Applied ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L005-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 22, 2024, from

6. Professional ethics

Similar divisions may reveal themselves in professional ethics, although the idea that there should be special codes of ethics peculiar to particular professions has been current since ancient times, when the Hippocratic oath was required of those engaging in medical practice. Many modern groups, including engineers, nurses and lawyers, have adopted formal codes setting standards of ethical practice for their profession (see Professional ethics).

Ethics also plays an increasing role in the training of professionals. Often the preferred approach is through the use of case studies, sometimes fictional, sometimes using videos of actual cases. One problem with the case study approach is its possible negative effect. In stressing that there are at least two sides to many ethical problems, and in presenting ethical theories as giving conflicting outcomes, they may risk generating a facile moral or cultural relativism – the view that there are only opinions, not answers. The use of case studies and discussion based on situational ethics may also tacitly undermine principles (see Situation ethics). In contrast, some courses aim simply to increase the moral sensitivity of trainees, on the assumption that if this is successful they will go on to make good professional decisions (see Examples in ethics).

Citing this article:
Almond, Brenda. Professional ethics. Applied ethics, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L005-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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