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Conflicts of duty and the virtues of Aristotle in public relations ethics: Continuing the conversation commenced by Monica Walle

Author(s): John Harrison

Journal: PRism Online PR Journal
ISSN 1448-4404

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2004;
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Keywords: public relations | ethics | communication ethics | Aristotelian ethics | public relations ethics

Monica Walle’'s commentary on codes of ethics from five national public relations associations “What happened to public responsibility? The lack of society in public relations codes of ethics”, in the last issue of PRism (2003), made several useful points about potential conflicts of duty, and the manner in which the various codes are silent on the duty of the professional to the public interest. Indeed, it is this very notion of service to the community, and the upholding of the public interest against private interests--or the singular interest of publics--which is at the core of any definition of what it means to be a profession (Sallot, Cameron, & Lariscy, 1997). Issues arising from Walle’'s discussion of conflicts of duty, as well as several broader questions about the nature and functions of ethics codes, are discussed further here and illustrated by the recent and controversial ‘Timberlands’ case from New Zealand.
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