In this paper I argue that moral decision making in professional practice should not be portrayed as a scientific or technically rational procedure. Rather, applying the arguments of a variety of writers, I suggest that moral judgements require practitioners in any field to use practical reasoning when applying ethical norms to the inevitably unique circumstances of any moral problem. Moreover, I argue that such judgments are complex and ultimately beyond cognition. To begin I define 'ethics', 'morality' and 'professional practice'. I draw a distinction between ethics and morality and define 'professional practice' as about practicing professionally, not just about the practices of 'professionals'. I then refer to examples of moral dilemmas in professional practice and the difficulties posed by attempts to apply ethical norms to such dilemmas. I refer readers to decision making models that can be used as aids to decency but warn decent practitioners to avoid the tyranny of guidelines. I then discuss the vital role of practical reasoning in moral judgement but suggest that as with all forms of reasoning it cannot guarantee 'good' moral decisions. Aporia haunt all judgements and demand leaps not decisions. I conclude with a short discussion of the implications of this view of moral judgement.
|Title of host publication||Understanding and Researching Professional Practice|
|Place of Publication||Rotterdam|
|Number of pages||18|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|