Reconciling Social Responsibility and Neutrality in LIS Professional Ethics: A Virtue Ethics Approach

  • John T F Burgess


An ethical dilemma occurs when two values are in opposition. One that arises in the context of professional practice has the potential to create a division among a profession’s membership. This division in membership can lead to factionalism, which in turn may weaken the effectiveness of the affected profession. In the United States, the Library and Information Science (LIS) profession is host to a long-standing division between supporters of social responsibility and of library neutrality. This essay offers a virtue ethics approach as a framework to accommodate both values. Successful accommodation of both would promote greater professional coherence and simplify the ethical decision making processes of LIS practitioners. This chapter centers on a discussion of contemporary ethical crises that illustrate the social responsibility/library neutrality division and is a consideration of how a virtue ethics approach would facilitate using both core ethical concepts to address these crises in ways that are mutually compatible.


Social Responsibility Virtue Ethic Professional Organization Professional Identity Narrative Identity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.504 Gorgas LibraryThe University of AlabamaAlabamaUSA

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