The Ethical Muscle: A Competence-Based Approach to Professional Ethics
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In this thesis I propose a competence-based approach to professional ethics, building on psychological research and integrating insights and examples from applied ethics. I argue the competence-based approach provides a foundation for developing profession-specific virtues, simplifies education in ethics, endorses the flexibility of ethical knowledge, and increases the accessibility to ethical thinking for professionals.After discussing some of the conditions to their formulation, I suggest four professional ethical core-competencies (moral sensitivity, ethical reflection, reflection in- and on-action, ethical performance). The Cheetham-Chivers professional competence model (Appendix 1) serves as the theoretical context in which the competencies should be understood. The virtue-based approach is seen as an extension of the competence-based one, which aims not to define the good, virtuous professional, but the competent one, able to deal adequately with ethical issues. The normative stances taken in the first two chapters are ultimately related to the ones taken by actual professionals. I use the Dutch youth care as case-example to illustrate how the professional ethical competencies manifest and are perceived as relevant in practice.