The Engineering Project
Its Nature, Ethics, and Promise
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Penn State University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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I have been a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering Department at San Jose State University for many years. My technical areas of focus have been circuits, systems, and controls, but while finishing my dissertation in electrical engineering in the 1970s, I discovered philosophy, in particular, the nascent field ...
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Engineering is the practice of making good on the promise of technology. Technology, throughout history, has promised relief from the burdens of everyday life. Engineering practice has brought us an array of time- and labor- saving devices. The telephone, for instance, lifts the burden of distance ...
PART I The Modern Engineering Enterprise
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In the premodern era, which lasted roughly from the time of the pyramids to the heyday of the medieval cathedral, engineering processes of a basic sort did exist. Engineers had a kind of knowing that can be described as know-how, which was embedded in skills of various sorts. In building their aqueducts, for instance, Roman engineers had to know ...
TWO Process Ethics
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In this chapter, I discuss the ethics of the modern engineering process. Concern with professionalism mandates an ethical component within the enterprise of engineering. Most professions, engineering included, address that mandate via the institution of codes of ethics. In the previous chapter, I considered engineering professionalism ...
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Engineering affects the world as the world affects engineering. The contemporary German social philosopher J�rgen Habermas stated that the realm of system colonizes the lifeworld by imposing upon it the values of efficiency and productivity. On the other hand, conversations and decisions made in the human lifeworld ...
PART II The Premodern Engineering Endeavor
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From the little that is known of premodern or ancient engineers, it appears that they had a lot in common with contemporary engineers. Both can be described as disciplined, dedicated, and single-minded. Hardly unexpected, since the modern engineering enterprise actually subsumed rather than supplanted the premodern engineering ...
FIVE Virtue Ethics
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In the previous chapter, I investigated the character of the premodern engineer, who came into being and flourished in the time period roughly from the pyramids to the cathedrals. The spirit of that character, even today, is very much present within engineering practice, especially in those projects which employ heuristic and intuitive ...
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In Chapter 3, I looked at engineering as a colonizing project. The project of the modern engineering enterprise colonizes the human lifeworld by imposing upon it the values of efficiency and productivity. That discussion assumes engineering is a decontextualized project that comes up with products of various sorts that impact the ...
PART III The Focal Engineering Venture
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In this chapter, I arrive at the heart of my project. Having discussed the premodern and modern takes on the engineering project, it is now time to look at the focal engineering venture. In the focal engineering venture it is the product of the engineering project that stands out. Focal engineering asks whether these systems, ...
EIGHT Material Ethics
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In this chapter I will look at an ethics of products brought forth into the world by the practicing engineer. A given product, as I indicated in the last chapter, may be equitably distributed, totally safe, and environmentally benign, yet it may still deaden or disengage us. Truly focal products contribute to the good and ...
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The colonization and contextualization intrinsic to the engineering project will come into balance as the modern engineering enterprise shifts toward the focal engineering venture. The focal engineer contributes a new perspective from within contemporary technological culture, a perspective that will challenge our apparently ...
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Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 10 charts/graphs, 1 table
Publication Year: 2009