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Land Surveying Ethics

Land Surveying Ethics is a discussion forum for issues involving ethics in the practice of Land Surveying.  Every Land Surveyor has faced or will face an ethical problem or concern.  This is where we air it out and compare notes.  What is or is not ethical is sometimes a matter of law, sometimes a matter of opinion, but always a matter of morality.

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Morality and Ethics

Morality and ethics

Ethics (also known as moral philosophy) is that branch of philosophy which addresses questions about morality. The word 'ethics' is commonly used interchangeably with 'morality' and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group, or individual. Likewise, certain types of ethical theories, especially deontological ethics, sometimes distinguish between 'ethics' and 'morals': Although the morality of people and their ethics amounts to the same thing, there is a usage that restricts morality to systems such as that of Kant, based on notions such as duty, obligation, and principles of conduct, reserving ethics for the more Aristotelian approach to practical reasoning, based on the notion of a virtue, and generally avoiding the separation of 'moral' considerations from other practical considerations.

Source: wikipedia.org

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Reply by Scott D. Warner, PLS on March 26, 2013 at 8:45pm

David C. Garcelon presents a very interesting set of questions related to ethics.  I have added my responses.

"Is Land Surveying ethics different than Civil Engineering ethics? ...or Political Ethics?"  The ethical professional, notwithstanding specialization, categorization, departmentalization, compartmentalization, or any other "ization", except realization, will conduct business in an ethical manner, and without prejudice.  As far as the oxymoron of political ethics is concerned, I do not consider politicians to be professionals, only public servants.  

"Can we separate out Ethics, Morality, Legality, Diplomacy, Professionalism, Decency, etc. from each other?"  We can make an attempt at pulling apart a matrix of interconnected doctrines and human behaviors, dissecting the very nature of the whole, but how difficult that must be.

"When a potential client asks us to survey their property lines and provide them with a plan..BUT..they do not want the plan recorded, how should we respond?"  In most jurisdictions, failure to record, file, or otherwise make express notice of the results of a land survey constitutes professional misconduct, however, land planning does not constitute land surveying.

"When we think "the law is a ass" as Bumberry said in Charles Dickens novel, do we tell the client and use it as an excuse to ignore the law?"  "The law can not be ignored, and the ethical professional should not be ignorant of the law.

"When we find what we think is an error by another surveyor do we tell our client, the board of registration, or the surveyor?"  In my professional opinion, the ethical course of action would be to first contact the surveyor as a professional courtesy, allowing the surveyor to correct or debunk that which may or may not be an error in the first place.  I do not believe that approaching a client without first consulting the originator of the apparent error is ethical behavior.  If another surveyor is, in fact, in error, and consistently and chronically in error, perhaps the board of registration should be petitioned for an investigation, but only as a last resort.

I look forward to reading other opinions.

Scott D. Warner, R.L.S.

Reply by DAVID C. GARCELON on March 26, 2013 at 5:06pm

Scott,

Land Surveying ethics is a great subject to discuss!

Is Land Surveying ethics different than Civil Engineering ethics? ...or Political Ethics?

Can we separate out Ethics, Morality, Legality, Diplomacy, Professionalism, Decency, etc. from each other?

When a potential client asks us to survey their property lines and provide them with a plan..BUT..they do not want the plan recorded, how should we respond?

When we think "the law is a ass" as Bumberry said in Charles Dickens novel, do we tell the client and use it as an excuse to ignore the law?

When we find what we think is an error by another surveyor do we tell our client, the board of registration, or the surveyor?

I hope you generate a lot of discussion with this forum!

David C. Garcelon

 

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