EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Study Objectives: To investigate the broad topic of professional ethics. Study Logistics and Methodologies: In an attempt to be fully comprehensive- we have decided to study a number of sub-topics under the broad heading of professional ethics. This paper will be separated into the following categories: psychology; statistics; management and accounting; law; journalism and medicine. In each of the sub-categories, we will outline the various codes of ethics and briefly describe the more important rules of such codes.
In certain cases, we may even discuss organizations that are established to ensure the ethical rules are enforced in the various professions. ANALYTICAL TOOLS TO BE EMPLOYED: We have used a number of different means to acquire the information presented in the analysis. The internet was a major source of our information and we also used texts related to the various professions. In addition to the above sources, through our own knowledge we were aware of certain ethical principles that were necessary. Introduction Ethics is a branch of philosophy that studies the difference between right and wrong.
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At some point in time everyone is faced with the difficult task of having to make an ethical decision. The decisions professionals make however are faced with great responsibility as the consequences of their actions impact not only the decision maker but also affects various stakeholders. The unethical decisions made by the CEO of one company not only affected his reputation but also had far reaching effects on the employees of the company and the shareholders who had invested large amounts of resources into the company.
This incident illustrates the anarchy which can take place when professionals fail to abide by ethical codes of conduct. This paper is aimed at examining various professions and their respective codes of ethics. Some of the ethical issues involved in these various professions shall be highlighted and the possible consequences of using these codes to make decisions shall be evaluated. Focus will be placed on the areas of Ethics in Education, Management and Accounting, Journalism, Law, Medicine and Psychology.
What is Professional Ethics? One definition of professional ethics states that it concerns one’s conduct of behaviour and practice when carrying out professional work. Such work may include consulting, researching, teaching and writing. The institutionalisation of Codes of Conduct and Codes of Practice is common with many professional bodies for their members to adhere to. A professional possesses special knowledge and expertise in his particular field and as a result they are expected to make informed ethical decisions.
With knowledge comes power and responsibility and as a result many professionals are expected to abide by their respective professional body’s code of ethics. A code of ethics simply outlines the responsibilities and ideals of a profession. These codes not only seek to protect the client but also aim to preserve the integrity profession. Failure to abide by these codes of ethics may result in disciplinary action (banning or license suspension) from the governing professional body. Whilst having an established code of ethics aids in the distinction between right and wrong, each situation which professionals may encounter will be unique.
The professional’s interpretation of the code of ethics is what may be the impetus for the ethical decision made. Sometimes the ethical code outlined may not be applicable, feasible or even culturally relevant. Therefore the reality of the situation is that even though codes of ethics seek to establish universal standards which professionals should abide by, many times there heterogeneous aspects involved in the actual practice of the profession and standard rules and regulations may not always be helpful when deciding what is best for the client.
As mentioned before, this paper aims to deliver a comprehensive view of the ethical issues faced in the professional areas of education, management and accounting, law, and medicine, and psychology. Psychologists and Sociologists both examine theories of human behaviour and as a result they must adhere to certain codes of conduct when carrying out research on human participants. Failure to do this may result in the psychological harm of the client and a lack of confidence in the practice of the profession. Ethical issues surrounding journalism are nearly always present.
Journalists are often accused of always presenting biased views to the public. Take for instance in the American Presidential elections, respected news anchor Katie Couric had been accused by Republican nominees John Mc Cain and Sarah Palin of practicing “gotcha journalism”. Therefore an examination of the ethical issues involved in journalism can be considered essential for an overview of professional ethics. The fall of the energy tycoon Enron has become an iconic case in the study of business ethics. This case illustrates the unfortunate consequences which arise from unethical management and accounting decisions.
As a result, this paper shall also examine this topic and highlight some of the ethical weaknesses of the decisions made by the professionals at Enron. According to the Barbados Free Press “This year has been one of tragedy and embarrassment for the legal profession, the island’s top judge said yesterday. ” (October 30, 2008) This was a quote by the Barbadian Chief Justice appealing to the newly admitted members of the bar to not steal their clients money (See figure 1. 2 for a copy of the article). Lawyers have long been associated the act of lying.
This paper therefore examines the responsibilities lawyers have in the representation of their clients and in the overall practice of their profession. The implications of unethical decision making in the medical profession are apparent. Failure to abide by the Hippocratic Oath can lead to physical harm and death. It is therefore essential that the code of ethics of this field be examined in the presentation of a professional ethics paper The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Code of Ethics A Code of Ethics enables us to: ? Set out the ideals and responsibilities of the profession ?
Exert a de facto regulatory effect, protecting both clients and professionals ? Improve the profile of the profession ? Motivate and inspire practitioners, by attempting to define their raison d’etre ? Provide guidance on acceptable conduct ? Raise awareness and consciousness of issues ? Improve quality and consistency On the other hand, we must also consider: ? Whether the so-called standards are obligatory, or are merely an aspiration ? Whether such a code is desirable or feasible ? Whether ethical values are universal or culturally relativistic ?
The difficulty of providing universal guidance given the heterogeneous nature of the profession ? What is the point of specifying responsibilities, given the limited regulatory function of a code? Professional Ethics in Education “The educator, believing in the worth and dignity of each human being, recognizes the supreme importance of the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, and the nurture of the democratic principles. Essential to these goals is the protection of freedom to learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal educational opportunity for all.
The educator accepts the responsibility to adhere to the highest ethical standards. ” The educator recognizes the magnitude of the responsibility inherent in the teaching process. The desire for the respect and confidence of one’s colleagues, of students, of parents, and of the members of the community provides the incentive to attain and maintain the highest possible degree of ethical conduct. The Code of Ethics of the Education Profession indicates the aspiration of all educators and provides standards by which to judge conduct. The remedies specified by the NEA and/or its affiliates for the violation of any provision of this Code shall be exclusive and no such provision shall be enforceable in any form other than the one specifically designated by the NEA or its affiliates. ” PRINCIPLE I Commitment to the Student The educator strives to help each student realize his or her potential as a worthy and effective member of society. The educator therefore works to stimulate the spirit of inquiry, the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and the thoughtful formulation of worthy goals.
In fulfilment of the obligation to the student, the educator– ? Shall not unreasonably restrain the student from independent action in the pursuit of learning. ? Shall not unreasonably deny the student’s access to varying points of view. ? Shall not deliberately suppress or distort subject matter relevant to the student’s progress. ? Shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning or to health and safety. ? Shall not intentionally expose the student to embarrassment or disparagement. Shall not on the basis of race, colour, creed, sex, national origin, marital status, political or religious beliefs, family, social or cultural background, or sexual orientation, unfairly– a. Exclude any student from participation in any program b. Deny benefits to any student c. Grant any advantage to any student ? Shall not use professional relationships with students for private advantage. ? Shall not disclose information about students obtained in the course of professional service unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose or is required by law. PRINCIPLE II
Commitment to the Profession The education profession is vested by the public with a trust and responsibility requiring the highest ideals of professional service. In the belief that the quality of the services of the education profession directly influences the nation and its citizens, the educator shall exert every effort to raise professional standards, to promote a climate that encourages the exercise of professional judgment, to achieve conditions that attract persons worthy of the trust to careers in education, and to assist in preventing the practice of the profession by unqualified persons.
In fulfilment of the obligation to the profession, the educator– ? Shall not in an application for a professional position deliberately make a false statement or fail to disclose a material fact related to competency and qualifications. ? Shall not misrepresent his/her professional qualifications. ? Shall not assist any entry into the profession of a person known to be unqualified in respect to character, education, or other relevant attribute. ? Shall not knowingly make a false statement concerning the qualifications of a candidate for a professional position. Shall not assist a non-educator in the unauthorized practice of teaching. ? Shall not disclose information about colleagues obtained in the course of professional service unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose or is required by law. ? Shall not knowingly make false or malicious statements about a colleague. ? Shall not accept any gratuity, gift, or favour that might impair or appear to influence professional decisions or action. Adopted by the National Education Association (NEA) 1975 Representative Assembly) Ethical concerns about teachers and teaching occur in a variety of contexts and can be thought of in several ways: how ethical issues are represented in the law; how ethical issues are represented in the National Education Association’s (NEA’s) code of ethics as already discussed above in the codes of ethics of the education profession; ethically based comprehensive views of education; the role of ethics in educational policy; and meta-ethical disputes relevant to education.
Ethics and the Law of Teaching In the United States of America and in most countries around the world states that the education codes require those teachers are persons of good character. Most countries also permit teachers to be dismissed for unethical conduct. Most countries also forbid particular forms of misconduct, such as child abuse, sexual harassment, and drug abuse, and their violation may be grounds for dismissal. What counts as good character or conduct can be a contentious matter.
In past decades teachers might have been dismissed not only for drunkenness, homosexuality, unwed pregnancy, or cohabitation, but also for innumerable other offences against the moral code of their community. Some of these may still be clouded; however, in recent years, courts have been inclined to insist that actionable immoral conduct be job-related, providing some protection for the private lives of teachers. Here a particularly contentious matter is whether being a role model is part of the job of teachers, because this expectation can expand public authority over the lives of teachers.
In certain cases, as when teachers discuss controversial matters in class or employ controversial teaching methods, they may be protected by the First Amendment. Teachers, especially those who are tenured, are also likely to have significant due-process rights. Dismissal for immoral conduct is most likely when the teacher has committed a felony, in cases of inappropriate sexual advances toward students, or in cases of child abuse. In this last case, teachers may also have a duty to report suspected misconduct by others. Ethics and the Philosophy of Education
In durable pluralism societies as characterized by John Rawls, the educational systems cannot be rooted in a single comprehensive doctrine without marginalizing or oppressing those who hold other doctrines and without restricting personal autonomy. Societies committed to liberal democratic values may respect pluralism and personal autonomy while also emphasizing creation of citizens. Amy Gutmann in Democratic Education (1987) argues that the central aim of the schools of a democratic society must be to develop democratic character.
Eamonn Callan in Creating Citizens (1997) argues that societies committed to liberal principles of tolerance and reasonableness must provide students with an education enabling them to understand and sympathetically engage a variety of ways of life. It may, however, be argued that such an education is itself intolerant of those who wish to transmit a distinctive way of life to their children. One of the more difficult issues for the schools of liberal democratic societies is how to respect diversity while having common schools that produce good citizens.
Ethics and Educational Policy There are competing principles for distributing educational resources. Although they concern such matters as state or school district budgets, they may also concern the distribution of teacher time. They shed light on such questions as whether teachers should spend disproportionate time with those who are most needful or with those who will make the most progress. These various approaches are related to principles of distributive justice that are widely discussed in philosophical literature.
The first is a utilitarian principle emphasizing the maximization of good outcomes. The second seeks to maximize the welfare of those who occupy the least advantaged positions in society. The third is a threshold view emphasizing getting everyone above some defined level. These principles illustrate the ways in which moral conceptions can inform policy and practice. Meta-Ethical Issues The term meta-ethics concerns the general nature of ethics instead of specific ethical prescriptions. Two meta-ethical disputes are the justice/caring debate and the post-modern critique of modernity.
The justice/caring dispute grows out of a critique of Lawrence Kohlberg’s views of moral development by feminist scholars, principally Carol Gilligan. Kohlberg viewed justice as the central moral conception. Gilligan claimed in In a Different Voice that women’s thinking about ethics emphasizes care. Other advocates of an ethic of care, such as Nel Noddings, have developed the notion into a robust view of ethics and of education. A second meta-ethical perspective is postmodernism. One useful characterization of postmodernism claims, that it is incredulity toward all grand meta-narratives.
A grand meta-narrative is a sweeping and general view about human beings and society. Liberalism and socialism are examples. Postmodernists often argue that all such grand stories represent the perspectives of groups or eras and, when viewed as the single truth of the matter, are oppressive. Post-modern critiques often seek to deconstruct such meta-narratives by showing their biased character and how they serve the interests of some over others. Professional Ethics in Management and Accounting Ethics are not merely something, which is comprised of a person’s belief or thoughts, but that of what is best for an organization or company.
Ethical decisions in business are handled everyday, and most organizations have some sort of established code of conduct to help guide management to make the correct decision. Ethical decisions are not always easy and may require some thought as to the reactions or impact of a decision. There are already established laws regarding employment, accounting, and regulatory rules when it comes to conducting business. Laws are not always designed to make an ethical decision, but they may promote ethical behaviour. According to the Answers. om, many organizations are implementing a “code of ethics is to provide guidance to employers and employees in ethical dilemmas, especially those that are particularly ambiguous” (Answers. com). In addition to the creation of codes, many governments require special licensure. This is meant to protect the general public from unscrupulous individuals. Furthermore, professional organizations may each have their own set of codes that members are expected to adhere to. After news of the scandal of Enron, one of the hottest items on e-Bay was a 64-page copy of Enron’s corporate code of ethics.
One seller/former employee proclaimed it had “never been opened. ” In the forward Kenneth L. Lay, CEO of Enron stated, “We want to be proud of Enron and to know that it enjoys a reputation for fairness and honesty and that it is respected (Enron 2). ” For a company with such an extensive code of ethics and a CEO who seemed to want the company to be respected for that, there are still so many unanswered questions of what exactly went wrong. I believe that simply having a solid and thorough code of ethics alone does not prevent a company from acting unethically when given the right opportunity.
Investors and the media once considered Enron to be the company of the future. The company had detailed code of ethics and powerful front men like Kenneth Lay, who is the son of a Baptist minister and whose own son was studying to enter the ministry (Flynt 1). Unfortunately the Enron board waived the company’s own ethic code requirements to allow the company’s Chief Financial Officer to serve as a general partner for the partnership that Enron was using as a conduit for much of its business. They also allowed discrepancies of millions of dollars.
It was not until whistleblower Sherron S. Watkins stepped forward that the deceit began to unravel. Enron finally declared bankruptcy on December 2, 2001, leaving employees with out jobs or money. For a company to be successful ethically, it must go beyond the notion of simple legal compliance and adopt a values-based organizational culture. A corporate code of ethics can be a very valuable and integral part of a company’s culture but it is not strong enough to stand alone. Thought and care must go into constructing the code of ethics and the implementation of it.
Companies need to infuse ethics and integrity throughout their corporate culture as well as into their definition of success. To be successfully ethical, companies must go beyond the notion of simple legal compliance and adopt a values-based organizational culture. The importance of having a code of ethics is to define acceptable behaviours and promote higher standards of practice within a company. The code should provide a benchmark for members and provide a framework for behaviour. A typical corporate code of ethics outlines the responsibilities of a company and emphasizes that being honest and fair should be strived for.
It can include the rules for governing the company in cases of employees being caught lying, cheating, or stealing. In creating a code of ethics, several questions should be asked. What is the purpose of the new code? What are the needs and values of the organization it is being created for? Who should be involved in creating this code? How is the code intended to be implemented? How and when will the code be reviewed and revised? The process of created a solid code of ethics matters just as much as the final product. The company’s code of ethics must also make sense to its employees.
The code must be written in a practical and understandable manner. It should provide clear action statements that indicate what should and should not be done. The code should be clearly integrated with the company’s mission and vision. It should be apparent to the employees how following the code of ethics will aid in accomplishing the company’s vision and the employees must see a tie that following the code aids in their personal success within the company (Hawkins 1). Management Involvement Having a company code of ethics alone simply is not enough.
As the latest news has show, Enron had a very extensive code of ethics that went ignored. A tone must be set by senior management on a daily basis. If an employee sees a member of management padding an expense report, then they feel license to do the same. If you have a management style that is fair and equitable, it is more likely that other employees will follow that example. One of the main contributions to a successful code of ethics is the management with in the company. It must start with the very top executives and trickle down to the lowest level of management.
Managers must lead by example. As soon as an employee sees an upper level manager break the company’s code of ethics, they can potentially feel that the manager’s action opens up the doorway for their unethical behaviour. Unfortunately it does not stop with just that one employee; they most likely will tell their peers about the unethical action they have seen thus opening the doorway for others to break the company’s code of ethics. Managers must not only uphold the company’s code of ethics by example, they must also make a point to discuss the code with their employees regularly.
If the code is referred to on a regular basis, I believe that employees will be much more likely to follow it. If the employees can see that the code of ethics is such an important part of the company and the management, then they may feel it should be important to them as well. In addition, managers must make it a comfortable environment for whistleblowers to come forward about violations of the code. If managers are creating the right ethical environment, the company has a better chance of being an ethical minded company. Protecting the Whistleblower
With any good code of ethics, a company should also have a clear outline for all employees to reference when they need to report violations to the code. The employees need to see a clear chain of command, especially in cases where the person who is the first link is the one violating the rules. The employee needs to know who else to turn to. There are numerous accounts of employees looking the other way and not coming forward with their knowledge of unethical behaviour. For many employees the fear of losing their job is enough of a deterrent to keep them quiet.
At least one whistleblower was fired from Enron before Sherron S. Watkins stepped forward. It was latter learned that as Kenneth Lay was supposedly researching her claims, he was actually conducting an investigation to find grounds to fire Ms. Watkins (Flynt 1). It is simply not enough to have a code of ethics if there is not a solid, fear free path to follow to report violations. Johnson & Johnson An Effective Code of Ethics A good example of a working code of ethics is Johnson & Johnson whose one page “Credo” has stood the test of time.
The credo outlines the four responsibilities of the company. The first responsibility listed is to “the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use [their] products and services. ” Next is to the employees and then the community. Their final responsibility is to the stockholders. Johnson & Johnson claims that if the credo’s first three responsibilities are met, then the stockholders will be well served (Johnson 1). This credo was tested in 1982 when seven Chicago residents died after taking cyanided-laced capsules.
The top executives of the company immediately went into action, recalling all Tylenol products and halting all production. This was all done against the wishes of the consultants and in the end cost Johnson & Johnson $150 million. The consultants feared that Johnson & Johnson’s brand name would suffer, but in the end Tylenol was able to regain its share of the market with in one year. Without the deep set of values and guidance of the Johnson & Johnson credo, it is unlikely that the executive’s response would have been so prompt, effective and ethically sound.
Today a strong sense of ethical responsibility is still prominent within the company. Johnson & Johnson regularly surveys its employees to see how well the company is adhering to the credo. Any discrepancies are noted and addressed immediately. This is an example of how both leadership and management play an important part in a corporation’s code of ethics. Code of Ethics in the Accounting Profession On April 24, 2002 in the wake of scandals like Enron and WorldCom, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was passed. It outlined among other things a code of ethics disclosure provision.
It requires public companies to disclose whether or not they have adopted a corporate code of ethics for senior financial officers. The Act specifies that if a company has not adopted such code, they issue their reason why. It requires that if there is any change or waiver in the code, the company must also disclose that immediately. The Act defined the term “code of ethics” to mean such standards that are necessary to promote honest and ethical conduct. This includes handling conflicts of interest with respect to personal and professional relationships.
It stated that the code of ethics should promote compliance with governmental rules and that periodic reports be “full, fair, accurate, timely, and understandable (United 406). ” ACIPA There are two major codes in the accounting profession in the United States, The code of Professional Conduct of the American Institute if Certified Public Accountants adopted in its current for in 1973 and Standards of Ethical Conduct for Practitioners of Management Accounting and Financial Management, adopted in April of 1997. Members of the AICPA must adhere to 6 basic principles.
The Code of Professional Conduct states that they should carry out their activities in a professional and moral manner. Their primary obligation is to the public and thus they should act with the highest sense of integrity. It states that they should remain objective and free from conflicts of interest. A member should strive to meet the profession’s ethical standards, with their primary concern being whatever is in the best interest of the public. Lastly a member should follow the guidelines set forth in the Code of Professional Conduct coupled with their own judgment to ensure they remain ethical in their role as professionals (Brooks 227).
The challenge of having a professional code and a corporate code creates a dilemma for accounting professionals. In a perfect world the ethical message in both codes are the same. Often times they are not and a professional must choose which one to follow. Personal Code of Ethics As an employee, we must not only look to the corporation’s code of ethics, we must have our own personal code of ethics to rely on. When our personal code is violated, we must decide what needs to be done in order to remain ethical.
Sometimes that may be whistle-blowing, and sometimes is may be simply leaving the company as soon as possible. Sherron S. Watkins, the Enron whistleblower once said, “When a corporation claims to value a code of ethics, but rewards those who ignore that code, it’s time to leave (Flynt 1). Every individual should follow their own personal code of ethics in addition to the company’s code to dictate what is right and wrong. Therefore, a company should use a good amount of time and effort in creating a corporate code of ethics that is unique and representational of them.
The code should be distributed and reviewed often, and it should be reference on a constant basis by all levels of management. The company should constantly look for any possible additions and revisions to the code. Most importantly though, a company should strive to live by the words they have written in the code. As a professional it is our job to look not only to a company’s code but to our own code. We must make the choice of what is right and wrong and if put in a situation that is against our code we must stand up for what is right.
A corporate code of ethics is a necessity in today’s society, but the company cannot simply rely on just a code. For the code to be successful, the company must prove to their employees that they have the desire and drive to back the words of their code. Professional Ethics in Journalism “Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.
Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behaviour and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice. ” This preamble by the Society of Professional Journalists outlines the rubric with which journalists set their standards by and strive to maintain in their professional dissemination. Conscientious journalism entails gathering, reporting and interpreting information in a fair and honest manner.
Most individual print, broadcast and online organisations have their own singular code of ethical conduct that they adhere to. While most codes have differences, most also share common elements and common principles such as truthfulness, accuracy, impartiality, fairness and public accountability as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public. Journalists are encouraged to seek the truth and report it, ensure that it is accurate and objective, minimize harm in the process of reporting the news and act independently avoiding conflicts of interest.
These common elements can be elaborated on at an individual level for a more comprehensive understanding. Objectivity, for example, involves the complete and unequivocal separation of news and opinion. Journalists must remember this at all times while trying to avoid conflicts of interest and taking bribes. Personal interests must be set aside in pursuit of the greater public interest. When reporting the news, competing points of view should be balanced and detailed enough to provide a weighted argument without the introduction of bias.
In maintaining objectivity, when reporting news of a controversial nature that has adverse effects on individuals, they should be allowed a chance to clarify or respond before the publication takes place. Interference in the reporting process by external entities should also be reported. When reporting the news, sources provide the factual pivot for the story and as such, every effort should be made to accurately attribute information to entities and cite them alongside a story. Anonymous sources should be avoided but confidentiality should be retained in sensitive instances.
Events with a single eyewitness are reported with attribution. Events with two or more eyewitnesses are reported as fact. Corrections are published promptly if errors are made. When dealing with defendants on trial or an accused, they are treated as allegedly having committed a crime, until conviction, when their crimes are then considered facts at that point. Opinion surveys and statistical information deserve special treatment to communicate in precise terms any conclusions, to contextualize the results, and to specify accuracy, including estimated error and methodological criticism or flaws.
All these fall under the broader category of accuracy with regards to the ethical implications in journalism. One of the more salient ethical issues within journalism is the minimization of harm or the Harm Limitation Principle which encourages journalists to treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. Harm limitation deals with the questions of whether everything learned should be reported and, if so, how? The negative consequences of full disclosure that can potentially create an ethical dilemma should be carefully considered and, to a greater degree, who or what is affected.
For example, compassion should be shown to those adversely affected by news coverage. Special sensitivity should be employed for inexperienced subjects and especially if children are involved. The Society of Professional Journalists recognizes that gathering and reporting the news may cause harm or discomfort to some and urge that the pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance. They also recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention.
Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy. Where individuals are concerned, caution and a judicious nature are encouraged. Journalists are also self-regulated; both internally and externally. Most news agencies have an in-house ombudsman whose role is to keep the organization honest and accountable to the public domain. He/She is intended to mediate in conflicts stemming from internal and or external pressures, to maintain accountability to the public for news reported, and to foster self-criticism and to encourage adherence to both codified and un-codified ethics and standards.
Externally, there are industry wide regulating bodies that are capable of applying fairly consistent standards and dealing with larger amounts of complaints. Journalists are strongly urged from including bias in the preparation of their reports and to distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. There shouldn’t be any blurs between the lines of reporting and the incidence of self interest. Accountability is considered a special obligation to ensure that matters of public interest are conducted transparently and that analysis and commentary should not misrepresented but rather labelled.
Where unusual methods have been employed to gather information, this should be explained as part of the story as traditional methods are considered orthodox and any meandering from the norm may be generally frowned upon. This particularly prevalent in instances where investigative reporting takes place and contrived methods make the information-gathering exercise more tedious than it normally is.
Freedom of the press is considered functional to effective journalism and the standards outlined so far may come under scrutiny is an environment where there are restrictions on news agencies that are prohibited from criticizing organisations or governments that would rather use media for their own ends. Censorship implies persecution of human beings in a wider context as each individual is entitled to free speech and opinions that may impact knowledge in one way or the other as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Therefore, non freedom of the press is treated gravely in an ethical context in any territory. Perversion of the press for personal gain and self interest is considered a breach of ethical standards and examples of this can be seen in using media for campaigning or the proliferation of propaganda intended to influence outcomes and opinions in a particular direction. This is why the accuracy of statements and opinions is so heavily scrutinized as reporters are encouraged to focus on detail and not conjecture and thoroughly verify sources and their credibility.
Failure to do so can result in legal action against agencies and individuals. Individuals and organisations have also been guilty in the past of using media to slant opinion within legal boundaries and loopholes that exist which is why existing legislation is continually being revised and revisited to be as thorough as possible. Ethical dilemmas may arise that may pose unique circumstances where journalists may find themselves in situations where an ethical resolution is hairline.
In these instances, they take into account the public’s right to know, potential threats, reprisals, threats and intimidations of all kinds, personal integrity, conflict between editors, reporters and publishers or management, and many other such peculiar circumstances that define their predicament. In this respect, proper care must be taken to ensure that ethical lines are threaded carefully. Professional Ethics in Law When we talk about legal ethics, we are referring to the ethical code that governs the conduct of people who are engaged in the practice of law.
As with all other professions, lawyers have a mandate to be ethical in the practice of law. They form the backbone of the legal system and as such they have a special responsibility to be principled in their jobs ??? particularly because they can seriously affect the lives of others. Take for instance, a wrong judgement such as if an innocent person was found guilty in the case of murder ??? they would lose their life. Also, if lawyers fail to comply with these rules of ethics, they can be subjected to discipline ranging from private (non-pubic) reprimand to disbarment (the taking away of their license to practice law).
Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors in our society. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client. As advisors, they counsel clients about their rights and offer legal advice. Lawyers must ensure that when they are doing their jobs they follow certain rules and stay within the guidelines of their particular profession.
In the law arena, there is in fact a code of conduct which is laid out so that there is no disparity between what is right and wrong for lawyers to do. The code itself states its purpose: ??”The purpose of this Code is to ensure that advocates do not act abusively or negligently or in a manner repugnant to the decorum, dignity or honour of their profession or in such manner as could seriously affect the trust conferred on them. ” There are various topics under the code of conduct for lawyers to abide by. They include: ?
Relationships with clients ? Obligations to others, and ? Particular areas of practice- litigation and advocacy. ? In addition to the topics given above there are certain general principles with regards to the conduct of attorneys. The general principles in relation to the conduct of attorneys basically entails that they act with integrity in and out of their business environment, to be honest, to preserve independence especially concerned with freedom of choice, to act in the best interests of the client/s and to maintain a certain standard of work.
With regard to the relationships with clients lawyers must give clients advice that is frank and objective in nature; they must not advertise their practices unduly or allow any third parties to do so either; they must not use any company name that is involved with misleading information. The lawyer has freedom to accept or take instructions from his/ her client; if the lawyer knows that he/she is not competent enough to take on a case they should inform the client and withdraw from it;??the lawyer must not accept instructions from a third party with information directly affecting the client with first consulting with the client.
Pertaining to briefs- lawyers must adhere to instructions given by clients prior to the hearing; if the advocate does not abide by the instructions of his/her client they must provide a good reason for not doing so and at the end of the brief the lawyer must return all legal documents owned by the client.
In terms of compensation for their professional services a lawyer can indeed ask for a sum of money to be paid upfront before he begins work on the case; the amount charged by the attorney may be based on his own judgment or in conjunction with the client; the advocate should charge a reasonable fee which can either be determined by the advocate or by an agreement determined by both the advocate and client.
In considering the fee to be charged, however, some factors need to be considered such as the time required to perform the service, the difficulty of the case, the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client, the experience, reputation and ability of the advocate and the time limitations posed by the client or the circumstances.
Regarding conflicts of interest- instructions should not be accepted by a lawyer to act for two or more clients where there is a conflict or even the likelihood of a conflict between the interests of those clients; if a lawyer has acquired relevant knowledge concerning a past client during the course of acting for that client, the lawyer cannot accept instructions to act against that client; an advocate must not continue to act for two or more clients where there is a conflict of interest existing between those clients; the lawyer should not act if his or her interests conflicts with the interests of the client; any lawyer who holds a power of attorney from a client must not use that power to gain a benefit. One major issue related to ethics in law is that of confidentiality.
The lawyer is bound by professional secrecy to keep private the affairs of clients and ensure that the staff does the same; this confidentiality about a client applies even if the information is sourced from elsewhere; an advocate can only disclose information about the client, if the client permits disclosure or waives the confidentiality; the lawyer cannot make any profit off of the confidential information obtained while doing his/her job. A lawyer also has to meet certain expectations in terms of obligations to others ??? others meaning certain third parties and also other advocates. Lawyers must never act fraudulently, participate in deceitful activities, and certainly must never use their profession to take advantage of others; if an advocate realizes that their opposition is not in fact a qualified attorney ??? they must under no circumstances be in contact with such parties and lawyers must treat other advocates with civility, honesty and good faith. Lawyers are bound to certain codes of conduct with respect to litigation and advocacy.
This includes, a lawyer is expected to be appropriately attired especially when going to court; lawyers must comply with the rules of the court; when issuing statements the lawyer should be very careful about what is said and must not publish those statements which may affect the fair trial; lawyers must never deceive or mislead the court; if the lawyer knows with certainty that his/her client intends to mislead the court- he/she should instantly remove himself/ herself from the proceeding and tender resignation; especially in instances with crimes the lawyer must ensure that he/she is totally objective; the lawyer speak and act on behalf of the client such that if the client had the necessary qualifications and was able to defend himself- he would act in a manner very similarly to the lawyer. International Code of Ethics
The International Bar Association is a federation in which members have established ‘Codes of Legal Ethics’ as models for or governing the practice of law by its members. Nothing in this code pardons an advocate from obliging to comply with such requirements of the law or of rules of professional conduct as may apply to him/her in any relevant jurisdiction. There are a number of rules in this international code, some of which are: 1. Lawyers adhere to the standards of professional ethics in the jurisdiction in which he/she has been admitted. All ethical standards which apply to lawyers of that country shall also be observed. 2. Maintenance of their honour and dignity in their profession as well as in their private life. 3.
Lawyers shall preserve independence and not engage in any other business or occupation if by doing so they cease to be independent. 4. Treat their professional colleagues with the utmost courtesy and fairness. 5. Oral or written communication between lawyers shall be in principle be accorded a confidential character as far as the court is concerned. 6. Lawyers shall without fear defend the interests of their clients and without regard to any unpleasant consequences to themselves or to any other person. 7. It is improper for lawyers to converse about a particular case directly with persons whom they know to be represented in that case by another lawyer without his/her consent. 8.
Lawyers should never represent conflicting interests in litigation. 9. The right of the client’s interests should be put first rather than the lawyer’s right to compensation for their services. 10. It is not unethical for lawyers to limit or exclude professional liability subject to the rules of their local Bar Association. It is of utmost importance to remember that when dealing with legal ethics it is important to remember that confidentiality, honesty and integrity play very important roles. Professional Ethics in Medicine. As medical professionals, they have ethical responsibilities not only to patients, but also to society, to other health professionals and to themselves. ) The patient-physician relationship: the welfare of the patient is most important in the patient-physician relationship. Physicians have to respect the rights of their patients, colleagues, and other health professionals. The right of the individual patients is to make their own choices about their health. Physicians must avoid discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion and national origin. 2) Physician Conduct and Practice: Physicians must not misrepresent themselves through any form of communication in an untruthful, misleading or deceptive manner. Additionally there must be the maintenance of medical competence through the study, application, and enhancement of medical skills and knowledge is an obligation of practicing physicians.
All physicians have an obligation to respond to evidence of unethical behaviour or misconduct by other physicians to the relevant organizations. 3) Avoiding Conflicts of Interest: Physicians are expected to recognize situations of conflicts of interest and deal with them through public disclosure. Conflicts of interest should be resolved in accordance with the best interest of the patient. 4) Professional Relations: Physicians should be respectful and cooperate with other members of staff including other physicians, nurses and health care professionals. 5) Social Responsibilities: Physicians have a relationship to society as a whole and should participate and support in any way to enhance the community. They should also respect the laws of the society.
And they are also responsible to uphold the honour and dignity of the profession. Like all other professions, medicine has its own ethical code and principles of conduct. One of the rules of conduct is “First, do no harm. ” The removal of a normal, healthy body part and causing pain that is unnecessary is doing harm. For example doctors who circumcise acknowledge the pain and then dismiss it by saying ‘it only lasts for a minute,’ suggesting that it is fine to inflict an infant to pain that is unnecessary as long it is temporary. However there is evidence to prove that the pain has lasting effects. This careless attitude about inflicting pain violates the ethical principles of the medical profession.
As well as, general moral principles to subject anyone, in particular a defenceless infant, to any pain that is unnecessary for any particular period of time. Recently reported in the ‘New England journal of Medicine,’ “Failure to provide adequate control of pain amounts to substandard and unethical medical practice” Ethics in Psychological Research Psychology can be defined as the study of the mind and behaviour. The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience ??? from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged. In every conceivable setting from scientific research centres to mental health care services, “the understanding of behaviour” is the enterprise of psychologists (American Psychological Association).
Scientific research plays a critical role in the field of Psychology as it aids in the formulation of theories which seek to explain human behaviour. (Coolican,2004). As one would imagine, if we are studying the human mind, the use of human participants in psychological research is quite common. It is therefore not surprising that professional psychological boards such as the American Psychological Association and the British Psychological Society have established ethical codes of conduct when conducting research with both humans and animals. This portion of the paper shall examine some the role professional ethics plays in psychological research and some unique cases where in the absence of these codes research has resulted in psychological harm.
The APA Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct covers six General Principles for overall guidance towards the “highest ideals of psychology” . These principles fall under the following headings: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence-Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm. In their professional actions, psychologists seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons, and the welfare of animal subjects of research. Fidelity and Responsibility-Psychologists establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work. They are aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work.
Psychologists uphold professional standards of conduct, clarify their professional roles and obligations, accept appropriate responsibility for their behavior, and seek to manage conflicts of interest that could lead to exploitation or harm. Psychologists consult with, refer to, or cooperate with other professionals and institutions to the extent needed to serve the best interests of those with whom they work. Integrity-Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in the science, teaching, and practice of psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat, or engage in fraud, subterfuge, or intentional misrepresentation of fact. Psychologists strive to keep their promises and to avoid unwise or unclear commitments.
In situations in which deception may be ethically justifiable to maximize benefits and minimize harm, psychologists have a serious obligation to consider the need for, the possible consequences of, and their responsibility to correct any resulting mistrust or other harmful effects that arise from the use of such techniques. Justice-Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists. Psychologists exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.
Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity-Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. Psychologists are aware that special safeguards may be necessary to protect the rights and welfare of persons or communities whose vulnerabilities impair autonomous decision making. Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status and consider these factors when working with members of such groups.
Psychologists try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on those factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices. (Adapted from www. APA. org) Research with human beings entails many ethical issues and responsibilities. The primary goal is to protect the dignity, welfare and rights of all participants in research. As with many professional fields and with life in general, some of the ethical dilemmas which arise are straightforward whilst other issues are difficult to discern and involve various conflicting parties. First a small case study will be presented (See Appendix Figure 1) and some of the ethical issues involved in psychological research will be examined. Deception
According to the APA, psychologists should not conduct studies involving deception unless they have determined that the use of the technique is justified by the study’s significant prospective scientific, educational or applied value and that effective non-deceptive alternative procedures are not feasible. From the case above we see that Milgram’s study involved the use of deception but many question the extent to which the emotional distress caused by the study was justified. The use of deception in psychological research is extremely common(Coolican,2004). Some researchers contend that given the ethical principles of the APA and an increase in its use, professional psychologists should totally ban the use of it. (Ortmann andHertwig;1997). However the degree deception may be necessary so as to not stunt the progress of psychological research.
To support his argument he cites several studies which seem to suggest that participants have a positive attitude toward the use of deception in psychological experiments. Some forms of deception used are relatively innocent e. g. being told that a baby is male when it really is female. Other forms however, may be a bit more serious e. g. in Latane and Darley experiment participants thought they were overhearing an authentic epileptic seizure. The APA outlines that if deception is to be used that the participants are informed at the beginning of the possibility of physical pain and severe emotional distress and that the participants are fully debriefed at the end of the study. Debriefing The APA code of ethics states that the researcher has the responsibility to debrief each participant.
Psychological debriefing is a brief crisis intervention usually administered within days of a traumatic event (Raphael and Wilson, 2000). The debriefing process involves the researcher clarifying any misconceptions the participant may have. Also, the researcher recognizes a duty to report general findings to participants in terms appropriate to their understanding. If harm is caused during the research procedures psychologists must exercise measures to minimize this harm. In cases such as in the Obedience studies where participants have been seriously deceived extra effort must be given to explain to participants the purpose for the deception.
Many question the effectiveness of debriefing as the argument is that even when participants are informed of the study many still suffer post-traumatic stress and residual anger and disappointment with themselves. (Ring, Wallston and Corey;1970). In the case of Milgram, he later sent a questionnaire to participants after the study and found that 84% reported were glad to have participated in the study whilst only 1% regretted doing the study period. Many however simply see this as an attempt by Milgram to justify an ethically unacceptable study. Stress and Discomfort-Most psychologists agree that procedures used in psychological research should not harm participants physically or psychologically. Researchers are obligated at all times to employ the least stressful research operations wherever possible.
However, difficulty lies in establishing to what extent physical or mental discomfort experienced may be classified as harmful and thereby deemed unacceptable. The case above illustrates how psychological research can impose a substantial degree of mental stress. Some participants experienced deterioration of their self-image and the strain of feeling guilty or responsible for their actions. Another ethically controversial psychological study which inflicted stress on participants was conducted by Phlllip Zimbardo. Zimbardo conducted an experiment on authority and obedience and because of the severe mental stress it caused the students, the study had to be shortened from fourteen days to six.
Students played the role of prison guards but hours after settling in to their roles they became their roles. These “guards” were aggressive, sadistic and brutal towards their prisoners (other students that were also participating in the study). Within two days participants had to be released since they were exhibiting signs of severe emotional and psychological disorders(uncontrollable crying and screaming) and one even developed a nervous rash. (Coolican,2004). It is therefore extremely important that in cases where harm seems inevitable that this harm is managed and minimized. This can be done through the process of debriefing (see above. )
Physical Discomfort-As the APA principle of Beneficence and Nonmaleficence states, psychologists should strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm(physical or psychological). In the past however variables such as noise levels, food and sleep deprivation and even electric shock have all been examined for the purpose of finding answers to human behaviours. One ethical issue arises is in the case of aversion therapies. Many times participants willingly consent to these therapies which rid the client of unwanted or destructive behaviour. (Coolican,2004). In the case of homosexuals wishing to become heterosexual, many groups believe that applying aversive therapy to this situation is highly unethical since men are succumbing themselves to aversive stimuli(like mild shocks) for a chance to fit into societal norms.
In cases such as this one it is expected that the professional should seek the advice of their colleagues before progressing with the treatment. Informed Consent, Anonymity and Confidentiality Before obtaining participants for psychological research the researcher should inform the participant of all the features of the research which may affect his or her willingness to participate (e. g. if the participant is likely to experience discomfort) and answer all of their questions in a comprehensive manner. The researcher must also remind the participant that he/she can withdraw at anytime. This is known as informed consent and the APA has made it clear that all psychology researchers should adhere to this code.
From the case above Milgram failed to allow participants to withdraw from the study even when the situation was causing them obvious distress. Two factors work against informed consent; the investigator’s need to deceive on some occasions and the significant power attaching to the investigator’s role. There are two standards that are applied in order to help protect the privacy of research participants. Almost all research guarantees the participants’ confidentiality — they are assured that identifying information will not be made available to anyone who is not directly involved in the study. The stricter standard is the principle of anonymity which essentially means that the participant will remain anonymous throughout the study — even to the researchers themselves.
Clearly, the anonymity standard is a stronger guarantee of privacy, but it is sometimes difficult to accomplish, especially in situations where participants have to be measured at multiple time points (e. g. , a pre-post study). Conclusion As we have learned from the analysis, professional ethics is evident is almost every field of work and study. As it relates to education the educator recognizes the magnitude of the responsibility inherent in the teaching process. The desire for the respect and confidence of one’s colleagues, of students, of parents, and of the members of the community provides the incentive to attain and maintain the highest possible degree of ethical conduct.
In management and accounting according to the AICPA the primary obligation is to the public and thus workers should act with the highest sense of integrity. It states that they should remain objective and free from conflicts of interest and a member should strive to meet the profession’s ethical standards. Conscientious journalism entails gathering, reporting and interpreting information in a fair and honest manner. Journalists are encouraged to seek the truth and report it, ensure that it is accurate and objective, minimize harm in the process of reporting the news and act independently avoiding conflicts of interest. Legal ethics refers to the ethical code that governs the conduct of people who are engaged in the practice of law.
As with all other professions, lawyers have a mandate to be ethical in the practice of law. They form the backbone of the legal system and as such they have a special responsibility to be principled in their jobs ??? particularly because they can seriously affect the lives of others. Medical professionals have ethical responsibilities not only to patients, but also to society, to other health professionals and to themselves. The welfare of the patient is most important in the patient-physician relationship. Physicians must avoid discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion and national origin. Recommendation Limitations Appendix Figure 1 Case Study Milgram the classic experiment of ethical Debate
Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, conducted a study focusing on the conflict between obedience to authority and personal conscience. He examined justifications for acts of genocide offered by those accused at the World War II, Nuremberg War Criminal trials. Their defense often was based on “obedience” – – that they were just following orders of their superiors. In the experiment, so-called “teachers” (who were actually the unknowing subjects of the experiment) were recruited by Milgram. They were asked administer an electric shock of increasing intensity to a “learner” for each mistake he made during the experiment. The fictitious story given to these “teachers” was that the experiment was exploring effects of punishment (for incorrect responses) on learning behavior.
The “teacher” was not aware that the “learner” in the study was actually an actor – – merely indicating discomfort as the “teacher” increased the electric shocks. When the “teacher” asked whether increased shocks should be given he/she was verbally encouraged to continue. Sixty percent of the “teachers” obeyed orders to punish the learner to the very end of the 450-volt scale! No subject stopped before reaching 300 volts! At times, the worried “teachers” questioned the experimenter, asking who was responsible for any harmful effects resulting from shocking the learner at such a high level. Upon receiving the answer that the experimenter assumed full responsibility, teachers seemed to accept the response and continue