Ethics is a philosophical branch that is concerned with issues of what is right or wrong, good or bad-concepts of morality. There are various branches of ethics; each dealing with a different aspect that concerns ethical issues. Applied ethics is one among the many branches of ethics, and it is pursuit is meant to highlight how moral outcomes are achievable in practical situations. Every professional field has a code of conduct that outlines the ethical conduct expected from professionals registered under its umbrella.
Engineering ethics is one among the fields of applied ethics; it is concerned with standards that engineers should uphold in their professional practice. Engineering ethics outlines the moral and legal obligations that engineers should have to the public, clients and society at large. The ethical conduct of various engineering professions varies across different zones and engineering professions (Schinzinger & Martin, 2005).
The presented case concerning product X has ethical implications, in the sense that the designed product has a short lifespan and its operational failure sets in at a very early stage. The management and design team are aware of the problem, however; some members of the team seem to be willing to go a head with the production and distribution of product X despite the fact that they are aware of its shortcomings. The decision to produce and sell product X has negative implications for both the company and the clients that will buy the product.
The people that buy the product will not be able obtain value for their money, and the company may get loses through the numerous replacements that it may have to perform. This particular case if carried on as per the implied stand of the team, there will be a breach of the ASME code of ethics that governs the conduct of engineers. This will be against the stipulation that states that engineers should hold with importance the health, safety and welfare of the general public in the performance of their professional duties. Selling of sub-standard products such as product X to the public is not an act that holds the welfare of customers in good faith.
As per the ASME code the management should not approve of the plan to produce and sell product X, because the design of the product does not conform to acceptable engineering standards. Therefore, the concerned decision-making engineer should disapprove the production and selling of product X. This may cause loses to the company because the product was expected to attract a large market share of clients. However, this will be better than the company’s possible lose of clientele loyalty if they sell faulty or sub-standard products.
The possible lose of clients due to the sell of sub-standard products may translate to higher losses than those that may be incurred if the product was not produced. The most prudent action to take is to recall all products that may have been sold and call for a redesign and research that will identify the possible causes of the failures. This response will be positive and in line with the ASME code of conduct set up for the engineering practice.
The engineer should therefore respond to this problem in the suggested manner because failure to do so will breach the ASME code, and this may possibly attract penalties from the society of engineers. Penalties may include a fine, deregistration or at worse; the action of producing and selling product X may attract legal suits (Schinzinger & Martin, 2005). Therefore, this line of action is actually not optional, but rather a mandatory direction dictated by the stipulations of the code.
Schinzinger, R. and Martin. W. M. (2005).Ethics in engineering, 4th Edition. McGraw-Hill Publishers.