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    Application of right/duty framework

  • We can identify and define specific rights such as due process. Moreover, we can set forth some of the conditions involvedin recognizing and respecting this right.
  • Due Process can be justified by showing that it is essential to autonomy, vulnerable, and feasible.
  • Right holders can be specified.
  • Correlative duties and duty holders can be specified.
  • Finally, the correlative duty-levels can be specified as the duties not to violate rights, duties to prevent rights violations(whenever feasible), and the duties to aid the deprived (whenever is feasible).
Example rights table: due process
Right: Due Process Justification Right-Holder:Engineer as employee and member of professional society. Correlative Duty-Holder: Engineer's Supervisor, officials in professional society. Duty Level
Definition: The right to respond to organizational decisions that may harm one in terms of a serious organizational grievanceprocedure.Necessary Conditions:1. Several levels of appeal.2. Time limits to each level of appeal.3. Written notice of grievance.4.Peer representation.5. Outside arbitration.
Essential: Due Process is essential in organizations to prevent the deprivation of other rights or to provide aid in thecase of their deprivation.
Vulnerable: Rights in general are not recognized in the economic sphere, especially in organizations.
Feasible: Organizations, have successfully implemented due process procedures.
Professionals who are subject to professional codes of ethics. Supports professionals who are ordered to violateprofessional standards. Human Resources, Management, Personnel Department.(Individuals with duty to design, implement, and enforcea due process policy)Corporate directors have the duty to make sure this is being done.
Not to Deprive:Individuals cannot be fired, transferred, or demoted without due process
Prevent Deprivation: Organizations can prevent deprivation by designing and implementing a comprehensive due processpolicy.
Aid the DeprivedBinding arbitration and legal measures must exist to aid those deprived of due process rights

What you are going to do...

    Exercise: develop a rights table

  • You will be divided into small groups and each will be assigned a right claim taken from the above list.
  • Describe the claim (essential capacity of action) made by the right. For example, due process claims the right to a seriousorganizational grievance procedure that will enable the right-holder to respond to a decision that has an adverse impact on his or her interests. It may also be necessary in some situations to specify the claim’s necessary conditions.
  • Justify the right claim using the rights justification framework. In other words show that the right claim is essential, vulnerable, and feasible.
  • Be sure to show that the right is essential to autonomy . If it is vulnerable be sure to identify the standard threat . (A standard threat is an existing condition that threatens autonomy.)
  • Provide an example of a situation in which the right claim becomes active. For example, an engineer may claim a rightto due process in order to appeal what he or she considers an unfair dismissal, transfer, or performance evaluation.
  • Identify the correlative duty-holder(s) that need to take steps to recognize and respect the right. Forexample, private and government organizations may be duty-bound to create due process procedures to recognize and respect thisright.
  • Further spell out the right by showing what actions the correlative duties involve. For example, a manager should not violate an employee's due process right by firing him or her without just cause. The organization's human resources department might carry out a training program to help managers avoid depriving employees of this right. The organization could aid the deprived by designing and implementing binding arbitration involving an impartial third party.

Be prepared to debrief on your right claim to the rest of the class. When other groups are debriefing, you are free to challenge them on whether their claim is essential to autonomy, whether they have identified a valid "standard threat," and whether the correlative duties are feasible or deprive others of something essential. Your goal as a class is to have a short but effective list of rights that professionals take with them to the workplace.

Makes copies of your rights table and give it to the other groups in class. Be sure to make a copy for your instructor. Together, you will build a table of rights claims that engineers and other professionals make against managers and corporations. This will provide you a useful and comprehensive decision making tool in that you will be able to examine decision alternatives in terms of how they stand with regard to the rights you and your classmates and scrutinized and justified through this exercise.


    Conclusion: topics for further reflection

  • Not every claim to a right is a legitimate or justifiable claim. The purpose of this framework is to get youinto the habit of thinking critically and skeptically about the rights claims that you and others make. Every legitimate rightclaim is essential, vulnerable, and feasible. Correlative duties are sorted out according to different levels (not to deprive,prevent deprivation, and aid the deprived); this, in turn, is based on the capacity of the correlative duty holder to carry them out.Finally, duties correlative to rights cannot deprive the duty-holder of something essential.
  • Unless you integrate your right and its correlative duties into the context of your professional orpractical domain, it will remain abstract and irrelevant. Think about your right in the context of the real world. Think ofeveryday situations in which the right and its correlative duties will arise. Invent cases and scenarios. If you are an engineeringstudent, think of informed consent in terms of the public’s right to understand and consent to the risks associated with engineeringprojects. If you are a computing student think of what you can do with computing knowledge and skills to respect or violate privacyrights. Don’t stop with an abstract accounting of the right and its correlative duties.
  • Rights and duties underlie professional codes of ethics. But this is not always obvious. For example, theright of free and informed consent underlies much of the engineer’s interaction with the public, especially the code responsibility tohold paramount public health, safety, and welfare. Look at the different stakeholder relations covered in a code of ethics. (Inengineering this would include public, client, profession, and peer.) What are the rights and duties outlined in these stakeholderrelations? How are they covered in codes of ethics?
  • This module is effective in counter-acting the tendency to invent rights and use them to rationalize dubiousactions and intentions. Think of rights claims as credit backed by a promise to pay at a later time. If you make a right claim, beready to justify it. If someone else makes a right claim, make them back it up with the justification framework presented in thismodule.

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Source:  OpenStax, Corporate governance. OpenStax CNX. Aug 20, 2007 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col10396/1.10
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