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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Professional codes of ethics : a study of the judicial viability of the codes of ethics of medicine, social work and librarianship Brown, Rosemary


Traditionally, one of the major characteristics of established professions such as medicine and law has been the possession of a Code of Ethics. The last three decades have seen the formulation of Codes of Ethics by many new professions and semi-professions as well as by many of the service occupations. In view of the intense concern of these professions, semi-professions and service occupations with the formation of codes of ethics, we set out to examine the codes of three professions to ascertain their functional significance both to the professions themselves and to the public. The rationale for the choice of the three professions of Medicine, Social Work, and Librarianship lay in their being professions whose codes of ethics were in different stages of development. A theoretical framework formulated in the first chapter was used in the following three chapters to examine the judicial viability of the codes of ethics of these professions. As main features of this analysis, we considered the formulation, promulgation, administration, review and revision procedures, jurisdiction, and implications for social policy of the codes. On the basis of the analysis and discussion of the codes of ethics studied we drew the conclusion that many of the existing codes are, to a great extent, deplorably non-specific and even rhetorical. It would therefore seem to be desirable that some measures should be taken to improve the judicial viability of these Codes; and we have made a number of recommendations calculated to achieve this end.

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