) think. Later chapters test his analysis of engineering judgement and autonomy empirically, engaging a range of social science research including a study of how engineers and managers work together in ten different companies.

Table of Contents

Part I Introduction To Engineering

  • Science, Technology, And Values
  • A History Of Engineering In The United States
  • Are “Software Engineers” Engineers?

Part II Engineers In Context

  • Codes Of Ethics And The Challenger
  • Explaining Wrongdoing
  • Avoiding The Tragedy Of Whistleblowing

Part III Protecting Engineering Judgment

  • Conflicts Of Interest In Engineering
  • Codes Of Ethics, Professions, And Conflict Of Interest

Part IV Empirical Research

  • Ordinary Technical Decision-Making: An Empirical Investigation
  • Professional Autonomy: A Framework For Empirical Research

Epilogue: Four Questions For The Social Sciences
Appendix 1: Questionnaire For Engineers
Appendix 2: Questionnaire For Managers
Appendix 3: Interviewee Characteristics

About the Author

Michael Davis is an American philosopher specializing in professional ethics. He is Professor of Philosophy at the Illinois Institute of Technology and Senior Fellow at its Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions. He is the author of several books, including Accountability in the Professions (1995), Profession, Code, and Ethics (2002), and Engineering Ethics (2005).