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In publishing this collection of ethical codes, I have had a threefold purpose. First, to facilitate the work of association officers in drafting or revising standards. Second, to bring before leaders of public opinion the concrete evidences of a remarkable ethical movement. Third, to assemble case material for teachers of Ethics who wish to make use of the laboratory method.
The codes were gathered in the preparation of a book on Social Ethics. I first planned to print them as an Appendix to this work, which will require several years for its completion. It has seemed best to make them immediately available, with a brief introduction and explanatory notes.
In selecting material, the aim has been to supply a full and convenient reference manual, and to present a fair picture of American ethics, as embodied in contemporary standards. Both professional and business codes are included; in fact, the line between them is increasingly difficult to draw. In general, the collection has been confined to the United States, to national or interstate organizations, and to standards at present in force. Local codes, or those proposed but not yet adopted, are used only to fill gaps. A few earlier standards are given, for the sake of their interest and suggestion. It has not been possible to cover the parallel movement in other countries, and merely ideal codes are omitted entirely. I have not found it easy to make a sharp distinction between codes of ethics and trade customs. Of the latter, I have used some and referred the reader to others, where they seemed to me of general interest. In a number of organizations, ethical standards are expressed in their forms of contract.