The term of professional ethics is mainly applied in the rules of conduct that a company sets for its employees. On a wider scale, a professional carries more moral responsibility than an average member of society, because of his or her unique training and skills. Therefore, in a given situation such as a medical emergency, an average member of society can’t really intervene to help the person that got heart, so they don’t have the moral obligation of trying to perform a medical intervention on account of their lack of skills. On the other hand, a professional doctor can and has the moral obligation of trying to save or stabilize that wounded person until the appropriate help can arrive precisely because of the fact that he has this unique training and unique skills that he appropriated in medical school. So in this sense the answer to the question what is professional ethics can be a very clear one: the moral responsibilities that come with acquiring and learning specific skills.    


So professional ethics concern the issue of moral responsibility that arises out of the specialist knowledge that professionals acquire, and how that knowledge should be governed and used. A code of conduct for a professional should be one of the key concerns of any kind of business. The correct usage of that knowledge creates a feeling of self-worth for the employees and also establishes trust between the professional and his client. On the other hand, the reverse of this argument also is true. A specialist can use the knowledge that he has to his own advantage and in detriment to the client, who can’t really know what’s going on because he doesn’t have the necessary skills and training. For example, a dentist could do unnecessary work on your teeth just in order to get more money from the client. The client can’t really know that the work is unnecessary because he doesn’t have the knowledge.  A similar example is when somebody takes their car to auto-repair shop and they find out that pieces that he didn’t even know existed on the car are badly damaged and need to be fixed right away. This is why most clients try to get a second or third opinion from other professionals that work in the field. So what is professional ethics other than being honest and fair to your client?


Here is where professional ethics becomes very important, and specifically a code of conduct that is imposed on employees by the management of big companies. For a big company, the reputation is one of its key assets, and it is one of the most important factors in getting new business. Therefore, a good management team will always ensure that the reputation of the firm will remain unblemished. In this sense, being fair to the client isn’t only the right thing to do, but it is good for business in the long run. A satisfied client will bring more business of his own and will probably recommend the company to others if he feels he was treated fairly and he’s satisfied with the work.  Smaller firms can’t compete with big companies when it comes to reputation, so they generally compete with either lower prices or better quality work. A big firm can’t afford to throw away their reputation so a client will always know what he will get as a finished product. If a client feels that he can afford it he could risk, and try the services of a smaller firm who’s professional ethics haven’t stood the test o time yet. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, it’s just that they have to withstand the test of time so their reputation will grow thru the quality of work they do and the way they treat their customers.  In this aspect the question what is professional ethics can be answered more cynically than simple honesty or fairness: the way thru which a company can ensure its survival and its profits in the long run. 


So, professional ethics represents the method thru which professionals ensure their reputation in the long run.  It isn’t purely for the intrinsic value of being good, but it is also good for business.  So what is professional ethics other than the way the market, with its offer and demand mechanisms, regulated the interaction between client and professional. Professional ethics aren’t so much a burden or an imposed set of moral obligations. Indeed the moral obligation should come with the skills acquired, but a professional can choose to act or not on them. In the long run the choice of professional ethics will prove more rewarding both in the material and moral domain, and that’s why this subject is such an important one in the current capitalist system.

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