How should we foster the professional integrity of engineers in Japan? A pride-based approach.
Science & Engineering Ethics, June 2008
I discuss the predicament that engineering-ethics education in Japan now faces and propose a solution to this. The predicament is professional motivation, i.e., the problem of how to motivate engineering students to maintain their professional integrity. The special professional responsibilities of engineers are often explained either as an implicit social contract between the profession and society (the "social-contract" view), or as requirements for membership in the profession (the "membership-requirement" view). However, there are empirical data that suggest that such views will not do in Japan, and this is the predicament that confronts us. In this country, the profession of engineering did not exist 10 years ago and is still quite underdeveloped. Engineers in this country do not have privileges, high income, or high social status. Under such conditions, neither the social-contract view nor the membership-requirement view is convincing. As an alternative approach that might work in Japan, I propose a pride-based view. The notion of pride has been analyzed in the virtue-ethics literature, but the full potential of this notion has not been explored. Unlike other kinds of pride, professional pride can directly benefit the general public by motivating engineers to do excellent work even without social rewards, since being proud of themselves is already a reward. My proposal is to foster a particular kind of professional pride associated with the importance of professional services in society, as the motivational basis for professional integrity. There is evidence to suggest that this model works.
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