A plea for judgment

Sci Eng Ethics. 2012 Dec;18(4):789-808. doi: 10.1007/s11948-011-9254-6. Epub 2011 Feb 13.


Judgment is central to engineering, medicine, the sciences and many other practical activities. For example, one who otherwise knows what engineers know but lacks "engineering judgment" may be an expert of sorts, a handy resource much like a reference book or database, but cannot be a competent engineer. Though often overlooked or at least passed over in silence, the central place of judgment in engineering, the sciences, and the like should be obvious once pointed out. It is important here because it helps to explain where ethics fits into these disciplines. There is no good engineering, no good science, and so on without good judgment and no good judgment in these disciplines without ethics. Doing even a minimally decent job of teaching one of these disciplines necessarily includes teaching its ethics; teaching the ethics is teaching the discipline (or at least a large part of it).

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Engineering / ethics*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Judgment / ethics*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Science / ethics*
  • Teaching