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Ethical Competence and Professional Associations
Andrew Friedman (2004)
This is the third book on professional ethics to be produced by PARN. Previous books focused on analysing professional codes of conduct. This book introduces the concept of ethical competence.
For professionals ethical competence is the ability to work at an occupation in a manner as defined by professional ethical codes of conduct. This generally involves knowing when to apply and when to forbear from applying knowledge, based on ethical principles: what is ‘right’ and not ‘right’ taking into account client needs as well as what is morally correct and sensitive to the situation of clients and other stakeholders.
Ethical competence highlights an extra element that must be added to expertise in order for an expert to qualify as a professional, it concerns the manner in which expertise is exercised and qualified in order to encourage trust.
In the first part of this book, we build an understanding of ethical competence by examining professional ethics and the concepts of competencies and competence. We also compare ethical competence with technical competence and with reflective practice.
In the second part of the book, we examine how professional associations are supporting the ethical competence of their members in the UK and Ireland. We deal with supports for the ethical code itself, education taking into account both initial professional qualifications and continuing professional development, and remedial supports based on complaints and disciplinary procedures.
While professional associations are doing a great deal to support ethical competence, they can do more, and they ought to be more proactive in publicising what they are doing in order to reassure the public.
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