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A Comparison of Ethical Values

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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Running head: A Comparison

A Comparison of Ethical Values

Kevin R. Fields (0817105)

Saint Leo University
Class ID: 2449406
Class Name: 2008FallTerm1

Ethical behavior and definable core values is the cornerstone of any profession. The Profession of Arms, or to be more specific, the United States Air Force, has a set of core values that govern every aspect of being a professional airman. The medical community, to include psychology, has ethical standards and general principles of conduct that governing interaction with each other, sub-specialties within the field, and with the patients they serve. Institutions of higher learning have basic values intended to be impressed upon students through every aspect of their educational experience.

The purpose of this paper is to compare the Core Values of Saint Leo University to those of the American Psychological Association. By doing so, I will demonstrate the similarities between the professional ethics of the practicing Psychologist and those of the student enrolled at Saint Leo University.

The 2002 Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of American Psychological Association (APA) establishes behaviors and standards for the profession of psychology. The five General Principles outlined in this document serve as a value system intended to inspire psychologists toward the highest ideals of the profession (APA Ethics Code, 2002). Listed below are the five General Principles and how I interpret each of these principles.

Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence
Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm. In their professional actions, psychologists seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons, and the welfare of animal subjects of research. When conflicts occur among psychologists' obligations or concerns, they attempt to resolve these conflicts in a responsible fashion that avoids or minimizes harm. Because psychologists' scientific and professional judgments and actions may affect the lives of others, they are alert to and guard against personal, financial, social, organizational, or political factors that might lead to misuse of their influence. Psychologists strive to be aware of the possible effect of their own physical and mental health on their ability to help those with whom they work (APA Ethics Code, 2002).

The saying “above all else, do no harm” really applies to this principle. The professional psychologist has a duty to not only be of a benefit to who he/she is working with, but to also do everything within their power to do no harm. The psychologist must understand his/her actions will have a profound impact upon those under their care. I also find it interesting there is a statement regarding the physical and mental health of the psychologist, and the fact he/she should be aware of possible implications the state of their own mental health may have upon others.

Principle B: Fidelity and Responsibility
Psychologists establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work. They are aware of their professional and scientific responsibilities to society and to the specific communities in which they work. Psychologists uphold professional standards of conduct, clarify their professional roles and obligations, accept appropriate responsibility for their behavior, and seek to manage conflicts of interest that could lead to exploitation or harm. Psychologists consult with, refer to, or cooperate with other professionals and institutions to the extent needed to serve the best interests of those with whom they work. They are concerned about the ethical compliance of their colleagues' scientific and professional conduct. Psychologists strive to contribute a portion of their professional time for little or no compensation or personal advantage (APA Ethics Code, 2002).

If you look at this principle in light of a patient/provider relationship, Fidelity and Responsibility deals with ensuring the patient’s confidentiality. A patient must know he/she can trust the psychologist to keep information shared or learned confidential and within the realm of a professional patient/provider relationship. Any intent to collaborate findings with other psychologists must be disclosed up front, and with consent of the patient. Research opportunities exist, but only if all patient demographic information is scrubbed.

Principle C: Integrity
Psychologists seek to promote accuracy, honesty, and truthfulness in the science, teaching, and practice of psychology. In these activities psychologists do not steal, cheat, or engage in fraud, subterfuge, or intentional misrepresentation of fact. Psychologists strive to keep their promises and to avoid unwise or unclear commitments. In situations in which deception may be ethically justifiable to maximize benefits and minimize harm, psychologists have a serious obligation to consider the need for, the possible consequences of, and their responsibility to correct any resulting mistrust or other harmful effects that arise from the use of such techniques (APA Ethics Code, 2002).

Integrity is very important to me. My integrity is the one thing no one can ever take from me. I can give my integrity away, but you can’t take it. I learned what integrity truly means while serving on active duty in the United States Air Force. Integrity is the FIRST of our three Core Values, Integrity, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do. Lt. Col. Lee Beyer, 9th Physiological Support Squadron Commander at California’s Beale Air Force Base, sums integrity up this way, “Integrity is first. The Core Values read like a job qualifications posted in the want-ads, with the message being, if you don’t have integrity; don’t bother…no shirt, no shoes, no service. Integrity is the most important part of our core values.” What does it mean…Integrity is a whole number; fractions need not apply (Beyer, 2007). You can’t have “some integrity” or “a little integrity”. You either have it or you don’t.

Principle D: Justice
Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists. Psychologists exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices (APA Ethics Code, 2002).

Justice in this context does not refer to the typical justice one assumes from a court of law. To me, this form of justice describes a level playing field. There is a sense of “fairness” and evenhandedness. Everyone is equal; everyone gets the same consideration regardless of personal circumstances. Prejudice, narrow-mindedness, and discrimination take a back seat. This sense of fairness is so important in ensuring quality outcomes and unbiased research.

Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity
Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination. Psychologists are aware that special safeguards may be necessary to protect the rights and welfare of persons or communities whose vulnerabilities impair autonomous decision making. Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status and consider these factors when working with members of such groups. Psychologists try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on those factors, and they do not knowingly participate in or condone activities of others based upon such prejudices (APA Ethics Code, 2002).

Psychologists have an obligation to uphold and when necessary restore self-esteem and self-respect without imposing their own sense of values or morals. This principle speaks to the psychologist’s duty to realize and appreciate the many differences between individuals, and also to use these differences for the good of mankind through research and collaboration.

The Values Statements outlined in the 2008-2009 Saint Leo University Student Handbook lists the University’s Benedictine values and Catholic traditions. The six values statements outlined in this document serve as a moral compass intended to guide students in their journey towards higher education and in the pursuit of a life-long learning experience. Listed below are the six Values Statements and how I interpret each of them in light of what they personally mean to me.

Excellence

Saint Leo University is an educational enterprise. All of us, individually and collectively, work hard to ensure that our students develop the character, learn the skills, and assimilate the knowledge essential to become morally responsible leaders. The success of our University depends upon a conscientious commitment to our mission, vision, and goals (Saint Leo University 2008-2009 Student Handbook).

I’m confident you have already come to the realization I’m quite fond of my USAF heritage, and the core values it has taught me. “Excellence in all we do” is the 3rd core value for the United States Air Force. What is excellence? Excellence is what directs us to develop a sustained passion for continuous improvement and innovation (Little Blue Book, 1997). Aristotle summed it up very well, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit" (Fusions, 2006)

Community

Saint Leo University develops hospitable Christian learning communities everywhere we serve. We foster a spirit of belonging, unity, and interdependence based on mutual trust and respect to create socially responsible environments that challenge all of us to listen, to learn, to change and to serve (Saint Leo University 2008-2009 Student Handbook).

Community can mean many things. The area where I reside, the group on people I choose to interact with at a local level, it can also define a group of people I associate myself with based on like beliefs, such as religion or politics. Community really defines a group of people working together for a common goal. At Saint Leo, this community is rooted in the Christian faith. As members of the Christian community, we are charged with serving our fellow man.

Respect

Animated in the spirit of Jesus Christ, we value all individuals’ unique talents, respect their dignity, and strive to foster their commitment to excellence in our work. Our community’s strength depends on the unity and diversity of our people, on the free exchange of ideas and on learning, living and working harmoniously (Saint Leo University 2008-2009 Student Handbook).

In light of an education rooted in the Christian value system, the children’s song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” really defines respect for me, in light of the definition above. This song teaches love for “all the children of the world”, regardless of background. Without respect for each other’s culture, religion, faith and value system, a harmonious existence will never be realized. It is OK to disagree, and offer differing points of view. But it must be done in a way that is not alienating or hurtful to those whose opinions differ.

Personal Development

Saint Leo University stresses the development of every person’s mind, spirit, and body for a balanced life. All members of the Saint Leo University community must demonstrate their commitment to personal development to help strengthen the character of our community (Saint Leo University 2008-2009 Student Handbook).

I also define personal development as development of the mind and body. A general state of good health promotes a healthy state of mind. The inverse is also true. An unhealthy state of mind, such as depression, can often manifest itself through a poor state of health. We should all strive to be at our best. The pursuit of higher education enriches personal development.

Responsible Stewardship

Our creator blesses us with an abundance of resources. We foster a spirit of service to employ our resources to university and community development. We must be resourceful. We must optimize and apply all of the resources of our community to fulfill Saint Leo University’s mission and goals (Saint Leo University 2008-2009 Student Handbook).

In my personal life, I have a responsibility to my family to ensure the household resources are adequately maintained. I'm also responsible for giving back to my community. The world today seems to have become a "disposable society". There's not much incentive to safeguard, or use wisely. Everything is readily and easily replaceable. The adventure comes when you are willing to accept responsibility. Accepting responsibility could be a conduit for growth. Responsible Stewardship - Caring for what you have, living within your means, and giving back from the fruits of your labor.

Integrity

The commitment of Saint Leo University to excellence demands that its members live its mission and deliver on its promise. The faculty, staff, and students pledge to be honest, just, and consistent in word and deed (Saint Leo University 2008-2009 Student Handbook).

On an academic level, I think integrity can simply be defined as “don’t cheat”. The work you do should be your own. I know for me there is a sense of pride and accomplishment when I’ve completed a difficult assignment. As I stated earlier, my integrity cannot be taken from me, but I can give it away. It is my only true possession, and I guard it dearly. Senator Alan Simpson from Wyoming said “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity…nothing else matters” (Beyer, 2007). Integrity is making the right decision, following the just path, and leading in a manner in which you would like to be led. It is about quality and purity of character. Integrity doesn’t need to be defended, rationalized or justified; it is readily evident. None of us are born with integrity, nor can we obtain integrity with a few well-placed words or actions. Integrity is the never-ending pursuit of honesty (Beyer, 2007).

How do the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct compare to the Values Statements of Saint Leo University. While it is true, they do not mirror each other word for word, their intent is identical. Both urge the individual to put “self” aside and think first of their fellow man, and the good of mankind. Both stress integrity, excellence, and respect, and giving back to their respective communities as being essential to their being. Both documents outline how we should deal with others, but I also think these documents are based on how we should deal with ourselves.

Academic Honor Code

I, Kevin R. Fields, take full responsibility for the contents of this assignment. To the best of my knowledge, any ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs or parts of another person's writings are fully documented. I have researched and written the contents with the utmost integrity and honesty, and I am able to answer any questions arising from the contents provided herein.

ACADEMIC CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: The information contained in this paper and any attached documentation may be privileged, confidential or otherwise protected from disclosure and is intended only for Dr. Rachel Piferi. It is not intended for transmission to, or receipt by, any unauthorized person. The use, distribution, transmittal or re-transmittal by an unintended recipient of this paper is strictly prohibited without Kevin R. Fields’ express approval in writing. If you are not the intended recipient of this paper, please return to Kevin R. Fields or Dr. Rachel Piferi.

American Psychological Assocoation (2002). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 2002. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from http://www.apa.org/ethics.code2002.html#general

Saint Leo University (2008). 2008-2009 Student Handbook. Retrieved October 11, 2008, from http://www.saintleo.edu/resources/docs/coned.pdf

Lt. Col. Lee Beyer (2007). Integrity first, Service before self, Excellence in all we do. Retrieved September 20, 2008, from http://www.beale.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123046726

USAF, Air Education and Training Command (AETC) (1997). The Little Blue Book [Electronic Version]. Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX: United States Air Force.

Jane M. Govoni; Mary T. Spoto; Valerie Wright (2006). Fusions: Integrating Values in Online Learning. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

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