Introduction to Professional Ethics

Study material for the master students

Basics of ethics

Ethics is a branch of philosophy that addresses the concepts of right and wrong or good and evil. Ethics can also be called moral philosophy. Morality means usually a more practical approach to ethics, for example questions about the right and wrong in actions. Adjectives “moral” and “ethical” can be used fairly synonymously.

Applied ethics addresses practical, everyday issues. It is usually normative and thus aims to find the best possible answers to questions like: “Is this act or policy right or wrong?” Of course, life is often so complicated that simple answers cannot be provided. Then applied ethics can serve as a tool for clarifying the issue andĀ  for helping decision-makingĀ and account for these decisions even if there is no absolute right answer to be found.

Professional ethics provides us means to solve certain ethical problems related to a certain profession, in this case, health care. Professional ethics is usually presented as guidelines and rules, but it can be demanding to apply these to complex situations, that call for sensitivity to circumstances and the individuals in question. Thus, professional ethics cannot be only about abiding by the rules, but constant awareness to the rights and needs of the clients or patients, and critical thinking in the cross-fire of ethics, rules, conventions and difficulties of social interaction.