Monthly Archives: July 2015

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Now, I’m not inviting you to stalk me. I just want to keep you up-to-date.

I will post information, suggestions, news, and whatnot as often as I have something to say. More importantly, I’m hoping that some of you will start to contribute, too. More on that later.

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You can also subscribe to our e-mail list, Future_Ethics-L. It will be limited to announcements about the global project, primarily updates posted here. It’s easy to join and easy to leave. The easiest way to subscribe is to click on the word “subscribe.” Well, it’s easy if it opens an e-mail message from the e-mail address you will use for this list. If it does, add your first name and your last name to the end of the already primed Subject: line; leave the body of the e-mail empty; and send it off.

If that doesn’t work:

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  3. And send the e-mail.

Ken Pimple

July 30, 2015

6:10 pm EDT

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Academic societies, torture, and professional ethics

Most likely you know about the recent revelations about the role of the American Psychological Association (APA) in the torture / “enhanced interrogation” of the G.W. Bush administration. In case you’re in the dark, here are a few sources that have crossed my path:

The collusion of some of the APA’s leaders and members is appalling, but as a scholar who works in professional ethics, I am not only outraged, but also deeply saddened. The APA has a code of ethics and an Ethics Office, and yet this all happened. It’s discouraging.

No doubt there are lessons to learn from this, but I’m pretty sure that the obvious ones (don’t lie; don’t hide what you’re doing from your colleagues; disclose your financial conflicts of interest; don’t work with the military) aren’t very useful. We’ve learned all of those things over and over again.

I guess it provides a degree of job security.

Please: Tell me something encouraging.

Ken Pimple
July 15, 2015
12:52 pm EDT

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Topics (themes, substance…) for your workshop

In an earlier post, I shared some structural ideas for workshops on the future of practical and professional ethics. In this post, I’m tackling the substance.

In the process of planning the events to be held at Indiana University Bloomington (IUB), we considered many themes or topics that could inform a productive workshop.[1] We expect that all of our workshops will draw from multiple perspectives and academic departments. We have found that interdisciplinary conversations are the most productive conversations. Of course events focused on a single profession (or professional specialty, like brain surgeon) are also fair game and may be extremely successful.

We considered focusing on the ethical issues that professionals confront. For example:

  1. Ethical challenges professionals face: financial conflicts of interest and intellectual property; confidentiality and privacy; conflicts of commitment; consent; abandonment; collegiality (professional courtesy, promoting and supporting the profession); the common good (pro bono, discrimination, social justice); expertise and continuing education; fiduciary duties (due diligence, zeal); metrics/evaluation (of professions and professionals) …
  1. How professionals differentially relate to clients (customers, the public); the common good (the community, the republic, the world); competitors; international and global issues; laws and treaties; licensing bodies (ABA, AMA); mass media; the powerful and the weak; technology …

We also thought about organizing our workshops by professions that are complementary or conflict in some way. For example:

  1. Business and government: conflicts between corporate and public interests; cases of, or new opportunities for, cooperation and mutual interests; synergies and complementary roles; gaps, lacunae…
  1. Law and medicine: classic professions with many points of overlap given the legal interests in patient rights and healthcare.
  1. Social work and public health: both professions work with groups with many overlapping interests.

It also seemed that it could be interesting to group professions based on similar patterns of relationships, such as:

  1. Client-based professions: business, law, media (public relations, advertising), social work
  1. Population-based professions: business, education, media (news), medicine, public health
  1. Employer-employee relationships:[2] employee security vs. precarity (e.g., traditional vs. freelance new reporting; competition, negotiation (e.g., tenured vs. adjunct faculty); fundraising as a professional obligation (e.g., academic scientists); differences in role morality between professionals in private practice vs. group practice vs. independent consulting
  1. Intrinsic conflicts of interest such as situations in which the interests of the group served are dissimilar to the source of funding (e.g., news media with government funding); differential interests based on the kind of payment (e.g., salary, wages, commission, shares, grants, reimbursement)…

As of this writing, IUB will hold five workshops in academic 2015-2016. All are in the planning stage.

Three of our workshops have these themes:

  • Professions and professionals in society: Service first, money second – Professions and other occupations exist because they serve human needs. The degree to which professions strive to meet vital needs vary across professions, within professions and organizations, and across time. There can be no doubt that in the United States today, many vital needs are not met, often because providing those needs is not profitable. Providing pro bono services and taking up specialties that serve underprivileged people or underpopulated areas are not practical for many young professionals who are burdened by tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt. What mechanisms could be created or rehabilitated to fill the niches of need that are currently underserved by professions? How can we identify and overcome stumbling blocks, including those laid down by government, culture, universities, and other powerful forces?[3]
  • Committed professions: Recognizing and overcoming obstacles to service – How can professional corporations, businesses, and organizations uphold the ethical principles that guide their work when regulations and laws, de facto professional norms, or behaviors and beliefs of society at large undermine key ethical responsibilities? What options and obligations do they have to reform ethically dysfunctional forces? What role can individual professionals play in reformation?[4]
  • Navigating professional careers: Challenges in a shifting economy – Young professionals can expect to acquire continually new knowledge and skills, move often between organizations, and acculturate quickly to various professional environments (e.g., the public, private, and non-profit sectors). They will be under pressure to develop a “personal brand” and to map their own career trajectory. How can educators prepare them for logistical challenges as well as the ethical challenges they will meet? [5]

In addition, one workshop will focus on media ethics[6] and the fifth will be embedded in the Martha McCarthy Education Law and Policy Institute in June of 2016.[7]

Feel free to use and customize these topics. We hope you will share your plans and results with the participants of the Year of Conversation on Practical and Professional Ethics.

Ken Pimple


[1] Your event might be a seminar, colloquium, conference, or what-have-you; I use “workshop” to represent all of the options.

[2] Professions such as medicine and optometry continue to be dominated by the salaried professional and well-defined stages of advancement, while others, such as media and higher education, are shifting toward a mix of employment models that encourage young professionals to see themselves as contractors; and law, public policy, and technology graduates may cycle between public, private, and self-directed forms of employment multiple times in a career.

[3] Hosted and organized by the Department of Business Law & Ethics, Kelley School of Business, represented by Josh Perry.

[4] Hosted and organized by the School of Public Health-Bloomington, represented by Lesa Huber.

[5] Hosted and organized by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), represented by Melissa Spas.

[6] Hosted and organized by a committee of faculty members from The Media School.

[7] Hosted and organized by the School of Education, represented by Suzanne Eckes and Janet Decker.

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25th Annual APPE international conference

This just in!

The 25th annual conference of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics will be held at the Hyatt Regency Reston Hotel in Reston, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.), February 18-21, 2016.

What’s more, the Call for Papers and Presentations has been published. (Is it just me, or is this the earliest call ever?)

Most importantly, the deadlines for presentations have been moved earlier in the year. Don’t wait until the last minute! Here are some of the highlights in deadlines:

Registration opens
September 25
Program and Book Submissions (Except for Special Paper Competition submissions)
November 3
Paper Competition Submissions
Notification of Program Presenters
January 28
Hotel Reservations deadline

Ken Pimple

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A starting point

This Web site is dedicated to facilitating workshops, conferences, and other ways of discussing the future of practical and professional ethics. To that end, I’ll be sharing my thoughts, plans, and whatnot as the organizer of the five projected workshops that we will hold at Indiana University. In this case, “we” includes an impressive group of IU faculty who are helping in the planning of the workshops, as well as several of us at the Poynter Center and APPE (which is housed with the Poynter Center). I’ll introduce them later.

We began the IU effort by developing a simple model to guide our decisions. You are welcome to emulate, adapt, improve, or ignore our model; whatever approach you take, I’d like to hear about and share it here.

The IU model

Invited speakers, panelists, and participants will articulate methods to address emerging challenges in professional ethics through scholarship, research, public policy, education, and the leadership of professional associations.

Workshops will be guided by three key questions:

  1. What ethical challenges does your profession currently face?
  2. What ethical challenges will your profession face in the near future?
  3. How can researchers and educators prepare students and young professionals to meet these challenges?

To answer these questions, most workshops will focus on one or two professions or on one or two ethical issues (e.g., freelance professionalism, personal branding) common to several professions. One meta-workshop will examine the larger contexts in which the professions are situated (e.g., government regulation, public opinion, the economy, etc.) and how those contexts promote, undermine, or ignore integrity in professions and professionals.[1]

Workshop template

Typically, workshops will be 4-5 hours. Each workshop will be organized into four substantive sessions, with a break included:

  1. The problem: An invited guest speaker with recognized expertise will provide the lead-off presentation on a challenging ethical issue facing professionals (e.g., conflicts of interest, privacy, deception, confidentiality). There will be a short period for questions from the floor.
  2. The problem in context: Three IUB panelists with diverse points of view will comment and expand on the speaker’s points. Open discussion with all workshop participants will follow to explore how different disciplines (e.g., medicine, education, journalism) approach the problem.
  3. How did we get here? Participants will discuss how professional practice and professional ethics education have advanced understanding and practice. How has scholarship/research improved our understanding? How has education/teaching improved practice? (In some cases, this part of the workshop will be in breakout sessions. Each breakout would likely be led by a panelist.)
  4. How can professional ethics address future problems? Participants will plan an agenda for future work. What do the professions and professionals need? How do we address those needs? (This would be in plenary.)

Ken Pimple


[1]In a later post, when I share more information on our actual plans, you’ll see how far we have fine-tuned our approach.

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