Ethics in the Profession

  • Obligations - Special relationships
  • Duties - Common relationships
    • Social Responsibility
  • Samaritanism
    • Minimally decent - i.e. Answering someone's question for the time
    • Supererogation - above the call of duty

Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics" - Some things can be precise, and should be answered with precision. But some things, however, cannot be precise and should not be dealt with the same lens lens of precision.

When you're trying to do the right thing, but it's difficult


  • Trying to act in the best interest of the client
  • Too sympathetic (accepting) of a client's unrealistic interests, and supporting more than advising


  • Considering the situation under a light that supports your own interest more than the client's
  • "It's okay because everyone else does it"
  • "If I don't do it, someone else will"
  • "I deserve this"
  • "No one will get hurt if I do it"

Implicit / Unconscious Bias

  • Substituting stereotypes over real knowledge

  • Unconsciously generated overconfidence in your ability

  • "They're like me"

Ethical Blindness / Illiteracy

  • Failing to see an ethical issue
  • Can be permanent - needs serious re-education
  • Can be temporary - narrow-scoped

Reasoning with False Equivalency

  • If it's legal, then it's moral
  • If there's no law against it, it's okay to do it

Ethical Scripting

Using a template/previous event to dictate the approach/decisions to/of an ethical scenario, when it is incompatible

i.e. Doing only a cost-benefit analysis on an issue that could involve the loss of human lives (i.e. Ford Pinto)

Ford Pinto

Refer to first seminar

Legal requirement: Safe for a collision at 20mph - The Pinto passed this test

  • Exposed bolt near fuel tank - would rupture if a collision occurred over 25 mph

  • Safety was considered an acceptable risk

  • Making the change $137.5 M > Benefits $49.53 M

  • Didn't consider reputational cost

Exception which proves (test) the rule

special consideration


Disproving a statement by showing an example which violates it.

Note: We regard something as a counterexample, rather than say that it is true that something is a counterexample


An example which violates a widely known rule

Moral judgement

principled judgments justifiable integrity

moral behaviour principled behaviour justifiable avoidance of hypocrisy

"Relevantly Similar"

  • Rules and regulation replace judgement

  • Accountability - Reactive

    • Tracking, checklists, processes, directives, liability
  • Responsibility - Proactive

    • Judgments and discretion

Cannot have 100% responsibility and 0% accountability, or 100% accountability and 0% responsibility. There needs to be a balance

  • Code of Ethics - Responsibility
  • Code of Conduct - Accountability

Code of conduct - When there is no single 'best thing', but rather a 'best reason to do ____'

  • An organisation's code of conduct can help to remove 'individual heat'

Ethical Awareness

  • Avoid moral negligence - is there a concern of moral
  • Avoid moral blindness / illiteracy - correct scope
  • Avoid moral recklessness - scopes adequately addressed
  • Exhibit moral competence

Ethical Caution

Preventing, avoiding, and minimising the unethical

"precautionary principle" in cases where we don't know that something is not harmful / of no risk, consider it as harmful / of risk.