The term professional deontology makes ethical reference to the set of principles and rules that regulate and guide a professional activity. These norms minimumly determine the indispensable duties to the professionals in the performance of their activity. For this reason, usually it is the own professional group who determines these norms and, as well, is in charge to pick up them in writing in deontological codes . To day of today, practically all the professions have developed their own codes and, in this sense, journalistic professional Deontology can be spoken of one, of a medical professional deontology, professional deontology of the lawyers, etc.

It is important not to confuse professional deontology with professional ethics. It is possible to distinguish that the professional ethics is the discipline that studies the normative contents of a professional group, that is to say, its object of study is professional deontology, whereas, as it scored in the beginning of the article, professional deontology is the set of binding norms for a professional group.


Throughout history there have been diverse ways to understand the ethics and different proposals morals advisers from the human life. It is possible to say that Ethical is a part of Practical Philosophy that it takes care of the moral fact and the philosophical problems that are born from the human conduct. The ethics is dedicated to the study of the human acts, but those that are realized by the will and absolute freedom, of the person. All human act that is not realized by means of the will of the person and who is absent of freedom, does not comprise of the field of study of the ethics. The ethics, therefore, does not invent the moral life but it reflects envelope. From the point of view of the moral speech the presumption exists, in addition, of which the human being is in certain free way. This consideration leaves the field of possibilities of action of the human beings open. In the exercise of that freedom conflicts take place that constitute the key of the moral life and on which the ethics, like theoretical reflection, tries to give light, to channel praxis, the human action suitably.

The own discussion of a professional ethics or implies the idea of the existence of a collective moral code with a certain degree of intersubjectivity and a binding character between its members, and not only a mere set of group norms to the intuition, the emotion or the end of the relativismo of the individual moral.

The deontological norms are incomprehensible without the reference to the context or social group in which they are obligatory. The obligation confines that group, outside which they lose the obligatory nature.

Origin of the concept

The term deontology comes from the Greek: to deon (the advisable thing, the had thing) and logía (knowledge, study…); what means, in general terms, the study or the science of the due thing. The object of study of Deontology is the foundations of having and to the norms morals. The deontology concept was coined by Jeremías Bentham in its work Deontology or science of the moral, where it offers a novel vision of this discipline. For Bentham, deontology is applied to the scope of the moral essentially; that is to say, to those conducts of the man that do not comprise of the normative hypotheses of the effective right, those actions that are not put under the control of the public legislation. This suggests one of the intentions of the writing of the deontological codes: to specify the strictly moral dimension of a profession, those indispensable behaviors to professionals, although they are not delimited legally, or perhaps, this is precisely why.

The first reference to the term deontology made Bentham in its work Science of the Morale (Paris, 1832). With her it wanted to equip with an approach something more liberal to the ethical concept and to turn into a lay concept the term, until then monk, moral. In other words, it tried to obtain the Kantian formula, avoiding the load of subjectivity of the moral and the ethics. In " Deontology or science of moral" rationalism looks for, with an almost mathematical mecanicismo with which to value the behaviors by its utility. Nevertheless, the attempt of Bentham to change the content of the morality by an aseptic” and more less valuing concept “, did not manage that transformation by the mere fact to coin a new term. That is to say, today, when we talked about to the term deontology, we even continued relating this to the ethics and/or the moral.

Bentham considers that the base of deontology is Utilitarismo, which means that the acts of the people are considered good or bad based on the global happiness that can generate. According to this theoretical frame, the aim of an action must be to secure the maximum happiness for the greater number of people. In this way, all action that leads to that aim, will be accepted like morally correct.

What is that one to which we can denominate either in unconditional himself or? In our present sociocultural context, it is the dignity of each person, who must be admitted and be guaranteed legally and defended politically. The dignity is what it must constitute the main body of all philosophical ethics and all professional deontology that boasts.

Emmanuel Derieux maintained that, thanks to deontology, the professional ethics acquires a public recognition; and it is that the individual moral becomes important in the field of the profession. Deontology arises like a discipline that takes care to make specific norms in the professional scope to reach aims.Barroso in Dictionary of sciences and techniques of communication, “Ethics is philosophical-normative science and theoretical-practice that studies the individual and social aspects of the person in accordance with the morality of the human acts, under the prism of the human reason, always having like aim the honest good, the honesty”. From this definition his is deduced:

Object material : reality that constitutes the study object. In ethics she is the person, the being and the virtuous or vicious configutración who occur himself or each through the actions. They are susceptible to be described then like ethical, the human actions that are free (they depend on the will of the person). Point of view according to which the actions are described like good or bad. is denominated morality and it is based on values and norms.

Knowledge (Science) : What one knows of certain way and his causes. Doctrine ordinate that constitutes a particular branch of the human knowledge. philosophical Discipline . The ethics as it disciplines philosophical tries through methods of own analyzes and experience of the philosophy, to elaborate the concepts and arguments to include/understand the moral dimension of the person.

The moral can be justified from three perspective: Metaética (seeing what is the judgments morals like value judgments), the normative Ethics and by means of the proposal of rules práctias for the discussion, escaping of " everything vale".

Metaética: With this term it is designated to the study on the meaning, the sense and the historical evolution of the ethical concepts. At first two great groups of theories distinguish themselves: The Cognoscitivistas or Descriptivistas (they say that we can know the ethics or moral in terms of true knowledge) and the noncognoscitivistas or nondescriptive ones (in which knowledge proper does not fit). Within Descriptivistas, we distinguished the naturalists (they maintain that the ethical terms describe observable properties of the things); with the utilitarismo like example. And, on the other hand, the theories nonnaturalists (they think that the S-value judgments true or false, but the characteristics of the things are not observable by the experience); with the intuicionismo like example. Within the theories Descriptivistas, we cannot find the Emotivismo (that it maintains that with affirmations morals we did not express knowledge, but emotions with which we tried to influence or to affect the emotions and behaviors of the others); and the Prescriptivismo (that it enunciates that when doing judgments morals we did not describe to the things " that son", but " those that would have ser" ; that is to say, we expressed imperative, we enunciated norms).

Ethical norm: We distinguish the Deontological and Teleological theories; including a third group: the Ethics of the virtue. In general, we set out the main differences. The Deontological Theories that they have like main concept " to have establecido" previously;, the Kants are inspired by . The Teleological Theories are based on the consequences, and its main current is the utilitarismo. And, the Ethics of the virtue is based on the attitudes of the people, with the current of Aristotle as it bases theoretics.

We can indicate a series of characteristics that conform Ethical of the Virtue according to Aristotle.

For Aristotle, the social order in the life ways directly is bound with the standard order of the same. Aristotle considers that, the good thing is towards which tend the things of natural form. Said of another form, everything what he is natural is, according to this author, good.

Nevertheless, this theory is not free of critic. It is, indeed, the absolutización of his position the one that generates more discord, since we cannot try, for sure, that natural the pure thing exists. On the other hand, many things of which we considered " naturales", they come given to us by the culture. In addition, we cannot forget the fact that the nature evolves, is not static, reason why if this one is susceptible of change, the good thing also would be affected.

intermediate Proposal: The intermediate route would also be based on a prescriptivista idea and on a deontologista perspective. But this does not mean that he is incompatible with other points of view. It is a theoretical proposal, at the same time as practice. Their main characteristics would be: a moral point of view, the dialog, the practical rationality and the coherence and universality (related to the impartiality idea).

We can indicate a series of characteristics that conform Kantian deontology .

Kant, when defining deontology, makes reference when having and to the obligations, she does not speak us of a ethics related to the future of the man, of its objectives or of its aspirations in the life, rather, of having focuses the ethical ethics to one, which establishes you rule of behavior which they are due to follow or laws that regulate the citizens.

It would be possible to be considered like an independent ethics and formal if we consider that does not offer contents, it does not establish you rule to take a life that can be considered “buena" or “bad”.

To mention finally, its implication with the criterion of universalisation capacity, that it makes possible to differentiate between principles of moral type and those that are not it.

Like it happens to the theory of Aristotle, the theory of Kant also is critic object:

First of all, to Kant it is possible to be criticized to him that, when relating the ethics to how the things must become, is universalizing the concept, because estimates that all we must understand it in the same way. However, the ethics is ligature to the moral, and this one also is particular to each person. Therefore, probably to have, it is not seen equal by all.

Secondly, Kant settles down how there is to act, but she does not say to us if that is good or no. The ethics does not talk about only the form, but also to the bottom of the things.

Finally, Kant forgets the human feeling completely: according to him we must act on the basis of having and not on the basis of which really we want to do. In this sense, to act according to having moves away to us of the happiness.


All professional is and must be put under more or less rigorous social controls that allow to demand responsibilities to him of very diverse nature in relation to their acts, of the necessity there to settle down ethical principles. Independent of own he brings back to consciousness, that had to be who governed the fulfillment of the codes more morals, exists the figure of professional schools to maintain, to promote and to defend deontology. These watch the fulfillment of certain levels of exigency, competition and quality in the performance of the work of their associated ones.

The State, when turning to the professional schools in corporations through legal mechanisms, causes the way to maintain deontology professional. It orders public functions to them and it equips to them with the power to impose a certain discipline to all the professionals pertaining to this group.

So that it is possible to be asked responsibility by professional activities two requirements need: independence and the freedom. The professional must be independent when to make decisions and must be entirely free to execute them.

Deontology is of extreme interest for the professional world, and in particular, for professions that tolerate a high social responsibility (doctors, lawyers, educational, psychologists, journalists…). That deontology looks for a balance between a certain style of moral life (what before we denominated êthos or moral character) and a high level of technical professionalism. This double dimension has to be with harmony and balance for a greater dignification any labor activity.

Ethics and moral

These two terms come one from the Greek, (=costumbre), and another one of the Latin, (=costumbre). Both have the same semantic root and therefore the same original meaning. For that reason Ethical and Moral, etymological, they are identified and they are defined as " science of costumbres". Nevertheless, with time both words have evolved towards different meanings.

The ethical concept of and the one of Moral are subject to different uses following each author, time or philosophical current. For this reason it is necessary to identify the characteristics of both terms to be able to establish the pertinent distinctions and similarities.

The moral makes reference to all those norms of conduct that are imposed by the society, are transmitted of generation in generation, they evolve throughout the time and they own forts differences with respect to the norms of another society and another historical time. The last aim that persecutes these rules morals is to orient the conduct of the members of that society. On the other hand, the ethics is the real fact that it occurs in the mentality of some people, is a set of norms, principle and reasons that a subject has realized and established like a line directive of its own conduct.

In both cases they are norms, of perceptions, and " to have ser". Nevertheless, moral and ethics present/display certain differences:

Therefore, we can affirm that three levels of differentiation exiten:

1. The first level resides in the Moral, that is to say, the norms of external origin that condition the mentality of the individual. The second level in the conceptual ethics, understood like the set of norms of internal, personal and independent origin. The third level is the axiológica Ethics like set of norms originated in a person given a previous reflection on certain values.

Whereas the Ethics leans in the reason and depends on the philosophy; the Moral leans in the customs and they conform a set of normative elements, that the society accepts like valid.

Deontology and professional Ethics

These two terms usually are used like synonymous, but they are not it. It is important to emphasize the main differences among them:

One of the differences when we spoke of " ética" and " deontología" it is that first it makes reference directly to brings back to consciousness personal, whereas second adopts a function of model of action in the area of a colectivity. For this reason, with the concretion and design of deontological codes, besides autorregular this profession, is invited to the pursuit of a very concrete way and to the ethical formation of the signallers.

From theoretical form, we could differentiate two great groups: the social ethics and the individual ethics. Within the individual ethics difference, also, an interpersonal ethics that is the one that governs the behavior that we have in relation to other individuals. Here the ethics can be located professional since it governs the behavior of the professional in his labor activity. The principles that govern the profession obtain through methods similar to those of the general ethics: dialógico, inductive and deductive. In order to know the ethical and moral foundation an ethical code, the study of the professional activity in itself is required and the work of a philosopher is not sufficient who does not know the profession.

The ethics of the professions moves in the level itermedio of ethical the specific ones or “applied”. The professional gambles in the exercise of his profession not only to be a good or bad professional but also his ethical being. He does not finish being considered a person ethically acceptable who in all the scopes acted well and less fulfilled her duties in the exercise of her professional responsibilities. The general ethics of the professions considers in terms of principles: the principle of charity, the principle of autonomy, the principle of justice and the principle of nonslander The deontologismo raises the ethical subjects in terms of norms and duties.

The principles are distinguished of the norms for being more generic than these. The principles put before the eyes the great subjects and values of living and acting. The norms apply the principles to more or less concrete situations, more or less generic. The norms usually make reference to some type of circumstance, although it is in generic terms. But also the principles are made intelligible when they acquire normative concretion and they make reference to the situations in which they are invoked and they are applied. In general terms a principle enunciates a value or puts valuable. The norms, however, trying to realize the principle under which they are subsumed, say how a principle in certain situations must be applied.

As much the norms as the principles are universal even though the scope of application of the principles is ampler and general than the specific norms that fall under this principle.

From the point of view of the professional ethics, the first criterion to judge the professional activities will be if it is obtained and how it is managed to realize those goods and to provide those services (charity principle). As all professional action has like adressee other people, to treat to the people like such people, being respected its dignity, autonomy and rights would be the second criterion (autonomy principle). The professional activities carry out in a social scope with multiple demands that there are to hierarchize and resources more or less limited that there are to administer with justice criteria (justice principle). And, in any case, it will be necessary to avoid to cause damage, not to harm to which can be implied or affected by a professional action (principle of nonslander).

Relevance of the ethics in the media

The spine of that underlies all the critics of Journalism is that this it has stopped fulfilling his own main function and, that is to say, approaching the citizens the necessary information so that they can make better decisions, to orient themselves in the public life, to know what they cannot live on direct form and control to those who has the power. To which there is to add, that far from to guarantee the health of the democratic system, the journalistic practice would be even putting it in the loose cord. It is not to be strange, therefore, that to denounce the crisis of the media, and even, to foretell their disappearance we know as it, is something habitual. It is arrived to affirm that the journalistic profession would be transformed into a branch of the spectacle and until its dissolution the benefits of a technology that would allow " autoinformación".

The media presents/displays an unrecognizable appearance nowadays, has become an activity " ensanchada", that it includes with his name to several tie functions with the information, but that they suppose journalistic profiles and very different products (entertainment, policy). For this reason, the forms to relate the events and the journalistic language are insufficient, or worse still, they hide or distorts the reality. Go'mez Mompart assures that “the ways that until now had served the most competent journalists and to more serious means of information to explain the world partially are oxidized”. Against this background Go'mez Mompart assures that " we need a journalism that is bought up to date, a journalism able to explain a more complex world, a less apparent reality, complicated but resolubles problems, legitimate and inexcusable social aspirations. And all that cannot take control with an aged journalistic education, anchylosed sorts and formats, a topical lexicon and a language, with rancid mimicries nor either with an enterprise do-nothing policy and profesional".

The raw material of the media is, sensible and highly fragile, and reason for dispute of the powers public, is then valuable merchandize. It is, mainly, public good, that is to say, that one that corresponds to all the citizens by only done of being it, reason why it is the same level that the education, the health or justice. But this is thus, according to Bettetini and Fumagalli, as long as the information is " true and in some essential way, whereas it is called on excellent subjects, those on which it is necessary to decide, to take party, as much in the public scope as in privado".

ethical practice is in this way tie to of journalism since it has said before, if it is conceived to the information like a public good, whose free circulation and truthful and independent content guarantee the democratic life of a community, the handling responsible for this sensible raw material is condition of the journalistic activity. The citizens are the ones in charge to judge so much to journalists as to means, since before them they must give account of the responsibility who contracted with the society when becoming position of the task of looking for and of spreading information. One is having constitutional. Nevertheless, the main ethical dilemmas of the journalists are not already in the values that are enumerated in the deontological codes. For example, the freedom of expression can consider a value recognized, at least legislatively, in the majority of the democratic countries of the continent. On the contrary, the fundamental ethical problems are of internal origin and derive from the unpublished crisis of identity that crosses the profession.

So many conditioners, favor that the journalists avoid the reflection, and they are limited to fulfill the task with the unique aim of retaining the job; consequently, to resign to its social responsibility and to continue eroding the unique capital able to protect to us at turbulent times: the credibility of the citizens.

More than deontological Code of the general journalist, more than a declaration of principles, the journalists at present needs to incorporate brings back to consciousness ethical and a conviction on the implicancias that the task has of informing, that orients the daily work and to do against the pressures which the profession is put under. This ethical sense for the daily practice would only be possible if it is developed and it shares and it discusses with the colleagues.

To interchange experiences and to debate the ethical dilemmas would be to start up a healthful practice, that the journalists usually leave of side, like reflecting on the profession.

The ethics would have to be considered the unremovable value in a time of instabilities that seem to have returned the rule, because it is not necessary to forget, that by definition, the professional ethics is constituted by the organic set of rights and obligations Morals derives its specific purposes and norms, the basic condition of person in harmony with the Annexes that imply exigencies of the communal property. The objective of the ethics in the land of the professional practice, is mainly, the application of the norms morals, founded on the honesty, the courtesy and the honor. The Ethics has objects among others, to contribute to the fortification of the structures of the moral conduct of the individual.

Deontology like professional ethics

According to Jose Maria District, titular professor of Universidad Complutense of Madrid :

, When we talk about a determined profession, we really can speak of the existence of a ethics and a certain deontology.

First it would be possible to be centered in determining and to outline or of a certain profession (contribution to corporate property) and deontology, on the other hand, would concentrate in defining which are the concrete obligations of each activity.

It brings back to consciousness professional

human Conciencia is individual, but it has several dimensions: it brings back to consciousness reflective (because he is conscious of itself) and it brings back to consciousness ethical, that adds to brings back to consciousness individual the condition for being, in addition, brings back to consciousness responsible. That is to say, that to the first each person is related to the others, but it brings back to consciousness makes responsible ethical us in the treatment form towards those other people. Besides these two there is a class of brings back to consciousness more, constituted like a very important concept related to professional deontology: it brings back to consciousness professional.

brings back to consciousness professional ( Is seen Theory of Parsons ) is an essential dimension of brings back to consciousness ethical, to which it adds the responsibility that each person has. It is pronounced in a behavior socially responsible about the specific duties for a profession after to have internalized, to have assumed and have customized a code of referring values to this profession, later to analyze, to apply and to solve specific problems of the profession with the best possible and socially indispensable competition and uprightness.

It is possible to be spoken of four levels of brings back to consciousness professional:

1) It brings back to consciousness professional is intransferable and individual, nobody is responsible by no other person.

2) Level of the specific duties, learned, assumed and customized by ethical socialization. Each person must have socialized in deontological Code of her profession.

3) Level of maturity and psychic balance. So that it brings back to consciousness professional can work is necessary to enjoy a minimum degree of maturity.

4) Professional aptitude for the worthy exercise of a profession.

The custom and the professional responsibility

The custom is norms that create a society and that gives a concrete legal fact him. They have like it happens with the laws, consequences when they are violated. The professional must be in force by his code of own ethics, but also she must consider a frame customary.

The great majority of the authors coninciden when indicating that the foundation of the responsibility is the freedom of the will.

The responsibility feeling also can be developing throughout the vital and professional trajectory of a person.

A profession anyone must have a period of learning, a specialized and almost always formal previous preparation, that is due to complete with a permanent formation that is completed over the years and the experience of different situations in the professional life to which to face.

The journalist, by virtue of the ethical considerations that emanate of their profession, is the person in charge to facilitate to the reader the understanding and the knowledge of the complex reality in which she develops. The veracity and the evaluation of the possible effects that on the reader could have publication or the omission of certain information, are fundamental for the consolidation of the democratic values and the creation of a responsible public opinion.

Professional schools

The Professional Schools, as it defines the law, “are corporations of public right, protected by the law and recognized by the State, with own legal personality and total capacity for the fulfillment of their aims, between which is the arrangement of the exercise of the professions”. In addition, they are the corporations that elaborate the deontological codes.

The deontological codes act a triple as:

a) To determine a series of criteria of scientist-functional character for the exercise of the profession, with the aim of giving to operativity and effectiveness to the carried out activities in the scope covered by the established norms.

b) To recast ethical directions for the exercise of the profession and to shape them in codes of professional deontology.

c) The possibility of imposing disciplinary penalties to the associated ones that they fail to fulfill the dictations of the deontological codes. This function has the singularity to confer to these state legal relevance, which grants to deontology certain coincidences with the Right concerning the use of a judicial procedure.

An important difference between professional deontology and the right resides in the origin of these two regulating normative orders of the exercise of a profession. The source of the right is the legislative power of the State - that emanates of the exercise of the Popular Sovereignty, whereas the origin of professional deontology is not " estatal", but it emanates of the own professional group, and from a work of self-regulation. In exceptional cases, the initiative of a deontological code can start off of the State or a supranational organization, as it is paradigmatic case of the deontological Code of the journalists of the Council of Europe, although is a necessary condition that group incorporates the professional it to its activity and exerts a self-regulation work. Without these two conditions, this normative code would become right and not professional deontology. Therefore, a code of external origin to the own profession is not necessarily excluding of professional deontology, if it happens through the filter of the self-regulation.

In the case of the professions that require professional school registration, like the law and the medicine, an institutionalization of the sanction exists. Nevertheless, there are professions like the media, that are exerted without obligatory school registration. In these cases, the breach of the deontological norms takes prepared a sanction similar to which corresponds to the infringement of the norms morals: bad public image, reproaches, expulsion of the group, etc. This them difference of the professions of obligatory school registration, characterized by the institutionalization of the sanction. But it does not imply lack of gravity. A professional can consider that a sanction by infraction of the code of professional deontology has more importance than an administrative sanction.

Retaking the idea that professional deontology is one of the regulating orders of the exercise of a profession, in an intermediate situation between the right and the moral, it is necessary to make a series of precisions. The norms of professional deontology, even felt like binding between the members of the group, move away of the coercive character of the right. The right is always coercive, and professional deontology can or not to impose penalties and, in the case of being applied, they are less serious than the imposed ones by the right. The sanction more serious than can impose professional deontology is the exclusion of the profession.

On the other hand, the sanctions of professional deontology in those professions that do not demand for their exercise the obligatory school registration are diffuse social sanctions; that is to say, that aside from not arriving at the gravity degree of the legal sanction, they do not have why to be necessarily institutionalized. An example of diffuse social sanctions - in this sense of unmannerliness, near the moral emitted by deontology it can be the consideration of exclusion of the professional group of a member, without getting this one to be a sanction nonformalized.

However, professional deontology has a greater degree of institutionalization than the general moral, in such a way that, to speak of professional deontology, a degree of normative institutionalization is necessary - inferior to the one of the right but superior to the one of the moral. The moral, although is of social character, has a last component that is individual, whereas the last instance of professional deontology is collective, common to all the professional group. Just as the conflict between moral occurs and right, fits the confrontation of the individual with the professional deontology which it is put under.


Deontology is one of the three normative orders that regulate the exercise of the professions, next to the Right and the moral. It is possible to indicate that the deontological norms are halfway between the other two normative orders.

A fundamental characteristic of professional deontology is that it has a strong component of self-regulation, understood in a collective sense. One is an internalization of the own norms of the profession. One would be different from the Right in which this one is created by the State, and of the moral in which deontology has a collective character, it is not based on the individual principles. Another key difference against the Right, is that this one has a noticeable coercive character, imposes penalties to the breach of its norms. Deontology, on the other hand, can or not include sanctions, and they will always be less serious than the related ones to the Right (arisen from legal institutions).

However, deontology can institutionalize through the Deontological Codes, the school registration… (instruments or mechanisms that equips with more effectiveness deontology), but always present/display a much smaller institutionalization to the one of the Right. The norms of the Right are " ajenas" to the same, created by outsourcing, whereas the characteristic thing of professional deontology is the self-regulation. The professionals are creative, subject and objects of the deontological norms of their corresponding profession. They participate (through its associations, for example) in the creation of the deontological codes that, as well, will have to apply.

The self-regulation is necessary because it delimits action fields, alerts on moved away conducts of the communal property and can invite the professional to direct its activities by the promotion of values that promote one more a more human life.

It is also seen

  • Journalistic Professional deontology


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