Professional Ethics: Do they exist?
By Wafa Almulaifi
Second Year PhD Student, Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter
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Professional ethics is a branch of applied ethics which deals with ethical issues in professions (Gaie, 2010). Strahlendorf (2011) defined professional ethics as a set of professional values and moral principles that govern professional groups' conduct (Hannah & Jindal- Snape, 2014).
Many organisations have established professional codes of ethics to guide professionals and protect the public interest (Hannah & Jindal-Snape, 2014). In education, some scholars reject constraining professionals with standards, and others fully support having codes of ethics. Scholars against the codes argue that directive standards may indicate to professionals to follow what the codes imply, not what is ethically required. On the other hand, scholars supporting codes of ethics argue that there is a misconception of the multiple functions of codes of ethics. They state that there are two styles of codes of ethics: regulatory and aspirational.
Regulatory codes, which hold the stereotypical idea of codes of ethics, give clear expectations from professionals while stating consequences if standards are breached (Bird, 1998). On the contrary, aspirational codes provide positive expectations and promote the professions' ideals without specifying disciplinary actions (Umpstead et al., 2013).