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AbstractThis article examines the reason for the recent interest in ethics, and considers its deontological and consequentialist bases. It is noted that ethics may be taught directly, or incidentally as part of other instruction. Experience has shown that teaching it directly has considerable merit in that this makes ethical issues explicit rather than implying that they are a less important part of professional practice. In such a way the "knowing" of ethics becomes insightful understanding rather than a superficial piece of information. It is clear that ethics should not be considered a quasi-legal entity. Ethics is about human values; about best aspirational standards; about creative and remedial issues; and about operating with goodwill (Whereas the law is seen as setting minimum standards, using the adversarial approach, and inviting sanctions for breaches). In convincing professionals about the merits of ethics there are three basic types of argument; the rational explanation of its merits; empirical data showing the benefits and the use of appropriate case studies. Most civilised countries have a code of professional ethics (or code of conduct). It is also clear that although the length of such codes varies there is substantial agreement about what a code should contain. To illustrate these principles various practical illustrations are given, and helpful principles suggested. Finally it is noted that discussions of ethics are particularly significant as they provide a forum in which issues of value may be discussed in a constructive and non-confrontational context.
Francis, Ronald (2002) The Need for a Professional Ethic: International Perspectives. Working Paper. Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.