Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Big Flush

A code of ethics for a club or society might contain any number of values, principles, rules, directives, dictums, prohibitions, prescriptions, duties, and so on. Some codes may be more circumstantial, situational, or have varying degrees of applicability, while others more strictly defined. Wouldn't it seem reasonable then that given a large enough group of individuals who have adopted a code of ethics that you're likely to discover disagreement on applicability on various elements of the code?

It would seem very strange that a member of the group automatically cedes his or her right to protest a breach of one particular code only on account of not fully embracing or strictly following another. Unless two such codes are nearly identical, being called out for hypocrisy for doing so appears to be an unreasonable charge.

A person making such a charge seems to be saying that unless you perfectly abide by all aspects of a code of ethics, you cannot legitimately criticize anyone else for failing to abide by some other aspect of it. This is simply untrue. It's like saying only a morally perfect person can ever make a legitimate moral judgement of another person's behavior. And we know no such person exists.

Just because someone was present when a bird was flushed (and subsequently took great photographs of it), it doesn't diminish the credibility of their criticisms regarding unethical conduct of other birders, or possibly even their own in hindsight. I'm not buying the “intent” argument either, because if you entered the field and inadvertently flushed birds as you walked down a trail, it was your intent to be present where birds were busy doing their thing.

Here's where the "hypocrisy" argument belongs: