Every category of profession now has its own professional code or its code of ethics. It is part of a widespread shift towards an ‘ethics industry’, as ethical approval is sought for more and more of the decisions taken in public and professional life -- whether in business, health care, architecture or engineering.
But exactly what are these demands for more ethics? Are they demands for more rules and more laws, part of a trend towards more control of the professions by external agencies, or are they demands for more accountability, more openness in professional conduct by the public? Is ethics destined to become another case of ticking boxes in time consuming bureaucracy? Or does it represent a demand for wiser, more caring, more virtuous, more compassionate and more tolerant professionals? How do we characterise this shift towards ethics, and what should be the response of Higher Education to the challenge of teaching ethics to future professionals?
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