Author Archives: Dan VB

Something’s missing

I appreciate the even-handedness of the discussion of moral theory that we’ve had in class.  We’ve all been given some more tools to better assess the ethical decisions and dilemmas before us, and better yet to understand the philosophies that … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in Engineering Ethics, Moral Philosophy

Disillusioned in Blacksburg?

Dear Government Agency, I was taught to believe that your purpose for existence was to watch out for the public good.  I thought that your mission was to serve selflessly, unbiased, unswayed by the concerns of private interest.  You were … Continue reading Continue reading

Validate your experiment here..

A news blurb about “The Reproducibility Initiative” caught my attention a few days ago. Started by cancer researcher Elizabeth Iorns, this program offers scientists a means of validating their experiments at outside laboratories.  Validation tests are performed by one of … Continue reading Continue reading

Share the Power

In Street Science, Corburn deftly illustrates how the “technocratic” model of doing science in the public sphere fails the public and also often falls short of producing “usable knowledge.”  Corburn asserts that a big part of the problem is the … Continue reading Continue reading

Ethics and Engineering Failures

During my first semester as a Ph.D. student in 2010, I authored a report with my advisors entitled “Lessons Learned from Dam Failures.”  This was a wonderful experience for me both as an engineer and an academic.  It was fascinating … Continue reading Continue reading

Spheres of Influence

After Thursday’s class, I began thinking about the boundaries of our ethical responsibility.  Do they exist, and if so, where?  Do we have obligation to every issue and problem we face?  That option is paralyzing.  Is there a caring, ethical, … Continue reading Continue reading

Ethics in the Consulting World

This week’s readings on organizations have made me reflect on my experience working in a mid-sized geotechnical and geoenvironmental consulting firm.  While some of the statements by Harris et al. and Alford resonate, I’m not sure that all types of … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in Alford, decision-making, Engineering Ethics, Harris

Thinking clearly about moral humility

In his November 2011 TED talk Nitin Nohria claims: “We haven’t really understood moral over-confidence.”  While I agree with Nohria’s call for moral humility, I believe it is more truthful to say that we have forgotten our tendency for immorality. … Continue reading Continue reading


Since part of this class is about the ethics of communicating clearly with the public, I thought it appropriate to post this video that I received a link to during the first week of class.  While many may have already … Continue reading Continue reading

A New Chapter – Engineering Ethics

So I’m off on another chapter in my short and sporadic blogging career – a class in engineering ethics.  I’m actually quite enthused about the class and its pedagogy. I was inspired earlier today by the stories of Palchinsky and Cuny told … Continue reading Continue reading

Posted in Engineering Ethics