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Cook, George H. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 40, Number 3 (December, 1935)

The critical angle,   pp. 54-55

Page 54

I disagree with every word
you say, but I will defend to
the death your right to say it.
ETHICS IN YOUR             During the four years you
ENGINEERING WORLD          spend learning engineering
                            here, you receive little of
 that phase known as "social engineering." There is one
 mighty important thing in social engineering that should
 be brought home to each and every one of you . . . ethics.
   When you leave the university, you may be an author-
 ity on processes or machinery. You might be a model of
 the social graces. We hope you are making it your busi-
 ness and duty to be both. But, over and above all, we
 want you to be moral, to have character, to act ethically
 some day. For that reason, you ought to have some moral
 problems given you, some to which there are no answer
 books, problems which a professor cannot make you see
 and feel, perplexities which can neither be seen nor solved
 except in the light of your own intelligence. There will
 come a time when problems of that nature will be upper-
 most in your thoughts. Your knowledge and beliefs will
 tremble at their roots, and your brows will be nettled in
 irksome perplexities. You will wonder what a fair wage
 for yourself will be . . . or what a fair wage will be for
 your employees. You will wonder how to go about hiring
 some other man's employee. Perhaps your employer will
 ask you to do things that will cause your conscience to
 tingle. You might be furtively glancing at some billboards
 which carry your firm's advertising, inwardly justifying
 yourself for the words which may be misleading millions
 of people. Or you might restlessly lie awake nights, trying
 to figure out how to treat your competitors, or what to
 charge for your goods and services. And many other
 problems of a similar nature may some day be adding
 gray hairs to your head.
 You can quickly see that all these problems are very
 important, and that eventually they will be impressing
 themselves upon you with considerable force and gravity.
 You shall not escape them.
 In a few weeks you will again be making out programs
 for a new semester. You should see to it that a course in
 business ethics is in your curriculum. It is the one course
 that will vividly bring before your eyes a picture of your
true character and moral standing. Take it and see.
TOLERANCE Tolerance is like a sense of humor.
                 Everybody thinks he has it, but it never
 works when he is personally involved. We haven't it at
 all, unless we have it when our own views and interests are
   During the past year, various people who seem to be
 misinformed and misguided have criticized this university
 as well as many others. Their actions have been motivated
 by the belief that some professors hold opinions which are
 dangerous to present society. Although the provocation
 has been great, the universities cannot follow the example
 of their critics. They must insist upon free speech for
   One of the things that a university should seek to teach
 is open-mindedness. This does not mean vacant-minded-
 ness or indifference. It does not offer an excuse for stu-
 pidity. Open-mindedness means a willingness to listen to
 all sides before forming a judgment, and a willingness to
 regard that judgment as tentative and subject to a revision
 in the light of further knowledge. The more practical and
 immediate the problem, the greater the need for open-
 mindedness. Discussion and deliberation are required to
 find the most satisfactory course of action.
 The time when we must hear all sides is the time the
 decision is most important. If the universities can train
 their students in true tolerance, they will perform the serv-
 ice America needs most from them today.
THIS PROBLEM OF For the past several months,
SAFE DRIVING           much has been done to bring to
                       the minds of our public the idea
of driving safely. People in this country are being killed
off at the rate of 36,000 a year . . . 100 people die every
day! Thousands are painfully injured or maimed. And
countless numbers are heartbroken over the misfortunes
and death of dear ones.
  Some months ago, Mr. Furnas' article, "-And Sudden
Death," appeared. Now we have appeals in the news-
papers, magazines, radio, and the courts . . . appeals to
drive safely. People are being directed to consider the
automobile casualties less objectively, to consider them
with more feeling and emotion.
  But maybe some appeal should be made to the engi-
neers. They are making the automobiles too perfect for
the people. Years ago, passengers felt the car strain under
Page 54
The Wisconsin Engineer

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