PHI 2000 Assignment Professional Ethics

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PHI 2000 Assignment Professional Ethics

PHI 2000 Assignment Professional Ethics

Identify a professional association that oversees people
engaged in your chosen vocation, and locate the formal code of conduct
statement endorsed by that association. Write a reflective essay in which you
assess the profession’s code of conduct. Apply it to your current or future workplace
experience, and discuss your plan for dealing with potential conflicts. Support
your essay with research.

Consider the following in your essay:

Summarize the features of this code and examine it
critically. Are there vital ethical principles that it fails to mention? Does
it overemphasize elements that are not really important? What large- or
small-scale revisions might improve the code?

Consider your own relationship with the code of conduct you
have identified. As a working professional, which of the code’s principles will
be most difficult for you to comply with? In what situations might your
personal morality come into conflict with the strictures of professional
ethics? How will you productively discuss these conflicts with employers,
professional colleagues, and clients?

Additional Requirements

Written communication: Written communication should be free
of errors that detract from the overall message.

APA formatting: Include a title page and a references page,
formatted according to APA (6th edition) style and formatting.

References: A typical paper will include support from a
minimum of 3–5 references. You may use some of the materials recommended in the
Resources, but you should also include support from your independent research
of scholarly or professional materials.

Length: A typical paper will be 4–6 typed, double-spaced
pages in length.

Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12-point.

What is a Profession?


  1. “Profess”: a public declaration, vow on entering a religious order. a commitment (vows) to serve for a good end.
  2. 16th century: commitment to learned pursuits (three learned professions are divinity, law, and medicine, then the military); being an authority on a body of knowledge, belonging to an occupation; being skilled, being a fractioned, not an amateur.
  3. 19th century (late): “New professions have come into existence, and the old professions are more esteemed” Oxford English Dictionary) (1)


An Occupational Group:

  1. Delivers important services
  2. Makes a commitment to serve the public
  3. Claims a special relationship to the marketplace, not merely in the rough and tumble; distinguished from a trade.

An Occupation Becomes a Profession when:

  1. A group of individuals sharing the same occupation organize to work in a morally permissible way, or to work to support a moral ideal. (i.e. Doctors organize to cure the sick, librarians organize to promote access to information, etc.) (2)
  2. Members set and follow special standards for carrying on their occupational work.
  • At least one of these standards must go beyond what law, the marketplace, ordinary morality (what a ordinary moral person must do) and public opinion demand. (i.e. a good mercenary only needs to fulfill the terms of his contract, a good, professional soldier must serve his country honorably, even when ordinary morality, law, and public opinion do not require it.) (3)
  • These special standards are morally binding to “professed” members of the profession. If a member freely declares (or professes) herself to be part of a profession, she is voluntarily implying that she will follow these special moral codes. If the majority of members of a profession follow the standards, the profession will have a good reputation and members will generally benefit; if the majority of members violate these voluntary standards, professed members of a profession will be at a disadvantage or at the least receive no benefit from declaring a profession. (4)

A Professional is a member of an occupational group (characterized above) who:

  1. Sees other members, including those employed elsewhere, as peers/colleagues
  2. Exercises judgment in the performance of occupational tasks and follows relevant professional standards.
  3. Accepts the profession’s agreement to work in a morally permissible way (often expressed as a code of ethics) as determining in part the obligations of the role.


A code of ethics… prescribes how professionals are to pursue their common ideal so that each may do the best she can at a minimal cost to herself and those she cares about (including the public…). The code is to protect each professional from certain pressures (for example, the pressure to cut corners to save money) by making it reasonably likely (and more likely then otherwise) that most other members of the profession will not take advantage of her good conduct… A code is a solution to a coordination problem.” (Davis, Michael. “Thinking Like an Engineer” pp.153-4).

(For the next section, it may be helpful to look at a code of ethics. Take a look at the National Association for Professional Engineers Code of Ethics. What sections of the code mention the following obligations?)

Individual Professional Obligations:

  1. An individual’s professional obligations are derived from the profession and its code, tradition, society’s expectations, contracts, laws, and rules of ordinary morality
  2. A professional has obligations to his/her
    • Employer
    • Clients/Customers
    • Other Professionals- relations of collegiality, specific expectations of reciprocity
    • Profession as a collectivity
    • Society – responsibility to serve the public interest

Upshot: A professional is not a mere hired gun; responsibilities go with knowledge and position.

Individual Responsibility:

  1. Sphere of tasks – daily/regular responsibilities
  2. For outcome caused by one’s actions or decisions
  3. Liability – answerability for one’s actions or decisions
  4. Capacity – to appreciate, to control one’s behavior
  5. Moral responsibility – looking ahead to and caring about what happens to oneself and others.

Levels of failing to meet one’s individual responsibility:

  • Negligence – failure to meet the appropriate standards of care (or that level or quality of service ordinarily provided by other normally competent practitioners of good standing in that field, contemporaneously providing similar services in the same locality and under the same circumstances). (5)
  • Gross negligence – falling way below the standard of care
  • Deliberate wrongdoing.
    PHI 2000 Assignment Professional Ethics

    PHI 2000 Assignment Professional Ethics


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  1. Define the profession’s special relation to the market place.
    Members earn livelihood in professional roles, accepting certain standards.
  2. In the form of:
    1. Codes
    2. Other measures
    3. Continuing Education
    4. Support mechanisms for members


Entails knowledge and responsibility i.e. meeting an appropriate standard of care. (6)
Individual– governs his or her own conduct, often using moral rules as a basis, and exercises a considerable degree of discretionary judgment within her daily work, but accepts the limits within a cooperative practice.
Profession– Prescribes standards for itself. Is accountable to the public.

Important questions to ask when obligations conflict:

  • What seems to be the primary obligation?
  • Which violation will cause more harm?
  • Knowledge/consent of those affected?

  • Is there a way to make these obligations compatible?

Tension Between Professional Standards and Moral Rules

e.g. Judge foreclosing on a widow. Look for alternative that does the least harm.

Ethics as a Context of Professional Work (and identifying ethical issues in what you teach)

Ethics and other professional standards: some similarities

  1. Same purpose as other standards, namely:
    1. Standardize profession’s work
    2. Protect public, serve client, support other standards, etc.
  2. Similar development
    1. Begins with common sense
    2. Modified based on experience of profession
    3. Never final (since experience continues)
  3. Needs practical context to make sense
    1. Each profession is defined by a certain sort of judgment, not merely by the knowledge such judgment presupposes:
      e.g. you are not an engineer because you know what engineers know but because you can—and generally do—show the good judgment characteristic of engineers.
    2. Judgment can only be exercised in a context.

A large part of what makes a professional’s judgment useful is its ability to appreciate certain features of certain contexts

e.g. engineer sees hoisting of a large beam as an engineering problem (what forces are at work, etc.), while lawyer sees it as a legal problem (what liability might arise).

Teaching Professional Ethics


Once you begin thinking about the ethical issues professionals in your field encounter on a day-to-day basis, it becomes relatively easy to identify ethical issues in what you teach. What follows are a few suggestions of how to begin to do this, and how to focus students’ attention on these issues without greatly changing your class syllabus.

  1. Read your profession’s code of ethics. What issues are present? If it’s in the code, it probably comes up.
  2. Draw on your practical experience. What bothered you?
  3. Ask practitioners what comes up in their work.
  4. Collect newspaper stories, novels, short stories, web sites, and the like that deal with your profession. What comes up there?
  5. Look through texts on your profession’s ethics. (For example, see the Codes of Ethics Collection)
  6. Ask your students to write up problems based on their work experience or on the work experience of someone they interview.
  7. Think about writing a report on research, design work, or evaluation of the material covered in course. What problems arise in reporting technical results?
  8. Ask how the activity in which such technical judgment is relevant could harm someone or embarrass members of your profession.


Strategy—make room for judgment by adding context:

  1. Rewrite problems to include more information.
  2. e.g. instead of “liquid” emptying into a “basin”, why not a specific highly toxic chemical emptying into a specific river? Did students notice how much was going in? Why didn’t they flag the problem? How many people might die as result? Responsibility beyond particular technical questions?
  3. Not just safety, also utility (e.g. specs not suitable to locale), cost (e.g. unnecessarily expensive materials), and so on.
  4. Create mini-design problems.
    • group similar problems, ask students to do the usual calculations, then give enough context so that what has been calculated are various solutions to same practical problem and ask for a recommendation. Which approach should we take and why? One approach could be cheaper in the short run, another cheaper in long run, another safer, and so on. What is professional responsibility here?
  5. Forensics.
    • Assign students to study report of some disaster (or scandal) relevant to material of course: How do “we” avoid such a disaster “next time”?
    • Disasters are effective in teaching ethics because they are both real and dramatic.
    • Students develop a sense for how easy it is to mess up (that is, add to their “moral imagination”), how important professional standards really are.
    • Tip: Don’t use too many disasters. If you only use cases studies in your class that show failures to exercise ethical judgment, students may become cynical about the very possibility of professionals behaving ethically. (7)
  6. Investigate technical standard (relevant to course)
    • e.g. How was this table developed? Why do we record lab observations in ink, at time, in books that cannot leave lab? (What disasters led “us” to draw line here?) Stories.
  7. Assign responsibilities now.
    • e.g. treat lab rules as professional standards, explaining rationale for these standards (safety, preserving immediacy to catch small clues, making it possible for others to pick up where you left off, protecting against suspicion, and so on)—or (as in D) make students figure out their rationale.
    • e.g. do work with “real world” effects (sampling river for EPA)


(1) “Profession” II (7) a. Oxford English Dictionary. June, 2007.

(2) Davis, Michael “Is Engineering a Profession in Japan?” pp.7-8

(3) Davis, “Is Engineering a Profession Everywhere?” pp. 8.

(4) Davis, “Is Engineering a Profession in Everywhere?” pp. 8-9.

(5) Definition from case, Paxton v. County of Alameda (1953) 119 C. A. 2d 393, 398, 259 P. 2d 934)

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