This chapter examines certain features of professional codes of ethics and some of the critiques that have been directed at them. Three recent codes of ethics for the social professions are examined to show how they vary greatly in their form, content and in the purposes they are intended to serve, and how criticism of codes per se may often miss the mark. Just like the professions they relate to, the form, content and functions of codes of ethics will vary over time, place and according to the social, economic and political conditions in which the professions exist. Codes exemplify the coexistence of several apparently contradictory or incompatible models of professionalism and professional ethics.
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