In part one we explored the basics of morals, ethics and explained how they are fundamentally different. This gave us a good foundation in which to build further exploration of the topic. I would like to start by saying that interaction between the two operate in vastly different ways; It can be either good, fundamentally chaotic or somewhere in between. When we have our morals going up against ethics, especially ethics imposed by a governing body things get quite dicey very quickly. Ethics imposed by society are easier to grasp and conform our morals too but this is not always the case when talking about an organization or professional life.
The Torn Lawyer
This is going to be an interesting section as you can probably tell by the name, there are other examples but none of which are as cut and dry as the example I plan on using. Avoiding a grey area is essential in providing the scene for some strange interactions between the two subjects, painting this picture requires some careful planning in order to avoid confusion and a grey area.
In the following scenario all of which are assumed to be true and unchangeable
- The lawyer in question has no way out of the situation.
- The lawyer must pick one choice or another. No middle ground.
- The lawyer is a lawyer. They will never have any other skills or career prospects
- The client is assumed to be sane and in there right mind.
- The client is not lying about what they are saying and the lawyer is aware of this
- Where the conversation is taking place it is just the lawyer and the client. No one is aware of the conversation and they are not being recorded or otherwise monitored
- The confidentiality between the two is considered sacred and it is not possible for it to be broken under any circumstance.
- The evidence being presented in the case is considered excellent and the client will win the case at trial guaranteed ONLY if said lawyer is representing them.
- A plea deal is not an available option
- The client will not re-offend again
Now that all the possible grey areas have been weeded out the picture can now be painted.
A lawyer is representing a serial murderer and before trial a conversation has taken place. The client has just admitted that they are guilty of the crimes they are being accused of. The lawyer in question has morals that tell them that killing is wrong and those should be punished but due to the profession and the strict code of ethics given to lawyers by the BAR association it specifically states that they must do everything in there power to fight for the client to get them off on the charges.
The lawyer has two options in this situation. The first is quit being a lawyer, abandon the profession forever, live the rest of there life with a clear conscious and never make a livable wage again. The second option is going to trial with the client in which they will walk free forever, continue being a lawyer and have it haunt them for the rest of there life.
What Would You Do and Final Thoughts
In reality scenarios such as this rarely play out as cleanly but it goes to demonstrate a point of duality; you have your morals, you have ethics and you have the battle that they will play out on occasion. What would you do in this situation? Would you give up the rest of your professional life for a clear conscious or would you have it haunt you forever to keep your current life? I’m interested in seeing what choices people would make.
In part three of the series we’ll take a look how you do not need to have morals and ethics on the same level, in fact they may be on completely different ends of the scale. This will introduce another layer of the complexities between them by having morals and ethics on different ends supply even more odd ball interactions between individuals and society.