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Competence, Ethical Practice and Professional Ethics Teaching / Gideon Calder
Ethics and Social Welfare, Volume: 9, Issue: 3, Pages: 297 - 311
Swansea University Author: Gideon Calder
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Ethical practice has a complex and ambiguous relationship to notions of ‘competence’. Both, of course, seem vital elements of suitability to practise in professional roles across the settings of health and social care. But exactly how they relate is less self-evident. Is there such a thing as ‘ethic...
|Published in:||Ethics and Social Welfare|
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Ethical practice has a complex and ambiguous relationship to notions of ‘competence’. Both, of course, seem vital elements of suitability to practise in professional roles across the settings of health and social care. But exactly how they relate is less self-evident. Is there such a thing as ‘ethical competence’? This article argues that there is, and that is it something which we might assess in the teaching of professional ethics. After comparing different versions of what a practitioner ‘competent’ at meeting ethical challenges in their work might look like, I argue (1) that ethical practice and wider professional competence (or, from the reverse angle, misconduct and incompetence) are integrated rather than distinct, and relatedly that (2) competence and ethical practice should be seen as achievable in tandem, rather than one being prior to the other. I then consider the model of skills acquisition utilised by Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus—and in nurse education by Patricia Benner—and argue that while illuminating, it does not provide an adequate framework for the development and assessment of ethical competence. Rather, we need a pluralistic approach incorporating different forms of propositional knowledge, practical reasoning and orientation-based skills.
competence, ethical practice, ethics of care, professional ethics, skills acquisition, teaching
College of Human and Health Sciences