spaces that can safely be ignored by actual engineers and scientists who just want to do their jobs
I think this is a pretty naive view of what is means to be an "actual engineer or scientist". Most professional societies have something like a statement of professional ethics which define a necessary but not sufficient part of what it means to be an engineer, lawyer, physicist, etc.
And ethics isn't just some abstract idea which serves to limit practitioners in a field. At the intersection of science and medicine, as recently as the 1970's, there were no "ethical" problems with medical experimentation on poor, black, men, prisoners, children, and people with mental disabilities, almost always without their consent.
Less tragically, ethics is also important in scientific and engineering fields because not plagiarizing or fabricating results are part of the ethical code of doing research! Failures of scientists in maintaining this ethical code can lead to public distrust of scientists which can lead to less investment in basic research.
Whether or not you're interested in thinking about ethics, they shape the world that we operate in and should be an important part of any discipline.
[–]Latent_space[S] 1 point 2 days ago
To add on: it's now more important than ever to consider the implications of what we're doing. Science is no longer just going to fuck up a group of teenagers in a Stanford basement (ref. prison exp). The kind of science people are getting into can irrevocably alter everything.