Code of Ethics As Applicable Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper : addition, almost 50% of the surveyed adults said they base their moral decisions on whatever will bring them the most pleasing or satisfying results (Moral Ethics, at ( in this area indicates that moral ethics are now considered relative to culture, relative to circumstance, and relative to the specific needs of the individual (Moral Ethics, at (

From the standpoint of the Department of Justice, moral ethics was a primary foundation of the United States of America. America was founded on the right of religious expression known as freedom of religion and moral ethics. Cultural ethics are different from moral ethics. The goal of culture is to cultivate values, beliefs and patterns of behavior that can best support organizational success. Values and beliefs are cultivated strictly on ethics, which is the philosophy and science for determining what values to hold and when to hold them (Bottorff, 2004). Cultivating patterns of behavior depends on the social science paradigm of diagnostics, control and change management within complex systems (Bottorff, 2004).

Every organization is a culture, which is defined as a way of living, a way of talking, dressing, thinking, defining time, eating lunch (Solomon & Hanson, 1985). As stated above, a culture is a set of values, a way of relating to one another. Organizations such as the Department of Justice are living communities in which a great number of Americans make a home for themselves (Solomon & Hanson, 1985). The Department of Justice is an organization and culture within much of our ethics and many of our ways of thinking about ourselves and each other are created and enforced (Solomon & Hanson, 1985).

As a culture, the Department of Justice defines roles and jobs and sets the rules for proper behavior. It also sets goals and establishes what it counts as success.


Many questions have been raised as to what the term "ethics" actually refers to. From a professional and scientific point-of-view, the ethics of business and the moral code of our society are inseparable, sometimes indistinguishable (Solomon & Hanson, 1985). Ethics is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with the principles and standards of human conduct. Ethics arise not from man's law but from human nature itself making it a body of natural laws from which man's laws follow (Bottorff, 2004). Ethics is a normative science that is concerned with the norms of human conduct. As a science ethics must follow the same rigors of logic as other sciences. When scientific ethical reasoning is properly applied ethics becomes a useful tool for sorting out the good and bad components of complex human interactions (Bottorff, 2004).

Ethics is a rational process for exploring all the possible behavior alternatives and selecting the best possible choice for all involved. This rational process builds from established foundations and principles to construct repeatable forms of ethical reasoning (Bottorff, 2004). Ethical flaws can be found at the foundation level, the principle level, or at the application level. When ethics are applied to advance organizations such as the Department of Justice, this branch of ethics is termed organizational ethics (Bottorff, 2004).

One of the most important characteristics of moral judgments is that they express values. The field of ethics is usually broken down into three different ways of thinking about ethics, descriptive, normative and analytic. Morality is used to refer to what we would call moral standards and moral conduct while ethics is used to refer to the formal study of those standards and conduct. For this reason, the study of ethics is also often called moral philosophy, which serves as a guide for people's actions. Because of this, it is necessary to point out that moral judgments are made about those actions that involve choice. It is only when people have possible alternatives to their actions that we conclude those actions are either morally good or morally bad.

Morals and Moralization

Morals involve much more serious aspects of how behavior and the manner in which others are treated. What this means is that failure to follow the dominant morals will result in a much harsher reaction from others, such as discrimination, physical abuse and theft. Another important distinction in morality is that between standards, conduct and character. Judgments might be about particular conduct, which includes a person's actions, or it might be about a person's character, which includes their attitudes and beliefs. Ethics involves the study of those standards and judgments which people create. Ethics assumes that the standards exist and seeks to describe them, evaluate them, or evaluate the premises upon which those standards exist.

Ethics in Crime and Justice

As far as public-sector ethics are concerned, corruption is a management problem. It spawns in conditions where even the finest laws do not make it beyond the statute books and where weak public institutions fail to enforce the rules or provide adequate control, oversight and transparency (Bertok, 2000). Integrity is a fundamental condition of democratic government. Countering corruption and promoting public integrity are critical components of sustaining economic development and making a successful transition to a market economy (Bertok, 2000). Therefore, corruption is not a cause, but a symptom of breakdown. To understand it means to address the factors influencing ethical behavior in the public service such as that of the Department of Justice (Bertok, 2000).

Countries, such as the United States, belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operaton and Development (OECD) employ a range of tools and processes to discourage undesirable behavior and to provide incentives for good conduct. They issue basic codes of conduct which employees are expected to abide by, like rules about protocol, behavior and promotion (Bertok, 2000). Research indicates that there is no single method or miracle cure for stamping out public-sector corruption and crime (Bertok, 2000). Instead, a collaboration of incentives and sanctions are needed to encourage the right professional standards of conduct. It is the sum of these approaches that makes up an ethical infrastructure (Bertok, 2000).

Control is essentially a regulatory dimension, a legal framework that assures independent investigation and prosecution in the public sector, as well as full accountability, transparency and scrutiny (Bertok, 2000). It is an approach that is particularly emphasized in the United States. Where rules exist, the control element ensures that they are implemented (Bertok, 2000). Guidance, however relies more on leadership, personal responsibility and showing by example. Whereas under the control concept, problems have one solution, guidance sees not problems but dilemmas (Bertok, 2000). Another aspect of an ethics infrastructure is management. Building an ethics infrastructure can be confusing for governments and public-sector managers (Bertok, 2000).

Research indicates that the most important ingredient of a healthy public sector is transparency. Transparency shows how much the three underpinning elements of control, management and guidance interact, and relies on leadership and example, but also basic rules which guarantee responsibility, accountability and scrutiny (Bertok, 2000). Transparency must be managed as a routine matter as the public has an ongoing right to know how their institutions apply the power and resources entrusted to them (Bertok, 2000). The OECD now argues that public-sector decision-making should be visible and open to independent scrutiny in all manner of ways (Bertok, 2000). It has also been argued that even advertising job vacancies is a form of transparency which is sorely lacking in several countries (Bertok, 2000).

Additionally, research indicates that building a transparent and trustworthy public sector may actually bring real economic savings (Bertok, 2000). A government sector which lacks an ethics infrastructure is likely to spend more money on ways to improve its trustworthiness (Bertok, 2000). In some developing countries, several anti-corruption agencies can be found in the same public sector investigating each other's activities, which is a sign of the divisions and feelings of mistrust that are rife in some governments (Bertok, 2000). Building a proper ethics infrastructure right is significant to progress and upgrading the mission of government for the 21st century, and building on values like honesty, rights and democracy.

Justice is also an important dimension of ethics. As one researcher has indicated, "there can be no ethics without justice, just as there can be no business without profits (Solomon & Hanson, 1985)." Justice is the ultimate principle of fair distribution, or everyone getting what he or she deserves (Solomon & Hanson, 1985). Justice demands that two people doing the same job deserve the same salary, no matter who they are. Research indicates that justice is clearly wrapped in the notion of equality (Solomon & Hanson, 1985).

Sexual Harassment

In the early days, a sexual harassment lawsuit usually involved a female employee asked by her boss to engage in sex, and if she refused, she was fired. Other individuals claimed that although there was no threat of or actual job loss, they were still being treated in undignified and abusive manner because of their sex, including uninvited sexual comments, jokes, touching and other inappropriate or degrading behavior of a sexual…

Sources Used in Document:


AllAboutTruth. (2005). Ethics and Morality who cares? Retrieved March 12, 2005, from Truth Home Web site:

Associated Press. (2000, January 17). Lawsuits over bias soared in 1990s, Justice

Dept. says. St. Louis Post Dispatch, p. A9.

Associated Press. (1997, June 5). High Court to Hear Reverse-Bias Case. St. Louis

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