The social nature of engineering and its implications for risk taking

Science and Engineering Ethics 16 (1):147-168 (2010)
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Abstract
Making decisions with an, often significant, element of risk seems to be an integral part of many of the projects of the diverse profession of engineering. Whether it be decisions about the design of products, manufacturing processes, public works, or developing technological solutions to environmental, social and global problems, risk taking seems inherent to the profession. Despite this, little attention has been paid to the topic and specifically to how our understanding of engineering as a distinctive profession might affect how we should make decisions under risk. This paper seeks to remedy this, firstly by offering a nuanced account of risk and then by considering how specific claims about our understanding of engineering as a social profession, with corresponding social values and obligations, should inform how we make decisions about risk in this context
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