APA Solicits Code of Conduct Suggestions


Last year, the American Philosophical Association (APA) appointed a task force to determine whether a code of conduct for professional philosophers is warranted. The task force deliberated on the matter and concluded that yes, there should be such a code (previously).

Now, according to a post at the APA website, the task force is soliciting suggestions about what such a code should contain. Nancy Holland (Hamline U.), the chair of the committee, writes:

The task force now seeks input from APA members as it develops a code of conduct for the APA. Please send your suggestions to [email protected]By submitting your ideas, you will be helping to establish a set of guidelines regarding the wide range of professional responsibilities of philosophers, especially those in which ethical challenges might arise. Thank you for participating in this important endeavor.

Feel free to discuss suggestions here.

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Aaron W
Aaron W
6 years ago

Perhaps…

1. Avoid using words, intonations, and non-verbal expressions which would reasonably come across as demeaning, condescending, or hurtful.

2. Try to use words, intonations, and non-verbal expressions which are conducive to inclusive dialogue and to the pursuit of understanding and truth.

??Report

Sven Henrikkson
Sven Henrikkson
6 years ago

3. Avoid using ethnically prejudiced philosophical examples, such as Keith Lehrer’s case of the Gypsy Lawyer, which betrays an unkind stereotyping of gypsies:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2025273?sid=21105244626691&uid=70&uid=2&uid=3739256&uid=4&uid=2129Report

Bob Kirkman
6 years ago

Seems to me there are at least two ways a code might go, in parallel with something I’ve noted in codes for engineers: we can lean toward a legalistic and punitive code of compliance, a list of “thou shalt nots”, or we can lean toward a statement of our highest aspirations.

Note, for example, the difference in tone and in substance between two documents for the engineering profession: the legalistic Code of Ethics of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE, in the U.S.) and the aspirational Statement of Principles of the Royal Academy of Engineers (in the U.K.)

I’m about to take this matter up with students in my engineering ethics course, but there’s some groundwork to lay first. To develop principles of engineering practice, you have to know what it means to be an engineer, and you have to have a sense of what engineering is for. You also have to have insight into what the public may reasonably expect of engineers as professionals.

Without some overarching vision, you’re just playing wack-a-mole, striking out at the bad behavior of the moment.

Do we have any such shared vision of what it means to be a philosopher? Or are we just swinging the mallet?Report

Michelle
Michelle
6 years ago

Don’t sleep with your students. Don’t flirt with your students. Don’t invite them to flirt with you. Don’t enter into or invite sexually-charged circumstances with students. Don’t date students. Really, just generally, leave yourself out of your students’ sex lives and leave them out of yours.Report

Amanda
Amanda
6 years ago

It seems like it’s in fashion nowadays (perhaps this is just on blogs, but I think it has also made its way into conferences) to respond to someone not with reasons or argument, but with an expression of one’s feelings or moral sanction. e.g., “I’m offended by that, “That’s trans*phobic” or “That’s mansplaining”. This is a form of silencing, and philosophers, of all people, ought to avoid it.Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

Amanda, if a statement is “transphobic” or “mansplaining”, that could be the reason for objecting to it. Those don’t seem like “feelings”, nor do they express any more moral sanction than other reasons for objecting to things with which one morally disagrees. I don’t know why these claims are a form of “silencing”. Can’t someone argue the other side in response, that the statement is not transphobic, or that it’s an accurate or convincing claim? I see people doing that sort of thing frequently.Report

Ryder
Ryder
6 years ago

@Amanda: Rachel McKinnon began an excellent discussion about silencing a couple of years ago, here: http://www.newappsblog.com/2013/09/calling-out-silencing-techniques-in-class.html.

It’s important to distinguish silencing from labelling. They’re both poor rhetorical devices, but their aims are quite different. Labelling an argument as offensive can be either ad hominem (e.g., “that’s racist”), or it might be a shorthand claim that the argument is widely known, and settled. Silencing, on the other hand, is any attempt to prematurely end a discussion. If labelling is used as an ad hominem, this might be an attempt to silence, but we can always respond by pointing this out.

Now I’d agree that responding to an argument or comment by calling it “phobic” may often be intended to silence someone, but it rarely does! There are some genuinely bad arguments that deserve the label, and it’s not bad rhetoric to call these cases out– especially if it helps move the discussion forward.Report