Professional Ethics

PHIL 4401 / Fall 1999

Calendar of Readings

Tu 9/07
Windt, "Professions and Professional Ethics: Theoretical Background"
Excerpts from Ethics Codes for Doctors, Nurses and Engineers

Th 9/09
Callahan, "Professions and Professionalization"
Bayles, "The Professions"

Tu 9/14
Hughes, "Professions"
Barber, "Professions and Emerging Professions"

Th 9/16
Gorovitz, "Good Doctors"

Tu 9/21
Carr, "Is Business Bluffing Ethical?"
Gillespie, "The Business of Ethics"

Th 9/23
Freedman, "Where the Bodies are Buried"
Freedman, "Professional Responsibilities of the Criminal Defense Lawyer:
the Three Hardest Questions"

Tu 9/28
Donagan, "Confidentiality in the Adversary System" (excerpt)

Th 9/30
Thompson, "Ascribing Responsibility to Advisers in Government"

Tu 10/05
Luban, et al, "Moral Responsibility in the Age of Bureaucracy"

Th 10/07
Davis, "Explaining Wrongdoing"

Th 10/14
Nagel, "Ruthlessness in Public Life"

Tu 10/19
Chambliss, "Nursing and Ethics in an Age of Organizations" and
"How the Organization Creates Ethical Problems" (
thru p. 99)

Th 10/21
Chambliss, "How the Organization Creates Ethical Problems" (to end)
Muyskens, "The Nurse as a Member of a Profession"

Tu 10/26
The Ford Pinto (case study)
DeGeorge, "Ethical Responsibilities of Engineers in Large Corporations"

Th 10/28
James, "Whistle Blowing: Its Moral Justification"
Martin, "Whistleblowing: Professionalism and Personal Life"

Tu 11/02
Bayles, "The Professional-Client Relationship"
Ellin, "Special Professional Morality and the Duty of Veracity"

Th 11/04
Gorovitz, "Informed Consent and Patient Autonomy"
O'Neill, "Paternalism and Partial Autonomy"

Tu 11/09
Strike, "Autonomy and Consent in Education"
Bok, "Lies for the Public Good"

Tu 11/16
Rachels, "What Would a Satisfactory Moral Theory Be Like?"
DesJardins, "Virtues and Business Ethics"
Shaw & Barry, "Normative Theories of Ethics" (w/outline) (thru p. 56A)

Th 11/18
Shaw & Barry, "Normative Theories of Ethics" (w/outline) (thru p. 66A)
a) Utilitarian theory
b) Kant's duty-based ethics (Deontology)

Tu 11/23
Shaw & Barry, "Normative Theories of Ethics" (w/outline) (thru p. 75)
c) Ross on prima facie duties and principles
d) Brandt's optimality thesis

Tu 11/30
Benjamin, Splitting the Difference (Intro, ch. 1, and ch. 2 thru p. 38)

Th 12/02
Benjamin, Splitting the Difference (ch. 2 pp. 38-45, and ch. 3)

Tu 12/07
Benjamin, Splitting the Difference (ch. 4)

Th 12/09
Benjamin, Splitting the Difference (ch. 5)

Course Assignments

Quizzes =>focus will be on main issues addressed in the reading and the key points to understanding an author's position.

Discussion => reading preparation (issue/position/basis), conceptual analysis (of what's at stake, what's being argued, and how one might respond), and class presentation (crux of the article and a question to kick off a focussed class discussion)

First Short Paper => 4 to 5 pages (typed, double-spaced, 12 point font)
Assigned on Sept. 30th and due no later than Oct. 19th at 4pm.

Second Short Paper => 5 to 6 pages (typed, double-spaced, 12 point font)
Assigned on Nov. 9th and due no later than Nov. 24th at 4pm.

Take-Home Final Exam => study questions will be handed out on Dec. 7th.


PROFESSIONAL ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

WITHIN SOCIAL AND INSTITUTIONAL SETTINGS:

READINGS IN PROFESSIONAL ETHICS

Edited By

James A. Tuedio

Department of Philosophy

CSU Stanislaus

 

Course Readings for PHIL 4401/Sec 01

Professional Ethics

Fall 1999

 

 

COURSE THEMES

1. Theoretical Background

a) The Special Ethical Status of Professional Action

b) Defining the Nature of a Profession

c) Professional Preparation


2. Ethical Issues in Context

a) Bluffing in Business

b) Confidentiality in Law

c) Advisors in Government


3. Professionals within Institutional Settings of Responsibility


a) Knowledge and Responsibility

b) Microscopic Vision and Meeting Objectives

c) Conflicts Between Ethical Ideals and Power Differentials

d) Whistleblowing: Corporate Loyalty and the Public Interest

e) Collective and Individual Responsibility


4. Responsibilities to Clients


a) Fiduciary vs. Paternalistic Responsibility

b) Prioritizing Values in Conflict:

´ truthtelling and deception
´ autonomy and expertise
´ informed consent and professional priorities
´ noble lies and the public interest

5. Moral Theory

a) Moral Impartiality

b) Moral Community

c) Principle-Based Ethics

d) Practical Wisdom and Virtuous Character

e) Normative Theories:

´ utilitarian ethics
´ emphasizing duty
´ prima facie principles
´ moral rights
´ striving for optimality 


1. Theoretical Background

a) The Special Ethical Status of Professional Action

1. Windt, "Professions and Professional Ethics: The Theoretical Background
2. Excerpts from Ethics Codes for Doctors, Nurses and Engineers

b) Defining the Nature of a Profession

3. Callahan, "Professions and Professionalization"
4. Bayles, "The Professions"
5. Hughes, "Professions"
6. Barber, "Professions and Emerging Professions"

c) Professional Preparation

7. Gorovitz, "Good Doctors"

2. Ethical Issues in Context

a) Bluffing in Business

8. Carr, "Is Business Bluffing Ethical?
9. Gillespie, "The Business of Ethics"

b) Confidentiality in Law

10. Freedman, "Where the Bodies are Buried"
11. Freedman, "Professional Responsibilities of the Criminal Defense Lawyer:
The Three Hardest Questions"
12. Donagan, "Confidentiality in the Adversary System" (excerpt)

c) Advisors in Government

13. Thompson, "Ascribing Responsibility to Advisers in Government"

3. Professionals within Institutional Settings of Responsibility

a) Knowledge and Responsibility

14. Luban, et al, "Moral Responsibility in the Age of Bureaucracy"

b) Microscopic Vision and Meeting Objectives

15. Davis, "Explaining Wrongdoing"
16. Nagel, "Ruthlessness in Public Life"

c) Conflicts Between Ethical Ideals and Power Differentials


17. Chambliss, "Nursing and Ethics in an Age of Organizations"
Chambliss, "How the Organization Creates Ethical Problems"
18. Muyskens, "The Nurse as a Member of a Profession"

d) Whistleblowing: Corporate Loyalty and the Public Interest

19. The Ford Pinto (case study)
20. DeGeorge, "Ethical Responsibilities of Engineers in Large Corporations"
21. James, "Whistle Blowing: Its Moral Justification"
22. Martin, "Whistleblowing: Professionalism and Personal Life"

e) Collective and Individual Responsibility

14. Luban
15. Davis
17. Chambliss
18. Muyskens
20. DeGeorge
21. James
22. Martin

4. Responsibilities to Clients

a) Fiduciary vs. Paternalistic Responsibility

23. Bayles, "The Professional-Client Relationship"
24. Ellin, "Special Professional Morality and the Duty of Veracity"
25. Gorovitz, "Informed Consent and Patient Autonomy"
26. O'Neill, "Paternalism and Partial Autonomy"
27. Strike, "Autonomy and Consent in Education"
28. Bok, "Lies for the Public Good"

b) Prioritizing Values in Conflict:

´ truthtelling and deception

24. Ellin
25. Gorovitz
26. O'Neill

´ autonomy and expertise

25. Gorovitz
26. O'Neill
27. Strike
28. Bok

´ informed consent and professional priorities

25. Gorovitz
26. Strike
27. Bok

´ noble lies and the public interest

27. Bok

5. Moral Theory

29. Rachels, "What Would a Satisfactory Moral Theory Be Like?"
30. DesJardins, "Virtues and Business Ethics"
31. Shaw & Barry, "Normative Theories of Ethics" (w/outline)
a) Utilitarian theory
b) Kant's duty-based ethics (Deontology)
c) Ross on prima facie duties and principles
d) Brandt's optimality thesis

a) Moral Impartiality

29. Rachels
31. Kant
31. Brandt

b) Moral Community

29. Rachels
31. Kant

c) Principle-Based Ethics

29. Rachels
30. DesJardins
31. Mill
31. Kant
31. Ross
31. Brandt

d) Practical Wisdom and Virtuous Character

30. DesJardins
31. Brandt

e) Normative Theories:

´ utilitarian ethics (Mill)

´ emphasizing duty (Kant)

´ prima facie principles (Ross)

´ moral rights

´ striving for optimality (Brandt)

Course Themes and Issues

Professional duties. Power relations within organizations. Personal moral decision-making. Ethical judgments concerning the basis and value of moral and social responsibility. Strong investments in the values of a "market" economy. The privileges of existing economic, political and institutional leverage. Over the course of the semester, we will read, talk and write about the social tensions that can arise between these different elements of a professional's work environment. The main goal of the course is to sharpen our powers of critical analysis and improve our ability to address complexity in moral problems.

    ´We will reflect on professional conduct and its role in society.

    ´We will discuss the purpose and effectiveness of professional ethics codes and examine reasons for distinguishing between personal moral duties and the duties deriving from an occupational morality.

    ´We will study sample cases exhibiting tensions between personal and occupational morality; we will study how these tensions complicate a professional's efforts to resolve moral conflict in an ethical manner.

    ´For instance, when considering whether you have a professional moral duty to blow
    the whistle on unsafe or irresponsible practices within an organization, how relevant
    are practical considerations to an ethical analysis of your moral responsibility?

    ´How relevant is the context of practical impact to an ethical analysis of flow-of-
    information issues when deception, truthtelling and confidentiality are cast as competing
    moral responsibilities?

    ´We will consider the merits of defining professional responsibility in terms of role-based duties. We will also consider the extent to which professionals should be influenced by the likely impact of their decisions. For instance, when a professional's actions affect people beyond the boundaries of the professional-client relation, we can ask:

    ´How much impact analysis should professionals include as part of their ethical analysis
    of options?

    ´What criteria will determine when professionals should suspend "codified fiduciary
    duties" to a client or employer for the sake of serving legitimate moral interests of
    innocent third parties?

    ´How strongly should professionals value their institutional or professional duties when
    these are in tension or conflict with their personal moral beliefs and values?

    ´How much consideration should be given to the moral claims of innocent third parties
    who stand to be affected by professional decision-making? At what point do fiduciary
    duties trump these ordinary moral claims?

Learning Goals: Over the course of the semester, focus attention on learning how to:

    ´investigate and prioritize the following frameworks for organising ethical reflections concerning professional roles and responsibility: social utility; role-based duties; professional virtue; and respect for legitimate personal moral interests outside the professional-client relation

    ´use the assigned readings as springboards to a discussion of role-based morality and its relation to social values and personal moral priorities

    ´discuss the relation between role-based duties and professional responsibility when defining the moral priorities of an institution

    ´focus on ethical issues relating to whistleblowing, paternalism, deception, client autonomy, informed consent, professional-client confidentiality, and ruthlessness in a public role

    ´reflect on typical institutional and organizational frameworks within which professionals confront moral challenges and conflicts

    ´identify and assess competing ethical frameworks typically used to define the moral boundaries of professional behavior in role-playing situations

Specific Course Objectives

In this course, I am expecting you to:

    ´Sharpen your powers of critical analysis and improve your capacity to communicate ideas effectively

    ´Develop a basis for recognizing and addressing occupational moral issues in a credible and responsible fashion

    ´Learn how to apply and assess four ethical frameworks for defining professional responsibility (based on the ethical concepts of utility, duty, virtue, and respect)

    ´Expand your capacity to address complexity in moral problems (especially within organizational structures)

    ´Improve your capacity to reflect on moral issues from alternative ethical perspectives (and to assess the relative value of each of the competing frames of reference

How to Approach the Reading and Writing Assignments

You will not gain much from class discussion unless you take the reading assignments seriously and complete them before class. (Refer to the calendar of readings for specific assignments.) We will use class time to identify and analyze the persuasive force of central arguments emphasized in the assigned readings; we will also address issues raised in our class discussions. These discussions should stimulate a process of thinking to provide context for understanding and criticizing the moral issues and arguments raised in the readings. You will need to address these issues and arguments in your written work.

I encourage you to be an active participant in class discussions. The extent to which you make productive use of these discussions will depend on how carefully you read the assignments. Our task in class will be to identify and analyze the central issue and position of each article. We will develop a sound critical assessment of the assumptions supporting an author's conclusions. Focus on the following aspects as you read:

    ´the ISSUE of the paper (w/an emphasis on identifying the author's context of concern),

    ´the POSITION (or conclusions) defended in the paper, and

    ´the BASIS for the position (with an emphasis on identifying the author's supporting assumptions and ethical principles)

Here are some additional questions you might want to consider:

    ´Why has the author framed the issue in this manner?

    ´What is the apparent basis for privileging these assumptions?

    ´Are the implications of this position acceptable? Why/why not?

Record your responses to these questions in your notes. Include personal philosophical reactions to the key points you summarize. The final exam will be closed book, but you will be allowed to use your notes. By keeping track of the key focus of each reading assignment, you should be in good shape when the time comes to prepare for the final exam.

My evaluation of your progress and performance in the course will be based largely on the extent to which you learn to summarize and reflect in a thoughtful manner on the argumentative structure of the assigned readings. In particular, I will expect you to spot the rational support for key points in the readings and to reflect on implications that might follow from accepting a given line of argument.

As the semester unfolds, I will expect your written work to reflect a growing sensitivity to the controversies and issues under discussion. Try to identify and evaluate representative arguments for competing sides of an issue before turning your attention to the position you find most defensible. Focus initially on the logic of the arguments: establish the connection between the assumptions and conclusions, and pay special attention to any unspoken assumptions motivating the derivation of conclusions. Formulate your assessment of the implications of a specific line of argument

Your writing assignments should reflect careful consideration of the issues and positions you have chosen to write on. As an upper-division GE elective, this course presupposes prior competence in the argumentative writing techniques covered in a 2000-level "critical thinking" course. I also assume you have developed prior competence in basic techniques of English composition, as stressed in freshman-level writing courses. Papers that lack appropriate organization and focus generally fail to communicate ideas as effectively as those with a clear argumentative structure and clearly defined focus on the issues. The key to successful philosophical writing is the ability to communicate well-ordered connections between ideas within a clearly articulated context of concern.

As you write, assume your reader can see the relevance of critical points discussed in class (so you should identify and respond to obvious objections); but don't assume the reader recalls the issues and positions well enough to follow undeveloped points (so develop the basis for any point that seems central to your discussion). Your semester grade will be based largely on my assessment of the overall quality of your written work. In particular, I will look for evidence of serious attempts to infuse critical analysis into your writing. Elements of this critical analysis should be amply reflected in our class discussions.

´Weights and Measures: Each category of written work (quizzes, final exam, class discussion, and each of the papers) will comprise 20% of your semester grade. I will adjust your course grade to reflect your development over the course of the semester.

Grading Criteria: I will use the following 20-POINT SCALE:

19-20=A 18=A- 17=B+ 16=B 15=B- 14=C+ 12-13=C/CR ll=D/NC 0-10=F/NC

I will evaluate the quality of written work in relation to overall class performance, grading primarily on the basis of the following criteria:

A paper that identifies relevant points in the readings but fails to develop a clear connection to the organizing issue will earn a 14 or 15.

A clear and straightforward summary of relevant points from the assigned reading (including a cogent synopsis of the defining issue) will earn a 16.

Papers organizing this summary in terms of key unifying ideas or issues drawn from the readings will earn at least 17 points. Papers that provide relevant development of these issues and ideas will earn 18-20 points.

Papers that add relevant critical perspective to the discussion will earn one or two additional points. But we will deduct at least one point from any paper that fails to make adequate use of paragraph construction (i.e., using well-structured paragraphs to organize your discussion of central issues, concepts, or philosophical developments of an argument) or that fails to develop a position with attention to logical force.

If you earn less than a 17 on your first paper, you may revise and resubmit it for a new grade. But to earn a higher grade, the revised paper must address the comments, questions or criticisms raised in response to the earlier draft. You will lose 10 extra points (in addition to the 20 points possible) for each missing 20 point assignment.

Quizzes will be graded on the following scale: plus / check-plus / check / check-minus. A "plus" grade means you have clear focus on a central issue and have summarized the more important points in the reading bearing on this issue. A "check-plus" means you have touched on relevant points, but did not develop a clear focus on the central issue or did not established conceptual relations between key ideas in the reading relating to the issue. A "check" means you have only sketched out some ideas without careful development, and need to go back and establish a better definition of the central issue and some clear relations between key points in the reading related to this issue. A "check-minus" means you have provided no identifiable clue as to what's going on. I will evaluate the distribution of grades on these entries (by class and by student) and assign each student a cumulative grade based on the 20-point scale discussed above.

Contact Information: My office (L-195F) is located in the Library Building, in an office housing the English & Philosophy Departments (195). My office phone is 667-3286 (w/ voice mail for messages). My office hours are T (1:00-2:15), W (2:00-4:00), Th (1:00-2:30), and by appointment. I encourage you to use e-mail: <tuedio@altair.csustan.edu>.

Please do not wait until you are hopelessly behind to come see me! If you sense a problem with your approach to the course, or begin to feel lost or intimidated, see me right away so we can work it out. If you wait too long, there may not be much I can do for you. I reserve the right to return for revision any paper that fails to address the assigned topic in a minimally acceptable way, so try to develop a clear focus before you sit down to write. Don't be afraid to brainstorm with other students in the class if you are having trouble pulling your focus together.