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    This social contract is more symbolic and explanatory than real.

  • Codes allow the profession to document to society that it has developed proper standards and intends to enforce them. They express the profession's trust in society to keep its side of the bargain by granting autonomy, prestige, and monopoly. Of course this contract has never been explicitly enacted at a point in historical time. But the notion of a social contract with a mutually beneficial exchange (a quid pro quo) provides a useful device for modeling the relation that has actually evolved between society and its professions.

    Professions and responsibility

  • Professions have been created to exercise stewardship over knowledge and skill domains.
  • Exercising stewardship over X generally means watching over, preserving, protecting, and even improving X. Stewardship is a forward-looking kind of responsibility similar to the responsibility that a parent exercises toward his or her children. The steward is a trusted servant or agent of the landowner who acts in the owner's place while the later is absent or incapacitated.
  • "Stewardship," thus, refers to the profession's responsibility to safeguard its specific domain of knowledge and skill. This domain is essential to society in some way (it provides society with a basic, common good) and society delegates responsibility for this domain to its members who are specially suited to exercise it.
  • So, generally speaking, professions can be characterized in terms of epistemological and ethical responsibilities.
  • The epistemological responsibility refers to stewardship over the knowledge and skills that characterizes the profession. The profession preserves, transmit, and advances this domain of knowledge and skill. (Epistemology = study of knowledge.)
  • The ethical dimension refers to the responsibility of the profession to safeguard knowledge and skill for the good of society. Society trusts the profession to do this for the sake of the comnmon good. Society also trusts the profession to regulate its own activities by developing and enforcing ethical and professional standards.

Objections to and mischievous side effects of codes of ethics

    These objections are taken from john ladd, "the quest for a code of professional ethics: an intellectual and moral confusion." this article can be found in deborah g. johnson, editor, (1991) ethical issues in engineering, new jersey: prentice hall: 130-136. the author of this module has taken some liberties in this presentation.

  • Codes "confuse ethics with law-making" (Ladd, 130). Ethics is deliberative and argumentative while law-making focuses on activities such as making and enforcing rules and policies.
  • A code of ethics is an oxymoron. Ethics requires autonomy of the individual while a code assumes the legitimacy of an external authority imposing rule and order on that individual.
  • Obedience to moral law for autonomous individuals is motivated by respect for the moral law. On the other hand, obedience to civil law is motivated by fear of punishment. Thus, Ladd informs us that when one attaches "discipinary procedures, methods of adjudication and sanctions, formal and informal, to the principles that one calls 'ethical' one automatically converts them into legal rules or some other kind of authoritative rules of conduct...."(Ladd 131) Accompanying code provisions with punishments replaces obedience based on respect for the (moral) law with conformity based on fear of punishment.
  • Codes lead to the dangerous tendency to reduce the ethical to the legal. Ethical principles can be used to judge or evaluate a disciplinary or legal code. But the reverse is not true; existing laws cannot trump ethical principles in debates over ethical issues and ethical decisions. As Ladd puts it, "That is not to say that ethics has no relevance for projects involving the creation, certification and enforcement of rules of conduct for members of certain groups....[I]ts [ethics's]role in connection with these projects is to appraise, criticize and perhaps even defend (or condemn) the projects themselves, the rules, regulations and procedures they prescribe, and the social and political goals and institutions they represent." (Ladd 130)
  • Codes have been used to justify immoral actions . Professional codes have been misued by individuals to justify actions that go against common morality. For example, lawyers may use the fact that the law is an adversarial system to justify lying. Ladd responds in the following way to this dodge: "{T}here is no special ethics belonging to professionals. Professionals are not, simply because they are professionals, exempt from the common obligations, duties and responsibilities that are binding on ordinary people. They do not have a special moral status that allows them to do things that no one else can." (Ladd 131)

    Mischievous side-effects of codes (from john ladd)

  • Codes make professionals complacent . (Ladd 135) First, they reduce the ethical to the minimally acceptable. Second, they cover up wrongful actions or policies by calling them--within the context of the code--"ethical". For example, the NSPE code of ethics used to prohibit competitive bidding. Enshrining it in their code of ethics gave it the appearance of being ethical when in fact it was motivated primarily by self interest. This provision was removed when it was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court for violating the Anti-Trust law.
  • Because codes focus on micro-ethical problems, "they tend to divert attention from macro-ethical problems of a profession." (Ladd 135) For example, in Puerto Rico, the actions of the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Colegio de Ingenieros y Agrimensores de Puerto Rico tend to focus on individual engineers who violate code provisions concerned with individual acts of corruption; these include conflicts of interest, failing to serve as faithful agents or trustees, and participating in corrupt actions such as taking or giving bribes. On the other hand, the CIAPR does not place equal attention on macro-ethical problems such as "the social responsibilities of professionals as a group" (Ladd 132), the role of the profession and its members in society (Ladd 135), and the "role professions play in determining the use of technology, its development and expansion, and the distribution of the costs." (Ladd 135)

Exercise: questions for reflection

  • Which of Ladd's criticisms apply to the Pirate Creed?
  • How does your group's code of ethics stand in relation to Ladd's criticisms?
  • Do Ladd's objections apply t the ABET, NSPE, or CIAPR codes?

Word file

Module Exercises.

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
is this allso about nanoscale material
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where is the latest information on a no technology how can I find it
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
What you would do if you were in the position of the tourist?
Irha Reply

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