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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
Abstract of "New Ethical Paradigms for the Twenty-First Century"
George D. Catalano
Department of Bioengineering, State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), Binghamton, NY
To this point, in many explorations of approaches to making engineering decisions, we have relied on traditional applied ethics methodologies, many of which date back to antiquity. I would like to offer a different set of approaches including methodologies that explore several modern notions that may aid us as bioengineers as we confront ever more difficult choices. The following possible paradigms for making engineering decisions in the twenty-first century shall be examined: engineering and freedom; engineering and chaos; engineering and a morally deep world; engineering and globalism; and engineering and love. Engineering and freedom is linked to existentialism and the ideas offered by Sartre. According to Sartre, we each individually choose human nature for all humans. Hence, we must choose courses of action that we would wish all humans to take. Considering engineering and chaos, our efforts to understand the shift in perspective offered by chaos may be best illustrated by first considering the implications chaos has for our understanding of the natural world. After exploring these implications, we will ask the following questions. How does chaos affect the way I may approach decision making in the twenty-first century? What new insights does it offer? Engineering and a morally deep world suggests a new code of ethics adapted from an environmental model of nature as a self-organizing system. A self-organizing system is characterized by synthesis rather than analysis and suggests a new code of ethical responsibility based on community rather than individuality. The discussion on globalism primarily focuses on economic globalism. This phenomenon seems particularly important in the practice of engineering and we shall explore its implications and suggest an ethical framework for making decisions in light of its existence. Key elements of an engineering ethic based on love would include the capacity for true, rigorous critical thought and the development of a culture in which individual dissent is honored and revered, and in which each of us considers our self a citizen of the Earth.
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