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Book part
Publication date: 4 December 2020

Hugh Breakey

This paper explores how major work in contemporary practical and applied ethics can be incorporated into the teaching of ethics (including professional, business, and

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This paper explores how major work in contemporary practical and applied ethics can be incorporated into the teaching of ethics (including professional, business, and applied ethics) to enhance its practicality and relevance. It explores three areas. First, while ethics education often focusses on applying principles to fact situations, how and why practitioners in the real world will act morally also depends a quite different factor: legitimacy. Legitimacy refers to an entity’s moral status, and whether it warrants respect and support because of the presence of key qualities like efficacy, consent, deliberation, and democracy. Second, understanding ethical decision-making models can be valuable to future practitioners as it makes them aware of potential weak links in their attempts to act morally, and empowers them to think strategically about how these weaknesses may be combatted. Third, the use of philosophical theory in teaching practical ethics is a vexed question, involving issues of complexity, reductive-ness and indoctrination. However, explicitly confronting the range of epistemic states (beliefs and attitudes) that students can adopt helps show how these issues may be sensibly mitigated.

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Educating for Ethical Survival
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-253-6

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Book part
Publication date: 16 May 2017

Hugh Breakey

What is the relationship between human rights and corruption? This question can take different forms, including moral, legal, socio-political and economic variants. This…

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What is the relationship between human rights and corruption? This question can take different forms, including moral, legal, socio-political and economic variants. This paper focuses on two key moral questions, asking whether corruption can violate or impact on people’s natural rights (on the one hand) or human rights (on the other). In answer, I aim to establish a strong conceptual link between (a) corruption’s ‘abuse of entrusted power’; (b) the ‘arbitrary power’ targeted by natural rights theorists like John Locke and the broader republican tradition and (c) the ‘arbitrary interference’ with protected freedoms prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I argue that the deep thematic links between systemic corruption and violations of human rights are stronger than have hitherto been recognized. In the twenty-first century, corruption should be recognized as a ‘standard threat’ (in Shue’s sense) to human flourishing and protected freedoms, vindicating the human right to freedom from systemic corruption.

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Responsible Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-416-3

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Book part
Publication date: 5 November 2015

Hugh Breakey, Tim Cadman and Charles Sampford

In this paper, we present a conceptual and terminological system – what we term the ‘Comprehensive Integrity Framework’ – capable of applying to both personal and…

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In this paper, we present a conceptual and terminological system – what we term the ‘Comprehensive Integrity Framework’ – capable of applying to both personal and institutional integrity, and to different levels of institutions (including sub-institutions and institutional complexes). We distinguish between three sorts of integrity: consistency-integrity (whether the agent’s acts accord with her claimed values); coherence-integrity (whether the agent’s character and internal constitution accord with her claimed values); and context-integrity (whether the agent’s environment facilitates her living up to her claimed values). We then employ this conceptual system to explore similarities, differences and overlaps between personal and institutional integrity, drawing in particular on moral philosophic work on personal integrity (on the one hand) and on ‘integrity systems’ and public administration approaches to institutional integrity (on the other).

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The Ethical Contribution of Organizations to Society
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-446-1

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Achieving Ethical Excellence
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-245-6

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Book part
Publication date: 4 December 2020

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Educating for Ethical Survival
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-253-6

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Book part
Publication date: 25 July 2015

Hugh Breakey

An influential strand of human rights theory explains human rights through appeal to their function. Such ‘function’ theories highlight the role human rights play in…

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An influential strand of human rights theory explains human rights through appeal to their function. Such ‘function’ theories highlight the role human rights play in international practice and discourse as standards for appropriate state treatment of individuals. But standards in what sense? Standards to be promoted and encouraged through public critique, bilateral pressure, institutional censure or legal culpability? Or standards to be protected and defended through all necessary means? I argue that function theorists conflate (what states themselves recognize as) the important distinctions between these standards. Worse still, many function theorists argue that a major – even definitive – role of human rights involves demarcating permissibility conditions for humanitarian intervention. I argue that this claim gravely mischaracterizes international practice and discourse – in particular it fails to recognize the independent significance of other functional norms operating within the global context. The theorists correctly perceive that we have powerful reasons for wanting this role (of threshold conditions for military intervention) fulfilled, but by mistaking the norms that in fact fulfil it, they distort the actual function of human rights.

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Conscience, Leadership and the Problem of ‘Dirty Hands’
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-203-0

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Book part
Publication date: 4 August 2016

Hugh Breakey

How can we explain the development – or equally the non-development – of professional ethics norms in a particular case? And how can we enhance compliance with existing…

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How can we explain the development – or equally the non-development – of professional ethics norms in a particular case? And how can we enhance compliance with existing professional ethical norms? In this chapter, I develop a supply/demand theory of professional ethics. That is, I consider the demand-forces and pull-factors that call for the construction, reform or continuance of a professional ethos. These demands may come from various stakeholders, including individual service-providers, the professional community, actual and prospective clients and the general public collectively as interested third parties. The supply-side, on the other hand, constitutes the ethical materiel out of which norms emerge: these are the felt-motivations of individual professionals at the coalface of action that drive them to recognize, acknowledge and act upon a professional norm. This material includes traditions and stories, the conscious application of common-sense ethics, explicit endorsement of public moral codes, internal excellences within the activity, a discrete community capable of cultivating attractive role-identities and so on. As well as considering such ethical-materiel, I canvas the institutional and cultural supports that facilitate the production of these motives.

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Contemporary Issues in Applied and Professional Ethics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-443-3

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Book part
Publication date: 24 October 2019

Hugh Breakey, William Ransome and Charles Sampford

This chapter explores the ethics of a critical vulnerability suffered by migrant health professionals (MHPs): the problem of ‘pathways to nowhere’. This problem arises…

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This chapter explores the ethics of a critical vulnerability suffered by migrant health professionals (MHPs): the problem of ‘pathways to nowhere’. This problem arises from dynamic change in the processes, practices and policies governing how migrant professionals achieve accreditation, training and employment in destination countries, whereby established pathways to professional practice are unexpectedly altered or removed. The authors detail the significance of this phenomenon in Australian and Canadian contexts. Drawing on the literature on legitimate expectations and the rule of law, the authors outline the ethical stakes and responsibilities that attach to states creating and then disappointing people’s legitimate expectations, and discuss how these considerations apply to destination countries’ treatment of MHPs.

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Ethics in a Crowded World: Globalisation, Human Movement and Professional Ethics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-008-5

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Book part
Publication date: 12 September 2014

Hugh Breakey

How can public institutions achieve their goals and best nurture virtue in their members? In this chapter, I seek answers to these questions in a perhaps unlikely place…

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How can public institutions achieve their goals and best nurture virtue in their members? In this chapter, I seek answers to these questions in a perhaps unlikely place: the television series The Wire. Known for its unflinching realism, the crime drama narrates the intertwined lives of police, criminals, politicians, teachers and journalists in drug-plagued urban Baltimore. Yet even in the thick and quick of institutional dysfunction the drama portrays, human virtue springs forth and institutions (despite themselves) sometimes perform their roles. I begin this exploration of The Wire by drawing on Montesquieu and other political theorists to evaluate the problems facing state institutions – problems of diversity and principle as much as selfishness and power-mongering. I then turn to the prospects for virtue within modern institutions, developing and applying the system of Alasdair MacIntyre and paying particular attention to the role of narrative in cementing and integrating virtue.

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The Contribution of Fiction to Organizational Ethics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-949-2

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