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Chapter 14. The Power and Limits of Prof... > The Ideal of Professional Knowledge

The Ideal of Professional Knowledge

Professional knowledge is, among other things, a form of power. It gives advantages to those who have it and disadvantages to those who lack it. For example, it can be used to minimize or maximize suffering. It can serve selfish human desires or meet basic human needs. It can be used to create conditions for conflict or those that contribute to peace and understanding. It can be used to destroy or preserve the environment and the lifeforms that inhabit it. It can contribute to a less just or a more just world. It can advance irrational or rational ends.

To the extent that we are committed to fair-mindedness, we are committed to professional knowledge being acquired and used to minimize human suffering, to meet basic human needs, to preserve rather than destroy the environment, to contribute to a more just world, and to serve rational rather than irrational ends. In providing justification for the public funding of instruction in the various professions, spokespersons argue that their professions serve ends in the public interest.


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