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Journal Cover Science and Engineering Ethics
  [SJR: 0.372]   [H-I: 31]   [9 followers]  Follow
   Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
   ISSN (Print) 1471-5546 - ISSN (Online) 1353-3452
   Published by Springer-Verlag Homepage  [2352 journals]
  • Principles of Public Reason in the UNFCCC: Rethinking the Equity Framework
    • Authors: Idil Boran
      Pages: 1253 - 1271
      Abstract: Abstract Since 2011, the focus of international negotiations under the UNFCCC has been on producing a new climate agreement to be adopted in 2015. This phase of negotiations is known as the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. The goal has been to update the global effort on climate for long-term cooperation. In this period, various changes have been contemplated on the design of the architecture of the global climate effort. Whereas previously, the negotiation process consisted of setting mandated targets exclusively for developed countries, the current setting requests of each country to pledge its contribution to the climate effort in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The shift away from establishing negotiated targets for rich countries alone towards a universal system of participation through intended contributions raised persistent questions on how exactly the new agreement can ensure equitable terms. How to conceptualize equity within the 2015 climate agreement, and beyond, is the focus of this paper. The paper advances a framework on equity, which moves away from substantive moral conceptions of burden allocation toward refining principles of public reason specially designed for the negotiation process under the UNFCCC. The paper outlines the framework’s main features and discusses how it can serve a facilitating role for multilateral discussion on equity on a long-term basis capable of adapting to changing circumstances.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9779-9
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • Territorial Rights and Carbon Sinks
    • Authors: Steve Vanderheiden
      Pages: 1273 - 1287
      Abstract: Abstract Scholars concerned with abuses of the “resource privilege” by the governments of developing states sometimes call for national sovereignty over the natural resources that lie within its borders. While such claims may resist a key driver of the “resource curse” when applied to mineral resources in the ground, and are often recognized as among a people’s territorial rights, their implications differ in the context of climate change, where they are invoked on behalf of a right to extract and combust fossil fuels that is set in opposition to global climate change mitigation imperatives. Moreover, granting full national sovereignty over territorial carbon sinks may conflict with commitments to equity in the sharing of national mitigation burdens, since much of the planet’s carbon sink capacity lies within territorial borders to which peoples have widely disparate access. In this paper, I shall explore this tension between a global justice principle that is often applied to mineral resources and its tension with contrary principles that are often applied to carbon sink access, developing an analysis that seeks to reconcile what would otherwise appear to be fundamentally incompatible aims.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9840-8
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • On Effectiveness and Legitimacy of ‘Shaming’ as a Strategy for
           Combatting Climate Change
    • Authors: Behnam Taebi; Azar Safari
      Pages: 1289 - 1306
      Abstract: Abstract While states have agreed to substantial reduction of emissions in the Paris Agreement, the success of the Agreement strongly depends on the cooperation of large Multinational Corporations. Short of legal obligations, we discuss the effectiveness and moral legitimacy of voluntary approaches based on naming and shaming. We argue that effectiveness and legitimacy are closely tied together; as voluntary approaches are the only alternative to legally imposed duties, they are most morally defensible particularly if they would be the most effective in reducing the harmful greenhouse gases. Shaming could be made effective if states could prompt more corporations to accept voluntary cuts with high gains—such as public acknowledgements—and high losses, such as reporting on noncompliance and public exposure (naming), along with some kind of condemnation (shaming). An important challenge of such voluntary approaches is how to ensure compliance with the agreed upon commitments, while avoiding greenwashing or selective disclosure. Certain institutional arrangements are inevitable, including an independent measurement, monitoring and verification mechanism. In this paper, we discuss the potentials and ethical pitfalls of shaming as a strategy when corporations have a direct relationship with consumers, but also when they are in a relationship with governments and other corporations.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9909-z
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • How the Invisible Hand is Supposed to Adjust the Natural Thermostat: A
           Guide for the Perplexed
    • Authors: Servaas Storm
      Pages: 1307 - 1331
      Abstract: Abstract Mainstream climate economics takes global warming seriously, but perplexingly concludes that the optimal economic policy is to almost do nothing about it. This conclusion can be traced to just a few “normative” assumptions, over which there exists fundamental disagreement amongst economists. This paper explores two axes of this disagreement. The first axis (“market vs. regulation”) measures faith in the invisible hand to adjust the natural thermostat. The second axis expresses differences in views on the efficiency and equity implications of climate action. The two axes combined lead to a classification of conflicting approaches in climate economics. The variety of approaches does not imply a post-modern “anything goes”, as the contradictions between climate and capitalism cannot be wished away.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9780-3
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • Values in Time Discounting
    • Authors: Conrad Heilmann
      Pages: 1333 - 1349
      Abstract: Abstract Controversies about time discounting loom large in decisions about climate change. Prominently, a particularly controversial debate about time discounting in climate change decision-making has been conducted within climate economics, between the authors of Stern et al. (Stern review on the economics of climate change, 2006) and their critics (most prominently Dasgupta in Comments on the Stern review’s economics of climate change, 2006; Tol in Energy Environ 17(6):977–981, 2006; Weitzman in J Econ Lit XLV:703–724, 2007; Nordhaus in J Econ Lit XLV:686–702, 2007). The article examines the role of values in this debate. Firstly, it is shown that time discounting is a case in which values are key because it is at heart an ethical problem. Secondly, it is argued that time discounting in climate economics is a case of economists making frequent and routine references to ethical values and indeed conduct ethical debates with each other. Thirdly, it is argued that there is evidence for deep and pervasive entanglement between facts and values in the prevalent methodologies for time discounting. Finally, it is argued that this means that economists have given up the ‘value-free ideal’ concerning time discounting, and discussed how the current methodology of time discounting in economics can be improved.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9950-y
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • The Normative Orientations of Climate Scientists
    • Authors: Dennis Bray; Hans von Storch
      Pages: 1351 - 1367
      Abstract: Abstract In 1942 Robert K. Merton tried to demonstrate the structure of the normative system of science by specifying the norms that characterized it. The norms were assigned the abbreviation CUDOs: Communism, Universalism, Disinterestedness, and Organized skepticism. Using the results of an on-line survey of climate scientists concerning the norms of science, this paper explores the climate scientists’ subscription to these norms. The data suggests that while Merton’s CUDOs remain the overall guiding moral principles, they are not fully endorsed or present in the conduct of climate scientists: there is a tendency to withhold results until publication, there is the intention of maintaining property rights, there is external influence defining research and the tendency to assign the significance of authored work according to the status of the author rather than content of the paper. These are contrary to the norms of science as proposed by Robert K. Merton.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-014-9605-1
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • Informing Public Perceptions About Climate Change: A ‘Mental
           Models’ Approach
    • Authors: Gabrielle Wong-Parodi; Wändi Bruine de Bruin
      Pages: 1369 - 1386
      Abstract: Abstract As the specter of climate change looms on the horizon, people will face complex decisions about whether to support climate change policies and how to cope with climate change impacts on their lives. Without some grasp of the relevant science, they may find it hard to make informed decisions. Climate experts therefore face the ethical need to effectively communicate to non-expert audiences. Unfortunately, climate experts may inadvertently violate the maxims of effective communication, which require sharing communications that are truthful, brief, relevant, clear, and tested for effectiveness. Here, we discuss the ‘mental models’ approach towards developing communications, which aims to help experts to meet the maxims of effective communications, and to better inform the judgments and decisions of non-expert audiences.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9816-8
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • The Irrelevance of the Risk-Uncertainty Distinction
    • Authors: Dominic Roser
      Pages: 1387 - 1407
      Abstract: Abstract Precautionary Principles are often said to be appropriate for decision-making in contexts of uncertainty such as climate policy. Contexts of uncertainty are contrasted to contexts of risk depending on whether we have probabilities or not. Against this view, I argue that the risk-uncertainty distinction is practically irrelevant. I start by noting that the history of the distinction between risk and uncertainty is more varied than is sometimes assumed. In order to examine the distinction, I unpack the idea of having probabilities, in particular by distinguishing three interpretations of probability: objective, epistemic, and subjective probability. I then claim that if we are concerned with whether we have probabilities at all—regardless of how low their epistemic credentials are—then we almost always have probabilities for policy-making. The reason is that subjective and epistemic probability are the relevant interpretations of probability and we almost always have subjective and epistemic probabilities. In contrast, if we are only concerned with probabilities that have sufficiently high epistemic credentials, then we obviously do not always have probabilities. Climate policy, for example, would then be a case of decision-making under uncertainty. But, so I argue, we should not dismiss probabilities with low epistemic credentials. Rather, when they are the best available probabilities our decision principles should make use of them. And, since they are almost always available, the risk-uncertainty distinction remains irrelevant.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9919-x
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • Is Ignorance of Climate Change Culpable'
    • Authors: Philip Robichaud
      Pages: 1409 - 1430
      Abstract: Abstract Sometimes ignorance is an excuse. If an agent did not know and could not have known that her action would realize some bad outcome, then it is plausible to maintain that she is not to blame for realizing that outcome, even when the act that leads to this outcome is wrong. This general thought can be brought to bear in the context of climate change insofar as we think (a) that the actions of individual agents play some role in realizing climate harms and (b) that these actions are apt targets for being considered right or wrong. Are agents who are ignorant about climate change and the way their actions contribute to it excused because of their ignorance, or is their ignorance culpable' In this paper I examine these questions from the perspective of recent developments in the theories of responsibility for ignorant action and characterize their verdicts. After developing some objections to existing attempts to explore these questions, I characterize two influential theories of moral responsibility and discuss their implications for three different types of ignorance about climate change. I conclude with some recommendations for how we should react to the face of the theories’ conflicting verdicts. The answer to the question posed in the title, then, is: “Well, it’s complicated.”
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9835-5
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • Climate Change and Professional Responsibility: A Declaration of Helsinki
           for Engineers
    • Authors: Rob Lawlor; Helen Morley
      Pages: 1431 - 1452
      Abstract: Abstract In this paper, we argue that the professional engineering institutions ought to develop a Declaration of Climate Action. Climate change is a serious global problem, and the majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from industries that are enabled by engineers and represented by the engineering professional institutions. If the professional institutions take seriously the claim that a profession should be self-regulating, with codes of ethics that go beyond mere obedience to the law, and if they take their own ethical codes seriously, recognising their responsibility to the public and to future generations (and also recognising a duty of “responsible leadership”), the professional institutions ought to develop a declaration for engineers, addressing climate change. Our argument here is largely inspired by the history of the Declaration of Helsinki. The Declaration of Helsinki was created by the medical profession for the profession, and it held physicians to a higher standard of ethical conduct than was found in the legal framework of individual countries. Although it was not originally a legal document, the influence of the Declaration can be seen in the fact that it is now enshrined in law in a number of different countries. Thus, we argue that the engineering profession could, and should, play a significant role in the abatement of climate change by making changes within the profession. If the engineering profession sets strict standards for professional engineers, with sanctions for those who refuse to comply, this could have a significant impact in relation to our efforts to develop a coordinated response to climate change.
      PubDate: 2017-10-01
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9884-4
      Issue No: Vol. 23, No. 5 (2017)
  • Devices of Responsibility: Over a Decade of Responsible Research and
           Innovation Initiatives for Nanotechnologies
    • Authors: Clare Shelley-Egan; Diana M. Bowman; Douglas K. R. Robinson
      Abstract: Abstract Responsible research and innovation (RRI) has come to represent a change in the relationship between science, technology and society. With origins in the democratisation of science, and the inclusion of ethical and societal aspects in research and development activities, RRI offers a means of integrating society and the research and innovation communities. In this article, we frame RRI activities through the lens of layers of science and technology governance as a means of characterising the context in which the RRI activity is positioned and the goal of those actors promoting the RRI activities in shaping overall governance patterns. RRI began to emerge during a time of considerable deliberation about the societal and governance challenges around nanotechnology, in which stakeholders were looking for new ways of integrating notions of responsibility in nanotechnology research and development. For this reason, this article focuses on nanotechnology as the site for exploring the evolution and growth of RRI.
      PubDate: 2017-10-10
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9978-z
  • Scientists Still Behaving Badly' A Survey Within Industry and
    • Authors: Simon Godecharle; Steffen Fieuws; Ben Nemery; Kris Dierickx
      Abstract: Abstract Little is known about research misconduct within industry and how it compares to universities, even though a lot of biomedical research is performed by–or in collaboration with–commercial entities. Therefore, we sent an e-mail invitation to participate in an anonymous computer-based survey to all university researchers having received a biomedical research grant or scholarship from one of the two national academic research funders of Belgium between 2010 and 2014, and to researchers working in large biomedical companies or spin-offs in Belgium. The validated survey included questions about various types of research misconduct committed by respondents themselves and observed among their colleagues in the last three years. Prevalences of misconduct were compared between university and industry respondents using binary logistic regression models, with adjustments for relevant personal characteristics, and with significance being accepted for p < 0.01. The survey was sent to 1766 people within universities and an estimated 255 people from industry. Response rates were 43 (767/1766) and 48% (123/255), and usable information was available for 617 and 100 respondents, respectively. In general, research misconduct was less likely to be reported by industry respondents compared to university respondents. Significant differences were apparent for one admitted action (gift authorship) and three observed actions (plagiarism, gift authorship, and circumventing animal-subjects research requirements), always with lower prevalences for industry compared to universities, except for plagiarism. This survey, based on anonymous self-report, shows that research misconduct occurs to a substantial degree among biomedical researchers from both industry and universities.
      PubDate: 2017-10-02
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9957-4
  • The Food Warden: An Exploration of Issues in Distributing Responsibilities
           for Safe-by-Design Synthetic Biology Applications
    • Authors: Zoë Robaey; Shannon L. Spruit; Ibo van de Poel
      Abstract: Abstract The Safe-by-Design approach in synthetic biology holds the promise of designing the building blocks of life in an organism guided by the value of safety. This paves a new way for using biotechnologies safely. However, the Safe-by-Design approach moves the bulk of the responsibility for safety to the actors in the research and development phase. Also, it assumes that safety can be defined and understood by all stakeholders in the same way. These assumptions are problematic and might actually undermine safety. This research explores these assumptions through the use of a Group Decision Room. In this set up, anonymous and non-anonymous deliberation methods are used for different stakeholders to exchange views. During the session, a potential synthetic biology application is used as a case for investigation: the Food Warden, a biosensor contained in meat packaging for indicating the freshness of meat. Participants discuss what potential issues might arise, how responsibilities should be distributed in a forward-looking way, who is to blame if something would go wrong. They are also asked what safety and responsibility mean at different phases, and for different stakeholders. The results of the session are not generalizable, but provide valuable insights. Issues of safety cannot all be taken care of in the R&D phase. Also, when things go wrong, there are proximal and distal causes to consider. In addition, capacities of actors play an important role in defining their responsibilities. Last but not least, this research provides a new perspective on the role of instruction manuals in achieving safety.
      PubDate: 2017-09-26
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9969-0
  • The Ethics of Virtual Reality Technology: Social Hazards and Public Policy
    • Authors: James S. Spiegel
      Abstract: Abstract This article explores four major areas of moral concern regarding virtual reality (VR) technologies. First, VR poses potential mental health risks, including Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder. Second, VR technology raises serious concerns related to personal neglect of users’ own actual bodies and real physical environments. Third, VR technologies may be used to record personal data which could be deployed in ways that threaten personal privacy and present a danger related to manipulation of users’ beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. Finally, there are other moral and social risks associated with the way VR blurs the distinction between the real and illusory. These concerns regarding VR naturally raise questions about public policy. The article makes several recommendations for legal regulations of VR that together address each of the above concerns. It is argued that these regulations would not seriously threaten personal liberty but rather would protect and enhance the autonomy of VR consumers.
      PubDate: 2017-09-23
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9979-y
  • Ethical Design of Intelligent Assistive Technologies for Dementia: A
           Descriptive Review
    • Authors: Marcello Ienca; Tenzin Wangmo; Fabrice Jotterand; Reto W. Kressig; Bernice Elger
      Abstract: Abstract The use of Intelligent Assistive Technology (IAT) in dementia care opens the prospects of reducing the global burden of dementia and enabling novel opportunities to improve the lives of dementia patients. However, with current adoption rates being reportedly low, the potential of IATs might remain under-expressed as long as the reasons for suboptimal adoption remain unaddressed. Among these, ethical and social considerations are critical. This article reviews the spectrum of IATs for dementia and investigates the prevalence of ethical considerations in the design of current IATs. Our screening shows that a significant portion of current IATs is designed in the absence of explicit ethical considerations. These results suggest that the lack of ethical consideration might be a codeterminant of current structural limitations in the translation of IATs from designing labs to bedside. Based on these data, we call for a coordinated effort to proactively incorporate ethical considerations early in the design and development of new products.
      PubDate: 2017-09-22
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9976-1
  • Fairness in Knowing: Science Communication and Epistemic Justice
    • Authors: Fabien Medvecky
      Abstract: Abstract Science communication, as a field and as a practice, is fundamentally about knowledge distribution; it is about the access to, and the sharing of knowledge. All distribution (science communication included) brings with it issues of ethics and justice. Indeed, whether science communicators acknowledge it or not, they get to decide both which knowledge is shared (by choosing which topic is communicated), and who gets access to this knowledge (by choosing which audience it is presented to). As a result, the decisions of science communicators have important implications for epistemic justice: how knowledge is distributed fairly and equitably. This paper presents an overview of issues related to epistemic justice for science communication, and argues that there are two quite distinct ways in which science communicators can be just (or unjust) in the way they distribute knowledge. Both of these paths will be considered before concluding that, at least on one of these accounts, science communication as a field and as a practice is fundamentally epistemically unjust. Possible ways to redress this injustice are suggested.
      PubDate: 2017-09-22
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9977-0
  • Normalized Paper Credit Assignment: A Solution for the Ethical Dilemma
           Induced by Multiple Important Authors
    • Authors: Hui Fang
      Abstract: Abstract With the growth of research collaborations, the average number of authors per article and the phenomenon of equally important authorships have increased. The essence of the phenomenon of equally important authorships is the approximately equal importance of authors, both because of the difficulties in comparing authors’ contributions to a paper and some actual research evaluation practices, which (approximately) give full paper credit only to the most important authors. A mechanism for indicating that various authors contributed equally is required to maintain and strengthen collaboration. However, the phenomenon of multiple important authors can cause unfair comparisons among the research contributions and abilities of authors of different papers. This loophole may be exploited. Normalizing the credit assigned to a given paper’s authors is an easy way to solve this ethical dilemma. This approach enables fair comparisons of the contributions by the authors of different articles and suppresses unethical behaviour in author listings. Bibliometric researchers have proposed mature methods of normalized paper credit assignment that would be easy to use given the current level of computer adoption.
      PubDate: 2017-09-21
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9973-4
  • The Ugly Truth About Ourselves and Our Robot Creations: The Problem of
           Bias and Social Inequity
    • Authors: Ayanna Howard; Jason Borenstein
      Abstract: Abstract Recently, there has been an upsurge of attention focused on bias and its impact on specialized artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Allegations of racism and sexism have permeated the conversation as stories surface about search engines delivering job postings for well-paying technical jobs to men and not women, or providing arrest mugshots when keywords such as “black teenagers” are entered. Learning algorithms are evolving; they are often created from parsing through large datasets of online information while having truth labels bestowed on them by crowd-sourced masses. These specialized AI algorithms have been liberated from the minds of researchers and startups, and released onto the public. Yet intelligent though they may be, these algorithms maintain some of the same biases that permeate society. They find patterns within datasets that reflect implicit biases and, in so doing, emphasize and reinforce these biases as global truth. This paper describes specific examples of how bias has infused itself into current AI and robotic systems, and how it may affect the future design of such systems. More specifically, we draw attention to how bias may affect the functioning of (1) a robot peacekeeper, (2) a self-driving car, and (3) a medical robot. We conclude with an overview of measures that could be taken to mitigate or halt bias from permeating robotic technology.
      PubDate: 2017-09-21
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9975-2
  • Toward a Dirty Environmental Ethics: From Theoria to Techné
    • Authors: Glen Miller; Tong Li
      PubDate: 2017-09-19
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9972-5
  • Introduction to the Special Issue on Climate Ethics: Uncertainty, Values
           and Policy
    • Authors: Sabine Roeser
      Abstract: Abstract Climate change is a pressing phenomenon with huge potential ethical, legal and social policy implications. Climate change gives rise to intricate moral and policy issues as it involves contested science, uncertainty and risk. In order to come to scientifically and morally justified, as well as feasible, policies, targeting climate change requires an interdisciplinary approach. This special issue will identify the main challenges that climate change poses from social, economic, methodological and ethical perspectives by focusing on the complex interrelations between uncertainty, values and policy in this context. This special issue brings together scholars from economics, social sciences and philosophy in order to address these challenges.
      PubDate: 2017-09-09
      DOI: 10.1007/s11948-017-9967-2
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