Ethical Code

By Yossi Sheriff

An ethical code (קוד אתי) is a set of guidelines that regulate and define the practices, goals, and values of a profession, hobby, group, or organization. It serves to establish the unique identity and standards of the community it represents. An ethical code may include guidelines for behavior, future objectives, and ethical boundaries.

The purpose of an ethical code is to provide a regulatory framework, often with idealistic aspirations. In an organizational context, ethical codes define service quality, goals, employee conduct, and social responsibilities. For professions and hobbies, ethical codes distinguish the subject practice from others and set forth the ideal expertise and personal conduct expected of practitioners.

It is important to note that ethical codes do not always address moral questions directly. The omission of explicit moral guidelines may stem from various reasons, ranging from a lack of social aspiration to potential legal issues that could arise from codifying a binding set of moral rules.

The effectiveness of an ethical code depends on the degree to which the organization enforces it through sanctions and rewards. Violations of a professional code can often result in expulsion or boycotting of the violator. In some cases, acts that breach an ethical code may also violate state laws or regulations, subjecting the offender to legal consequences.

Ethical codes serve as pragmatic necessities and are distinct from moral codes. While moral codes deal with questions of right and wrong, ethical codes focus on the practical standards and expectations specific to a given community or practice.

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