Brett Rants

The Ethics of Ethics

'This class is not intended to be a survey of the current legal landscape...'
Too bad, if it had been, it might have been useful.


Rather than getting down to any serious work this Monday morning, my mind seems bent on going over one of the inanities of my higher educational experience. And so as to purge it out of my system, I shall set it to type.

Both as a requirement for a BS in Psychology and then later for a Certificate in Substance Abuse, I was required to take two different ethics courses. And as a concept, I don't have an issue with an ethics course, well, in as much as an ethics course has any relevance to the real world. But in both cases rather than explaining (studying/deciphering) the legal framework of the profession to which either of these degrees led, both courses had a philosophical bent and related to the world of would-of, should-of, could-of. Now, I don't have an issue with philosophy, took plenty of those courses, too. But rather than say, discuss, and/or debate about what is 'ethical', I believe it would have been much (much-much-much) more useful for the classes to simple outline the legal framework in which one would be operating in their presumed future profession.

So, rather than:
    It's unethical for a therapist to date a client.

I think it would be much more relevant to explain:
    A therapist that dates their clients isn't going to last long in this profession and here's why:
        There are laws
        There are association membership guidelines
        And there are employment contract stipulations that all forbid dating one's client.

Just my two cents.  I actually had an Ethics Professor start my (required) Business Ethics class by stating something along the lines of 'the current legal framework will not form a basis of this class as that is a subject for an Introduction to Business Law course.'  And in that sentence consigned the subject matter of the class to that which is unimportant, un-agreed-upon (if we agreed, there would be a law, you can bet your hat on that), and purely opinion based.  Needless to say, I found the class quite useless.


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If this website had an ethical policy that differed from (went above and beyond) the legal landscape in which it existed, would this be of any benefit?  And given that the creator of the website would also (most very likely) be the creator of the ethical policy in question, could one reasonably expect the content to differ one iota whether such a policy existed or not?  Please debate amongst yourselves.  There will be a test at the end of the semester to determine whether your ideas converge with mine.


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