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How to address the volitional dimension of the engineer's social responsibility

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In this paper I argue that volitional aspects, i.e. ethos, attitude, pathos, will, underlying emotion, in engineering action need to be addressed when teaching social responsibility within the engineering curriculum. After presenting reasons for this claim, I look at two different, but not mutually exclusive, approaches to address volitional aspects. First, the recent revival of virtue ethics can be applied in engineering ethics. A moderate version of virtue ethics can explicitly elaborate on the engineering virtues. The second way makes use of various processes, e.g. research, design, learning, negotiation, decision-making, and reconciliation as processes, as a forum for teaching. This approach can be used to indirectly reveal the functionality and dysfunctionality of different attitudes to the students. Practical didactic suggestions are presented.
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Keywords: engineering education; engineering ethics; motivation; social responsibility; virtue ethics; volition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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