Ethics Written Assignment

950 words | 4 page(s)

One ethical issue presented in Fifty Nine Story Crises is misleading clients in project management. An example of this issue is companies or individuals compromising ethics in order to finish the project on budget and on time. This type of ethical issue can result in legal trouble as well as criminal charges. However, two different ethical theories can be applied to this type of ethical issue: teleology theory and virtue theory. The following applies both teleology theory (action based upon consequences: teleology and utility) and virtue theory (virtue: excellence) to the above ethical issue, as well as discusses how provisions in NCARB Rules of Conduct and AIA Codes of Ethics and Professional Conduct can provide guidance on resolving this ethical issues.

One ethical theory that can apply to misleading clients in project management is teleology and utility. Utilitarianism is an example of teleological ethics and is based on calculating the largest benefit for the greatest amount of people in a given situation (Wasserman, Sullivan and Gregory). For example, an architect may be presented with the option of misleading his or her clients in order to finish a project on time or on budget. This option would result in using cheaper material that is substantially less durable than the material originally intended to be used. Without using the cheaper material, however, the architect may not be able to complete the project on time or on budget. According to teleology and utility, the architect will make his or her decision based on what brings the largest benefit for the greatest amount of people. In this situation, misleading the client and using cheaper material would only benefit the architect. It would not benefit the client of the individuals utilizing the building/structure. Thus, according to teleology and utility, an architect would elect to not mislead their client and not use the cheaper material because it would not have bring the largest good to the greatest amount of people. Instead, the architect would use ethical practices and not mislead their client in order to create a proper building for the people who will be using it.

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Another ethical theory that applies to this issue is virtue theory. Judgment is a part of architecture. An architect is either deems a “good” or “bad” architect based on the projects they create. This is one way architects may be govern by ethical responsibilities. Virtue theory, similar to utility theory, is based on actions. Working towards personal excellence has a future benefit. This theory “is another type of teleological theory, which addresses personal actions that de factor lead to good ends” (Wasserman, Sullivan and Gregory 58). It “conceives the virtues of personal behavior as a mean between excesses and insufficiencies of emotions and actions” (58). When transferring this principle to architecture, architects are expected to have substantial knowledge of design, building, and architecture. These individuals must possess specific skills to express their knowledge. Thus, in order for a person to be a good architect who possesses virtue, that individual must be an exemplar of a professor and possessor of that knowledge (Wasserman, Sullivan and Gregory). For instance, an architect may not participate in unethical behavior and mislead their client by using cheaper material because it would not make them a “good” architect. It would also make them appear to have a lack of knowledge regarding architecture. According to this theory, the architect will use the original material, regardless of budgets or timelines, because the architect wants their work to reflect “good” architecture and adequately represent their architecture knowledge. In order words, this theory suggests architects will abide by ethical principles because they do not want their work to poorly reflect their ability as an architect.

Provisions in NCARB Rules of Conduct and AIA Codes of Ethics and Professional Conduct can provide guidance on resolving this ethical issues by creating strict guidelines of professional misconduct. Sometimes an architect may not understand what behavior is considered ethical and unethical. Provisions of both NCARB Rules of Conduct and AIA Codes of Ethics and Professional Conduct can help resolve any misunderstandings when it comes to misleading a client. For example, Rule 2.105 of the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct states that if the members of a project become aware that any decision taken by a client or employer violates any regulation or law and will ultimately have an adverse impact on the safety of the public, the member must: 1) advise against the decision, 2) refuse to consent, and 3) report the decision to public officials in charged with the enforcement of such law or regulation (AIA). In this situation, the AIA Codes of Ethics and Professional Conduct clearly and completely maps out what an individual should do if presented in the above situation.

Overall, both theories state an architect would not participate in unethical behavior. The first theory, teleology, states the architect would not participate in the behavior because it would not produce the greatest good for the largest amount of people in the situation. Virtue theory states the architect would not participate in the behavior because it would poorly reflect their knowledge and skills in architecture. In this ethical situation, virtue theory would probably have the largest impact on the architect. The architect would not participate in the unethical behavior because the negative impact it would have on their abilities as an architect. However, both theories, as well as the Code of Ethics, can impact an architect’s decision to participate in unethical behavior.

  • AIA. “2017 Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct”. 2017. Web. 28 Sep. 2018. From .
  • N.a. (N.d). Architects and Ethics.
  • Wasserman, B., Sullivan, P. & Palermo, G. (2000). Ethics and the Practice of Architecture. NewYork, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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