Ethical Dilemma Essay

Topics: Sociology, Philosophy, Ethics Pages: 2 (613 words) Published: April 18, 2013
Please review the following scenario and respond to the questions that follow using a minimum of 300 words.

Robert was interested in learning about the workings of professional burglars. Several years ago, he made contact with someone who could put him in touch with a professional burglar, although the burglar had retired several years ago. He contacted this person, who forwarded his interest on to the "retired" professional burglar. The burglar agreed to participate in a series of interviews. The first two interviews went fine, but on the third occasion, his subject indicated that he was planning a burglary in a new development. This was to be a one-time event (rather than a return from retirement) involving burglarizing the home of a wealthy resident in this development. Robert promised his subject anonymity and confidentiality at the outset of his research, but he now had information indicating that a crime was about to be committed.

* What is Robert's responsibility at this point?
* Should he contact the police or warn the people whose house is about to be burglarized? * Is he bound by his commitment to not reveal any of the information he obtained, except in a scientific publication in a journal?

Make sure to include specific material from the sociology Code of Ethics as part of the information you include in your analysis. You may find the Code of Ethics below: American Sociological Association: Code of Ethics

http://www2.asanet.org/members/ecoderev.html
 
You should be able to click on the "full copy" which is a PDF file and save it to your desktop. The link is also available under the "External Links" button.

Based on the facts presented in this scenario, Robert is faced with a real dilemma. On one hand, he wants to protect the burglar's privacy because he promised to keep all information revealed during the interviews confidential, and it is against a sociologist's code of ethics to reveal his sources. On the other hand, it...

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Based on the facts presented in this scenario, Robert is faced with a real dilemma. On one hand, he wants to protect the burglar 's privacy because he promised to keep all information revealed during the interviews confidential, and it is against a sociologist 's code of ethics to reveal his sources. On the other hand, it is unethical to just stand by and wait for the burglar to do harm to another person.
In this case, Robert must devise a way to somehow “balance” the importance of the guarantees that he has given the burglar justice by upholding the code of ethics, standards of conduct, and applicable law (ASA Membership, 2005). However, regardless of the code of ethics and standards of conduct, as a human being, Robert’s responsibility at this point would be to alert the authorities of the crime that is about to take place. Although alerting the authorities goes against the American Sociological Association Code of Ethics, what this burglar is about to do goes against the current law (ASA Membership, 2005). Thus, not only does the sociologist have to comply with the American Sociological Association Code of Ethics, it is his “civic duty” to uphold the current law.
When this research began, Robert should have discussed the code of ethics with the burglar. Robert should have shared with the burglar the “Confidentiality and Its Limits,” which is the code of ethics that sociologists follow. If this information was shared with the burglar in the beginning, the bugler would have then been properly informed that any information revealed regarding the crime would be in volition of the law, and therefore, could potentially be turned over to the police. Moreover, with Robert informing the burglar about the limits of confidentiality, Robert than has the right to alter the agreement that was initially made to keep all the information confidential (ASA Membership, 2005).
Reference
ASA Membership. (2005, January 8). American Sociological Association Code of Ethics. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from ASA: http://www2.asanet.org/members/ecostand.html#11
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