chapter  9
22 Pages

Public Trust and Accountability: What Public? Whose Trust? Which Accountability?

There is nothing in the position I have advocated in previous chapters which prevents either

(i) ‘internal’ forms of accountability and self-regulation, tied by law to public, ‘external’, regulatory bodies, accountable in the last resort to the government of the day. Such bodies will have the authority to advise, monitor, inspect, and, if necessary, see that miscreants are ‘brought to account’. Disputes can be settled by arbitration. Although I have argued against micro-managing practices, that they leave insuffi cient discretion (usually referred to as ‘freedom’) for professional judgment, this does not mean I am arguing for a rampant form of ‘professional autonomy’, one cut loose from the requirements of democratic accountability. In a democracy those who work in professions cannot be assumed to be the sole arbiters of how their professions are run or regulated;


(ii) a form of ‘professional development’ which encourages new theoretical frameworks of thought to re-vitalize practitioners’ thinking and prevent complacency of thought (see again Chapter 8, Section 8.5). A métier, although part of a tradition or culture, and possessing its own occupational/professional norms and core purposes, will be subject to a continuous process of modifi cation from external social and politico-economic factors and prevailing ideologies. From the fact that a neo-Aristotelian conception of ‘professional’ formation stresses

the importance of practical, personal, and implicit knowledge, this does not mean that ‘closed’, ‘a-theoretical’, or ‘idiosyncratic’ forms of knowledge are thereby endorsed (see Kennedy 2002: 356, on this).