Managing conflict through ethics

DI Blockley, P Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


How can human beings learn to live well together? Two of the biggest challenges threatening human well-being and flourishing are climate change and global terrorism. Has engineering systems thinking anything to offer such ‘big’ questions? We suggest that we would all benefit by ‘engineering’ a way forward. All engineers know that a structure, such as a bridge, requires firm foundations. There is a real need to address the foundations of the way we humans live together. We argue that is the role of ethics. We refer to mythos, which was concerned with meaning rooted in the unconscious mind and could not be demonstrated by rational proof, and logos, which is rational, pragmatic and scientific. Although engineering springs from practice based on logos and religion from mythos, faith and ethics are foundational to both. All systems require firm foundations, strong structure and must work well. A basic idea in engineering systems thinking is loops of interdependent sub-processes characterised as problem, design, build and operate.We draw process interaction diagrams for the current status of thinking about climate change and the required changes.We start with a strong political will to identify issues and change the way we think in order to convince the majority of the need for common purpose. Engineers can contribute towards this ‘working well together’ because of their experience of working in teams as they face up to nature as a ‘cunning adversary
Translated title of the contributionManaging conflict through ethics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255 - 262
Number of pages8
JournalCivil Engineering and Environmental Systems
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


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