•  294
    Michael Davis, a leading figure in the study of professional ethics, offers here both a compelling exploration of engineering ethics and a philosophical analysis of engineering as a profession. After putting engineering in historical perspective, Davis turns to the Challenger space shuttle disaster to consider the complex relationship between engineering ideals and contemporary engineering practice. Here, Davis examines how social organization and technical requirements define how engineers shou…Read more
  •  252
    The Moral Justifiability of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy 19 (2): 161-178. 2005.
    Since Henry Shue’s classic 1978 paper on torture, the “ticking-bomb case” has seemed to demonstrate that torture is morally justified in some moral emergencies (even if not as an institution). After presenting an analysis of torture as such and an explanation of why it, and anything much like it, is morally wrong, I argue that the ticking-bomb case demonstrates nothing at all—for at least three reasons. First, it is an appeal to intuition. The intuition is not as widely shared as necessary to co…Read more
  •  203
    An historical preface to engineering ethics
    Science and Engineering Ethics 1 (1): 33-48. 1995.
    This article attempts to distinguish between science and technology, on the one hand, and engineering, on the other, offering a brief introduction to engineering values and engineering ethics. The method is (roughly) a philosophical examination of history. Engineering turns out to be a relatively recent enterprise, barely three hundred years old, to have distinctive commitments both technical and moral, and to have changed a good deal both technically and morally during that period. What motivat…Read more
  •  162
    What can we learn by looking for the first code of professional ethics?
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 24 (5): 433-454. 2003.
    The first code of professional ethics must: (1)be a code of ethics; (2) apply to members of a profession; (3) apply to allmembers of that profession; and (4) apply only to members of that profession. The value of these criteria depends on how we define “code”, “ethics”, and “profession”, terms the literature on professions has defined in many ways. This paper applies one set of definitions of “code”, “ethics”, and “profession” to a part of what we now know of the history of professions, there by…Read more
  •  144
    Some Paradoxes of Whistleblowing
    Business and Professional Ethics Journal 15 (1): 3-19. 1996.
  •  125
    Eighteen rules for writing a code of professional ethics
    Science and Engineering Ethics 13 (2): 171-189. 2007.
    Most professional societies, scientific associations, and the like that undertake to write a code of ethics do so using other codes as models but without much (practical) guidance about how to do the work. The existing literature on codes is much more concerned with content than procedure. This paper adds to guidance already in the literature what I learned from participating in the writing of an important code of ethics. The guidance is given in the form of “rules” each of which is explained an…Read more
  •  122
    Conflict of Interest in the Professions (edited book)
    with Andrew Stark
    Oxford University Press. 2001.
    Conflicts of interest pose special problems for the professions. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest can undermine essential trust between professional and public. This volume is a comprehensive and accessible guide to the ramifications and problems associated with important issue. It contains fifteen new essays by noted scholars and covers topics in law, medicine, journalism, engineering, financial services, and others.
  •  116
    This paper describes developments in punishment theory since the middle of the twentieth century. After the mid–1960s, what Stanley I. Benn called “preventive theories of punishment”—whether strictly utilitarian or more loosely consequentialist like his—entered a long and steep decline, beginning with the virtual disappearance of reform theory in the 1970s. Crowding out preventive theories were various alternatives generally (but, as I shall argue, misleadingly) categorized as “retributive”. The…Read more
  •  107
    A sound retributive argument for the death penalty
    Criminal Justice Ethics 21 (2): 22-26. 2002.
  •  97
    Is there a profession of engineering?
    Science and Engineering Ethics 3 (4): 407-428. 1997.
    This article examines three common arguments for the claim that engineering is not a profession: 1) that engineering lacks an ideal internal to its practice; 2) that engineering’s ideal, whether internal or not, is merely technical; and 3) that engineering lacks the social arrangements characteristic of a true profession. All three arguments are shown to rely on one or another definition of profession, each of which is inadequate. An alternative to these definition is offered. It has at least tw…Read more
  •  91
    There are many ways to avoid responsibility, for example, explaining what happens as the work of the gods, fate, society, or the system. For engineers, “technology” or “the organization” will serve this purpose quite well. We may distinguish at least nine (related) senses of “responsibility”, the most important of which are: (a) responsibility-as-causation (the storm is responsible for flooding), (b) responsibility-as-liability (he is the person responsible and will have to pay), (c) responsibil…Read more
  •  83
    Is the Death Penalty Irrevocable?
    Social Theory and Practice 10 (2): 143-156. 1984.
  •  77
    Rewarding Whistleblowers: A Conceptual Problem?
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (2): 269-277. 2012.
    Since 2010, Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Act has required the Securities and Exchange Commission to give a significant financial reward to any whistleblower who voluntarily discloses original information concerning fraud or other unlawful activity. How, if at all, might such “incentives” change our understanding of whistleblowing? My answer is that, while incentives should not change the definition of whistleblowing, it should change our understanding of the justification of whistleblowing. We …Read more
  •  73
    Imaginary Cases in Ethics: A Critique
    International Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (1): 1-17. 2012.
    By “case,” I mean a proxy for some state of affairs, event, sequence of events, or other fact. A case may be as short as a phrase or longer than War and Peace. A case may consist of words or have a more dramatic form, such as a movie, stage performance, or computer simulation. Imaginary cases plainly have an important role in contemporary ethics, especially in applied or practical ethics. This paper is a systematic critique of imaginary cases in ethics. There are two main parts. The first explai…Read more
  •  69
    Ethics, Finance, and Automation: A Preliminary Survey of Problems in High Frequency Trading (review)
    with Andrew Kumiega and Ben Van Vliet
    Science and Engineering Ethics 19 (3): 851-874. 2013.
    All of finance is now automated, most notably high frequency trading. This paper examines the ethical implications of this fact. As automation is an interdisciplinary endeavor, we argue that the interfaces between the respective disciplines can lead to conflicting ethical perspectives; we also argue that existing disciplinary standards do not pay enough attention to the ethical problems automation generates. Conflicting perspectives undermine the protection those who rely on trading should have.…Read more
  •  67
    What’s philosophically interesting about engineering ethics?
    Science and Engineering Ethics 9 (3): 353-361. 2003.
    What makes a subject philosophically interesting is hard-to-resolve confusion about fundamental concepts. Engineering ethics suffers from at least three such fundamental confusions. First, there is confusion about what the “ethics” in engineering ethics is (ordinary morality, philosophical ethics, special standards, or something else?) Second, there is confusion about what the profession of engineering is (a function, discipline, occupation, kind of organization, or something else?) Third, there…Read more
  •  67
    Professional Responsibility: Just Following the Rules?
    Business and Professional Ethics Journal 18 (1): 65-87. 1999.
  •  64
    Setting penalties: What does rape deserve? (review)
    Law and Philosophy 3 (1). 1984.
    The paper is an application of the principle of just deserts (that is, retribution) to the setting of statutory penalties. The conclusion is that there should be no separate penalty for rape but that rape should be punished under the ordinary battery statutes. The argument has four parts. First, there is a description of the place of rape in a typical statutory scheme. Second, there is a consideration of possible justifications for giving rape the status it has in such a typical scheme. All just…Read more
  •  63
    What punishment for the murder of 10,000?
    Res Publica 16 (2): 101-118. 2010.
    Those who commit crime on a grand scale, numbering their victims in the thousands, seem to pose a special problem both for consequentialist and for non-consequentialist theories of punishment, a problem the International Criminal Court makes practical. This paper argues that at least one non-consequentialist theory of punishment, the fairness theory, can provide a justification of punishment for great crimes. It does so by dividing the question into two parts, the one of proportion which it answ…Read more
  •  62
    The professional approach to engineering ethics: Five research questions
    Science and Engineering Ethics 7 (3): 379-390. 2001.
    This paper argues that research for engineering ethics should routinely involve philosophers, social scientists, and engineers, and should focus for now on certain basic questions such as: Who is an engineer? What is engineering? What do engineers do? How do they make decisions? And how much control do they actually have over what they do?
  •  59
    Harm and retribution
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (3): 236-266. 1986.
  •  58
    Integrating ethics into technical courses: Micro-insertion (review)
    Science and Engineering Ethics 12 (4): 717-730. 2006.
    Perhaps the most common reason science and engineering faculty give for not including “ethics” (that is, research ethics, engineering ethics, or some discussion of professional responsibility) in their technical classes is that “there is no room”. This article 1) describes a technique (“micro-insertion”) that introduces ethics (and related topics) into technical courses in small enough units not to push out technical material, 2) explains where this technique might fit into the larger undertakin…Read more
  •  50
    The Death Penalty, Civilization, and Inhumaneness
    Social Theory and Practice 16 (2): 245-259. 1990.
  •  50
    Getting Started: Helping a New Profession Develop an Ethics Program
    with Matthew W. Keefer
    Science and Engineering Ethics 19 (1): 259-264. 2013.
    Both of us have been involved with helping professions, especially new scientific or technological professions, develop ethics programs—for undergraduates, graduates, and practitioners. By “ethics program”, we mean any strategy for teaching ethics, including developing materials. Our purpose here is to generalize from that experience to identify the chief elements needed to get an ethics program started in a new profession. We are focusing on new professions for two reasons. First, all the older…Read more
  •  48
    Torture and the inhumane
    Criminal Justice Ethics 26 (2): 29-43. 2007.
    No abstract