Ethics for engineers

Event no.


Type of event

Lecture V2, no exercise

Credit points

In the Bachelor Computer Engineering as part of the module Softskills (6 LP for the entire module); in the Bachelor or Master Electrical Engineering, as well as Bachelor or Master Computer Science in the module Studium Generale: 3 LP

Time mode

Summer term

Time and place

Online by appointment.

Registered participants will be contacted by email. The introductory meeting takes place online. Among other things, the lecture times and location will be agreed.

Brief description

Continuous technological progress improves human living conditions, but also increasingly interferes with people's lives. Engineers, computer scientists and scientists are bringing about changes in many fields, such as the economy, culture, science, private relationships, the environment, etc. Many of these changes are foreseeable, while others occur unexpectedly. Because technology is interrelated with many of these fields, assessing the consequences of technology is often fraught with great uncertainty. An ethical evaluation of technological developments is also often not easy, because technology often has both good and bad consequences (e.g. artificial intelligence can be used to improve the detection of diseases, but potentially also destroys jobs).

The lecture provides an introduction to the philosophy of technology and ethics. It is intended to enable students to understand the fundamental interactions of technology with important areas of life and to assess them across disciplines. In addition, listeners should be enabled to understand the prerequisites for ethical justifications and to justify and question moral judgements.

The lecture is only offered in German. The examination will take the form of a 20 to 30-page term paper and a seminar presentation.


I: Analysing and impact of technology

  • The concept of technology and goals of technological development
  • Historical foundations of technological development in the Middle Ages and modern times (Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Popper)
  • Relationship between science and technology
  • Relationship between business and technology
  • Relationship between man and technology

II: Contradictory developments in technology

  • Expected and unexpected consequences of technology
  • Technical efficiency
  • Technical liberation
  • Consumption and technology
  • Contradictions and limits of technological progress

III: Ethics of technology

  • Ethics vs. morality
  • Hume's law ("naturalistic fallacy")
  • Fundamental ethics (virtue ethics, duty ethics, teleological ethics)
  • Exemplary ethics (Aristotle, utilitarianism, Kant, Christian ethics, postmodern ethics, naturalistic ethics)
  • Application to current problems (genetic engineering, autonomous driving, climate change, artificial intelligence, social networks, data sovereignty, etc.)

The course can be chosen in the Bachelor Computer Engineering in the module Softskills and in the Bachelor / Master Electrical Engineering in the Studium Generale, as well as in the Bachelor / Master Computer Science in the Studium Generale.


  • Dieter Wandschneider "Technikphilosophie" C. C. Buchner, Bamberg, 2004*
  • Dietmar Hübner "Introduction to philosophical ethics", Vandenoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 2014