Ethics – Research, Engineering Design …They’re All the Same Aren’t They?

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Humphries-Smith, Tania; Blount, Gordon; Powell, John
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1Bournemouth University, UK; 2Coventry University, UK
Section: Ethics and Emotions
Page(s): 485-490
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


This paper considers how and to what extent product design ethics is understood by professionals in design practice and undergraduate students of product and engineering design and how, if at all, design ethics differ from engineering and/or research ethics. This paper reports on a study carried out at Bournemouth University with undergraduate students of Engineering Design and Product Design and with design professionals via the Institution of Engineering Designers. As part of their final year project work all undergraduate students at Bournemouth University are required to comply with the Bournemouth University Research Ethics Code of Practice [9] which means that students are aware of ethical principles in general and the study explored the extent to which students understand them in relation to design. The study also used the ‘LinkedIn’ discussion forum to get the perspective of design practitioners. The paper concludes that designers do seem to share a broadly common understanding of design ethics and that the main difference with design ethics is in the scope, complexity and the human interface. A definition of product design ethics is presented and the essence of a Statement of Principles for product design ethics proposed.

Keywords: Ethics, engineering ethics, design ethics, professional ethics, teaching ethics


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