James Rachels. The Elements of Moral Philosophy 4th, 5th or 6th Edition, 2006-2010. · ISBN-10: 0073125474 ISBN-13: 978-0073125473 (also on reserve).
*Some material will be on ereserve or available through Drexel’s databases.
Course Description: This is a philosophy course in engineering ethics. Philosophy argues for conclusions based on premises and ethics studies theories about what is good or bad, right or wrong in human conduct. Engineering is of course a kind of human conduct–the complicated story about building things. So, add philosophy and ethics, and you get engineering ethics: the study of theories about how we should conduct ourselves when building things. It is a branch of applied and professional ethics. And it has a number of problems that we may actually deal with. Here are two:
First problem: methodology. People preeminently approach EE through a “deductive” case-study method that I find question begging. Lots of case studies tell us what is the case in contemporary engineering, but I’d rather know what should beand how to get there. I think we should start with the individual herself and ask what she wants and how to get it. Starting with the person herself is perhaps the only way to actually make anyone more moral. Maybe.
Second problem: goals. Almost everyone assumes ethics means doing good for others. Engineering/business’ only purpose is to serve others. I don’t think anyone or anything’s purpose could possibly be to serve others. I argue that ethics means seeking happiness or true self-interest. But of course we will need to distinguish this from the selfishness and greed people use to vilify engineering and business.
The Rachel’s text provides a simple reflection on ethics and ethical types like egoism, utilitarianism, Kantian deontology, religion and so on. It’s good philosophy in the sense that it is, in places, either importantly right or importantly wrong. The Johnson anthology is more properly applied philosophy at its best: controversial and critical. Firmage and Greenwood battle it out over professionalism, Baron and Duska over loyalty and whistle blowing, Friedman over social responsibilities, Ladd over codes, and so on. Van De Poel
and Royakers write a “canonical” or orthodox textbook that turns out to be rather controversial in places. Meanwhile, a number of recent articles by leading researchers (many of them engineers) bring the subject up to date. This includes an additional topic on the morality of weapons engineering that I like to call “War and Peace.”
[Online class will do discussion posts not presentations] Students will present with my aid on several key topics including morality, social responsibility, codes, whistle blowing, loyalty, professionalism, safety and weapons engineering. Feel free to bring in whatever material you find useful for the topics (but also look at the assigned material). Hopefully we can have some computer/movie-aided fun while learning something too!
Course Objectives: At the end of this course students should be able to
In this paper you will argue your conclusion against opposition. So, get to the point right away. For example, the first couple of lines: “According to <opposition> <conclusion>.” I disagree. In this paper I will argue: <opposite conclusion>.” Above all, have and start with at least one paper you disagree with. After an explicit introduction (in this paper I will argue,etc.), spend 1-2 pgs simply explaining and QUOTING your opposition. Then start ARGUING against them. No just saying “I disagree” isn’t good enough. For this course, if you don’t know, can’t explain, or just have bad reasons for disagreeing; then you don’t disagree.
You should talk about something that is a real issue: a controversy with at least two sides. You should TAKE A SIDE, and in doing so you are not representing any given author YOU ARE REPRESENTING YOURSELF. I want YOUR ARGUMENT, though you can use whomever (even an outside source or two) to help you out. Your paper should be at least 50% in class text sources and be RELATED ESSENTIALLY TO ENGINEERING PRACTICE (even if its fundamentally on a philosophical position). An easy way to do this is to bring in a case study or two. USE ACTUAL REAL LIFE EXAMPLES (like Enron or Microsoft) in place of hypothetical examples (like suppose a Ceo…) whenever possible.
Everyone will probably have to make at least some revisions to the paper. Final copies of the term paper are due on paper and by email by the last day of class, class time.
Yes, there is a lot of reading and writing in this class. It is a philosophy class. Feel free to give the folks at the Writing Center something to do, or use the wonderful world wide web. Here’s a few sites you might check out.
Electronic Access. Please utilize the course’s blackboard page . Students are responsible for knowing how to use blackboard. Use only your Drexel email address for all correspondence. Assignments without your complete name and section may not be accepted. Students may use word processors for in-class exams and other electronic devices such as computers, translators, recorders, and such in-class at my discretion. I answer emails within 2 weeks (usually much sooner). Please contact me again if you have not heard back within 2 weeks. My cell is also on the syllabus so feel free to call.
Final Exam when scheduled by Registrar. Do not make plans or travel arrangements until we have been informed of the date and time. Even if we have a take-home examination it will be due on the assigned date. Assignments and course requirements may be modified as necessary in terms of content. Deadlines will remain the same.
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– Quoting an entire piece of written work without acknowledgment of the source
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Taking a test for someone else or permitting someone else to take a test for you
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Tentative Schedule. These are most of the readings I want you to concentrate on, and roughly when. You will be responsible for making sure that each person in your group has by themselves a decent amount to present on, although you may present together. You need not cover everything in a particular week and may bring in additional material but CHECK WITH ME FIRST.
The University grading system is as follows: http://www.drexel.edu/provost/policies/grades.asp
Grading: For most purposes, I use standard + or – Grades of A, A-, B+, B . . . and so on, corresponding approximately with the following pattern: 95-100% = A, 90-94% =A-, 87-89% = B+, 84%-86% = B, 80%-84% = B-, and so on. A=outstanding/exceptional; B=Good, some nice points; C=Fair, average, does the job; D=You tried, but not so good, significant problems; F=You didn’t even try or this really isn’t the assignment. Please allow up to two weeks for graded assignments (excluding discussion posts). If you are unsure of your grade after two weeks from an assignment please contact me asap.
James Stieb is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Philosophy at Drexel University. He has nearly 15 years of experience teaching Ethics, Applied Ethics, Logic and Critical Reasoning. Dr. Stieb received his undergraduate degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College, and in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His current research interests include supporting the equation of virtue ethics and ethical egoism, showing that there are no inevitable conflicts in loyalty, and in general showing the relevance of philosophy and metaphysics to large organizations. He recently wrote an article titled “Understanding Engineering Professonalism; A Reflection on the Rights of Engineers” which appeared in Science and Engineering Ethics.
At the discretion of an instructor, the grade of “INC“ (Incomplete) may be reported in place of a letter grade for any course in which the instructor deems that the work has not been completed and that the student can complete the work within an agreed upon time, which must be in accordance with University policy and the statute of limitations governing grade changes.
The conditions and terms for the completion of the course are at the discretion of the instructor and are to be mutally agreed up on by the instructor of the course and the student.
If a final grade is not submitted within one year, the “INC” will turn into an “F” on the student’s record and will be reflected in the students GPA. The grade of “F” will be considered a permanent grade unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Once a student is registered, it is his/her responsibility to attend the course, drop the course, or withdraw from the course. Dropping and withdrawing are distinct actions governed by different policies and impact a student’s course enrollment status.
In either case, a signed form is required. There are billing consequences and academic record impact during this process; therefore, the student must attend to the proper procedure when dropping or withdrawing from a course. All students must obtain the instructor’s and the Academic Advisor’s signature on the “Add/ Drop/Withdraw” form, which is available online at http://www.drexel.edu/src/forms.asp or in the lobby of Goodwin College.
Dropping or withdrawing from courses can have serious financial and academic implications, possibly affecting billing, financial aid, VA benefits, eligibility to participate in NCAA athletic events, and for foreign students, immigration status. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their Academic Advisor and financial aid counselor before withdrawing. Students are considered the responsible parties for any/all transactions processed against their academic record.
Below is the financial and academic record impact of course drop/withdrawal.
To drop or withdraw a course for which you have paid or contracted:
|6 week course – drop/withdraw period||8&10 wk course–drop/withdraw period||Tuition Refund||Record Impact||Academic Record|
|Before1st class session begins||Before 1st class sessionbegins||100%||No Record||Tuition Refund|
|By 5pm of day of 1st class session||By 5pm of day of 1stor 2nd class session||100%||No Record||Tuition Refund|
|By 5pm of day of 2ndclass session||By 5pm of day of 3rdclass session||50%||“W” on Record|
|N/A||By 5pm of day of 4thand 5th class session||25%||“W” on Record||Tuition Refund|
|By 5pm of day of 3rdclass session||By 5pm of day of 6thclass session||0%||“W” on Record||Tuition Refund|
Course withdraws will not be processed after the 3rd class session of a 6-week course or after the 6th class session of an 8- and 10-week course. As shown above, withdrawal has financial and academic implications.