Chapter 3- Ethics and Professionalism

Readings from: Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

A person’s belief system can also determine how that person acts in a specific situation. Philosophers say that the three basic value orientations are:

  • Absolute- the absolutist believes that every decision is either “right” or “wrong”, regardless of the consequences. It is based on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant that the end cannot justify the means.
  • Existential- the existentialist, whose choices are not made in a prescribed value system, decides on the basis of immediate practical choice. This approach is somewhat grounded in Aristotle’s idea that individuals should seek a balance, or midpoint, between two extremes.
  • Situational- the situationalist believes that each decision is based on what would cause the least harm or the most good. This often is called the utilitarian approach. This concept was advanced by John Stuart Mill, who believed the end could justify the means as long as the result benefited the greatest number of people.

The Role of Professional Organizations

Professional organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America have done much to develop the standards of ethical, professional public relations practice and to help society understand the role of public relations.

  1. PRSA
  • Largest national public relations organization in the world
  • Based in New York City
  • 22,000 members organized into 110 chapters nationwide
  • 1/3 of the PRSA membership work in a corporate environment

Professional Codes of Conduct

  • legal
  • ethical
  • in good taste

Based on the principle that professional communication is not only legal and ethical, but also in good taste and sensitive to cultural values and beliefs.

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