Issues of moral responsibility

El-Zein argues that engineers need to think carefully about the implications of their work.

I’d like you to think through some the implications of this claim.

First: I’d like you to present at least two examples not discussed in class of engineered products, engineering projects, systems, … that have had negative effects on society. I’m not looking for cases of disasters or failures, but rather products or projects that went according to plan or did what they were meant to do, but in doing so had negative or deleterious or even disastrous effects or results.

Second: I want you to think about issues of moral responsibility. Should we hold the engineers who worked on those projects or products responsible for the ill effects? What factors—knowledge, intent, role …—should we take into account when making that evaluation?

If your answer is that we should hold them responsible, do you think we should always hold people responsible for the consequences of their actions?

If your answer is no, do you think that we should never hold someone responsible? Or, why not in this case?

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