Philosophy 318: Professional Ethics
Theodore Gracyk

Outline of Faber Essay

Professional tasks that occur during professional-client interaction

  1. Analysis of client’s situation & needs

  2. Consideration of alternative responses to situation & needs

  3. Become educated about all relevant information

  4. Narrowing the options or deciding which among them is best

  5. Implementation of decision

Five types of professional relationships

  • AGENCY – only implementation; all else done by client
    Advantage to client: Maximizes personal freedom (autonomy)

  • PATERNALISM – all tasks done by professional (or all but implementation)
    Why surrender autonomy to this degree? Due to high level of expertise required to meet needs, and client cannot join the relationship with freedom (with autonomy).

    To act freely, three conditions must be met:

    1. No coercion.

    2.  Informed: has access to relevant information.

    3. Competent to decide.

    Paternalism is justified only if one of these three cannot be met.

  • CONTRACTUAL – legally enforced agreement about division of responsibilities for tasks

    Since this requires free entry into the contract, contracts presuppose a high level of knowledge for both parties. So this cannot hold if the tasks require high levels of expert knowledge.

  • AFFINITY – through trust based on pre-existing relationship, mutual agreement of division of responsibilities, but not formalized and can evolve.

  • FIDUCIARY – the decision rests with the client, but otherwise the client relies heavily on the professional’s expert judgment to analyze, guide, etc.

The fiduciary relationship is appropriate in MOST situations. There should be a good reason before having any other kind of relationship.


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            Last updated May 20, 2013