What makes professionals so difficult: An investigation into professional ethics teaching

David Preston
Vol 16, Number 1, p.44
Teaching ethics to professionals pursuing a university degree programme requires a method that engages them with the realities and problematic nature of their workplace environment. In this paper we examine some of the history of professional ethics from a philosophical and political standpoint. Unfortunately this analysis appears to produce more questions than answers, with the terms 'professional' and 'expert' seemingly poorly defined. In order to demonstrate some of the generic problems likely to be encountered by anyone teaching professional ethics we make use of our case study. Whilst this is concerned largely with what can be termed business and computing ethics, the case study does highlight problems that occur across the curricula. We look at the concerns and problems surrounding the teaching of issues such as integration into the curricula, codes of ethics, ethical decision making and ethical standards. We stress the value in universities moving away from traditional methods, based purely in direct value of decision making to an alternative ethical evaluative framework based on social, economic, environmental and rights information. This model should be introduced early in the student calendar and used as a vehicle for discussion of later issues such as whistleblowing.