ONE of the hallmarks of a profession (as distinct from an occupation or a trade) or a field with pretensions to professionalism is that it has a code of ethics, often with teeth to enforce it.
Some ethics codes are primarily for the benefit of practitioners in the profession. A good example is the original Hippocratic Oath, which focuses on such things as the medical practitioner’s reputation and obligation to avoid harming patients. Codes may also be public relations exercises, intended to make customers or the general public look more favorably on the profession. The injunction against administering poisons in the Hippocratic Oath can be read this way because its concern is for the reputation of all doctors. Finally, codes can form a useful set of guidelines for practitioners, with the best interests of the public-the profession’s customers-at heart.