Section 2: Statement of Professional Conduct

The primary purpose of this document is to promote the commitments outlined in the paragraphs above by adopting standards for the professional conduct of our members, and setting forth a grievance procedure for their reinforcement. An expectation of employees and staff of the Society is that they will review and abide by these standards. These standards, organized under three headings (respect for difference, respect for personal integrity, and respect for intellectual integrity), aim to protect the goods of our Society, to protect members from being treated in such a way that they cannot enjoy the full benefits of membership and activity in the Society, and to educate all members about the standards of behavior that membership in our scholarly community requires.

It is our responsibility, as a community of professionals, to develop and sustain our own standards of conduct. We therefore publicize these commitments and standards, and commit to renewing them by regular examination and, if appropriate, revision. Questions and concerns, and especially reports and complaints of violations of professional conduct, will be listened to, taken seriously, and responded to fairly and constructively.

These standards apply to all members of the SCE when they are involved in meetings and activities directly connected with the Society’s work. These standards also will be shared with invited speakers and other non-members who register for SCE meetings. The Associate Executive Director is responsible for providing copies of these standards to invited speakers and to non-members who register for SCE meetings, and to provide copies of these standards to employees and staff of the Society.  

Further, in compliance with the 2010 IRS Form 990 and as the SCE practices sound governance that includes the exercise of prudent risk management, the Society has adopted a “Whistleblower Policy” in addition these Standards of Professional Conduct. The Whistleblower Policy is intended to encourage and enable members, staff, and others to report in good faith suspected or actual occurrences of illegal, unethical, or inappropriate behaviors and/or practices and to protect them from retaliation or retribution. For more information see the policy at https://scethics.org/whistleblower-policy-and-standards-professional-conduct/whistleblower-policy.

A. Respect for difference

We commit ourselves to sustaining a secure and open environment for discussion in the public spaces of our annual meetings. We expect, from ourselves individually and each other, thoughtful and constructive analysis and reflection—discourse which serves to invite, rather than diminish or exclude, the participation of those to whom and about whom we are speaking. We respect each other through the civil language that we employ in panels, presentations and conversation. We recognize that vigorous expression of disagreement about ethical matters does not itself count as disrespect for difference; we commit ourselves to expressing even vigorous disagreement in a civil way.

Disrespect for difference occurs when members engage in insensitive and demeaning conduct, unjust discrimination based on race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, religious community, sexual orientation, age, or disability—in short, and any behavior which impedes particular individuals or groups from fully participating in and enjoying the life of the Society. Any words or actions of this sort violate this standard when they contribute to an atmosphere of intimidation, marginalization, or contempt.

B. Respect for personal integrity

We commit ourselves to honoring the physical, moral, and sexual integrity of all SCE members. In all of our professional interactions connected with the SCE, we will treat fellow members and guests with the equal regard due to them as fellow human beings and fellow professionals, according to the norms of justice, honesty, fairness, dignity, and care. We recognize that each of us has a right to claim our own physical safety and security, as well as to make our own decisions and keep our own commitments in matters concerning romantic and sexual relationships. Participation in the roles, activities, and events of the SCE should depend solely upon professional interest and competence. No one’s claim to participation should be conditioned upon a threat, implicit or explicit, to her/his personal integrity.

Disrespect for personal integrity can take several different forms in the context of SCE meetings, particularly in the context of the annual meeting at a hotel. The use of hotel bedrooms for professional purposes can create the appearance of a threat to personal integrity. Consequently, such private rooms should not be used for functions appropriate to public spaces, such as interviews, meetings or official SCE social gatherings. In public spaces, disrespect is expressed through: remarks, jokes or behavior which belittle, bully, harass, or exploit other members; the display or use of degrading or pornographic images for purposes unconnected to a professional presentation; the expression of lewd remarks or conduct; and the surreptitious administration of alcohol or drugs to reduce sexual inhibitions. As teachers and scholars of ethics, we are particularly sensitive to the way in which differentials of power and position, such as those between students and teachers or junior colleagues and senior colleagues, can create or exacerbate threats to personal integrity. Unwelcome sexual advances, including unwanted touching, violate the integrity of both parties. Likewise, persistent and unwelcome social invitations threaten to violate personal integrity, particularly when the intent is to extract sexual favors in exchange for professional advantage.

C. Respect for intellectual integrity

No scholarly progress can be made without freedom of thought, speech, and publication. The Society encourages its members to formulate and present their ideas, arguments, and research with freely exercised imagination and responsibility, in accordance with respect for persons and standards of professional judgment. Good scholarly work requires a high degree of discretion exercised by members in determining the appropriate context and presentation of academic material. This norm applies to both oral and written form. Respect for intellectual integrity also requires us to accurately present the work of other scholars with whom we are in conversation, particularly if we disagree with them. Finally, we must appropriately acknowledge our debt to the scholarly endeavors of others, by citing them fully and fairly in accordance with prevailing scholarly standards. Respect for intellectual integrity consists in protecting the conditions for and honoring the fruits of the vocation to scholarship, in order to facilitate a creative, honest, and rigorous scholarly conversation. 

Disrespect for intellectual integrity can be expressed in several ways. Three of the more egregious kinds of violations include incidents where: 1) a member or members intimidate, ridicule or otherwise inhibit without cause others from a full and genuine expression of their ideas especially in contexts where there are power differentials between scholars; 2) a member presents the ideas or positions of another scholar or source in a willfully or negligently incomplete or biased way; and 3) a member misrepresents the ideas from a source as his or her own by willfully or negligently failing to acknowledge the source in accordance with prevailing scholarly standards.

The list is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive, and the possible violations are framed in a general way so as to allow appropriate latitude for a determination to be made as to whether a given incident constitutes a violation.