Answer to Question #170324 in Engineering for zainab

Question #170324

how "utilitarianism" is close to the engineering approach of progression ? identify ho the fault lines in the approach are countered through the codes of cponduct and codes of ethics in the realm of engineering profession.


Expert's answer

Utilitarianism in ethical design thinking doesn’t mean putting customer needs, wants, and concerns before technical requirements for safety, cost, etc. Instead, it asks engineers to consider how design changes will enable their design solutions to best fit customer needs and technical requirements while minimizing the potential safety hazards, costs, and other harms that could result from the implementation of the design. Most importantly, Utilitarianism is not aiming to achieve perfection. Design with a Utilitarian Approach in engineering is more about identifying these tradeoffs in design dilemmas, and weighing the costs and benefits that come with them.

Enumerating certain trade-offs as a result of making design choices is a great example of using utilitarianism in engineering design. While not all trade-offs are as simple as increasing “A”, but decreasing “B”, some helpful considerations to analyze the ethical outcomes of design decisions are:

  • With regard to functionality and user-simplicity: Value may be added to the design with the addition of peripheral functionalities. At the same time, user-simplicity demands that your product achieve its main functionality while being as simple as possible to operate.
  • With regard to functionality and cost: Similarly, the addition of peripheral functionalities can require more hardware, programming, and aesthetic work that can make the design more expensive.
  • With regard to cost and safety: Sometimes it is necessary in the design process to consider cheaper options to design problems to maintain a budget or meet a target cost.
  • With regard to cost and functionality: Implementing cheaper design solutions may solve immediate problems with the design, however, it is possible that these solutions will not be robust and compromise the main functionality of the design.
  • With regard to customer expectations and safety: While it is important to listen to customer input on your design, their input may not always consider human safety.
  • With regard to cost and sustainability: Implementing design solutions that rely on non-reusable materials such as non-recyclable plastics, soiled aluminum, or glass in your design may be cheaper, but also less sustainable in practice.

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