Respect for Authority

Mike W. Martin

in Meaningful Work

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780195133257
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848706 | DOI:

Series: Practical and Professional Ethics

Respect for Authority

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According to a traditional image, “true professionals” are independent agents who, unlike businesspersons, serve clients without having to submit to the authority of managers. With the advent of managed health care and large legal offices, most physicians and attorneys now work within authority-structured corporations. Indeed, all issues in professional ethics, not only those surrounding personal commitments, increasingly concern interactions between professionals and their organizations, and also among members of different professions. This chapter discusses three aspects of shared responsibility: the interplay between professionals' authority as experts and managers' authority within organizations, the possibility of corporations and professionals serving shared or widely overlapping goals, and how respect for authority is compatible in principle with professional autonomy. It also explores professionals' right of conscience that leaves room for personal ideals within authority relationships. Although the focus is on the profession of engineering, the main points apply to all professions.

Keywords: authority; professional ethics; engineering; professionals; shared responsibility; managers; respect; autonomy; right of conscience; personal ideals

Chapter.  8535 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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