Professional codes of conducts are benchmark for professionals in the course of their duty which tends to be universal. Applying this codes to specific cases is tricky.
Hippocratic Oath, for example, require doctors to work only “for the benefit of sick.” But often what is the benefit or best interest of the sick person (lying to her family? Keeping him alive but immobilized on life support?) is the question we need to answer. Medical professionals must put their patient’s health above all the other goals, including the professional’s own enjoyments or income and even sometimes personal safety.
Professional codes are often conflicting. For instance, the journalists’ codes requires both telling the full story and protecting the confidentiality of sources. Sometimes you can’t do both. Again, the aim of journalism is to inform people and by so doing to help promote democratic decision-making. Therefore, telling the truth is crucial. Some attempt to present both (all) sides of a dispute is crucial too, especially when most of the established power stand on one side. Careful distinction between news and “advocacy” allows people to make up their own minds.
Some professional codes seems to set lower or different moral standard for professional than for ordinary people, for example, lawyers are obliged to defend clients whom they know or discover to be guilty within the limit of the law. In other words, the guilty parties deserves the protection of the law. A system that would allow lawyers to judge client themselves, puts the lawyer’s private judgement in place of judges and juries, where judgement really belongs. It also raises thorny questions about confidentiality.
To understand professional codes, we should begin to outline codes standard for professions. Teachers nurtures the young, open minds, inform and enable to learn: hence teachers must be supportive, must not indoctrinate, should be clear and accurate and so on. Pilots, sailors, and drivers must remain at alert at all times and keep themselves well trained and ready. Accountants must be objective, avoid conflict of interest, and report clearly and accurately.