What we can do
We are able to work with organisations to:
- conduct medium and long-term research projects on a wide range of ethical problems confronted by government and the Australian and international community
- address general ethical issues within the organisation or in relation to the services they provide
- advise on ethical codes
- analyse the performance of the organisation against ethical standards
- provide strategic advice in relation to ethical problems
Who might use our services?
- Government departments
- Public organisations
- Companies and other businesses
- Community organisations
Our clients (Selection)
- ACT Government
- Australian Computer Society
- Australian Securities and Investment Commission
- Australian Taxation Office
- Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Commonwealth Department of Defence
- Commonwealth Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
- Greater Murray Area Health Service
- IBM (Europe)
- Independent Commission Against Corruption
- International Woman's Development Agency
- Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
- NSW Department of Community services
- NSW Police Association
- NSW Police Service
- Office of the NSW Legal Services Commissioner
- Oxfam (Great Britain)
- Professional Standards Council
- Soros Foundation
- State Services Authority, Goverment of Victoria
- Victoria Police
Seumas Miller and Michael Selgelid – Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – Ethical and Philosophical Consideration of the Dual-Use Dilemma in the Biological Sciences Download Executive Summary
The so-called “dual-use dilemma” arises in the context of research in the biological and other sciences as a consequence of the fact that one and the same piece of scientific research sometimes has the potential to be used for evil as well as for good.
In the aftermath of the 11th September 2001 attacks in the US, bio-terrorism is widely considered to be a real threat, especially to populations in western countries. Moreover, it is seen as a greater threat from non-state terrorist groups than, say, nuclear WMDs, given the availability of the technical knowledge necessary to produce the relevant biological agents and the feasibility of weaponisation.
Published as an article in Science and Engineering Ethics
Seumas Miller and Justin O’Brien – State Services Authority, Victoria – People Matter Survey: An Evaluation
The People matter survey is designed to measure employee perceptions of how well the Public Sector Values (PSV) and Employment Principles (EP) are applied. The fundamental aim of the survey in analysable into three main components: (i) to assist in measuring the extent to which the PSV and EP are understood by employees; (ii) to assist in measuring the perceptions of employees in relation to the extent to which the PSV and EP are adhered to; (iii) to assist in measuring the extent to which PSV and EP are in fact adhered to.
Seumas Miller and Mathew Ward – Office of the Legal Commissioner – Complaints and Self-Assessment Data Analysis in Relation to Incorporated Legal Practices Download Report
The project involved: (i) establishing an electronic database derived from existing complaints data and a set of self-assessment forms provided by ILPs as part of an OLSC self-assessment process for ILPs; (ii) development of an instrument to interrogate this data base; (iii) quantitative analysis of the data base. This report sets out the findings of this quantitative analysis.
Andrew Alexandra, Tom Campbell, Dean Cocking, Seumas Miller and Kevin White - Report For The Professional Standards Council - Professionalisation, Ethics and Integrity Systems: The Promotion of Professional Ethical Standards, and the Protection of Clients and Consumers Download Summary Report
The focus in this report is on professional standards that are also ethical standards. These ethico-professional standards obviously include overtly ethical standards such as honesty, respect for privacy, and avoidance of conflicts of interest.
Some technical and market-based standards are not only professional standards, but also ethical standards. Given that many professional standards are also ethical standards, and given that professional standards often serve ethical goals such as consumer protection, a key concern of the PSC is necessarily the promotion of ethico-professional standards.
Academic and other literature of the past two decades highlights the way in which managerial and commercial values are thought to be alienating the traditional professions from their proper ethical goals. Herein lays an important issue for the PSC to confront in the context of its stated commitment to the maintenance and enhancement of ethico-professional standards.
Seumas Miller, Sankar Sen, Prakash Mishra and John Blackler – Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India with assistance of AusAid - Ethical Issues in the Policing of India
Analysing ethical issues from a variety of perspectives, this report argues that police institutions exist to serve the highest of moral purposes; to protect the rights to life, liberty and the property of citizens in a democratic polity. However, the means routinely used by police include harmful methods, such as coercion and deception. This apparent inconsistency between good ends and problematic means sets up a dangerous moral dynamic, not simply in Indian policing but in police-work throughout the world. Accordingly, police practice must comply with carefully worked out ethical principles that appropriately balance the moral rights of victims with those of suspects. It is not hyperbole to say that police practice ought to rest on the bedrock of ethical principles, and there must be accountability of police to ensure this is the case.
Seumas Miller – Professional Standards Council of New South Wales and Western Australia – Model Code of Ethical Principles Download Report
This document attempts to explain the nature and role of codes of ethics. That said, it provides a description of the generic content of codes of ethics, and an outline of the process that needs to be gone through in the devising of a code of ethics.
The specific content of codes of ethics are always matters of dispute. So inevitably the generic content of codes of ethics for occupations will be a matter of dispute. I have sort to offer a specific set of recommendations regarding the generic content of codes of ethics for occupations, and I have offered justifications for the content that I have recommended. However, this should be taken as an indicative list of issues to be covered in any given code of ethics, and not slavishly followed. Reasonable people can disagree on these issues.
Moreover, I have offered a specific process for writing a code of ethics for occupations. Once again, there are other ways of doing it, albeit ways that I do not believe should differ too radically from the process that I have recommended.
Finally, I have not sought to explain and justify, or solve in detail, all the controversial and problematic issues that codes of ethics give rise to. For example, I have not tried to solve the problem of how to write a code of ethics for members of an occupation working in a multi-disciplinary workplace, or working in an organisational setting in which there are potential points of tension between the requirements of the occupation and the requirements of the organisation. However, I have provided some assistance in relation to some of these issues. For example, I argue that codes of ethics for organisations need to be framed in part in relation to the ethically sustainable goals of the organisation. And I elaborate a position in regard to some of these issues, notably the distinction between the professions and other occupations. While accepting that there is no clear dividing line between the professions and other occupations, I nevertheless argue that there are a set of (sometimes not clear cut) criteria for being a profession. Inevitably, other occupations will meet some of these criteria, and some members of some professions will not meet all of them. However, the existence of these grey areas does not vitiate the distinction; it merely complicates the overall picture.
Seumas Miller – Independent Commission Against Corruption – eCorruption Vulnerabilities in the NSW Public Sector Download Report
This report sets forth the results of a research study conducted by the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The purpose of the study is to describe the landscape of corruption vulnerabilities in the NSW public sector with the transition to e-government. The study has two major aspects: (a) to describe the changing opportunities and risks resulting from the changes in technology; and (b) to provide an assessment of the awareness and understanding of senior public sector managers of these changing opportunities and risks.
The first phase of the study was a series of key informant interviews with senior managers, IT (information technology) managers, auditors and investigators, to gain an understanding of the changes in technology and the associated risks, and to develop hypotheses that might be tested in the second phase. The second phase involved a major survey of NSW public sector managers, including IT managers, in relation to perceived e-corruption risks and preventative measures, including IT security systems. The third phase involves the analysis and interpretation of the findings of the first two phases, and the preparation of this document setting forth the overall results of the study.
Initial enquiries from organisations interested in the Centre's consulting services may be directed to:
Ms Michele Lamb
Tel: +61 2 62726284