Ethics (Forensic Science)
Although witnesses in American courtrooms are called upon to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, they may be enjoined from volunteering information. A witness’s individual sense of relevance must often bow to a court’s judgment. The legal system seeks truth, yet it sometimes defers to other values, such as fairness and confidentiality, and in general demands acceptance of formalized rules of procedure. In their capacity as experts, forensic scientists typically enjoy greater latitude than ordinary witnesses in expressing opinions and making judgments in the courtroom, but they too must operate within the often cumbersome and sometimes counterintuitive requirements of the “system” of “justice.”
Forensic scientists are measured against a standard of professional integrity, although the professionalization of the scientific study of crime is far from complete. Professions are substantially self-regulating, usually through agreed-upon standards and codes of ethics, and this creates the need for them to articulate appropriate expectations and the responsibility of members of professions both to act correctly themselves and to provide appropriate correction for their errant colleagues. A case in point is William Tobin’s campaign against the chemical analysis of bullet lead, also known as comparative bullet-lead analysis (CBLA).
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Tobin’s Exposure of CBLA (Forensic Science)
CBLA is a technique that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) used for four decades—the investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 was an early use—to make cases against defendants when traditional firearms analysis (that is, examination of barrel rifling on bullets) was not possible. By measuring the proportions of seven trace elements (antimony, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, copper, silver, and tin) found in the lead of a bullet in evidence, forensic scientists sought to establish the probability that the bullet came from the same provenance as a bullet in the suspect’s possession. The belief that the comparison of the chemical composition of bullets could connect two bullets rested on unexamined assumptions about the similarities and differences of the source lead from which the bullets were cast. FBI experts testified in thousands of cases that the facts ascertainable through CBLA established likely identity and therefore pointed toward the probable guilt of the accused. Sometimes, as in the case of Michael Behm, who was convicted of murder in 1997, CBLA provided essentially the only evidence of guilt.
In the 1990’s, FBI metallurgist William Tobin began to question the validity of the technique. He felt strongly enough about the issue to research the matter, after his retirement in 1998, with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory metallurgist Erik Randich. They analyzed...
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Joyce Gilchrist’s Tainted Evidence (Forensic Science)
Is it enough that the accused be guilty of some crime, or does it have to be the one in question? If the accused is guilty of the crime in question, does it matter whether the evidence actually shows that? The belief that one can convict the guilty by tweaking the evidence a little, or shading one’s testimony a bit, is among the most common sources of unethical (and, often enough, criminal) behavior on the part of forensic scientists. The cautionary tale of former Oklahoma City police Department forensic scientist Joyce Gilchrist probably falls into this category.
In May, 2007, Curtis Edward McCarty, who was facing his third trial for a 1982 murder, was freed as the result of the improper handling and representation of hair evidence by Gilchrist, who apparently had tried to frame McCarty. The judge dismissed the charge despite her belief that McCarty was probably not completely innocent. This was merely the latest in a series of episodes involving Gilchrist.
Questions about the integrity of Gilchrist’s work began as early as January, 1987, when a Kansas City colleague, John Wilson, complained about her to the Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists, without result. In 1998, Robert Miller was exonerated after he had been convicted a decade earlier based in part on Gilchrist’s testimony regarding blood, semen, and hair evidence. In 1999, Gilchrist was criticized by a judge for having...
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Ethics of Competence (Forensic Science)
One may well agree with forensics ethicist Peter D. Barnett’s remark that “there is a certain baseline level of competence that every criminalist is expected to understand, and there are certain procedures and protocols that are so fundamental to the practice of criminalistics that failure to follow them is evidence of gross incompetence or malfeasance, which is unethical.” As Barnett himself notes, however, “in the practice of forensic science, the disparate educational and experiential backgrounds of workers in the field make determination of a baseline level of competence relatively difficult.”
This is a problem throughout the American criminal justice system. In June, 2007, all sergeants in the New Orleans Police Department were required to attend a four-day seminar to learn how to improve their (and their subordinates’) writing of police reports. This was part of an attempt to smooth out conflicts between the department and the New Orleans district attorney’s office, which claimed that part of its difficulty in prosecuting criminals stemmed from “incomplete or vague reports” by officers. More generally, criminalists frequently lament that frontline officers are not more skilled in observing, protecting, collecting, and preserving crime scene evidence.
One certainly can (in theory) impose reasonable expectations about competence and development in forensic science. However, that is not made...
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Further Reading (Forensic Science)
Barnett, Peter D. Ethics in Forensic Science: Professional Standards for the Practice of Criminalistics. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2001. Includes an examination of various ethical scenarios in the light of the codes of ethics of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the California Association of Criminalists, the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, and other forensic organizations.
Inman, Keith, and Norah Rudin. Principles and Practice of Criminalistics: The Profession of Forensic Science. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, 2001. Provides an introduction to “good practices” (including ethics) in the forensic science profession.
Lucas, Douglas M. “The Ethical Responsibilities of the Forensic Scientist: Exploring the Limits.” Journal of Forensic Sciences 34 (May, 1989): 719-729. Discusses the tension between the ethos of science and the ethos of the adversary system in criminal justice.
Macklin, Ruth. “Ethics and Value Bias in the Forensic Sciences.” Journal of Forensic Sciences 42 (November, 1997): 1203-1206. Addresses the tensions between the ethos of science and the claims of the forensic arena from the perspective of the author’s experiences as a member of a National Research Council committee and as an expert witness.
Moriarty, Jane Campbell, and Michael J. Saks. “Forensic Science: Grand Goals, Tragic Flaws, and Judicial Gatekeeping.”...
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Principles (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Ethics deals with a code of conduct based on established moral principles. When applied to a particular professional field, abstract theories as well as concrete principles are considered. Often the consequences of a particular course of action dictate its rightness or wrongness. Bioethics is the study of ethics by professionals in the fields of medicine, law, philosophy, or theology. Some also refer to this area as applied ethics. The term “bioethics” is often used interchangeably with “medical ethics,” but purists would define medical ethics as the study of conduct by professionals in the field of medicine. Codes of ethics promulgated by professional groups or associations define obligations governing members of a given profession.
Initial questions concerning medical ethics entail purpose, to whom a duty is owed (legal or moral) and how far that duty extends. Does it extend solely to patients, or does it extend to their families or to society as a whole? For example, public health obligations to society involve a duty to prevent disease, maintain the health of the populace, and oversee the delivery of health care.
In the 1972 article “Models for Ethical Practice in a Revolutionary Age,” Robert M. Veatch proposed four models for ethical medicine. The first is the engineering model, in which the physician becomes an applied scientist interested in treating disease rather than caring for a patient. The Nazi...
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Application of Ethical Principles (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Advances in medical technology have expanded the scope of what medicine can accomplish. As capabilities grow and become more sophisticated, medical ethics also seeks to resolve age-old dilemmas and to evaluate the use of new technologies. Certain ethical dilemmas have garnered sharp disagreement. Chief among these is the issue of death and dying, which brings into controversy two theories about the nature of health care. The “curing” approach is based on traditional medical ethical principles that date back to Hippocrates and include the principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. The “caring” approach focuses on patient autonomy, proper bedside manners by health care providers, the preparation of advance directives, and the hospice movement.
The “curing” approach to medical ethics equates medicine with healing. The sanctity of life is important because it is a gift from God and must be sustained to the extent reasonably possible. All ordinary measures must be taken to preserve life. This tradition holds that only God can decide the time of death, and even in the face of suffering, the health care provider must not take measures to shorten life. Physicians are the primary decision makers and in the best position to recommend and advise the patient and to direct the treatment plan. The model is paternalistic.
In the “caring” approach, the health care provider’s role is to...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Medical ethics in Western culture has its roots in ancient Greek and Roman medicine, the Greek physician Hippocrates and the Roman physician Galen. In ancient Greece, as in most early societies, healing wounds and treating disease first appeared as folk practice and religious ritual. The earliest statement about ethics appears in a clinical and epidemiological book entitled Epidemics I, attributed to Hippocrates. It is in this work that the admonition “to help and not to harm” first appeared. The book itself deals with prognosis rather than treatment, which is the approach taken by Hippocrates. Galen asserted that any worthwhile doctor must know philosophy, including the logical, the physical, and the ethical, and be skilled at reasoning about the problems presented to him, understanding the nature and function of the body within the physical world.
From the fourth to the fourteenth centuries, medicine became firmly established in the universities and in the public life of the emerging nations of Europe. During this time, the Roman Catholic Church had a strong influence on Western civilization. Medicine was deeply touched by the doctrine and discipline of the Church, and its theological influence shaped the ethics of medicine. The early Church endorsed the use of human medicine and encouraged care of the sick as a work of charity. One of the greatest physicians during this period was the Jewish Talmudic...
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For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Beauchamp, Tom L., and James F. Childress. Principles of Biomedical Ethics. 6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Regarded as one of the basic texts of bioethics. An excellent source for a detailed discussion of fundamental principles.
Beauchamp, Tom L., and LeRoy Walters, eds. Contemporary Issues in Bioethics. 7th ed. Belmont, Calif.: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2008. A compilation of scholarly articles and major legal cases in bioethics.
Garrett, Thomas M., Harold W. Baillie, and Rosellen M. Garrett. Health Care Ethics: Principles and Problems. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2010. A basic and succinct text outlining the principles and problems of health care ethics.
Jonsen, Albert R. A Short History of Medical Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. A concise and comprehensive chronicle of the history of ethics and medicine.
Pence, Gregory E. Re-creating Medicine: Ethical Issues at the Frontiers of Medicine. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. A subjective and skeptical (not balanced) discussion of the major bioethical issues at the beginning of the twenty-first century, such as organ donation, reproduction and its progeny, genetics, and other controversial subjects.
Torr, James D., ed. Medical Ethics. San Diego, Calif.: Greenhaven Press, 2000. Part of the Current Controversies series, this book...
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Ethics (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
Personal rules for behavior.
Ethics are rules for behavior, based on beliefs about how things should be. Ethical statements involve: 1) assumptions about humans and their capacities; 2) logical rules extending from these assumptions; and 3) notions of what is good and desirable.
Ethical systems (sets of rules for acceptable behavior) concern the "shoulds" and "should nots" of life, the principles and values on which human relations are based.
The assessment of whether a behavior is ethical is divided into four categories, or domains: consequences, actions, character, and motive. In the domain of consequences, a behavior is determined to be "right" or "wrong" based on the results of the action, whereas the domain of actions looks only at the act itself. The domain of character looks at whether a person's overall character is ethical; a person who is deemed as "virtuous" has consistently ethical behavior. The motive domain evaluates a person's intentions, regardless of the consequences. It considers whether the person intended to do good, even if the result was bad. A behavior may be deemed "ethical" according to one domain of assessment, but appear "unethical" according to another. For example, a poor person steals a small amount of food to feed her starving child from a wealthy, well-fed person who does...
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Ethics (Encyclopedia of Science and Religion)
Ethics (Encyclopedia of Management)
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines "ethics" as the "discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation," "a set of moral principles or value" or "a theory or system of moral values." Ethics assists individuals in deciding when an act is moral or immoral, right or wrong. Ethics can be grounded in natural law, religious tenets, parental and family influence, educational experiences, life experiences, and cultural and societal expectations.
Ethics in business, or business ethics as it is often called, is the application of the discipline, principles, and theories of ethics to the organizational context. Business ethics have been defined as "principles and standards that guide behavior in the world of business." Business ethics is also a descriptive term for the field of academic study in which many scholars conduct research and in which undergraduate and graduate students are exposed to ethics theory and practice, usually through the case method of analysis.
Ethical behavior in business is critical. When business firms are charged with infractions, and when employees of those firms come under legal investigation, there is a concern raised about moral behavior in business. Hence, the level of mutual trust, which is the foundation of our free-market economy, is threatened.
Although ethics in business has been an issue for academics, practitioners, and governmental regulators for decades, some believe that unethical, immoral, and/or illegal behavior is widespread in the business world. Numerous scandals in the late 1990s and early 2000s seemed to add credence to the criticism of business ethics. Corporate executives of WorldCom, a giant in the telecommunications field, admitted fraud and misrepresentation in financial statements. WorldCom's former CEO went on trial for alleged crimes related to this accounting ethics scandal.
A similar scandal engulfed Enron in the late 1990s and its former CEO, Ken Lay, also faced trial. Other notable ethical lapses were publicized involving ImClone, a biotechnological firm; Arthur Andersen, one of the largest and oldest public accounting firms; and Healthsouth, a large healthcare firm located in the southeast United States. These companies eventually suffered public humiliation, huge financial losses, and in some cases, bankruptcy or dissolution. The ethical and legal problems resulted in some corporate officials going to prison, many employees losing their jobs, and thousands of stockholders losing some or all of their savings invested in the firms' stock.
Although the examples mentioned involved top management, huge sums of money, and thousands of stakeholders, business ethics is also concerned with the day-to-day ethical dilemmas faced by millions of workers at all levels of business enterprise. It is the awareness of and judgments made in ethical dilemmas by all that determines the overall level of ethics in business. Thus, the field of business ethics is concerned not only with financial and accounting irregularities involving billions of dollars, but all kinds of moral and ethical questions, large and small, faced by those who work in business organizations.
The discussion that follows is organized into three parts: (1) the major theories or "moral philosophies" that are applied to business ethics; (2) a well-established model of ethical decision-making in business; and (3) the factors that affect individual ethical decision-making in the business context.
APPROACHES TO ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING
Philosophers have studied and written about ethics for thousands of years. The moral philosophies or ethical "theories" that have been developed form the foundation for ethics in business. Table 1 shows some of the major ethical philosophies that are applied to business ethics. Each of the ethical philosophies is briefly considered in this section.
Teleological theories of ethics focus on the consequences caused by an action and are often referred to as "consequentalist" theories. By far the most common teleological theories are egoism and utilitarianism.
Egoism defines right and wrong in terms of the consequences to one's self. Egoism is defined by self-interest. An egoist would weigh an ethical dilemma or issue in terms of how different courses of action would affect his or her physical, mental, or emotional well being. Thus, an egoist, when faced with a business decision, would tend to choose the course of action that he or she believes would best serve self-interest.
Although it seems likely that egoism would potentially lead to unethical and/or illegal behavior, this philosophy of ethics is, to some degree, at the heart of a free-market economy. Since the time of political economist Adam Smith, advocates of a free market unencumbered by governmental regulation have argued that individuals, each pursuing their own self-interest, would actually benefit society at large.
This point of view is notably espoused by the famous economist Milton Friedman, who suggested that the only moral obligation of business is to make a profit and obey the law. However, it should be noted that Smith, Friedman, and most others who advocate unregulated commerce, acknowledge that some restraints on individuals' selfish impulses are required.
|Teleological||Actions are judged as ethical or unethical based on their results.|
|Egoism||Actions are judged as ethical or unethical based on the consequences to one's self. Actions that maximize self-interest are preferred.|
|Utilitarianism||Actions are judged as ethical or unethical based on the consequences to "others." Actions that maximize the "good" (create the greatest good for the greatest number) are preferred.|
|Deontological||Actions are judged as ethical or unethical based on the inherent rights of individual and the intentions of the actor. Individuals are to be treated as means and not ends. It is the action itself that must be judged and not its consequences.|
|Justice||Actions are judged as ethical or unethical based on the fairness shown to those affected. Fairness may be determined by distributive, procedural, and/or interactional means.|
|Relativism||Actions are judged as ethical or unethical based on subjective factors that may vary from individual to individual, group to group, and culture to culture.|
In the utilitarian approach to ethical reasoning, one emphasizes the utility, or the overall amount of good, that might be produced by an action or a decision. For example, companies decide to move their production facilities from one country to another. How much good is expected from the move? How much harm? If the good appears to outweigh the harm, the decision to move may be deemed an ethical one, by the utilitarian yardstick.
This approach also encompasses what has been referred to as cost-benefit analysis. In this, the costs and benefits of a decision, a policy, or an action are compared. Sometimes these can be measured in economic, social, human, or even emotional terms. When all the costs are added and compared with the results, if the benefits outweigh the costs, then the action may be considered ethical.
One fair criticism of this approach is that it is difficult to accurately measure costs and benefits. Another criticism is that the rights of those in the minority may be overlooked.
Utilitarianism is like egoism in that it advocates judging actions by their consequences, but unlike egoism utilitarianism focuses on determining the course of action that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Thus, it is the ends that determine the morality of an action and not the action itself (or the intent of the actor).
Utilitarianism is probably the dominant moral philosophy in business ethics. Utilitarianism is attractive to many business people, since the philosophy acknowledges that many actions result in good consequences for some, but bad consequences for others. This is certainly true of many decisions in business.
Deontological theories of ethics focus on (1) the rights of all individuals and (2) the intentions of the person(s) performing an action. Deontological theories differ substantially from utilitarian views on ethics and would not allow, for example, the harming of some individuals in order to help others. To the deontologist, each person must be treated with the same level of respect and no one should be treated as a means to an end.
Deontology proposes that the principles of ethics are permanent and unchangingnd that adherence to these principles is at the heart of ethical behavior. Many deontologists believe that the rights of individuals are grounded in "natural law." Deontology is most closely associated with the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.
Justice-based theories of ethics concern the perceived fairness of actions. A just (ethical) action is one that treats all fairly and consistently in accord with ethical or legal standards. Justice theories of ethics are closely associated with the philosopher John Rawls.
To determine the fairness of an action, one often appeals to distributive, procedural, and/or interactional rules. Distributive fairness is based on the outcomes received by individuals and their perceptions of these outcomes. Procedural fairness is based on the processes (policies, procedures, rules) employed to reach decisions. Individuals evaluate the fairness of these processes in addition to (or instead of) the outcomes received.
Finally, interactional fairness relates to the personal treatment one receives in the administration of a decision-making process. Interpersonal fairness has to do with the respect and consideration shown in the administration of decisions. Informational fairness has to do with the explanations and accounts provided for the decisions made.
The study of organizational justice has become a major field within organizational behavior. To date, however, there has not been a complete integration between justice perceptions and ethical theory.
Teleological, utilitarian, and justice theories of ethics are all "universal" theories, in that they purport to advance principles of morality that are permanent and relatively enduring. Relativism states that there are no universal principles of ethics and that right and wrong must be determined by each individual or group.
The relativist believes that standards of right and wrong change over time and are different across culturesnd does not accept that some ethical standards or values are superior to others. The concept of relativism can probably be summarized as "What's right for one may not be right for another," or "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
INDIVIDUAL ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING
There are many approaches to the individual ethical decision-making process in business. However, one of the more common was developed by James Rest and has been called the four-step or four-stage model of individual ethical decision-making. Numerous scholars have applied this theory in the business context. The four steps include: ethical issue recognition, ethical (moral) judgment, ethical (moral) intent, and ethical (moral) behavior.
ETHICAL ISSUE RECOGNITION.
Before a person can apply any standards of ethical philosophy to an issue, he or she must first comprehend that the issue has an ethical component. This means that the ethical decision-making process must be "triggered" or set in motion by the awareness of an ethical dilemma. Some individuals are likely to be more sensitive to potential ethical problems than others. Numerous factors can affect whether someone recognizes an ethical issue; some of these factors are discussed in the next section.
ETHICAL (MORAL) JUDGMENT.
If an individual is confronted with a situation or issue that he or she recognizes as having an ethical component or posing an ethical dilemma, the individual will probably form some overall impression or judgment about the rightness or wrongness of the issue. The individual may reach this judgment in a variety of ways, as noted in the earlier section on ethical philosophy.
ETHICAL (MORAL) INTENT.
Once an individual reaches an ethical judgment about a situation or issue, the next stage in the decision-making process is to form a behavioral intent. That is, the individual decides what he or she will do (or not do) in regard to the perceived ethical dilemma.
According to research, ethical judgments are a strong predictor of behavioral intent. However, individuals do not always form intentions to behave that are in accord with their judgments, as various situational factors may act to influence the individual otherwise.
ETHICAL (MORAL) BEHAVIOR.
The final stage in the four-step model of ethical decision-making is to engage in some behavior in regard to the ethical dilemma. Research shows that behavioral intentions are the strongest predictor of actual behavior in general, and ethical behavior in particular. However, individuals do now always behave consistent with either their judgments or intentions in regard to ethical issues. This is particularly a problem in the business context, as peer group members, supervisors, and organizational culture may influence individuals to act in ways that are inconsistent with their own moral judgments and behavioral intentions.
Some specific factors that influence the individual ethical decision-making process, as outlined above, are presented in the final section of this essay.
FACTORS AFFECTING ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING
In general, there are three types of influences on ethical decision-making in business: (1) individual difference factors, (2) situational (organizational) factors, and (3) issue-related factors.
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCE FACTORS.
Individual difference factors are personal factors about an individual that may influence their sensitivity to ethical issues, their judgment about such issues, and their related behavior. Research has identified many personal characteristics that impact ethical decision-making. The individual difference factor that has received the most research support is "cognitive moral development."
This framework, developed by Lawrence Kohlberg in the 1960s and extended by Kohlberg and other researchers in the subsequent years, helps to explain why different people make different evaluations when confronted with the same ethical issue. It posits that an individual's level of "moral development" affects their ethical issue recognition, judgment, behavioral intentions, and behavior.
According to the theory, individuals' level of moral development passes through stages as they mature. Theoretically, there are three major levels of development. The lowest level of moral development is termed the "pre-conventional" level. At the two stages of this level, the individual typically will evaluate ethical issues in light of a desire to avoid punishment and/or seek personal reward. The pre-conventional level of moral development is usually associated with small children or adolescents.
The middle level of development is called the "conventional" level. At the stages of the conventional level, the individual assesses ethical issues on the basis of the fairness to others and a desire to conform to societal rules and expectations. Thus, the individual looks outside him or herself to determine right and wrong. According to Kohlberg, most adults operate at the conventional level of moral reasoning.
The highest stage of moral development is the "principled" level. The principled level, the individual is likely to apply principles (which may be utilitarian, deontological, or justice) to ethical issues in an attempt to resolve them. According to Kohlberg, a principled person looks inside him or herself and is less likely to be influenced by situational (organizational) expectations.
The cognitive moral development framework is relevant to business ethics because it offers a powerful explanation of individual differences in ethical reasoning. Individuals at different levels of moral development are likely to think differently about ethical issues and resolve them differently.
SITUATIONAL (ORGANIZATIONAL) FACTORS.
Individuals' ethical issue recognition, judgment, and behavior are affected by contextual factors. In the business ethics context, the organizational factors that affect ethical decision-making include the work group, the supervisor, organizational policies and procedures, organizational codes of conduct, and the overall organizational culture. Each of these factors, individually and collectively, can cause individuals to reach different conclusions about ethical issues than they would have on their own. This section looks at one of these organizational factors, codes of conduct, in more detail.
Codes of conduct are formal policies, procedures, and enforcement mechanisms that spell out the moral and ethical expectations of the organization. A key part of organizational codes of conduct are written ethics codes. Ethics codes are statements of the norms and beliefs of an organization. These norms and beliefs are generally proposed, discussed, and defined by the senior executives in the firm. Whatever process is used for their determination, the norms and beliefs are then disseminated throughout the firm.
An example of a code item would be, "Employees of this company will not accept personal gifts with a monetary value over $25 in total from any business friend or associate, and they are expected to pay their full share of the costs for meals or other entertainment (concerts, the theater, sporting events, etc.) that have a value above $25 per person." Hosmer points out that the norms in an ethical code are generally expressed as a series of negative statements, for it is easier to list the things a person should not do than to be precise about the things a person should.
Almost all large companies and many small companies have ethics codes. However, in and of themselves ethics codes are unlikely to influence individuals to be more ethical in the conduct of business. To be effective, ethics codes must be part of a value system that permeates the culture of the organization. Executives must display genuine commitment to the ideals expressed in the written codef their behavior is inconsistent with the formal code, the code's effectiveness will be reduced considerably.
At a minimum, the code of conduct must be specific to the ethical issues confronted in the particular industry or company. It should be the subject of ethics training that focuses on actual dilemmas likely to be faced by employees in the organization. The conduct code must contain communication mechanisms for the dissemination of the organizational ethical standards and for the reporting of perceived wrongdoing within the organization by employees.
Organizations must also ensure that perceived ethical violations are adequately investigated and that wrongdoing is punished. Research suggests that unless ethical behavior is rewarded and unethical behavior punished, that written codes of conduct are unlikely to be effective.
Conceptual research by Thomas Jones in the 1990s and subsequent empirical studies suggest that ethical issues in business must have a certain level of "moral intensity" before they will trigger ethical decision-making processes. Thus, individual and situational factors are unlikely to influence decision-making for issues considered by the individual to be minor.
Certain characteristics of issues determine their moral intensity. In general, the research suggests that issues with more serious consequences are more likely to reach the threshold level of intensity. Likewise, issues that are deemed by a societal consensus to be ethical or unethical are more likely to trigger ethical decision-making processes.
In summary, business ethics is an exceedingly complicated area, one that has contemporary significance for all business practitioners. There are, however, guidelines in place for effective ethical decision making. These all have their positive and negative sides, but taken together, they may assist the businessperson to steer toward the most ethical decision possible under a particular set of circumstances.
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Ethics (International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis)
Ethics concerns mores: human moral attitudes in general and, more specifically, rules of behavior and their justifications. This system of rules attributes values to behaviors by judging them to be good or bad according to their intrinsic moral qualities or their concrete social consequences. For Freud, ethics takes up where totemism and taboos leave off, and constitutes the basis of all religion.
In Civilization and Its Discontents (1930a ), Freud noted, "The cultural super-ego has developed its ideals and set up its demands. Among the latter, those which deal with the relations of human beings are comprised under the heading of ethics" (p. 142).
As early as the Studies on Hysteria (1895a), Freud analyzed hysterical conversion symptoms as the result of a conflict between patients' erotic thoughts and moral ideals. The adjective "ethical," ethisch in German, appeared for the first time in 1898 in "Sexuality in the Aetiology of the Neuroses." In that essay, Freud raised the question of whether physicians have the right to intrude into the sexual lives of their patients and whether their "ethical duty" might not be "to keep away from the whole business of sex" (p. 264).
The notion of ethics in Freud's work refers primarily to those moral ideals in the name of which individuals renounce any instinctual impulses that are irreconcilable with the narcissistic ideals of the ego. These ideals are based on images of loved objects and the esteem of the superego. For Freud, the symptoms of the transference neuroses were substitutes for the remains of old loves that were forbidden by morality.
The reign of "civilized morality" begins when the drives are renounced. This forms the basis of religion and culture. Yet when individuals renounce the drives, they are deprived of the sexual and aggressive satisfactions demanded by the id, and so run the risk of neurosis.
This traditional conception of ethics is emphasized when the German word Ethik is translated as morals or morality. In what Angélo Hesnard calls "the morbid universe of guilt," the unconscious feelings of guilt that cause neurotic symptoms do not relate to the material reality of the patient's actions. Neurotic patients are guilty only of their secret intentions. The psychic reality of the forbidden and repressed wishes of "the child that is in man" (Freud, 1910a , p. 36) is accessible to us by dream interpretation and is realized in the course of analytic treatment in the love/hate relationship of the transference. And yet, by reawakening the demons banished by morality, does not psychoanalysis run the risk of destroying the very foundations of culture, which always demands sacrifices of the individual?
This question leads to another conception of ethics, one that is specific to psychoanalysis. The ethics of psychoanalysis is a consequence of how its practice implements its method and rules. Psychoanalysis does not aim to make the individual adapted to his or her environment. In other words, it does not serve the good; rather, it seeks the truth. When Freud recommended that physicians not give in to the amorous advances of their patients, he was giving voice less to traditional morality than to a psychoanalytic ethics conceived in terms of the requirements of a praxis founded on a method. The patient, by engaging in transference love, aggravated by a resistance to remembering, aims to reduce the analyst to a lover. The analyst is ethically bound not to respond, because he does not mistake the transference for true love. He wants to frustrate the analysand's love so that it can be analyzed. Otherwise, the analyst would become allied with the resistance. Here moral motives converge with psychoanalytic technique.
This psychoanalytic notion of ethics serves philosophical, religious, and moral causes. In Moses and Monotheism (1939a), Freud showed that ethics originates in "a sense of guilt felt on account of a suppressed hostility to God" (p. 134). Using Judaism, he returned to the myth of the murder of the father that he developed in Totem and Taboo (1912-1913a). Freud argued that people have always known that at one time they had a primitive father (which in religion becomes the godhead) and that they put him to death. The resulting "nostalgia for the father" reflected an insatiable need to appease a sense of guilt by changing the father's prohibitions into ethical obligations. When sons ingest the dead father's body, they come to identify with someone whom they simultaneously love and hate. Thus, the dead father becomes the superego, demanding self-sacrifice. When the subject obeys the superego and renounces his sexual and aggressive impulses, he can both hate and love the parental authority within himself.
Freud revealed the role that masochism and narcissism play when the drives are reined in by ethics. A subject who suffers by sacrificing his or her desires to the supposed demands of the Other feels loved and chosen by this Other while unconsciously reproaching the Other for sadism.
Jacques Lacan discussed how the death drive functions in the dialectic between the pleasure principle and the reality principle. He began by declaring the prohibition of incest to be the only universal law. All other rules of morality are merely historical and cultural variations of this law. Desire for the mother can never be satisfied, even after the murder of the deterring father, because acting out incest would cause the social order to collapse. For this reason, the "naturalist liberation" of pleasure fails (Lacan, p. 4), jouissance remains forbidden, and the prohibition is reinforced by the work of mourning. The human condition is tragic because the more the subject renounces pleasure, the more his superego demands greater sacrifices. Nevertheless, the superego is necessary to produce the economy of pleasure and to introduce desire into the world of symbolic mediation.
In the character of Antigone, Lacan found an incarnation of a "pure and simple desire for death" (p. 282). This "raw," "inflexible" "kid" (pp. 250, 263) opposes the ethics of the good, represented by Creon. With her sacrifice, Antigone becomes the pure and simple relation between being human and "the break introduced by the presence of language in the human life" (p. 279). The result is that "when an analysis is carried through to its end the subject will encounter the limit in which the problematic of desire is raised" (p. 300).
Jacques Lacan emphasized the human subject's debt to language in becoming human and thus proposed a psychoanalytic ethic that did not concern itself with happiness and the good. The idealization of the figure of Antigone produced a Hegelian imperative to "pure action" that could conceivably be added to or substituted for traditional ethico-religious ideals. What Patrick Guyomard refers to as "the enjoyment of the tragic" must give way to the specific requirements of psychoanalytic work, a work of mourning that, according to Conrad Stein, leads to a "crossing of the tragic." Thus the ethics of psychoanalysis is a consequence of its specific method.
See also: Boundary violations; Criminology and psychoanalysis; Judgment of condemnation; Kantianism and psychoanalysis; Seminar, Lacan's; Transgression; Truth.
Freud, Sigmund. (1898a). Sexuality in the aetiology of the neuroses. SE, 3: 259-285.
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Freud, Sigmund, and Breuer, Josef. (1895a). Studies on hysteria. SE, 2: 48-106.
Guyomard, Patrick. (1992). La jouissance du tragique: Antigone, Lacan et le désir de l'analyste. Paris: Aubier.
Lacan, Jacques. (1997). The seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book 7: The ethics of psychoanalysis (1959-1960) (Dennis Porter, Trans.). New York: W. W. Norton. (Original work published 1986)
Stein, Conrad. (1995). La traversée du tragique en psychanalyse.udes freudiennes, 35, 33-48.