Richard Meehan writes an account of the story that Thomas Worcester tells him. The story starts out with a preview of sorts. Its tells the reader that engineers face a lot of ethical problems. The way that engineers secure deals can be mixed up and not really make any sense. The engineer is a professional but is also a business person. Sometimes the ethics of business and the professional integrity of the engineer get mixed up. This is because there may be problems with contracts that get out of control. This can happen in a domino pattern where the problems just keep going on. Meehan tells the reader that they will learn from the case of Thomas Worcester’s firm and what happens to Worcester the others that he worked with. Meehan tells the reader that they can learn about the complications that engineers face when they start one action which turns into a lot more than they expected.

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Worcester gets involved too deep. He ends up stressing out his main engineer, Norton, who ends up having a heart attack over the financial stress. After his death, his wife handles the business and has to put money in the pocket of William Callahan. The competition to Worcester was William Callahan. He led a clean life but was a hard business man. There was a pull between Callahan and Worcester which led to Worcester being indicted.

The key points in this article are that ethics is a difficult subject to understand. It is hard to judge the actions of Callahan, Worcester or Norton. This is because ethics can be different for different people: The Kantian Imperative states that one acts only as he would will to be a universal action (Meehan). Although Callahan lived a morally upright life, the question is that if he would cut corners then why should anyone else not cut corners. That is what upsets Worcester the most is that the people who condemned him were hypocrites. He thinks they are hypocrites because: “They denounced me yet they all conduct their business the same way” (Meehan).

Meehan tells the reader that one of the biggest lessons that he learned in college was that it is difficult to have a true ethical experience while in the midst of an ethical experience—this is because when one is in the middle of an ethical experience, one is too caught up in the “practicality” of the experience to make a sound ethical judgment (Meehan). What this means is that when one is an engineer, it is best not to start making ethical compromises. There are repercussions that happen when one does not live up to ethical standards. The difficult part is defining those standards, according to Meehan. The standards for ethics might be that each man behaves as he sees fit, and then behaves according to those rules. Under this interpretation, Meehan tells the reader that only Worcester would have been wrong. Even though it seems like Callahan and Norton were wrong, and Worcester was least wrong. Or does it? That is the main question of Meehan’s story. He tells the story in a way that makes the reader understand that all of the men have indentifiable stories. The reader can identify and relate to the men and their ethical problems. It is not like any one of them was a truly bad guy, it was just that sometimes the ethical choices were not right. But, if Meehan is right, then it is difficult to behave ethically at the moment that we need to.

  • Meehan, Richard. “The Man Who Bought Route 128.” MIT, 1981.