Cynicism and emerging professionals: a cross disciplinary panel discussion



Publication Details

Kelly, A., Coyle, J., Latham, H. & Corbo Crehan, A. (2010). Cynicism and emerging professionals: a cross disciplinary panel discussion. Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics, 11 (1-2), 110-121.


Cynicism is an ever-present characteristic of many professions. This is in stark contrast to the idealism that new practitioners often bring to their work. A range of ethical issues, related to professionalism and performance of professional roles, arise from such a dichotomy. One ethical issue of importance concerns the responsibility of established professionals to educate and mentor people entering the profession. To what extent, if any, should the potential for cynicism be pre-empted? Are experienced professionals obliged to challenge or even deflate the idealism of new practitioners? These questions, and other related ones, were considered in the context of a panel discussion at the Conference, framed around American thinker David T. Wolf's much quoted saying 'Idealism is what precedes experience: cynicism is what follows' . An interactive discussion involving the audience and panel members was a key tool used to explore these questions. In this paper, we describe and expand on the issues raised in the discussion, highlight the links between discussion issues and current research, and make recommendations regarding directions for future research in the area.

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