Theoretical Considerations for a Meaningful Code of Professional Ethics
Journal of Business Ethics September 1995, Volume 14, Issue 9, pp 703-714
Posted: 2 Jul 2013
Date Written: June 1, 1994
The professions have focused considerable attention on developing codes of conduct. Despite their efforts there is considerable controversy regarding the propriety of professional codes of ethics. Many provisions of professional codes seem to exacerbate disputes between the profession and the public rather than providing a framework that satisfies the public's desire for moral behavior. After examining three professional codes, we divide the provisions of professional codes into those provisions which urge professionals to avoid moral hazard, maintain professional courtesy and serve the public interest. We note that whereas provisions urging the avoidance of moral hazard are uncontroversial, the public is suspicious of provisions protecting professional courtesy. Public interest provisions are controversial when the public and the profession disagree as to what is in the public interest. Based on these observations, we conclude with recommendations regarding the content of professional codes.
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