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Communications of the ACM

Computing ethics

Coupled Ethical-Epistemic Analysis in Teaching Ethics

Coupled Ethical-Epistemic Analysis in Teaching Ethics, illustrative photo

Credit: Garsya

Ethics is an important component of STEM education as illustrated by the fact that ABET accreditation requires proof of training in ethics for engineering fields. But what range of knowledge and skills are required for integrity? Covering codes of ethics does not teach ethical sensibility or the ethical reasoning skills required for research and professional integrity.10 So what should be included in ethics education for engineers?

Engineers like to "get it right," and engineering education should focus on knowledge and skills to ensure that engineering work meets the highest standards of empirical and theoretical adequacy. This is what Mason5 refers to as a "covenant with reality." But this does not ensure the best interests of the broader community and the environment are served. "Getting it right" requires understanding what is epistemically and ethically salient to the issues being addressed, communicating information and sharing technologies in ways users can understand, and supporting responsible application.


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