6. Do not deceive.
7. Keep your promises.
8. Do not cheat.
9. Obey the law.
10. Do your duty.
Most of these rules are proscriptive. Only rules 7, 9, and 10 are prescriptive,
telling us what to do rather than what not to do. The first five directly prohibit
the infliction of harm on others. The next five lead indirectly to prevention of
harm. Interestingly, these rules track quite closely with the tenets and canons of
the engineering profession (see Table 6.1).
The Gert model is good news for green design. Numerous ethical theories
can form the basis for engineering ethics and moral judgment. Again, Kant is
known for defining ethics as a sense of duty . Hobbes presented ethics within
the framework of a social contract , with elements reminiscent of Gert's common
morality. Mill considered ethics with regard to the goodness of action or decision
as the basis for utilitarianism . Philosophers and ethicists spend much effort and
energy deciphering these and other theories as paradigms for ethical decision
making. Engineers can learn much from these points of view, but in large mea-
sure, engineering ethics is an amalgam of various elements of many theories. As
evidence, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has succinctly
bracketed ethical behavior into three models 12 :
1. Malpractice, or minimalist, model . In some ways this is really not an ethical
model in that the engineer is only acting in ways that are required to keep
his or her license or professional membership. As such, it is more of a le-
galistic model. The engineer operating within this framework is concerned
exclusively with adhering to standards and meeting requirements of the
profession and any other applicable rules, laws, or codes. This is often a
retroactive or backward-looking model, finding fault after failures, prob-
lems, or accidents happen. Any ethical breach is evaluated based on design,
building, operation, or other engineering steps that have failed to meet
recognized professional standards. This is a common approach in failure
engineering and in ethical review board considerations. It is also the basis
of numerous engineering case studies. As such, it is crucial to design pro-
fessionalism in that it establishes clear baselines and criteria. However, true
professionalism transcends the minimalist model.
2. Reasonable-care, or due-care, model . This model goes a step further than the
minimalist model, calling on the engineer to take reasonable precautions
and to provide care in the practice of the profession. Interestingly, every