Saturday, June 11, 2011

Applied Ethics -- Professional ethics for the Special Government Employee

Anthropologists have been arguing professional ethics since Boas published his letter to the Nation magazine on December 20, 1919, under the heading "Scientists as Spies,"  Some times this debate has been heated and other times quite ineffective. This is due in part because in their disagreements about what an anthropological ethic should be, they have been and continue to agree that whatever it is, it will be nonenforceable by the profession. But these principles might be enforced elsewhere. Why is that?  Because professional ethics are not absolutes, they are situational and relative. They are ethical systems developed to deal with the specific situations, rights and responsibilities that an individual acquires by virtue of his/her profession or job. This is what is called Applied Ethics.

Applied ethics is the branch of ethics that examines questions of moral right and wrong arising in specific areas of practical concern, as, for example, in medicine or business. So even if the AAA or SfAA or other professional  organization you belong to has an ethics code, you may find that you are covered by another applied ethics code because of a position, even if only temporarily.

During my career I have served as a reviewer of federal grant proposal as such I have been classified as a Special Government Employee and became subject to the specific applied ethics associated with that status.

 If you have the opportunity to serve such a role, check out the following video and learn what the ethical rules are to be a Special Government Employee.

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