Do we really need to show the mirror to those who have done wrong and give them a dressing down for their actions? My question is limited to our professional behaviour.

Where do we stop-ignore it or giving a stern look or show displeasure or slap on the wrist or reprimand or even more.

Since I am not a student of philosophy, I am not sure where to look for answers to such questions and if such cases have ever been discussed in Western and Eastern philosophy.


There are three ways of dealing with this question.

  1. Every profession has a code of professional ethics; and there are strict rules to be observed in the case of (say) medical negligence, ignoring the requirement of informed consent and a vast range of other situations. A reprimand of some kind and recourse to legal action is required.

  2. Every profession also has its grey areas where an issue is essentially contested and a professional's conscience is involved. Legally a doctor should report a case of active euthanasia under UK law. But where the patient has given informed consent for such euthanasia and is near death anyway, and the doctor has performed active euthanasia with a clear conscience, the proper response may be none that you list but a serious moral discussion with an outcome depending on its results. The law takes a different view but I am doing ethics, not law. I advise no-one to break medical law; I also advise no-one from stop doing their own moral thinking.

  3. There are gaps in all professional codes. A doctor, say, may have done wrong and yet the issue not be one on which there is yet a consensual medical ethical view or legal regulation. You might feel free or even obliged to state your own view to the doctor concerned - who in your view has done wrong - but at this stage you are expressing a personal professional opinion and should not, for instance, come down hard on a junior on a contentious issue.


You are asking a question about culture, not philosophy.

A given reprimand or intervention may have a good or a bad outcome. You have to ask, how will you feel if it is a bad outcome? In a previous era, children were given corporal punishment, and if they turned out criminal a punisher would say, at least I tried! Now in modern times, we would say, no wonder they turned out bad, it was the corporal punishment!

Different people respond to boundary enforcement differently. We all need boundaries though. Look to the geist of your organisation.

No one should be afraid of mirrors, apart from the dangers of over-absorption. It is among the oldest tenets to do as we would be done by. We learn through the action of mirror neurons, and are affected by the actions of others in a deep way. One of the deepest metaphors for teaching in Buddhism is holding up a mirror so the student lwarns from themselves. Always be showing the mirror.

Being really present in the moment is very helpful. Often more can be done pointing put an error clearly as ot is made, than through say a formal meeting about a list of failings. Believe in the good spirit of others wherever you can, choose to believe they have good intentions unless they themselves disprove that.

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