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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 35, Issue 2, Fall 2021

James Rocha
Pages 273-287

Professional Responsibility as a Response to Systematic Moral Ambiguity

There is something mysterious about what explains the foundations or grounding for professional responsibility. What grounds the distinct professional responsibility that an engineer, doctor, or lawyer has that is separate from their moral duties and legal requirements? I argue that professional responsibility can derive from a systematic response to ambiguities that occur within moral issues that arise for given professions. Moral problems can often be solved in different ways that are equally permissible, which I will say provides a “moral ambiguity.” Sometimes these moral ambiguities in professional settings require the same solutions across the profession because of the public’s legitimate expectations for uniformity. In such cases, professional organizations set professional responsibilities to provide a uniform set of duties to establish a necessary and predictable order.