The Social Production of Technical Work: The Case of British Engineers

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See diagram below Engineers have a legal obligation to avoid the outer area of falsehoods, omissions and deliberate distortions. So does ethical reasoning only apply to the grey area where they can get away with slight distortions? Or do they also have an ethical obligation, when operating within the range of scientific credibility, to make judgements in favour of the public interest and environmental protection? Is it reasonable to expect people to be conscious of the way they shape scientific studies and to endeavour not to be influenced by vested interests in that shaping?

From the standpoint of ethical egoism it makes sense for the engineer to prepare an EIS which favours the project. An engineer's career prospects are dependent on an employer's assessment of their loyalty and reliability. Engineers seldom have the sort of independent reputations that scientists sometimes build up through publications. Even as self-employed consultants, engineers are dependent on the judgement of clients and that judgement is based on whether they are perceived to be able to deliver what is required by the client. In many fields the number of potential clients is very limited and consultants with troubling tendencies toward social responsibility will soon be well known.

If engineers relied solely on ethical egoism for moral reasoning then there is no reason why they should look beyond their employer's interest in preparing an EIS unless they themselves would be adversely affected by the project. However, engineers are expected by the community to go beyond self-interest. This is especially so since most engineering codes of ethics also include a tenet requiring them to apply their skill and knowledge in the interest of the client.

Despite debate within the Australian Institution of Engineers, the Code of Ethics deliberately leaves out specific mention of environment in the tenet above leaving it up to the individual engineer to decide whether environmental protection is an essential ingredient of community welfare. In discussions about their role in preparing EISs most engineering consultants refer to a different kind of moral reasoning, they argue that they have integrity a virtue based ethic and that therefore their EIS reports are not biased in favour of the proponent.

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Engineering codes of ethics also generally include tenets such as "engineers shall act with fairness, honesty and in good faith This ethic may, however, prevent such an engineer from knowingly wandering into the grey area. I would argue that most engineers are quite conscious of the way they manipulate an EIS to give a favourable outcome and that their claim of integrity has more to do with reputation than ethical behaviour. Engineering consultants that earn a reputation with the public for misleading and distorted EISs will be a liability to project proponents who want to gain public approval for their projects.

On the other hand consultants who prepare an EIS that gives the opposition plenty of ammunition against a project or causes approval to be denied would also not get further work. Integrity for engineering consultants involves treading that fine line that enables a favourable EIS to be prepared without resorting to blatant bias; that is by remaining within or close to the area of scientific credibility. Engineering is one example of a collective activity that is built upon the work of past engineers and a consensus within the profession about what are appropriate technological solutions.

The terms technological systems [25] , technological traditions [26] , technological paradigms [27] , technological regimes [28] and technological trajectories used by scholars of technology all refer to the way technological development is a social enterprise shaped by the context within which it occurs. The design, choice and implementation of technology is seldom an individual endeavour. Most engineering projects rely upon teams of engineers working together and no single engineer feels individually responsible for the outcome, nor is any project dependent on the willingness and cooperation of any one engineer.

As Cohen and Grace point out: "groupthink" typically is responsible for perceiving and articulating whatever justification there is for a project. A critical perspective is difficult for an individual to take, let alone sustain, in the course of "normal" engineering work under an accepted paradigm. In this case an EIS applies to a single project which on its own may have quite minor environmental impacts. It is often the cumulative impact of such projects that degrades the environment. Therefore an engineer working on a particular EIS may feel satisfied that the project will not significantly harm the environment but to what extent can such an engineer be expected to consider the cumulative impact of many such projects?

The Institution of Engineers, Australia clearly does not believe that this is possible. It has argued that EISs cannot adequately assess the cumulative impacts of projects and that "it was naive to expect the EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] process to address longer-term sustainability issues. These consequences are weighed against the wealth to be created by the project and in most nations priority is given to the wealth generating potential of the project. Clearly it is unrealistic and perhaps even unreasonable to rely on the ethics of individual engineers applied to individual projects to protect the environment from the impact of engineering works, particularly within a market economy where the self-interest ethic of the market dominates.

However, a growing recognition of environmental decline has prompted governments all over the world to turn to sustainable development as a way of managing the environment. But does sustainable development supply a social ethic to replace the individualistic ethic of the market which would be more supportive for engineers who act ethically? The Ethic of Sustainable Development The central ethical principle behind sustainable development is intergenerational equity.

The Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Firstly it can be considered in terms of ensuring long term consequences of today's actions. This utilitarian viewpoint fits the pragmatic concerns of some business interests. The environmental crisis threatens the sustainability of economic activity. Many activities such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, tourism and recreation are dependent on a healthy environment. Others are indirectly affected as it becomes more expensive to obtain resources and because pollution decreases the health of the work-force.

Looking ahead to the future ensures the sustainability of business activities.

Intergenerational equity can also be considered a duty that current generations have to future generations or a right of future generations. However, if we examine the way that sustainable development is operationalised we see that it is done in a way that protects the market system and perpetuates individualism and self-interest above any ethic of equity. David Pearce argues that if we are to ensure intergenerational equity then future generations need to be compensated for any environmental damage done by current generations and that this is best done by ensuring that damage is made up for by increased wealth and human-made assets.

In other words natural capital the environment can be run down if human-made capital money, equipment, infrastructure, knowledge etc are increased.

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Because they are not owned and do not have price tags then there is no incentive to protect them. This is a view shared by business people. The Business Council of Australia claims that the environmental problem; is that important environmental assets tend not to be priced in a market like other assets. These assets are common property - they belong to everybody, and to nobody.

Without ownership rights there is not the incentive for any person or group to look after them properly However the whole process of pricing the environment to ensure that decisions take account of environmental degradation works against intergenerational equity and instead extends market logic and market morality into a wider sphere of operation.

There are two main ways of operationalising the idea of putting a price on the environment.

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A cost-benefit analysis CBA for a road project will require estimates of the value of time saved and may require estimates of the value of bushland or open space lost to the community. Laboratory exercises consist of qualitative and quantitative analysis and acid-base chemistry. The TE program also includes an introductory course in computer applications and a learning skills course. Related articles in Google Scholar. If you are familiar with the Earned Value Management System, go ahead and download the template.

The first is through cost-benefit analyses. The second is through the use of economic instruments. The sustainable development approach is to incorporate these environmental costs and benefits by pricing them and incorporating them into the calculations. In a way CBA is the ultimate embodiment of consequentialist ethics in that it seeks to ensure that good consequences outweigh bad consequences and consequences are measures in money terms. In reality however CBA works against the ethic of equity and the measuring of consequences in financial terms fails to capture the consequences fully.

CBA is about aggregated costs and benefits and does not deal with the issue of how they are distributed yet distribution of costs and benefits is of is of prime concern when considering equity. As long as the sum of benefits outweighs the sum of the costs, even if a small groups of people get the benefits and a whole community suffers the costs, the society as a whole is assumed to be better off by CBA.

It is sometimes argued by economists that, if the total benefits outweigh the total costs, the winners could compensate the losers and still be better off; but this is only theoretical reasoning and seldom happens. In a CBA, the value of future consequences is discounted reduced because it is assumed that costs and benefits in the future are not worth as much to people today. This is a direct result of using money as a measure.

The social production of technical work : the case of British engineers

The logic behind discounting derives from the logic of money--that a person would prefer to receive money now than the same amount in the future. Daly and Cobb point out that the idea of discounting comes from the fact that money can be put in the bank to get interest and that people have a choice between putting their money in a bank or investing in the project in question. Economists forget this when they apply their models to things that don't grow like money in a bank, such as the environment. Normal discount rates ensure that any costs or benefits more than 30 years in the future are almost valueless for the purposes of a CBA.

Creations, Circulations, Tensions, Transitions (19th–21st C.)

Discounting therefore discriminates against future generations by saying that environmental damage in the long-term future can effectively be ignored. CBA also rests on the assumption that environmental assets can be substituted by human-made assets and all that matters in the end is that the aggregate gains outweigh the aggregated losses. If a project generates more wealth than what it is calculated the environmental damage that is caused is worth, then the project should go ahead. Gaskell download online The Letters of Mrs. Describe the challenges as listed in the book and see if the person it might be a parent discussing their child agrees with or learns from the stage theory?

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The work is scheduled for release in They include both white-collar and blue-collar workers. White-collar workers are included because they, like blue-collar workers, do not have control over other workers or even over their own lives.

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The distinguishing feature of this class is that they sell their labor power to capitalists and earn their income through wages online. So, there is no need to worry about confidentiality. Letters to the download for free download Fors clavigera. Letters to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain Volume 1. Certifications An ASME certification signifies that you or your company is committed to public safety and quality.

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