Fawkes, Johanna (2016) Professional ethics and the polis: a transcendent function for our times? Atlantic Journal of Communication, 24 (1). pp. 40-49. ISSN 1545-6870

Professional ethics—in codes and texts—claim to serve society. This is the traditional foundation for professional status. Emerging professions, such as public relations, strive hard to assert their social value. However, concepts of society are often unexamined, making such claims somewhat empty. This essay asks if the ancient concept of polis—in its abstract sense of the transcendent “container” rather than the physical city state—might offer a way forward. To address this question, three fields are explored: (a) professional ethics, and the relationship between professions and society; (b) Jungian ethics, individuation and the transcendent function; and (c) the polis as a transcendent, unifying “container” for the multiplicities of ethical positions. At each stage, insights are offered from the theory and practice of public relations, which acts as a case study or test case for other professions. The approach is hermeneutic and fuses personal and scholarly reflections.

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