We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Ethics for Engineers

Martin Peterson

Publication Date - March 2019

ISBN: 9780190609191

256 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $59.99

Rich with case studies, this balanced introduction to engineering ethics offers the most in-depth coverage of ethical theories and their practical applications to engineers


An essential all-in-one introduction, Ethics for Engineers provides in-depth coverage of major ethical theories, professional codes of ethics, and case studies in a single volume. Incorporating numerous practical examples and about 100 review questions, it helps students better understand and address ethical issues that they may face in their future careers. Topics covered include whistle-blowing, the problem of many hands, gifts, bribes, conflicts of interest, engineering and environmental ethics, privacy and computer ethics, ethical technology assessment, and the ethics of cost-benefit analysis and risk and uncertainty.


  • Covers the major ethical theories and professional codes of ethics for engineers, including the NSPE, IEEE, and ACM codes
  • Offers a more detailed yet accessible presentation of ethical theories than any other text (in Chs. 5 and 6), illustrated by examples that students will easily relate to
  • Incorporates forty case studies, both classic and contemporary, each followed by discussion questions
  • Includes a unique chapter (Ch. 3) on the history of engineering
  • Designed to meet the ABET requirement for professional ethics for engineers

About the Author(s)

Martin Peterson is Professor of Philosophy and the Sue and Harry Bovay Professor of History and Ethics of Professional Engineering at Texas A&M University. His recent books include The Ethics of Technology: A Geometric Analysis of Five Moral Principles (OUP, 2017) and An Introduction to Decision Theory, Second Edition (2017).


"Ethics for Engineers is an engaging new book. Its use of many relatively new cases will keep students interested. Its introduction to ethical theories and decision making will help students understand how best to approach ethical issues."--William Jordan, Baylor University

Table of Contents

    Each chapter ends with Review Questions, References, and Further Readings.
    List of Cases
    Chapter 1. Introduction
    The Engineering Profession
    The Value of Technology
    Engineering Ethics and the Law
    On Ethics and Morality
    Chapter 2. Professional Codes of Ethics
    Why Are Professional Codes of Ethics Important?
    The NSPE Code
    The IEEE and ACM Codes
    Contributory Reasons and Moral Dilemmas
    Proper Engineering Decisions versus Proper Management Decisions
    Chapter 3. A Brief History of Engineering
    Prehistoric Technology
    Ancient Engineering (5000 BC-500 AD)
    Medieval Engineering (c. 500-1400 AD)
    Early Modern Engineering (c. 1400-1700)
    The Industrial Revolution (c. 1700-1900)
    Modern Engineering (c. 1900-)
    Chapter 4. A Methodological Toolbox
    Facts and Values
    Are Moral Claims Objective, Subjective, or Relative?
    Applied Ethics and Ethical Theories
    Chapter 5. Utilitarianism and Ethical Egoism
    The Right and the Good
    How Should the Good Be Distributed?
    Some Objections to Utilitarianism
    Ethical Egoism
    Chapter 6. Duties, Virtues, and Rights
    Kant's Duty Ethics
    The Universalization Test
    Means to an End and Respect for Persons
    Virtue Ethics
    Some Objections to Virtue Ethics
    Chapter 7. Whistle-blowing: Should You Ever Break with Protocol?
    The Definition of Whistle-blowing
    When Is Whistle-blowing Morally Permissible?
    Advice to Whistle-blowers
    Chapter 8. Conflicts of Interest: When Is It Permissible to Influence the Actions of Others?
    What Is a Conflict of Interest?
    Why Conflicts of Interests Should Almost Always Be Avoided
    International Engineering
    Chapter 9. Cost-benefit Analysis: Do the Ends Justify the Means?
    The Value of a Human Life
    Cost-benefit Analysis and Utilitarianism
    Can We Put a Price on the Environment and Historic Artifacts?
    Chapter 10. Risk and Uncertainty: How Safe Is Safe Enough?
    The Engineering Definition of Risk
    The Precautionary Principle
    Risk and Informed Consent
    Risk Aversion
    Chapter 11. Privacy: What Is It and Why Should It Be Protected?
    Privacy as a Moral Right
    Privacy as a Moral Value
    What Can Engineers Do to Protect Privacy?
    Chapter 12. The Problem of Many Hands: Who Is Responsible and Should Anyone Be Blamed?
    What Is Responsibility?
    The Problem of Many Hands
    Moral Responsibilty and Collective Outcomes
    Chapter 13. Technology Assessments and Social Experiments
    Technology Assessment
    New Technologies as Social Experiments
    Some Critical Questions
    Chapter 14. A Critical Attitude to Technology
    The Imperative of Responsibility
    Between Pessimism and Optimism
    Chapter 15. The Ethics of Artifacts
    What's So Special about Technological Artifacts?
    Can Artifacts Be Value-laden?
    Can Artifacts Be Hybrid Agents?
    Technology as a Way of Revealing
    Chapter 16. Sustainability
    Three Notions of Sustainability
    The Instrumental Value of Sustainability
    The Noninstrumental Value of Sustainability
    Imperceptible Harms and the Tragedy of the Commons
    Appendix A: Professional Codes of Ethics
    Appendix B: Essay Questions

Related Titles