The Code of Ethics created by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) contains what is known as the Paramountcy Principle, a principle that has been universally adopted in numerous other engineering codes of ethics.
The Paramountcy Principle states that:
“Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.”
The NSPE Code of Ethics also states that:
“Engineers are encouraged to adhere to the principles of sustainable development in order to protect the environment for future generations.”
And in the Code of Ethics produced by the World Federation of Engineering Organizations the Paramountcy Principle is restated to encourage engineers to:
“promote and protect the health, safety and well-being of the community and the environment.”
The Paramountcy Principle can be found in various forms in many ethics codes such as those listed below:
Can you find the Paramountcy Principle in each of the codes above? If you need help try looking at this summary from the American Association of Engineering Societies.
To learn more about ethics and professional responsibility in engineering try visiting the NAE’s Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science. Take a look at the Moral Exemplars and Ethics Case Studies to get an idea of some of the ethical decisions engineers often have to make.