318: Professional Ethics
Outline of Smith Essay
Smith examines the SEPARATIST Thesis, the proposal that some ethical standards for practicing professionals require justification that is SEPARATED from appeals to ordinary prescriptive norms.
Professionals might be exempt from some moral rules that we apply to others (e.g., we say that people shouldn't kill, but we may allow police officers and soldiers to kill).
WHO are we talking about? (What conduct counts as professional?)
Three general criteria:
Two further issues: WHY do we exempt them? WHEN should we exempt them?
thesis has two versions, which disagree about where we should look to find
these "separate" or special standards.
TWO ALTERNATIVES to separatism:
Relativism: there are no universal prescriptive norms to worry about, so it's a non-issue. Any rules are as good as any others, provided our society endorses them.Specificationism: The differences are due to variables within the ordinary prescriptive norms. (We don't have to do anything but apply standard principles to the special case.) For example, the police officer can kill in self-defense because we believe that anyone can do so.
Last updated July 7, 2009