By Alex Vuchnich, CPA, CFE - The past several ethics courses I have taken seem to have centered largely around avoiding malpractice risk rather than ethical and moral theory. Although I understand the value proposition to the attendees of these courses on practical guidance and interpretation of our professional code of conduct, I feel there is an altogether lack of instruction regarding why we have a code of conduct in the first place. It seems to me that having a strong foundation in the theory of normative decision making is essential for an individual practitioner to truly be able to adhere to the professional code of conduct. I almost feel that there is some aversion to instruction regarding basic moral theories, such as utilitarianism, theory of justice or the categorical imperative. I wonder if there is some dancing around these ideas in order to avoid stepping on toes? However, a solid understanding of the merits and drawbacks of each of these theories is essential for good ethical decision making. Without some background and instruction on reasoning through ethical dilemmas how can a practitioner reach a meaningful and rational conclusion when faced with a real life ethical dilemma. Am I alone in seeing this trend towards solely providing interpretative guidance rather than delving into the deeper purpose underlying professional ethics?
Oct 7th 2008