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This month, the ASME Milwaukee Section is going to the Grohmann Museum at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) for a presentation on Engineering Ethics by Dr. Jon Borowicz, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.Sociologist Eliot Freidson and philosopher Michael Bayles characterize engineering as a “scholarly” profession as opposed to a “consulting” profession. Scholarly professions are employed and characteristically affect many clients simultaneously, if the concept of client has application to their practice at all. Historian Edwin Layton refers to the “engineer’s dilemma” as the “conflict between professional autonomy and bureaucratic loyalty” that is structural to the practice of the great majority of engineers. The work of scholarly professions is strongly influenced by organizational dynamics. We will consider two, or perhaps three, cases which display this effect. Beginning with the classic case of the space shuttle Challenger, we will consider the controversial supposed shift in the burden of proof with respect to the acceptable temperature for the performance of the solid rocket booster O-rings. In the Challenger case, the effect was a collective failure to notice the shift in burden of proof. In two other cases, we will consider the stakes for the integrity of individual engineers for dissenting to a decision which does raise an ethical issue which they recognize. What happened in the Challenger case will be argued to be the incentive for engaging in activities which cultivate what we might call “moral taste” which enables us to make judgments—to see the ethical matter—when the stakes are high. Activities designed to cultivate this capacity constituting what might be called the “active” dimension of professional ethics are being incorporated in the ethics course at MSOE. They will be briefly described.Jon Borowicz has been on the MSOE faculty since 1989. For eight years prior to that he was a systems analyst with Catalyst USA. Borowicz received the MA and PhD in philosophy from the Johns Hopkins University, and the BA with a major in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He specializes in professional ethics and the emerging field of philosophical practice, which extends the tradition of philosophy in dialogue and as the cultivation of presence of mind and judgment. His scholarship makes contributions to both areas. His presentation/workshop will be concerned with their intersection.When registering, you may choose to receive a certificate documenting two Professional Development Hours for attending this presentation, with an additional fee of $5.00. To receive it, you must register by the April 1, 2014 registration deadline!
Please register here by the April 1, 2014 Deadline!