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The University of Western Ontario

ES 4498G
Engineering Ethics,
Sustainable Development and
the Law
January 11, 2010

The University of Western Ontario

Outline of Todays Class


Ethics
Why study engineering ethics?
Ethical Theory
Review of the PEO Code of Ethics

Regulation of the Profession


The Professional Engineers Act
Negligence, incompetence and professional misconduct
Disciplinary powers and procedures

Review and discussion of disciplinary cases


Discussion of Position Paper Assignment

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Ethics
Ethics is classified as one of the four
traditional branches of Philosophy:
Logic

The study of reasoning, analysis + synthesis, critical


thinking

Epistemology

The theory of knowledge what is it, how do we get it,


how do we know what we know

Metaphysics

The study of the nature of existence, predecessor to


science

Ethics

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Ethics
Ethics is the study of:
Good and Evil
Right and Wrong
Obligations and Rights

But what is Good? (Evil, Right,


Wrong)

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Why Study Ethics?

Is the goal an Indoctrination to an identical moral system


or to develop Moral Autonomy?
Moral autonomy: the skill and habit of thinking rationally
about ethical issues on the basis of moral concern.
Levels of Moral Development

Theories of Moral Development

Pre-Conventional
Conventional
Post-Conventional
Lawrence Kohlberg vs. Carol Gilligan
Heinzs Dilemma

How can we use knowledge of ethical theories to approach


problems and develop stronger Moral Autonomy

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Ethical Theories
Aristotles Virtue Ethics

Aristotle (384-322 BC)


Happiness is achieved by developing virtues
(qualities of character).
Virtues are usually the golden mean between
two extremes or vices. E.g. courage is the
golden mean between foolhardiness and
cowardice.
The concept of virtue is difficult to apply, but the
concept of the golden mean is often useful.

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Ethical Theories
Lockes Rights Ethics
John Locke (1632-1704)
All individuals are free and equal and
each has a right to life, health, liberty,
possessions and the products of his or
her labour.
Everyone has a duty not to infringe on the
rights of others.
Sometimes rights conflict.

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Ethical Theories
Kants Formalism (Duty-based Ethics)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Each person has a duty to follow those
courses of action that would be
acceptable as universal principles for
everyone to follow.
Intention to do ones duty (good will) more
important than the result of actions.
Difficult to put in practice, since inflexible.

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Ethical Theories
Mills Utilitarianism
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
An action is ethically correct if it produces
the greatest benefit for the greatest
number of people.
The duration, intensity and equality of
distribution of the benefits should be
considered (e.g. seatbelt, smoking laws).
Most commonly used theory in
engineering and general society.

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Ethical Conflicts and Dilemmas


Ethical theories are most often in
agreement (e.g. the Golden Rule).
An ethical dilemma occurs when
different ethical theories suggest
different and conflicting courses of
action.
Concepts such as the golden mean
can help to resolve such dilemmas.

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Resolving Ethical Dilemmas


Develop an Engineering Design process
to work through assigned case studies
and real life problems:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Recognize the Need or Problem


Gather Information and Define the Problem
Generate Alternative Solutions (Synthesis)
Evaluate Alternatives (Analysis)
Decision Making and Optimization
Implementation

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Resolving Ethical Dilemmas


Also, read section on Steps in
Confronting Moral Dilemmas in Why
Study Engineering Ethics (Course Notes)
We can also look to codes for
guidance

Laws, Regulations, Common Law


Religious texts
Philosophical texts
Professional Codes of Ethics

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The Code of Hammurabi


The Responsibilities of the Engineer in 2000BC:

If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make


its construction firm and the house collapses and causes
the death of the owner of the house - that builder shall be
put to death.
If it causes the death of a son of the owner - a son of that
builder shall be put to death.
If it causes the death of a slave of the owner - the builder
shall give the owner a slave of equal value.
If it destroys property - the builder shall restore whatever
it destroyed and because the builder did not make the
house firm, shall rebuild the house which collapsed at his
own expense.
If a builder builds a house and does not make its
construction meet the requirements and a wall falls in that builder shall strengthen the wall at his own expense.

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The Code of Ethics


Every Province and Territory has a code
of ethics specified in the Act regulating the
practice of engineering.
Ontario is the only Province in which the
Code is not directly enforceable under the
Act. The Code is a guide to desired
behaviour, but only conduct that
constitutes professional misconduct
(defined elsewhere in the Act) is subject to
disciplinary action.

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The Code of Ethics

Ontarios Code of Ethics is comprised of 8


articles prescribing the ethical responsibilities of
a professional engineer.
The Code of Ethics is a basic guide to
professional conduct and imposes duties on the
practising professional engineer, with respect to:

society;
employers;
clients;
colleagues, including employees and subordinates;
the engineering profession; and
himself/herself.

from PEO Website

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Code of Ethics
[Section 77 of Ontario Regulation 941/90, established under Section 7(1)20 of
the Professional Engineers Act]
77. The following is the Code of Ethics of the Association:
1. It is the duty of a practitioner to the public, to the practitioner's employer, to
the practitioner's clients, to other members of the practitioner's profession,
and to the practitioner to act at all times with,
(i) fairness and loyalty to the practitioner's associates, employers, clients,
subordinates and employees,
(ii) fidelity to public needs,
(iii) devotion to high ideals of personal honour and professional integrity,
(iv) knowledge of developments in the area of professional engineering
relevant to any services that are undertaken, and
(v) competence in the performance of any professional engineering services
that are undertaken.

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2. A practitioner shall,
(i) regard the practitioner's duty to public welfare as paramount,
(ii) endeavour at all times to enhance the public regard for the
practitioner's profession by extending the public knowledge thereof
and discouraging untrue, unfair or exaggerated statements with
respect to professional engineering,
(iii) not express publicly, or while the practitioner is serving as a
witness before a court, commission or other tribunal, opinions on
professional engineering matters that are not founded on
adequate knowledge and honest conviction,
(iv) endeavor to keep the practitioner's licence, temporary licence,
limited licence or certificate of authorization, as the case may be,
permanently displayed in the practitioner's place of business.

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3. A practitioner shall act in professional engineering matters for each
employer as a faithful agent or trustee and shall regard as
confidential information obtained by the practitioner as to the
business affairs, technical methods or processes of an employer
and avoid or disclose a conflict of interest that might influence the
practitioner's actions or judgment.
4. A practitioner must disclose immediately to the practitioner's client
any interest, direct or indirect, that might be construed as
prejudicial in any way to the professional judgment of the
practitioner in rendering service to the client.

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5. A practitioner who is an employee-engineer and is contracting in the
practitioner's own name to perform professional engineering work
for other than the practitioner's employer, must provide the
practitioner's client with a written statement of the nature of the
practitioner's status as an employee and the attendant limitations
on the practitioner's services to the client, must satisfy the
practitioner that the work will not conflict with the practitioner's duty
to the practitioner's employer, and must inform the practitioner's
employer of the work.
6. A practitioner must co-operate in working with other professionals
engaged on a project.

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7. A practitioner shall,
(i) act towards other practitioners with courtesy and good faith,
(ii) not accept an engagement to review the work of another
practitioner for the same employer except with the knowledge of
the other practitioner or except where the connection of the other
practitioner with the work has been terminated,
(iii) not maliciously injure the reputation or business of another
practitioner,
(iv) not attempt to gain an advantage over other practitioners by
paying or accepting a commission in securing professional
engineering work, and
(v) give proper credit for engineering work, uphold the principle of
adequate compensation for engineering work, provide opportunity
for professional development and advancement of the
practitioner's associates and subordinates, and extend the
effectiveness of the profession through the interchange of
engineering information and experience.

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8. A practitioner shall maintain the honour and integrity of the
practitioner's profession and without fear or favour expose before
the proper tribunals unprofessional, dishonest or unethical conduct
by any other practitioner.

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The Code of Ethics


These articles are not exhaustive
They provide guidance to the professional
An ethical dilemma may arise when
certain aspects of the Code come into
conflict with one another
The ethical theories and decision-making
procedures described earlier can be used
to help resolve such dilemmas

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The Code of Ethics


As a self-regulating profession, it is
engineers who have drafted the Code of
Ethics and engineers who have the
responsibility to ensure that it continues to
reflect the values of the profession and to
modify it if necessary.

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Outline of Todays Class


Ethics

Why study engineering ethics?


Ethical Theory
Hammurabis Code
Review of the PEO Code of Ethics

Regulation of the Profession


The Professional Engineers Act
Negligence, incompetence and professional misconduct
Disciplinary powers and procedures

Review and discussion of disciplinary cases


Discussion of Position Paper

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Ontario Professional Engineers Act


Federal Government
(Canada)

Provincial Government
(Ontario)
Licensing and
Regulating Body for
Engineering (PEO)
Individual Engineers
(P.Eng.)

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Ontario Professional Engineers Act


Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990,
Chapter P.28
http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90p28_e.htm#bk6

Includes definition of engineering,


membership requirements, disciplinary
powers.
Ontario Regulation 941 is made under the
Act and includes the code of ethics and
the definition of professional misconduct.

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Ontario Professional Engineers Act


Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO)

PEO is the licensing and regulating body for


engineering in the province. It fulfills the same role for
engineers as the College of Physicians and Surgeons
for doctors or the Law Society of Upper Canada for
lawyers.
Under the Professional Engineers Act, a provincial
statute, PEO is responsible for the licensing and
discipline of engineers and companies providing
engineering services. PEO protects the public by
ensuring all professional engineers are qualified for
licensing.

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Professional Misconduct
[Section 72 of Ontario Regulation 941/90, established under
Section 7(1)21 of the Act]
72. (1) In this section,
harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious
comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to
be known as unwelcome and that might reasonably be
regarded as interfering in a professional engineering
relationship;
negligence means an act or an omission in the carrying out of
the work of a practitioner that constitutes a failure to
maintain the standards that a reasonable and prudent
practitioner would maintain in the circumstances.

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Professional Misconduct
(2) For the purposes of the Act and this Regulation,
professional misconduct means,
(a) negligence;
(b) failure to make reasonable provision for the
safeguarding of life, health or property of a person
who may be affected by the work for which the
practitioner is responsible,
(c) failure to act to correct or report a situation that
the practitioner believes may endanger the safety
or the welfare of the public,

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Professional Misconduct
(d) failure to make responsible provision for complying
with applicable statutes, regulations, standards, codes,
by-laws and rules in connection with work being
undertaken by or under the responsibility of the
practitioner,
(e) signing or sealing a final drawing, specification,
plan, report or other document not actually prepared or
checked by the practitioner,
(f) failure of a practitioner to present clearly to the
practitioner's employer the consequences to be
expected from a deviation proposed in work, if the
professional engineering judgment of the practitioner is
overruled by non-technical authority in cases where
the practitioner is responsible for the technical
adequacy of professional engineering work,

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(g) breach of the Act or regulations, other than an action that is solely a breach of the
code of ethics,
(h) undertaking work the practitioner is not competent to perform by virtue of the
practitioner's training and experience,
(i) failure to make prompt, voluntary and complete disclosure of an interest, direct or
indirect, that might in any way be, or be construed as, prejudicial to the
professional judgment of the practitioner in rendering service to the public, to an
employer or to a client, and in particular, without limiting the generality of the
foregoing, carrying out any of the following acts without making such a prior
disclosure:
1. Accepting compensation in any form for a particular service from more than one
party.
2. Submitting a tender or acting as a contractor in respect of work upon which the
practitioner may be performing as a professional engineer.
3. Participating in the supply of material or equipment to be used by the employer
or client of the practitioner.
4. Contracting in the practitioner's own right to perform professional engineering
services for other than the practitioner's employer.
5. Expressing opinions or making statements concerning matters within the
practice of professional engineering of public interest where the opinions or
statements are inspired or paid for by other interests,

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(j) conduct or an act relevant to the practice of


professional engineering that, having regard to all the
circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by the
engineering profession as disgraceful, dishonourable
or unprofessional,
(k) failure by a practitioner to abide by the terms,
conditions or limitations of the practitioner's licence,
limited licence, temporary licence or certificate,
(l) failure to supply documents or information requested by
an investigator acting under section 34 of the Act,
(m) permitting, counselling or assisting a person who is
not a practitioner to engage in the
practice of professional engineering except as provided for
in the Act or the regulations,
(n) harassment.

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Misconduct and Incompetence


Section 28 of the Professional Engineers Act
Professional Misconduct
(2) A member of the Association or a holder of a
certificate of authorization, a temporary licence, a
provisional licence or a limited licence may be
found guilty of professional misconduct by the
Committee if,
(a) the member or holder has been found guilty of an
offence relevant to suitability to practise, upon
proof of such conviction;
(b) the member or holder has been guilty in the
opinion of the Discipline Committee of
professional misconduct as defined in the
regulations.

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Misconduct and Incompetence


Incompetence
(3) The Discipline Committee may find a member of the
Association or a holder of a temporary licence, a provisional
licence or a limited licence to be incompetent if in its opinion,
(a) the member or holder has displayed in his or her professional
responsibilities a lack of knowledge, skill or judgment or
disregard for the welfare of the public of a nature or to an
extent that demonstrates the member or holder is unfit to
carry out the responsibilities of a professional engineer; or
(b) the member or holder is suffering from a physical or mental
condition or disorder of a nature and extent making it
desirable in the interests of the public or the member or
holder that the member or holder no longer be permitted to
engage in the practice of professional engineering or that his
or her practice of professional engineering be restricted.

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Disciplinary Powers
Authority to prosecute people who
practise unlawfully and to discipline
licensed practitioners who are found
guilty of professional misconduct,
negligence or incompetence is
granted to the Association under
section 28 of the Professional
Engineers Act.

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Unlawful Practice
It is an offense under the Act for an
unlicensed person to:
Practise professional engineering
Use the title Professional Engineer
Use a term or title to give the belief that the
person is licensed
Use a seal that leads to the belief that the
person is licensed

The Association initiates action


Case heard by a trial judge who assesses
the penalty (typically a fine)

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Discipline for Professional Misconduct

For licensed members, disciplinary action for


professional misconduct or incompetence is
conducted within the Association by a discipline
committee formed of members.
The discipline committee investigates cases of:

Professional misconduct (incl. negligence)


Incompetence
Breach of the code of ethics (other provinces)
Conviction of an offence (ethical bearing)

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Disciplinary Process
Any member of the public can make a
complaint against a licensed engineer,
although typically building officials,
inspectors or other professionals.
Procedure must be fair, and seen to be
fair.
Three-stage process, with different
individuals involved with each stage to
ensure impartiality.

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Discipline Process
Stage 1: Gathering Information
(PEO staff)
Submission of complaint
Preliminary investigation
Complaint is signed and sent to
complainant for response

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Discipline Process
Stage 2: Evaluation of the Complaint
(Complaints Committee)
May refer to Discipline Committee
May refer to the Discipline Committee
via Stipulated Order
May dismiss complaint
Send letter of advice to Engineer
Direct staff to obtain more information

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Discipline Process
Stage 3: Formal Hearing (Discipline
Committee)
If referred, written notice, date is set, and
disclosure meeting
Hearing follows court procedure, with court
reporter and option of legal counsel,
Committee includes 5 members, give a written
decision
Appeals through civil courts

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Disciplinary Powers

Revoke license
Suspend license up to two years
Impose limitations on the license
Require examinations to be written
(including PPE)
Reprimand, admonishment or counselling
Impose a fine (up to $5000)
Publish details or summary of case
findings, with or without names
Pay costs of hearing and investigation

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Discipline Cases
The results of discipline hearings
may (depending on the details of
the case) be published in the
blue pages of Engineering
Dimensions
Available electronically through
the PEO website

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Discipline Cases
John C. Follows, P.Eng. and
Andrews & Campbell Associates

What are the facts of the case?


What are the relevant issues?
What are the relevant parts of the Act?
What did the committee decide?
Do you agree with the decision and
penalty?

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Discipline Cases

A member
Nican Project Management Ltd.
Richard L. Berghammer
Others (refer to PEO website)

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Position Paper
Monday, February 8, 4:00pm
Submit both to locker outside
room 2097 and electronically to
turnitin.com (through WebCT)

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Next Class
Topics
Library Presentation
Ethical and professional issues for engineers in
industry
Case studies

Readings
Andrews, Chapter 6 and 12
Course notes, pages 43-115