Volume 34, Issue 3, Fall 2015
Bhopal and Engineering Ethics
Who is Responsible for Preventing Disasters?
In this paper, I will provide a picture of the Bhopal disaster from an engineering ethics perspective. I find that the individual engineers involved in Bhopal acted ethically, for the most part, but that these actions failed to prevent the disaster for structural reasons. Nonetheless, there is no single level of analysis at which the problems that caused the Bhopal incident can be solved. Rather, a coordinated attempt must be made to change how individual engineers conceive of their work, how the professional community conceives of its role in supporting ethical conduct, and how societies use regulatory and judicial systems to provide the right incentives to the organizations that engineers work for.