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COMP427 Professional Ethics

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1 COMP427 Professional Ethics

2 Agree ? Ethics cannot be taught. You are able to sense what is right, good and just, and are motivated to act – or you are not. 2. While people differ in their abilities, most people can improve their ethical decision-making through education and practice.

3 Professional Ethics What is a “profession”? What is “ethics”?
What is “professional ethics”? Ethical theories Thinking about professional ethics Professional values Codes of Ethics

4 Dilemma The hijacked plane with 200 people is approaching a building with 50,000 people Vote! Will you shoot down the plane?

5 Dilemma You cannot subscribe to both principles in the case.
A true moral dilemma Which position has the greatest weight in the circumstances?

6 “Professional Ethics”

7 Profession All professions are occupations, but not all occupations are professions Can take a broad or narrow view of what is a “profession” A “self-regulated occupational group capable of legally prohibiting others (including incompetent or unethical members) from practising” is a narrow view

8 Profession You are not a professional until you are a member of a group of colleagues who have articulated a set of standards and values and can enforce them, at the very least, by exclusion from the group.

9 “Professionalism” 1. Skill, competency in work
Relational element – work will be beneficial to others Work itself doesn’t have moral status Execution of work has moral status

10 Professional Ethics Purpose… Helps professional decide when faced with a problem that raises a moral issue Complexity … Can be many people, with many issues involved … may be involved history to the issues … may be an issue WHO decides, not just WHAT decided.

11 Ethics and Morality Morality – making choices with reasons
Ethics – the study of HOW the choices are made, ie “ethics is the study of morality” Often use “ethics” and “morality” interchangeably

12 General vs Professional
General Ethics – individual as member of community, broader range of issues, “top down” principles Professional Ethics – moral expectations specific to the occupational group, tend to focus on concrete “bottom up” cases

13 Morality and Ethics Professional Morality – what we do in our occupational lives Professional Ethics – the study of what we do in our professional lives

14 Ethics and Law Law – the authority is external
Ethics – the authority is internal Much of law, but not all, is based in morality Sometimes law is unethical Much of what is ethical is unaddressed by legal rules

15 Professional Ethics and Law
There is a moral duty to obey the law (with some caveats) Professional ethics covers more issues than the law One can be unethical without behaving illegally Rare – ethically must resist the law

16 Professional Ethics and Law
Be very careful not to embark in an exercise in ethical analysis when there is a clear legal rule in the situation that trumps the entire process of ethical analysis.

17 Professional Ethics and Law
Be very careful not to assume that there is a legal rule for every situation. Often the gaps between legal rules require one to switch to an ethical analysis.

18 Ethics Descriptive ethics – “What IS”
Prescriptive ethics – “What OUGHT to be” We do not seek to study professional ethics as a sociologist would, but to assist with choices about what one ought to do.

19 Prescriptive Ethics “What OUGHT to be”
The words used are different… good-bad, right-wrong, just-unjust Thought processes use values, goods, virtues, rules, ethical theories, moral reasons, moral explanations, and moral decisions.

20 Why the Interest in Professional Ethics?
As occupations become more specialized, the ethical issues become more specialized Professional societies have increased efforts to establish ethical codes to guide members Increasing public scrutiny, lack of traditional deference Regulatory oversight, public protection

21 Ethics in the Business World
Globalization of organizations have created a complex business world. Risk is the likelihood of a negative event times the impact of the event.

22 Why Business Ethics are Important?
Protect the organization and its employees from legal action. Create an organization that operates consistently. Produce good business. Avoid unfavorable publicity. Gain the goodwill of the community.

23 Legal Overview Bribes involve providing money, property, favors, or anything else of value to someone in business or government in order to obtain a business advantage. Gifts are made openly and publicly as a gesture of friendship or goodwill with no expectation of a future favor for the donor.

24 Improving Corporate Ethics
Appoint a corporate ethics officer. Ethical standards should be set by a board of directors. Establish a corporate code of conduct. Conduct social audits. Require employees to take ethics training. Include ethical criteria in employee appraisal/reward systems.

25 Code of Conduct A guide that highlights an organization’s key ethical issues and identifies the overarching values and principles that are important to the organization and that can help in decision making. The code of conduct helps ensure that employees: Abide by the law. Follow necessary regulations. Behave in an ethical manner.

26 Ethical Decision Making
Get the facts. Identify the stakeholders and their positions. Consider the consequences of your decision. Weigh various guidelines and principles (Virtue, Utilitarian, Fairness, Common Good). Develop and evaluate options. Review your decision. Evaluate the results of your decision.

27 Ethics in Information Technology
The increased use of information technology has raised many ethical issues for today’s IT professional. Licensing of IT professionals Internet communication Intellectual property Employee/employer issues

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