Do ethics matter? Why should we structural engineers take a closer interest in ethics? We have rules of conduct which we respect – isn’t that enough? Is an interest in ethics good for business? There are no simple answers to these complex questions but I will show that reflective experienced practical engineers are well equipped both theoretically and practically to benefit by articulating and communicating added value by considering ethics. The discussion is at three levels of understanding. The first level is the most obvious and perhaps rather superficial level – where ethics matters to structural engineers because we are human beings. The second takes the arguments a little deeper to extract more value for engineers. The third level risks the discussion becoming too esoteric but provides some important underpinning to any value that we can extract from thinking about ethical issues. Good ethical practice improves business, demonstrates duty of care, helps recruitment and communicates value. Members of the Institution can help each other by sharing ethical dilemmas they have experienced in practice.
Prof. David Blockley, FREng, BEng, PhD, DSc, CEng, FIStructE, FICE
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TR