Directions for Competing Ethical Claims DB Assignment
From your reading in Chapter 1, we have learned that the public manager often will have to juggle interests and priorities. Sometimes, one’s personal ethics might conflict with a professional ethical demand. For instance, I am an attorney. If I am defending someone that I believe is guilty of raping someone, I might personally think this person needs to spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole. As his attorney, I have a professional obligation to defend this person as rigorously as possible. If the police or prosecutor commit an error, it is my job to point this out, even if this would mean my client gets to walk away a free person. Our criminal justice system absolutely does not work if people are not presumed innocent, and if they do not get competent representation. Many people don’t see the bigger picture that our public defenders, and yes, even those “reprehensible” private defense attorneys are crucial in our democratic system. This same kind of professionalism rests with our public administrators as well.
The lesson here is that you really have to understand what the parameters of your job are, and understand you may not personally agree with some tasks you are given. Thus, go into the job with eyes wide open. ( One reason I was not a public defender was because I did not want to deal with this conflict of ethical views.) If you serve the public, you need to understand, your feelings might have to take a back seat to your obligation to uphold the duties of your position, or a law you don’t agree with.
The book discusses different ways we might encounter competing ethical claims. One of those ways describes tension between an administrator’s political responsibility, professional responsibility and personal responsibility.
First, please define what these terms mean.
Next, please describe a scenario where two of these responsibilities might conflict with one another. This scenario should involve someone in public service. You can create a hypothetical situation as I did above if you would like. (obviously, something different than my scenario) Or, you can use a real situation as well.
Be sure and clearly identify and explain which responsibilities you are referring to. Also, be sure and clearly explain how the conflict comes about. Given the situation, what should the public administrator do with regard to these competing interests? Where does the overriding responsibility rest?