Specialists in all the professional fields and industries know their actual responsibilities and duties which influence their professional activity from the point of its results.
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However, it is also possible to speak about professional responsibility as the collection of the moral obligations and norms to follow. Thus, the boundaries of the professional responsibility for specialists are broad and include not only actual completing the work tasks and assignments but also the moral aspects of the question.
Nevertheless, where is the fringe of the person’s responsibility for his or her professional actions? Are individuals responsible for all their actions without references to the character of the received tasks and their completing? Is it necessary to point out the facts of not following the principles of professional responsibility?
These questions are rather controversial. Richard Hare and Sissela Bok discuss these ones and the other questions associated with the problem of professional responsibility in their articles.
In spite of the fact the researchers’ arguments are quite different and depend on the various aspects, it is important to pay attention to the fact that, in the moral context, professional responsibility is based on those principles which are accentuated in the field of ethics that is why a man is always morally responsible for all his actions because he has the moral right of choice.
Professionals are responsible for doing their work carefully with references to the documented norms and standards and to the code of ethics for the definite profession.
That is why professional responsibility is the notion which involves a lot of elements significant for the practical aspect of the work and for the moral field with depending on the character of interpersonal relations between the colleagues, the employer and employees, partners, workers and clients.
Professional responsibility is closely associated with the problem of effective completing the tasks when the process of work includes following definite practical and moral duties and obligations. Is it easy to make the right moral choice from the perspective of professional duties?
It is significant to note that the field of the actual and practical professional responsibility is limited by the range of the certain professional duties and obligations.
When a man follows them correctly and complete the tasks thoroughly with references to the canons presented in the code of ethics, the possibility to make a wrong moral choice in relation to this or that action is minimal.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of problematic situations when a person has to choose between completing the order according to the superior’s instructions or follow his or her own considerations about the character of the order because of its possible immoral nature.
Richard Hare discusses the situation with referring to soldiers and their completing the orders.
The author presents the problematic question as following, a soldier must obey the orders, “and he is liable to blame if he disobeys them, we cannot consistently also blame him if in a particular case he obeys them – even though the act which he has committed is of itself wrong” (Hare 425).
In this situation, a soldier should follow the principles of his professional responsibility and obey the order, and he should follow his moral vision of the situation and try to act morally because “the individual is always responsible for his own acts” (Hare 425).
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From this point, the principles of morality are crossed with the principles of professionalism.
Thus, professionals should obey the orders and complete the tasks according to the instructions when morally responsible persons should act in relation to the norms of morality with references to the professional ethics.
The scenario according to which it is necessary to act in the morally problematic situations at workplaces is difficult to be developed. There are always threats which can occur while working and they are often associated with the moral aspects of the problems.
If a person notices the definite threat for effective developing the working process or for its results and consequences, is it necessary to draw the leader’s attention to the problem with referring to the person who is not efficient from the perspective of his or her duties?
The phenomenon of whistleblowers is discussed in the work by Sissela Bok who states that “for whistleblowing to be effective, it must arouse its audience” (Bok 4). Nevertheless, the reasons for whistleblowing and its effects can be different.
There are a lot of people who are sure that the fact of whistleblowing is not just in relation to the other employees against whom it is directed.
However, there are also many individuals who agree that whistleblowers can contribute to reducing the threats and risky situations in companies.
The aspects of professional responsibility refer to the actions and professional behaviors of the definite individuals, thus, they are responsible only for their own actions.
The question is in the responsibility for the other persons’ actions and the fact of knowing the actions are not morally or professionally good.
Bok discusses the problem from many sides and accentuates its controversial character. Each situation is unique, and the visions of different people of the problem of professional responsibility can be various in spite of the fact there are universal laws and norms of morality and definite standards of professional acting and behaving.
Bok indicates that “whistleblowing has to remain a last alternative because of its destructive side effects: it must be chosen only when other alternatives have been considered and rejected” (Bok 6).
Thus, it is possible to speak about some positive effects of whistleblowing while not paying attention to the negative aspects of the process because of the controversy of the question.
Speaking out in order to attract the public’s attention to the problem, a whistleblower can provoke a great number of problems connected with the reputation, authorities’ attitude, audience’s reaction, moral choice, and prejudice.
Thus, according to Hare, “the subject-matter of philosophy is the use of words” (Hare 427). That is why the effective or ineffective use of words by a whistleblower can result differently depending on the moral aspects of the situation.
The fringes of professional responsibility according to the code of ethics can be so broad that the definite elements of the process of whistleblowing can be even fixed.
According to Bok, “the largest professional engineering association requires members to speak out against abuses threatening the safety, health, and welfare of the public” (Bok 2). In this case, whistleblowing of such a character can be discussed as the requirement which is supported by the code of ethics used in the company.
Professionals should be responsible for their strict following the norms of their work and interactions and prevent the development of the other persons’ risky acts. On the one hand, whistleblowing as the process is associated with some injustice when a person’s actions are directed against the other person.
On the other hand, many people can argue that it is immoral to be silent when there is some threat which can be predicted. That is why it is possible to speak about the more developed classification of actions and behaviors which should be prevented with the help of speaking out.
Responsibilities, obligations, and duties are not preferred by people because they limit their actions. Professional responsibility limits the person’s professional behavior, and the moral responsibility influences all the aspects of his or her life.
Richard Hare indicates that people are inclined to get rid of their moral responsibilities by any means, and individuals very often prefer to blame the others, especially authorities, for their wrong moral choice, and as a result, immoral orders.
Thus, “to get rid of one’s moral problems on to the shoulders of someone else … is to be free of much worry; it is to exchange the tortured responsibility of the adult for the happy irresponsibility of the child (Hare 427).
Responsibilities of any character are perceived by people as too limited for them, but it is only a human quality to feel the moral responsibility for his actions and behaviors. That is why Hare proposes one more controversial question, “how can the orders of somebody else absolve me from moral responsibility?” (Hare 430).
Ethics presents a lot of canons and rules on which the problem of a man’s moral responsibility depends. As a result, the ethical principles are also used for regulating the professional relations, and they affect the development of the professional responsibility.
Professional responsibility means that people who can be considered as professionals in any field should do their duties effectively with references to the practical results and according to the moral laws and norms.
If a man acts in a definite way, he is responsible for his professional actions. However, it is necessary to distinguish between right and wrong actions, moral and immoral behavior.
Moreover, there is always a risk that a person discusses his or her actions irrelevantly to the situation and can have wrong vision of the notions of responsibility and morality. Hare accentuates the possibility of the situation when a person can say, “I did what I thought good, and I still think it good” (Hare 429).
Who is right in this situation? Is it possible to fine the guilty person? Should people blame the person who is responsible for giving the orders or who is responsible for their completing?
To answer these questions, Hare states that “we must never lose sight of the distinction between what we are told to do and what we ought to do” (Hare 430).
Depending on this statement, it is necessary to note that people can be ordered to do a lot of tasks and assignments which are different according to the level of their moral goodness and the superior’s vision of it.
However, if people are not responsible for the other persons’ opinion on the problem of responsibility and morality, they are responsible for their own actions because the moral responsibility is the inner quality.
The feeling of responsibility in spite of its possible exterior effects influences people with the help of definite feelings and emotions. From this perspective, the feeling of guilt is the main sign of doing immoral and irresponsible actions.
To support his ideas, Richard Hare refers to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. There are definite ethical norms and rules which are based on the universal understanding of good and bad actions and behaviors.
It is a human’s duty to act according to these principles, and if the ethical norms are not addressed, the action cannot be discussed as good. If it is almost impossible to do the moral choice, it is important to rely on the fact that God is good that is why all the actions should be justified from the point of their moral value (Hare).
That authoritative person who can assess your actions is you, and you should follow the universal ethical principles and God’s will in discussing your actions and evaluating their effects as positive or negative ones.
The concept of professional responsibility is closely connected with the idea of the moral responsibility. There are a lot of situations in a person’s professional life when he or she should make choice between morally good actions and any other effective actions and beneficial perspectives.
Moreover, taking responsibility for one’s own actions and behaviors, it is also necessary to pay attention to the possible consequences of the other persons’ acts. From this point, the question of responsibility becomes more complex.
If the problem of the personal professional responsibility can be discussed in the context of the opinion that each individual is responsible for his or her actions, the involvement of the other people makes the moral choice more painful.
Bok, Sissela. “Whistleblowing and Professional Responsibility”. New York University Education Quarterly II (1980): 2-7. Print.
Hare, Richard. “Can I Be Blamed for Obeying Orders?”. The Morality of War: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Ed. Larry May, Eric Rovie, and Steve Viner, 2005. 425-430. Print.