Pride and Prejudice: Moral Languages in Scholarly Codes of Conduct, 1900-2000
If idioms employed in codes of conduct could be as idiosyncratic as examples suggest, then to what extent did early modern language of vice, too, persist in this genre?
Commenting on the five revisions (1903, 1912, 1947, 1957, 1980) made to the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics (1847), Albert Jonsen observes that even the newest version of the code “remained a compendium of the traditional deontology, decorum, and politic ethics.” Likewise, The Chemist’s Creed, adopted by the American Chemical Association in 1965, creatively combined “honor” and “virtue” with “interest” and “duty,” just as the American Historical Association’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct (1987) used an amalgam of “rules,” “values,” and “virtues” to describe the historian’s moral responsibilities. If idioms employed in codes of conduct could be as idiosyncratic as these examples suggest, then to what extent did early modern language of vice, too, persist in this genre?
The project addresses this question on the basis of some one hundred scholarly codes of ethics, varying from the electrical engineers’ Code of Ethics (1907) and the Code of Ethics for Scientific Men (1927) issued by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to the Association of Social Science Researchers’ Code of Ethics (1996). They are all available in the Ethics Code Collection (ECC) – the world’s largest online repository of codes of conduct, maintained by the Illinois Institute of Technology (https://ethics.iit.edu/ecodes). In assessing the prevalence and relative prominence of language of vice, the project pays special attention to the intertextuality (i.e., the textual dependency relations) within the genre.