May 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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PHL 3101 - Ethics for Professional Managers and Engineers

3 lecture hours 0 lab hours 3 credits
Course Description
Many professions, including engineering and even individual businesses, have their own code of professional ethics. Such codes, however, are often lacking in important detail or fail to consider issues brought about by emerging technologies. In this course we will attempt to go beyond these ethics codes by critically examining a variety of difficult and controversial ethical questions that arise in both a business and an engineering context. Such questions may include: 1) “When, if ever, are individual employees obligated to make public the unethical conduct of their employer?”; 2) “Do corporations have a responsibility beyond maximizing profits?”; 3) “How ought autonomous vehicles be programmed to respond when the lives of passengers and pedestrians are on the line?”, etc. In addition, we will take a look at influential moral theories and see how they bear on particular ethical questions. This is an introductory philosophy course, and as such presupposes no background knowledge in philosophy. Reading selections may include both historical and contemporary philosophical texts. This course meets the following Raider Core CLO requirement: Demonstrate Ethical Understanding. (prereq: none)
Course Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of existing engineering and business ethics issues
  • Anticipate future ethical issues arising from emerging technologies and their philosophical bases
  • Exhibit familiarity with and understanding of established ethical frameworks, concepts, and principles within ethical theory
  • Connect these theoretical frameworks, concepts, and principles to applied issues
  • Use those theoretical resources to help understand and resolve the applied issues while at the same time scrutinizing the theoretical principles by evaluating their real-world implications
  • Evaluate competing considerations about engineers’ and designers’ moral responsibility for the products they create and services they provide
  • Engage in independent ethical reasoning on novel problems using theoretical and practical ethical resources learned
  • Foster ethical behavior and integrity in one’s professional and personal life using the theoretical and practical resources learned

Prerequisites by Topic
  • None

Course Topics
  • Logic and reasoning (deductive and inductive arguments, validity and soundness, etc.)
  • The challenge of moral disagreement and moral relativism 
  • Ethical frameworks, concepts, and principles (utilitarianism, Kantianism, virtue ethics, etc.)
  • The ethics of marketing and advertising
  • Whistle-blowing and personal responsibility
  • The ethics of the workplace (employee freedoms and “private government”)
  • Corporate obligations: the shareholder theory vs. the stakeholder theory
  • The ethics of the living wage
  • Engineers and the environment (geo-engineering, the value of nature, etc.)
  • The ethics of genetic engineering (enhancement, “designer babies”, etc.)
  • The ethics of autonomous vehicles
  • The value of privacy
  • Data privacy: the case of consumer scoring data

Dr. Andrew McAninch

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