While individual philosophical practitioners may differ
in method and theoretical orientation, for example, analytic
or existential-phenomenological, they facilitate such
activities as: (1) the examination of clients’ arguments
and justifications; (2) the clarification, analysis, and
definition of important terms and concepts; (3) the exposure
and examination of underlying assumptions and logical
implications; (4) the exposure of conflicts and inconsistencies;
(5) the exploration of traditional philosophical theories
and their significance for client issues; and (6) all
other related activities that have historically been identified
Although several other helping professions have also
incorporated some of the aforementioned ancient, philosophical
activities into their therapeutic practices, they should
not thereby be confused with the private practice of philosophy
as defined by the performance of distinctively philosophical
activities for which philosophical practitioners have
uniquely been educated and trained.
As the ethical code of the American Philosophical Practitioners
Association, the Standards of Ethical Practice establish
principles of ethical conduct that are binding upon all
member practitioners and which shall accordingly serve
as the basis for addressing ethical complaints against
Part I: Fundamental Canons
i. Philosophical practitioners will, above all, endeavor
to do no harm.
ii. Philosophical practitioners will render their services
for the benefit of their clients.
iii. Philosophical practitioners will refer clients for
appropriate alternative care if the clients' problems
are adjudged to be not primarily philosophical in origin,
or not amenable to philosophical approaches.
iv. Philosophical practitioners will respect the dignity
and autonomy of their clients, and will respect their
confidentiality and protect their anonymity to the extent
required by law.
v. Philosophical practitioners will conduct their consultations
and deliberations with reputability and integrity, and
will refrain from behaviors, practices and conflicts of
interest that would bring the profession into disrepute.
vi. Philosophical practitioners will, beyond attending
to the needs of their clients, endeavor to serve the greater
good of the community and society in which they reside.
Part II: Standards of Ethical Practice
(adapted from the American Society for Philosophy, Counseling
i. In providing professional services, the philosophical
practitioner should maintain utmost respect for client
welfare, integrity, dignity, and autonomy.
ii. Philosophical practitioners should facilitate maximum
client participation in philosophical explorations. They
should avoid dictating "correct" answers to
client queries and issues, but should actively encourage
the client's own engagement of reflective powers and rational
determinations. In cases in which a client is seeking
assistance for purposes of resolving a specific problem
such as an ethical problem or other practical matter,
philosophical practitioners may, in light of philosophical
exploration of the matter, suggest possible courses of
action. However, they should make clear to the client
that the final decision rests with the client.
iii. Philosophical practitioners should be sensitive
to alternative "world views" and philosophical
perspectives including those based upon cultural or gender
distinctions among diverse client populations.
iv. Philosophical practitioners should not engage in
any form of unjust discriminatory activity. While a philosophical
practitioner is not required to accept as clients all
those who seek services, the refusal to render such services
should be based solely upon the perceived inability to
provide beneficial services, or upon other relevant issues
v. Philosophical practitioners should avoid creating
dependency relations in clients and seek wherever possible
to instruct clients in the methods and theories of philosophy
so that clients may continue to apply these methods and
theories without the assistance of the philosopher.
vi. Philosophical practitioners should avoid scheduling
unnecessary meetings or sessions. The services of the
practitioner should be terminated when, to the client's
satisfaction, the purposes for which they were sought
have been fulfilled or when no further benefits are likely
to accrue from their continuation.
vii. The philosophical practitioner should refrain from
manipulating or coercing the client, as well as any form
of fraud or deceit.
viii. Philosophical practitioners should be scrupulously
accurate about their credentials and qualifications. They
should not mislead the client about their credentials
and should not hold themselves out (either implicitly
or explicitly) as mental health counselors, psychologists,
or authorities in any other field for which they are not
otherwise qualified. No member should hold himself or
herself out (either implicitly or explicitly) as a philosophical
practitioner without having duly satisfied all training
and degree requirements for certification as provided
for by the Association.
ix. Philosophical practitioners should not employ techniques
or methods not associated with training in philosophy
(for example, hypnosis or other psychiatric/psychological
interventions) for which they are not otherwise qualified.
x. On or prior to the first meeting, the philosophical
practitioner should provide the client with clear, accurate,
honest, and complete information regarding the nature
of services he or she is qualified to render, and should
not make any unwarranted claims about the utility or effectiveness
of such services.
xi. When a client's problem or reason for seeking philosophical
services falls outside the purview of the practitioner's
qualifications or areas of competence, then the practitioner
should provide the client with an appropriate referral.
xii. At all junctures in the process of providing philosophical
services, the philosophical practitioner should seek to
maintain the freely given and informed consent of the
xiii. The philosophical practitioner should inform the
client of his or her fees prior to the commencement of
xiv. The philosophical practitioner should safeguard
a client's right to privacy by treating as confidential
all information obtained from the client, except where
disclosure is required by law or is justified in order
to prevent imminent, substantial harm to the client or
to others. In all such exceptional cases, disclosure may
be made provided that it is made to the appropriate party
or authority and no more information than necessary is
disclosed. The philosophical practitioner should inform
the client of the pertinent limits to confidentiality
upon initiating services.
xv. The philosophical practitioner who confidentially
receives information establishing that his or her client
has a contagious, fatal disease is justified in disclosing
(necessary) information to an identifiable third party
who, by his or her relation to the client, is at high
risk of contracting the disease. The philosophical practitioner
should, however, first confirm that neither the client
nor any other party has already disclosed the information
nor intends to make the disclosure in the immediate future.
Prior to disclosing the information, the practitioner
should inform the client of his or her intention to disclose.
In proceeding with disclosure, the practitioner should
act mindfully of the welfare, integrity, dignity, and
autonomy of both client and third party.
xvi. The philosophical practitioner should secure and
treat as confidential all records and written documents
obtained or produced in the course of providing services.
Such documents, or the content thereof, may not be shared
with other professionals without the freely given and
informed consent of the client.
xvii. For purposes of research, training, or publication,
the philosophical practitioner may use data obtained in
the course of counseling provided that all identifying
references are deleted or fictionalized in order to ensure
client privacy and confidentiality. Prior to initiating
services, practitioners should inform their clients of
such possible use of acquired data.
xviii. Philosophical practitioners should avoid sexual
intimacy with clients or any other form of dual role relation
which might compromise the integrity of the professional
xix. Philosophical practitioners should not use their
affiliations with colleges, universities, or other institutions
or agencies as means of recruiting clients for their private
practices. They may, however, use such affiliations as
documentation of relevant background and/or training.
xx. A philosophical practitioner who is aware of violations
or intended violations of the Standards of Ethical Practice
by another member practitioner should take appropriate
measures to prevent the misconduct. Generally, if the
misconduct can be prevented or rectified by calling the
violation to the attention of the offending practitioner,
then this is the preferred course of action. If such efforts
fail or are not feasible, the violation should be called
to the attention of the Association's Executive Committee.
xxi. Philosophical practitioners should exemplify those
moral qualities of character that are associated with
being philosophical (for example, being open-minded, honest,
rational, consistent, fair, and impartial).
xxii. Philosophical practitioners should keep informed
about current statutes, legal precedents, social issues,
etc. that are relevant to their practice and which might
affect the quality of services they render. Similarly,
those practicing as consultants in a specialized field,
such as medical ethics, should keep informed of changes
in health law and policies that may affect the quality
of their services.
xxiii. Consistent with the Standards of Ethical Practice,
the philosophical practitioner should comply with existing
local, state or provincial, and federal laws relevant
to the private practice of philosophy and should work
for change of existing laws where such laws prevent or
obstruct its ethical practice.
xxiv. Philosophical practitioners should seek to promote
mutual understanding, cooperation, and respect between
philosophy and other helping professions including teaching,
mental health, social work, medicine, and psychology.
xxv. Philosophical practitioners should contribute to
the advancement of the private practice of philosophy
by promoting public understanding of its nature and value
through such activities as research, publication, teaching,
lecturing, and competent, ethical practice.