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The Social Responsibility of Professional Societies

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A consistent position for professional societies with respect to social and moral issues is difficult to forge. The most consistent position is that professional societies qua professional societies should avoid getting involved in any and all social or moral issues. Professional societies should be praised or blamed only on the basis of their success or failure to achieve their professional goals. If, however, we do think that professional societies deserve moral praise and blame with respect to broader moral issues, then the situation gets much more complicated. One contrast explored in this article is between scientific and philosophical societies getting involved in social and moral issues. A second contrast is between individual and group responsibility. If groups are to be praised or blamed, smaller well–integrated groups are the most likely candidates.

Keywords: human rights; individuals; moral praise and blame; professional societies

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Northwestern University d–

Publication date: October 1, 2002


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