Ethical values are based on individual’s own perception of right or wrong, the judgement of these morals can be based on the ‘intent’ or ‘outcome’ of an action, also referred as Deontological or Utilitarianism Ethics respectively. Ethics of the Intent of an Action Deontological ethics are determined by the intent of the action “Some kinds of action are wrong or right in themselves, regardless of the consequences 1.
” Duty-based ethics provides a black and white argument, an action can be morally right but can produce harmful consequences, and as long as the intention of the action was pure it can be perceived as morally correct. One example we have found that has raised ethical issues due to the intent of somebody’s actions is through Will Morgan and his attempt to save money by compromising people’s safety. He gave a quote to a university for converting storage space into offices despite not consulting the engineers who would be working on the job. This resulted in the quote being a lot lower than the actual price would be as he had forgot to include the essential lighting to identify where fire exits were situated.
When this was made apparent to him, instead of correcting the issue, he decided to just delete these from the plans to save money, therefore endangering lives to save money. This raised ethical issues as people believed that Morgan was putting value onto people’s lives, therefore his intentions were ill conceived and inflicting major damage to anyone who would have been in use of these offices. This has been shown in cases where car production companies created the product only to find out that they produced a number of car problems that would threaten the personal safety of users, they would then need to overhaul the product and repair the errors. They discovered that when they recalled the car, the cost of repair was far higher than the cost would be to pay the users for accident damage compensation, if only consider from the utilitarian aspects, they should refuse to recall, this is obviously not reasonable, also in violation of the principles of morality and law. One of the greatest strengths of deontology is that it fits with the intuitive knowledge of right and wrong that we all have. Avoids the problem of consequentialism deontologists are not hindered by trying to predict the consequences of their actions.
Avoids the ‘no rest’ objection- The utilitarian’s point of view means people constantly have to consider or attempt to predict the consequences of their actions, so don’t ge. A deontologist has no such problem: so long as their actions do not violate a prohibition, they can do what they like. It does not take into consideration the complexity of life situations and sometimes the results of the decisions taken by deontologists can be very drastic (it might reach the death of an innocent person like case study 1). It faces big dilemma when 2 principles are involved and usually applying it would not be effective. 4 Despite its ease of universal application, applying consequentialist theory to a decision can be quite time-consuming and complicated in practice. In the ideal case, all consequences are identified and accounted. However, in almost all real decisions this is not possible. The process of identifying and weighing all the consequences, or even a number of consequences deemed sufficient to make the decision, is often too time consuming for decisions that need to be made quickly.
A second problem with applying consequentialism is observer or agent limitation. Once again the ideal case is a completely unbiased ethical agent weighing all possible consequences with equity and neutrality towards all affected parties. This godlike position is not attainable.
No one person can know sufficient information about the consequences to make perfect judgments about a decision. In real world cases, observers are supposed to inform themselves as much as possible about the consequences to make the best judgment possible. A third problem with consequentialism is dealing with actual and expected consequences. It is problematic to evaluate the morality of decision based on actual consequences as well as probable consequences. If an observer scales the weight of consequences based only on probability, some poor decisions can be made. A highly undesirable consequence may appear to be the result of a morally wrong decision.
But to the decision maker, this consequence may be disregarded because it is highly improbable. 5 Some weaknesses of duty-based ethics are the stringent rules it sets out, therefore in extreme cases where the rules set may have to be broken a new list has to be made as to determine what the best course of action is. “It is hard to believe that it could ever be a duty deliberately to produce less good when we could produce more 2” this is an extract from the definition of good. What it is saying is that not all ethics and morals are the best they can be and maybe they only do the bare minimum. In some cases, ethical duties can be in direct conflict with one another, such as a blood transfusion for certain religious, whilst on one hand it’s hard to argue with their religious views and rights. However morally people would want to save the person that would be in trouble. This is where the conflict of ethical views comes into play as there isn’t a view that everyone can 100% agree with that says there is a fair outcome.
A school of thought of duty-based ethics is Kantian ethics. this is the thought that no matter how good and better the consequences may be things shouldn’t be done from an ethical standpoint. Duty based ethics can provide certainty. which means that if a person believes an action to be the right one to take then they should do it, and a wrong action shouldn’t be taken.
This means that with a clear set of morals should be able to make ethical choices with a fair amount of certainty. however consequential ethical theories add an air of uncertainty over these decisions because whatever action is chosen the future is unpredictable. If actions are taken with the correct moral goal in mind, then duty-based ethics says “If a person didn’t intend to do a particular wrong act – it was an accident perhaps – then from a deontological point of view we might think that they hadn’t done anything deserving of criticism. This seems to fit with ordinary thinking about ethical issues.” Whereas Utilitarianism, also known as consequentialism, is based ethics are derived from judging only the outcome of an action to deem whether the act was morally right. Basing ethical values on the result of an action gives a grey area to whether the action is ethical, if someone intended to cause harm with their action but the overall outcome was a positive result this would be considered as morally correct. One example we found that has raised ethical issues due to the outcome of an action was when Ralph Sims decided to not report to anyone that the company SuperCom, which he had taken an executive position at, was using different methods of safety control than they should have been.
Sims made this decision on the knowledge that when checking this process, he believed it to give the same result whilst also saving money and therefore believing no one was at risk. However, three years later, after Sims had retired, someone else reported this to the government and due to SuperCom not having a license to carry out this untested process, it was argued that the process was illegal, but more importantly may not have provided the customer of their product with a product that was as safe as it was made out to be. Most people in today’s world live in a moral state of duty-based ethics where they are governed by ethics and morals which can include things being wrong such as murder, stealing and lying. Xiaoming The popularity of modern engineering has led to the disappearance of the traditional handicraft industry to a great extent. Since the first industrial revolution, machine production has gradually replaced the handicraft industry, occupying the mainstream of the society. This has also led to a lot of handicraft that many machines can’t replace, and gradually lost because of economic problems (suitable for the first point of view). The utilitarian case: if a car production company found that they produced a number of car problems, will threaten the personal safety of users, need to note the overhaul, but when they found that the recall repair cost of over accident damages, if only consider from the utilitarian aspects, they should refuse to recall, this is obviously not reasonable, also in violation of the principles of morality and law.
Morgan Two examples of applications in engineering for the ethical contentions discussed in part a) would be: In structural engineering the correct safety code was not adhered too, to save time, in the lifting of a rolled steel joist to the top of a building. One of the lifting strops failed the steel beam landed on a construction worker, causing a broken leg. The ethical issue is that if the correct safety code was used the incident may never have happened.
The benefits of the correct safety code ethically out weight the time and potentially money saved. The other example of an application of the ethical contentions discussed would be in designing and building of house and professional engineers were not consulted in the design process to save time and money. This endangered the lives of the people living inside the house, a cost was put on people’s lives. The ethical issues in this scenario mean that in designing buildings or things that can cause danger they must be correctly engineered and scrutinised before being signed off. References 1 “BBC – Ethics – Introduction to ethics: Duty-based ethics”, Bbc.
co.uk, 2017. Online. Available: http://www.bbc.co.
uk/ethics/introduction/duty_1.shtml. Accessed: 08- Dec- 2017 2A C Ewing, The definition of good. New York: Macmillan Co., 1947 3 “Deontology Part ii” Getrevising.co.uk, 2017 Online.
Available: https://getrevising.co.uk/grids/deontology_part_ii Accessed: 14- Dec- 2017 4″Cite a Website – Cite This For Me”, Sevenpillarsinstitute.org, 2017.
Online. Available: https://sevenpillarsinstitute.org/ethics-101/applying-utilitarianism-are-insider-trading-and-the-bailout-of-gm-ethical/. Accessed: 14- Dec- 2017 5 “Media Ethics 400-1 / Deontology (What is it, advantages ‘n disadvantages, case studies)”, Bossone.pbworks.
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com/w/page/10771531/Deontology%20%28What%20is%20it%2C%20advantages%20%27n%20disadvantages%2C%20case%20studies%29. Accessed: 14- Dec- 2017