Weapons Manufacturing

During a rally in Turin last summer, Pope Francis admonished people who manufacture weapons or invest in the weapons industry. Specifically, he denounced them as hypocrites. From the Reuters article:

“It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?” he said to applause.

He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying “duplicity is the currency of today … they say one thing and do another.”

Does a similar level of hypocrisy exist for those who strive to “hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public,” as outlined in the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Code of Ethics, while simultaneously partaking in weapons design and manufacturing?

What would it look like to recognize that dissonance and adhere to a more consistent ethical standard. Might a more peaceful perspective permit ideological coherence among all engineers? Moreover, is this incongruity the unfortunate outgrowth of a military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower references in his Farewell Address to the Nation in 1961?

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider the ethical role of engineers (or forbearance from assuming a role) in the design and manufacture of weapons. Perhaps engineers could be more vigilant in guarding against that unwarranted influence.

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