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Department of Philosophy & Religion

PHL-225 Professional Ethics

Course Credit: 3 Credits
Prerequisites: None

Office Hours:


Rowan, John and Zinaich, Samuel, eds. Ethics for the Professions. Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth, 2003.

Bayles, Michael. Professional Ethics.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth, 1989.


This course provides an overview of the notion of “ethics” and what it means to be “professional.”  It describes the structure of professional relationships, and provides an account of the obligations of professionals to clients, third parties, employers, and to their profession.  In the last segment of the course these ideas are applied to business, engineering, health care, counseling, teaching, law, and journalism.  Case studies will be utilized throughout the course.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will describe the concept of “professional” through class participation and in written assignments.
  • Students will list and discuss the fundamental moral issues of professional ethics and the role of professionals in society through class participation and exams.
  • Students will list the basic moral obligations of professionals to clients, third parties, employers, and their profession through class participation and exams.
  • Students will apply ethical ideas to their specific area of professional interest through a class project and presentation.


  • Exams.  Students will take four exams.  The exams include both objective and essay questions on reading materials and issues.  Students must take exams at the time when they are given.  These exams will count as 80% of the student’s grade. 
  • Course Project and Paper.  Students will write a 7-10 page paper on a case study or specific issue in the area of their professional interest.  The paper will be associated with a “hands on” project.   This paper will count as 20% of the student’s grade.
  • Classroom Conduct.  (a) Students must read the assigned materials, take notes in class, and participate in class exercises and discussions.  Participation includes attentive listening.  (b) Cell phones must be turned off, hats removed, and there must be no distractions, such as private conversations or sleeping.
  • Attendance.  Three late arrivals equal an absence and students may be graded down or failed for missing more than three classes.  Three instances of tardiness (more than five minutes late) may be recorded as an absence.  It is assumed that students who miss class also miss valuable learning experiences, and even if the excuse for absences is valid, excessive absences may result in lower grades. 
  • Academic Integrity.  The instructor follows the University Policy for Academic Integrity.  The statement of that policy is attached.

Special Circumstances:

  • Missed exams.  (a) For missed exams students must provide a valid written excuse. A valid excuse includes medical emergency, family emergency, job interview, obligations on a sports team, and similar extenuating circumstances.  (b) The instructor will give a make-up exam (usually an essay exam) for students with valid excuses.  Students who fail to provide a valid excuse or who do not make up a missed exam in a timely manner will receive a failing grade for the exam. 
  • Late papers.  Students must turn papers in when they are due.   Late papers will be graded down one letter grade per week from when they are due.


Weights and Percentages                                                Final
Exam # 1                                                                         20%
Mid-Term Exam                                                             20%
Exam # 3                                                                        20%
Final Exam                                                                      20%
Essay & Project                                                              20%


93-100 = A

83-86 = B

73-76 = C

60-66 = D

90-93 =  A-

80-82 = B-

70-72 =  C-


87-89 =  B+

77-79 = C+

67-69 = D+

59 >   = F

Course Schedule:



1st Week

Ethical Theory:
Rowan & Zinaich, “Moral Theories,” pp. 11-53

2nd Week

Perspectives on Professional Ethics:
Bayles, “What is a Profession?” pp. 56-61
Davis,  “Professional Responsibility: Just Following the Rules?” pp. 62-69
Smith, “Strong Separatism in Professional Ethics,” pp. 70-74

Welch, “…The Ordinariness in Professional Ethics,” pp. 75-79

3rd Week

Professional Obligations to Clients:
Faber, “Client and Professional”, pp. 125-133
Alexandra & Miller, “Needs, Moral Self-Consciousness, and Professional Roles,” pp. 134-139
Taylor, “The Role of Autonomy…,” pp. 140-144
Armstrong, “Confidentiality: A Comparison Across the Professions,” pp. 145-151
Andre, “My Client, My Enemy,” pp. 152-164

4th Week

Other Professional Obligations:
    To Third Parties – Case Studies (handout)
    To The Profession – Research, Reform, and Respect (handout)
 Recommended Reading:
    Bayles,  “Obligations to Third Parties,” pp. 111-132 in Bayles
    Bayles,  “Obligations to the Profession,” pp. 166-181 in Bayles

5th Week

Professionals and Employers:
  Employee obligations, employer obligations, and authority and conflict (handout)
  Case Studies (handout)
    Bayles, “Obligations Between Professionals and Employers,” in Bayles, pp. 136-161

Issues Regarding Professionals and Employers:
Rowan, “The Moral Foundation of Employee Rights,” pp. 90-96
Werhane and Radin, “Employment at Will and Due Process,” pp. 96-101

6th Week

Issues Regarding Professionals and Employers:
Lippke, “Work, Privacy, and Autonomy,” pp. 101-107
Shaw, “Affirmative Action: Legal and Moral Contexts,” pp. 108-115
Schultz, “Sex is the Least of It: Let’s Focus Harassment Law on Work, Not Sex,” pp. 115-121


7th Week

Business and the Professions:
Freeman, “A Stakeholder Theory of the Modern Corporation,” pp. 168-172
Schlossberger, “The Moral Duties of Organizations…” 173-179
Ebejer & Morden, “Paternalism in the Marketplace:  Should a Salesman Be His Buyer’s Keeper?”pp. 180-182
Cafaro, “Environmental Ethics and the Business Professional..,” pp. 189-199

8th Week

Moriarty,  “Ethics, Ethos, and the Professions: Some Lessons from Engineering,” 203-210
Broome, “Can Engineers Hold Public Interests Paramount?” pp. 219-223
Schlossberger, “Trade Secrets and Patents in Engineering…” pp. 224-217
McGinn, “Optimization, Option Disclosure…” pp. 228-240

9th Week

Health Care:
Emanuel, “Four Models of the Physician-Patient Relationship,” pp. 241-253
Meisel & Kuczewski, “Legal and Ethical Myths About Informed Consent,” pp. 254-260
Tuckett, “An Ethic of the Fitting: A Conceptual Framework for Nursing Practice,” pp.278-281
Chrstensen, “Physicians and Managed Care: Employee or Professionals?” pp. 298-305

10th Week

Kupfer and Klatt, “Client Empowerment and Counselor Integrity,” pp. 306-314
Cohen, “Confidentiality, Counseling, and Clients Who Have AIDS,” pp. 315-321
Stein, “Lying and Deception in Counseling,” pp. 330-335

11th Week

Taylor, “The Adversary System of Justice: An Ethical Jungle,” pp. 339-343
Pizzimenti, “Informing Clients About Limits to Confidentiality,” pp. 344-348
Cohen, “Pure Legal Advocates and Moral Agents…”  pp. 349-357
Gutmann, “Can Virtue Be Taught to Lawyers?” pp. 358-369

12th Week

Detmer, “The Ethical Responsibility of Journalists,” pp. 370-378
Lichtenberg, “Truth, Neutrality, and Conflict of Interest,” pp. 379-385
Cohen-Almagor, “Ethical Boundaries to Media Coverage,” pp. 286-393
Thompson, “Privacy, Politics, and the Press,” pp. 394-399
Mann, “Do Journalism Ethics and Values Apply to New Media,” pp. 400-405

13th Week

Gutmann, “Democratic Education,” pp. 406-417
Felicio and Pieniadz, “Ethics in Higher Education…” pp. 418-422
Brockett, “Ethics and Educator-Student Relationships,” pp. 423-426
Kupperman, “…Advocacy in the Classroom…,” pp. 433-439

14th Week

Student Presentations and discussions

15th Week

Student Presentations and discussions

16th Week

Final Exam 


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