Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Theoretical considerations for a meaningful code of professional ethics

  • 841 Accesses

  • 67 Citations

Abstract

The professions have focused considerable attention on developing codes of conduct. Despite their efforts there is considerable controversy regarding the propriety of professional codes of ethics. Many provisions of professional codes seem to exacerbate disputes between the profession and the public rather than providing a framework that satisfies the public's desire for moral behavior.

After examining three professional codes, we divide the provisions of professional codes into those provisions which urge professionals to avoid moral hazard, maintain professional courtesy and serve the public interest. We note that whereas provisions urging the avoidance of moral hazard are uncontroversial, the public is suspicious of provisions protecting professional courtesy. Public interest provisions are controversial when the public and the profession disagree as to what is in the public interest. Based on these observations, we conclude with recommendations regarding the content of professional codes.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

We’re sorry, something doesn't seem to be working properly.

Please try refreshing the page. If that doesn't work, please contact support so we can address the problem.

References

  1. Bayles, M.: ‘Professional Power and Self-Regulation’,Business and Professional Ethics Journal 5(2), 26–46.

  2. Beauchamp, T. L.: 1992, ‘Ethical Issues in the Funding and Monitoring of University Research’,Business and Professional Ethics Journal 11(1), 5–16.

  3. Davis, M.: 1991, ‘University Research and the Wages of Commerce’,Journal of College and University Law 18(1), 207–220.

  4. Eatwell, J., M. Milgate and P. Newman: 1987,The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics.

  5. Gerson, A. (ed.): 1980,Lawyers' Ethics Contemporary Dilemmas (Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ), pp. 145–185.

  6. Goldman, A.: 1980,The Moral Foundations of Professional Ethics (Rowman and Littlefield, Totowa, NJ).

  7. Kultgen, J.: 1982, ‘The Ideological Use of Professional Codes’,Business and Professional Ethics Journal 1, 53–69.

  8. Ladd, J.: 1980, ‘The Quest for a Code of Professional Ethics: An Intellectual and Moral Confusion’, in R. Chalk, M. S. Frankel and S. B. Chafer (eds.),AAAS Professional Ethics Project: Professional Ethics Activities in the Scientific and Engineering Societies (AAAS Publication 80-R-4, Washington, DC), pp. 154–159.

Download references

Author information

Additional information

Karim Jamal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Accounting at the University of Alberta. His research interests are in modelling judgment processes of individuals in professional firms and financial markets. He is currently involved in research on the auditor-client negotiation process, the role of framing effects in masking fraud as well as the means by which frauds are detected, and tensions in professional codes of conduct especially between confidentiality and public disclosure.

Norman E. Bowie is the Elmer L. Andersen Chair in Corporate Responsibility at the University of Minnesota. He is the co-editor ofEthical Theory and Business and has published numerous books and articles in business ethics and political philosophy. His most recent book isUniversity Business Partnerships: An Assessment.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Jamal, K., Bowie, N.E. Theoretical considerations for a meaningful code of professional ethics. J Bus Ethics 14, 703–714 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00872324

Download citation

Keywords

  • Economic Growth
  • Public Interest
  • Theoretical Consideration
  • Moral Hazard
  • Professional Ethic