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Engineering as Normative Practice: Ethical Reflections on Tasks and Responsibilities

Engineering as Normative Practice: Ethical Reflections on Tasks and Responsibilities
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Author(s): Marc J. de Vries (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands)
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 10
Source title: Contemporary Ethical Issues in Engineering
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Satya Sundar Sethy (Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8130-9.ch002

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Abstract

The concept of social practice was introduced by Alisdair Macintyre as a means for ethical reflections for professional situations. This concept has been extended by Hoogland and Jochemsen to include different types of norms. The term “normative practice” indicates that practices are determined by the norms by which they are defined. Engineering is such a normative practice, one that is part of a more complex situation of technological developments, in which other normative practices are also involved (e.g., a government practice, a business practice, a consumer practice). The norms in a normative practice are not only ethical norms but also include task descriptions. In this chapter, the role of both non-ethical and ethical norms in engineering as normative practices is analyzed. This is illustrated by two case studies: one from military ethics (with a specific focus on the role of technology) and one from synthetic biology.

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