chapter  5
11 Pages

Conservation ethics

Codes of ethics are necessary in order to provide a basis for making choices. As such they form the conceptual basis of the conservation profession and all forms of professional practice (Jedrzejewska 1976; Brooks 1998; Ashley-Smith 1982). The twentieth-century improvements in conservation techniques and materials have been accompanied by increasing restrictions on time and finance. This means that, although more choices are available, an increasingly limited number of them can be enacted. Thus there has been, in recent decades, an increased need for an awareness of the ethical basis on which conservation decisions can be seen to be made. Keene (1994) suggests that ethical codes are of particular relevance for inexperienced conservators in order to provide a framework and rules by which such practitioners can operate. Every profession realizes that it cannot police the actions of all its inexperienced practitioners. Educating or indoctrinating them in the ethical codes ensures they operate the rules without the need for policing or supervision. There is always uncertainty within any group as to how strictly the ethical codes of the group should be followed. Some treat them as absolute rules whilst others treat them as guidelines. Such variations in approach can be particularly confusing to new members of the group.