Chapter 5 Homework – Hydro level Case Study (Case #12)Directions: Please submit your assignment as a PDF on Blackboard. You can use this word document as atemplate for answering the homework questions. Use concepts and definitions discussed in the text toanswer the questions.1. How could McDonnel and Miller have avoided the appearance of a conflict? This applies to bothMitchell and James.2. Have ASME’s revised conflict of interest procedures addressed the problems fully? Why or whynot?3. What form(s) of dishonesty was illustrated in this case study?
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Chapter 5 Homework – Hydro level Case Study (Case #12)
Directions: Please submit your assignment as a PDF on Blackboard. You can use this word document as a
template for answering the homework questions. Use concepts and definitions discussed in the text to
answer the questions.
1. How could McDonnel and Miller have avoided the appearance of a conflict? This applies to both
Mitchell and James.
2. Have ASME’s revised conflict of interest procedures addressed the problems fully? Why or why
3. What form(s) of dishonesty was illustrated in this case study?
Class 5
ME 370: Engineering Disasters and Ethics
University of North Dakota
Chapter 5 – Trust and Reliability
Slides courtesy Cengage Learning
Honesty as a Virtue
• Review: What is a virtue?
• How do you promote honesty as virtue?
• When looking at honesty as a virtue
– The more you practice honesty, the less likely you
are to be dishonest
• Being dishonest, whether you are caught or
not, stays with you
Honesty in Codes of Ethics
• Honesty is highly valued in all Engineering codes of ethics
• i.e IEEE Cannon, Cannon 7
– “to be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based
on available data.”
– “ to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work.”
• ASME, 7th Fundamental Canon
– “Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and
truthful manner.” A subsection instructs engineers not to
“participate in the dissemination of untrue, unfair, or
exaggerated statements regarding engineering.”
• NSPE, (II.1.d)
– Engineers shall not permit the use of their name or associate in
business ventures with any person or firm that they believe is
engaged in fraudulent or dishonest enterprise.
What are ways of deceiving?

Deliberate deception, but without lying
Withholding expected information
Failure to seek out the truth
Despite many complications, most people
believe that lies have three elements:
1. a lie involves something that is believed by the
liar to be false or seriously misleading.
2. a lie is ordinarily stated in words.
3. a lie is made with the intention to deceive.
Deception and Withholding
• Deception
– Can misrepresent your own expertise and also
misrepresent the value of certain products or designs
by praising their advantages inordinately.
• Omitting or withholding information can be
another type of deceptive behavior.
• In more general terms that one is practicing a
form of dishonesty by omission:
1. if you fail to convey information that the audience
would reasonably expect would not be omitted and
2. if the intent of the omission is to deceive.
Failure to Seek Out the Truth
• An honest engineer is one who is committed
to finding the truth, not just avoiding
• Suppose an engineer suspects that some of
the data received from the lab are inaccurate.
– In using the results as they are, he is neither lying
nor concealing the truth.
– But he may be irresponsible in using the results
without inquiring further into their accuracy.
If knowledge is power then, ignorance is powerlessness
Informing the Public
• Irresponsibility in handling technical information
may be best described as a failure to inform
those whose decisions are impaired by the
absence of the information
– Think Ford Pinto & Challenger
• Have to do more than not just lie or refuse to
withhold information
• May have to aggressively go beyond usual duties
to ensure that the consumers of technology are
not forced to make uninformed decisions
regarding the use of that technology.
Dishonesty and Respect for Persons
• Compare to physicians- responsibility to moral
– Inform, consent, decide, understand
• Engineers need to ensure that employers, clients
and general public can make informed decisions
• “Disclose promptly factors that might endanger
the public or the environment” – IEEE Code of
How does honesty/dishonesty fit into the
three different types of moral theories?
How does honesty/dishonesty fit into the
three different types of moral theories?
• Honesty as a virtue.
– Need to tell the truth in order to continue to promote
• Respect for Person’s
– Everyone needs to be informed to make a decision
• Utilitarian
– Honesty usually promotes overall wellbeing of the
general public
– Looks more towards future as well
– How do engineers contribute to the utilitarian goals?
Utilitarian Considerations
• The utilitarian perspective on honesty and dishonesty
requires that our actions promote human happiness
and well-being and avoid the opposite.
• Engineers contribute to these utilitarian goals by
providing designs for things on which our society
• Provide information about technology that is
important in decision-making at the individual,
corporate, and public policy levels.
• Dishonesty in engineering research can undermine
these functions.
Dishonesty vs. Decision-making
• Dishonesty can also undermine informed
• Managers in both business and government,
and legislators, depend on the knowledge and
judgments provided by engineers to make
• If engineers are unreliable the ability of those
who depend on engineers to make good
decisions is undermined.
Types of Dishonesty in Research &
• Falsification of data: distortion in representing data (e.g.,
omission of relevant data)
• Fabrication of data: making up data (e.g., for tests that
were not actually done)
• Failure to respect intellectual property of others (e.g.,
violating trade secrets, patents, trademarks, and
• Plagiarism: falsely appropriating the work of others as one’s
– Type of theft
• Inappropriate attribution of authorship (e.g., listing
someone as an author who didn’t warrant credit for this)
– Honesty issue
Intellectual Property
Intellectual property refers to creations of the
intellect that can be protected in several ways,
including as trade secrets, patents, trademarks,
and copyrights.
Intellectual Property
• Trade secrets are formulas, patterns, devices, or
compilations of information that are used in
business to gain an advantage over competitors
who do not possess the trade secrets.
• Patents are documents issued by the government
that allow the owner of the patent to exclude
others from making use of the patented
information for 20 years from the date of filing.
To obtain a patent, the invention must be new,
useful, and nonobvious.
Intellectual Property
• Trademarks are words, phrases, designs,
sounds, or symbols associated with goods or
• Copyrights are rights to creative products such
as books, pictures, graphics, sculptures, music,
movies, and computer programs. Copyrights
protect the expression of the ideas but not the
ideas themselves
• For most engineers, there is an obligation to protect the
confidentiality of the client–professional relationship, just as
with lawyers and physicians.
• Confidentiality would ordinarily cover both sensitive
information given by the client and information gained by the
professional in work paid for by the client.
• An engineer can mishandle client–professional confidentiality
in two ways:
1. The engineer may break confidentiality when it is not
2. The engineer may refuse to break confidentiality when the
higher obligation to the public requires it.
Conflicts of Interest
• What is a conflict of interest? A conflict between an
obligation to exercise good judgment and interest(s)
that may compromise that judgment.
• Potential conflict of interest: A situation in which if
one does x, there will be an actual conflict of interest.
• Appearance of a conflict of interest: A situation in
which others might think that there is a conflict of
interest, even if there isn’t really one.
• Avoiding conflicts of interest: Most engineering codes
of ethics require the avoidance of conflicts of interest
or even the appearance of conflicts of interest, insofar
as this is possible.
Conflicts of Interests
In considering code prohibitions and conflicts of interest
more generally, several important points must be kept in
1. A conflict of interest is not just any set of conflicting

An engineer may like tennis and swimming and cannot
decide which interest is more important to her.
2. Simply having more commitments than one can
satisfy in a given period of time is not a conflict of
– Over commitment can best be characterized as a conflict
of commitment.
Conflicts of Interest
3. The interests of the client, employer, or public that the
engineer must protect are restricted to those that are
morally legitimate.
4. A distinction is sometimes made between actual and
potential conflicts of interest:
5. Even though it is best to avoid conflicts of interest,
sometimes this cannot reasonably be done
Rules for Expert Witnesses
Engineers are hired as expert witnesses in cases that
involve accidents, defective products, structural defects,
and patent infringements (Establish Standard of Care). To
avoid problems, an expert should follow several rules:
• Do not take a case if there is not enough time for a
thorough investigation.
– Rushed preparation can be disastrous for the reputation of
both expert and client.
• Do not accept a case if this cannot be done with good
– This means being able to testify honestly and not feel the
need to withhold information to make an adequate case
for one’s client.
Rules for Expert Witnesses
• Consult with the lawyer so that they are familiar
with the technical details of the case and can
prepare the expert witness for cross-examination.
• Maintain an objective and unbiased demeanor on
the witness stand.
– This includes sticking to the questions asked and
keeping an even temper, especially under crossexamination.
• Be open to new information, even during the
course of the trial.
Incident at Morales
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