Cigar Society of Chicago
Aviation's Tombstone Mentality, with
                              Elizabeth Hoppe

                                                                                                             Photo credit: James Christie
The 1998 Swissair crash led critics to accuse the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of a tombstone mentality, meaning that the agency only mandates changes to regulations after a fatality has occurred. But why would an agency dedicated to safety develop such a mentality? One of the key problems concerns the Cost-Benefit Analysis approach to decision making. The agency decided that the costs to make the necessary repairs would be too great of a burden for the airlines and only required the changes after 229 people lost their lives. While the tombstone mentality critique has fallen out of use, it appears that this mentality is alive and well in today's aviation industry. From the certification process of the Boeing 737 MAX to the spread of Covid-19, the industry tends to address problems much too late. Using anticipatory technology ethics, I will attempt to show how ethical theory can play a role in overcoming the tombstone mentality. If Boeing had utilized anticipatory technology ethics in the design phase of the 737 MAX, the designers could have foreseen the need for enhanced pilot training on the new technologies. Concerning Covid-19, people were already aware of the potential for disease spread from air travel, and an anticipatory ethics approach to decision making could have helped mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Of course, anticipatory ethics is not without faults, but including it within the decision-making process could help prevent some of the problems impacting the aviation industry today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
5:30-7:00 pm CDT

Sign in 5:00-5:30 pm for informal cigar and cocktail chatter.
The event will be called to order at 5:30.
There will be a Q&A session following the lecture. Audience participation is invited.
The event will conclude at 7 pm.
An (optional) discussion and cocktail party will continue after the event.
Be sure to have your cocktails and cigars at ready hand.

Register for this event.

Elizabeth Hoppe is Lecturer in Philosophy at Loyola University, where she has been teaching ethics and related topics for the past six years, and the editor of Ethical Issues in Aviation (2d ed. 2018).  Her research interests include ethics, applied ethics, and critical race theory.

Dr. Hoppe writes,

In 2000 I graduated from DePaul University with a PhD in Philosophy.  At the time I was interested in ancient Greek philosophy, especially Plato's metaphysics and his concepts of time and eternity.

As I began teaching at Lewis University (1999-2014), in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, I developed an interest in the field of Ethics and Applied Ethics. Because Lewis has a large aviation program, in 2003 I designed a course on Aviation Ethics because I thought it was important for the students of aviation to not only learn about Ethics broadly speaking, but also the ways in which ethical theories can apply to dilemmas that arise in the aviation industry. This resulted in my textbook, Ethical Issues in Aviation.

About the Cigar Society of Chicago

ONE OF THE OLDEST AND greatest traditions of the city clubs of Chicago is the discussion of intellectual, social, legal, artistic, historical, scientific, musical, theatrical, and philosophical issues in the company of educated, bright, and appropriately provocative individuals, all under the beneficent influence of substantial amounts of tobacco and spirits.  The Cigar Society of Chicago embraces this tradition and extends it with its Informal Smokers, University Series lectures, and Cigar Society Dinners, in which cigars, and from time to time pipes and cigarettes, appear as an important component of our version of the classical symposium.  To be included in the Cigar Society's mailing list, write to the secretary at