Specifics Of Professional Integrity Book Review Examples

Type of paper: Book Review

Topic: Profession, Professionalism, Ethics, Literature, Integrity, Engineering, Morality, Books

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/11/17

In the contemporary world of profit-driven business conduct, severe competition in most spheres of life, complexity of resources redistribution and human desire to find a better place no matter what the cost might be, the matters of professionalism and ethics become vital. It often happens to achieve the goal one needs to sacrifice moral and ethical judgements irrespective of the cost. Some might argue that it is due to the nature of the contemporary working and living environment. On the other hand, it is often Machiavelli, who lived a few centuries ago in divided kingdoms of Italy and argued for severe means for unification and survival of the country, is quoted on the matter of means to an end. Nowadays in the interdependent and globalised world, such approach can be not just counterproductive but even dangerous, since people from different countries and communities have more impact on each other lives than a few centuries ago. Thus, the morality, ethics and professionalism are crucial in doing things right and with the minor negative outcome. This paper reflects on the book “Professional Integrity: Thinking Ethically” by Michael Pritchard.
One of the important aspects of the book that make it clear to the reader is that it is very precise about definitions and what it actually writes about. The author makes a clear distinction between personal integrity and professional integrity. While it is often assumed that professional integrity is one’s projection of personal integrity into professional environment, the author emphasises that “the integrity of professionals is a function of how they handle themselves in the various professional roles” (Pritchard 67). The importance of this definition is that it argues that the nature of professional integrity of not it remaining oneself or acting according to one’s personal beliefs, but it is the ability of acting according to roles and character features of one’s profession. These roles and character features are embodied in principles, ideals, aims and standards of one’s profession. Consequently, an individual has to correspond not only to publically accepted ethical values and principles, but also correspond to the professional role the way it is perceived by a wider public. The author outlines that professional integrity is not universal, because each profession is different. Therefore, ethical expectation and roles are different for each profession (Pritchard 72). Although some principles can be applicable to professionalism, in general, still roles of each profession require different content and consequent behaviour expected by society. He writes:

“Nevertheless, professionals do not stand alone. They are members of professions that

themselves avow certain ethical standards. They are employed by others, whether
individual clients or institutions, who have ethical (and other) expectations of them,
as well. All this gives rise to serious questions about how individual professionals
should conduct themselves in their professional lives” (Pritchard 4).
The main argument the author makes is that the key to developing professional integrity is in the appropriate training and teaching programmes. He outlines that aims of training courses aimed at developed of professional ethics should pay attention to the improvement of moral imagination, establishing a sense of reasonability, application of constructive approach in problem-resolution and recognising moral issues (Pritchard 5). Furthermore, the author outlines the differences between professions based on certain criteria the necessity of profound training, the intellectual element in that training, the correlation between provided services and society, participation professional associations that impose certain ethical expectations from a chosen profession. He also outlines the importance of one’s responsibility to a profession and its code of conduct regarding clients and the overall society. Furthermore, one’s professional integrity requires such elements as critical judgements and the ability to do right (Pritchard 164).
Pritchard argues that except for all mentioned above aspects of professional integrity, it is also essential for an individual to have a morality of common sense, which the author argues includes “middle axioms” like truthfulness and promise-keeping (Pritchard 38). The argument is that although such generally accepted things like common-sense morality might not be outlined in specific professional guidelines or emphasised in public standards of the profession perception, their fulfilment is still expected from professionals because they are considered to be moral and ethical by their very definition. Although it might not be outlined in any ethical framework, written or oral, the application of a morality of common sense is expected from professionals and should be forgotten in training programmes and accessing criteria (Pritchard 6).
Although, it could have been expected that the direction of the book would most likely concentrate on business as a primary profession, instead, the main emphasis is placed on such crucial professions like engineering and medicine. The main rationale for choosing these professions is that they can easily demonstrate the fatality of unprofessional behaviour and the severity of consequences for clients and a wider public. For instance, one’s reluctance to double-checking calculations for a construction might result in malfunctioning of equipment or accident on the working site. From one perspective, the lack of professional integrity would result in costs of repairing; from another it might cost someone life or severe injury. Consequently, with these professions it is easier to make cause-effect link between one’s decision-making in terms of professional integrity and negative consequences of misconduct.
Regarding specifics of professional integrity of engineering, the author outlines the following aspects. First of all, he argues that the security issue “operates more as a side-constraint than as the main goal of an engineering project” (Pritchard 89). The author suggests that this side-constraint serves the purpose of a shared minimum standard that improves the entire environment of engineer’s professional performance. In other words, it can be argued that the necessity of providing security of engineering projects is not a restraint of one’s performance and creativity in project management, but rather a connection to reality and link between project-mindedness and responsibility for its consequences. Furthermore, this requirement corresponds to the social and individual perception of engineer’s role to create safe projects that will not result in malfunctioning or cause any harm to society and individual people using the final outcome of that project.
Another aspect the author is concerned with is the fact that often people decide to the task they have very little competence on. The author argues that for engineering this problem is particularly severe, because of the potential negative implications it can have on lives and well-being of people (Pritchard 87). For instance, if a civil engineer gives an advice about a project from a different field of expertise, he might miss out on certain practical details the specialist in this particular field is well aware, consequently, he a civil engineer can make a mistake that could cost lives. The author says almost all engineering societies in their codes of ethics outline “as a fundamental canon, that engineers are to provide services only in areas of their competence” (Pritchard 91). Consequently, one of the expected and actually demanded elements of engineer’s professionalism is attention to a security aspect of project and safety-mindedness. The author explains that such attention to the security element of professional integrity for engineers is conditioned by their direct impact on public health and safety. Consequently, another aspect of engineering professionalism is that their decision-making ad projects development is often scrutinised by effective bodies verifying technological side of projects and their correspondence to standards (Pritchard 95). From another perspective, although engineering profession has more responsibilities towards public safety, it is also more monitored by external bodies rather than private businesses.
Furthermore, the author argues about inspirational role of engineering as a profession. He suggests that the contribution of the profession to society is more than just provision of technologies and facilities; it is that engineers have direct impact on the improvement of quality of life for people. The expected qualities of engineering professional role would include integrity, honour and “other commendable qualities” that could improve engineering practice and have a positive impact on society (Pritchard 89). Therefore, engineering professionalism is conditioned by the restrictions and expectations of the society and monitoring framework a professional works in. It can be argued that under such conditions individuals have to follow professional ethics and moral conduct also because of the potential punishment for misconduct. On the other hand, if engineer acts within the framework of a third-world country, where legal and social frameworks are different, then the professional will have more freedom to conduct unethical and immoral act in order to achieve posed objectives. In such situations, the problem is not only in the verification of the caused harm but also professional accountability of an individual.
Another crucial aspect of engineering professional integrity is that in order to achieve efficiency and success in engineering it requires constant testing, and it is this testing that secures final safety of the final users. The author argues that in service-learning the traditional approach of avoiding wrong-doing should be substituted by the positive ethics approach (Pritchard 56). Instead of paying attention to what could go wrong and which negative consequences might occur, the new approach emphasises the encouragement of positive results and explanation of the required attributes for a specific professional role (Pritchard 76). Consequently, it is aimed at self-awareness of professionals in terms of the jobs they are doing regarding moral and ethics prescribed to their position by employers and by society they work in.
Overall, it can be concluded in author’s perception of professional integrity is dual. The individual should be responsible to his/hers profession, its codes of behaviour and standards. On the other hand, an individual should also have a sense of personal responsibility which blends morality of common sense and doing right. The author argues that professional should combine “one’s personal commitment to honesty, trustworthiness, fair-mindedness and caring for other blend with more specific character traits expressed in one’s professional skills and expertise” (Pritchard 81). Applying this approach to engineering, it can be concluded that professional integrity of engineers is to make decisions that will result in positive and safe outcomes for the final users and society.
Reflecting on this book, it can be stated that this book is a good source of critical thinking on professional integrity, practical ethics and simple individual moral responsibilities. The book is well-written in a logical manner. It starts with issues of practical ethics and then explains in details such components as trust and trustfulness, good judgement, professional integrity. Then attention is paid to basic duties and codes of ethics, good works, working together, dispositions, perception, imagination and moral development. It is easy to follow and understand. The book is helpful in linking theoretical working ethics with its practical implementation in the real professional environment. The use of vivid examples from various fields of specialisation is a great advantage of this book.
On the other hand, from the personal perspective, I think that the book relies too much on examples from a single profession. Although there were various examples from the fields of education, medicine and even military aspects, predominantly attention as paid to engineering From one perspective, it is a good profession to build an argument on because, consequences of unethical and immoral actions are easy to trace and their implications can be particularly harmful. Therefore, it is easy to trace cause-effect relationship and make the audience realise how crucial professional integrity is in one’s decision-making. From another perspective, because it is easy to trace negative implications in this profession, the entire discourse might fit other professions as a business sector as well as it fits engineering and medicine professions. In other words, from the point of business professional integration, I think that the book can be helpful only in the general terms of outlining the implications of ethical and moral misconduct in the working environment. It might also be helpful in building one’s professional integrity or in development of a program for professional integrity stimulation. However, I do not think that it would help much in gaining profound knowledge of professional integrity in business. It certainly would be a good book to start.

Work Cited

Pritchard, M.S. Professional Integrity: Thinking Ethically. Lawrence: University of Kansas
Press. 2006. Print.

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