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What Are Professional Ethics?

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Professional ethics are moral expectations that are applied to those who work within certain specialties. The reason why there are special expectations of these people is that they are seen has having power that is not normally available to general members of the population. For example, a doctor is a professional who is allowed to do things to other humans that would not be permissible for those who did not belong to their profession. If an individual tried to cut another person open with a scalpel it would be considered assault, but we allow a surgeon to do this. The fact then that these professionals have power that isn’t normally given to everyone means that there has to be special expectations.

The Purpose of Professional Ethics

Professional ethics are there to protect the rest of the population from the extra power that is given to professionals. The person working within the specialty will be expected to have superior knowledge about the subject and this gives them an advantage over other people in this area. This means that others will be dependent on their knowledge and may make important decisions on what is advised. For example, if a legal expert offers advice to a client then it will involve the client relying on the expert’s knowledge. If there wasn’t some type of professional ethics then there would be nothing to stop the legal expert from offering misleading advice. The legal expert would also be free to talk about the client’s problems to anyone who wanted to listen.

Any group that wants to be considered a profession is expected to have ethics that they follow. These ethics aren’t just applied to relations between a professional and the general public but also how they should behave within the group. These rules and values are often written down in a code of conduct. They will contain such ethical expectations as honesty and ensuring that the rights of other people are not infringed – such as their autonomy.

The Effectiveness of Professional Ethics

There is no doubt that professional ethics are necessary to protect the general public from those who have power over their lives. If such ethics didn’t exist then there would be always the risk of people taking advantage of their position. There is some concern that the fact that professionals organizations are responsible for creating their own code of conduct means that these are often self-serving; they may serve the profession better than the general public. There can sometimes be conflicts between general ethical expectations and the expectations of people within a profession; for example it may be viewed as permissible for a doctor to withhold information from a patient if they feel that this information could hold them.

The most basic elements of all professional ethics are honesty and fairness. These days it is expected that all businesses will promote good conduct within the work place. This is not only to protect clients from any wrong doing but also to ensure that a business can run smoothly.

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Meet the Author

Anthony Carter currently resides in Fife, Scotland with his wife Lisa, and their three wonderful children. As a senior editor for various publications, if he's not reading and writing, you would find him photographing and traveling to some of the most far-flung locations around the world.


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