Engineers’ Moral Responsibility: A Confucian Perspective

Shan Jing, Neelke Doorn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
170 Downloads (Pure)


Moral responsibility is one of the core concepts in engineering ethics and consequently in most engineering ethics education. Yet, despite a growing awareness that engineers should be trained to become more sensitive to cultural differences, most engineering ethics education is still based on Western approaches. In this article, we discuss the notion of responsibility in Confucianism and explore what a Confucian perspective could add to the existing engineering ethics literature. To do so, we analyse the Citicorp case, a widely discussed case in the existing engineering ethics literature, from a Confucian perspective. Our comparison suggests the following. When compared to virtue ethics based on Aristotle, Confucianism focuses primarily on ethical virtues; there is no explicit reference to intellectual virtues. An important difference between Confucianism and most western approaches is that Confucianism does not define clear boundaries of where a person’s responsibility end. It also suggests that the gap between Western and at least one Eastern approach, namely Confucianism, can be bridged. Although there are differences, the Confucian view and a virtue-based Western view on moral responsibility have much in common, which allows for a promising base for culturally inclusive ethics education for engineers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-253
Number of pages21
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Citicorp Building
  • Confucianism
  • Inclusive education
  • Responsibility
  • Virtues


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