From ethical neutrality to moral responsibility : The renegotiation of a social contract



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The recent change in the behavioral sciences from a professional attitude of ethical neutrality to one of moral responsibility is viewed as an instance of the renegotiation of the social contract with society. The phenomenon is analyzed within the theoretical framework of contract psychology, as proposed by Pratt and Tooley (1964). The nature and terms of the contract are defined on the basis of evidence from the professional literature, and the implications of the terms of the contract for its functioning are explored. The contract is found to be dysfunctional for society, and a contractual crisis is inferred from evidence of challenges to the philosophical basis of the contract. Indications of renegotiation of the contract are found in proposed alternative models of man, and affirmation of moral values and social responsibility on the part of the professional community. The conclusion is reached that the contract has been successfully renegotiated and is now functioning under new terms.



Psychology, Moral and ethical aspects