Model code of ethical principles

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This document is not simply a ‘how to do it’ tool kit setting forth the means by which a code of ethics for occupations can be written. Rather it attempts to explain the nature and role of codes of ethics. That said, it provides a description of the generic content of codes of ethics, and an outline of the process that needs to be gone throughin the devising of a code of ethics. The specific content of codes of ethics are always matters of dispute. So inevitably the generic content of codes of ethics for occupations will be a matter of dispute. I have sought to offer a specific set of recommendations regarding the generic content of codes of ethics for occupations, and I have offered justifications for the content that I have recommended. However, this should be taken as an indicative list of issues to be covered in any given code of ethics, and not slavishly followed. Reasonable people can disagree on these issues. Moreover, I have offered a specific process for writing a code of ethics for occupations. Once again, there are other ways of doing it, albeit ways that I do not believe should differ too radically from the process that I have recommended.

Finally, I have not sought to explain and justify, or solve in detail, all the controversial and problematic issues that codes of ethics give rise to. For example, I have not tried to solve the problem of how to write a code of ethics for members of an occupation working in a multi-disciplinary workplace, or working in an organisational setting in which there are potential points of tension between the requirements of the occupation and the requirements of the organisation. However, I have provided some assistance in relation to some of these issues. For example, I argue that codes of ethics for organisations need to be framed in part in relation to the ethically sustainable goals of the organisation. And I elaborate a position in regard to some of these issues, notably the distinction between the professions and other occupations. While accepting that there is no clear dividing line between the professions and other occupations, I nevertheless argue that there are a set of (sometimes not clear cut) criteria for being a profession. Inevitably, other occupations will meet some of these criteria, and some members of some professions will not meet all of them. However, the existence of these grey areas does not vitiate the distinction; it merely complicates the overall picture.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCanberra, ACT
PublisherCentre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics
Commissioning bodyProfessional Standards Councils of NSW and WA
Number of pages45
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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