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Preface to Ethics

The GISSA National Council has drafted an ethics document after thorough research into other similar codes available around the world today.

Thank you for taking an interest in the GISSA Code of Ethics for GISc practitioners and we hope that you stay informed and inquisitive.


The Code of Ethics for the GISc practitioners is a foundation document that sets guidelines for making ethical decisions. The code emphasises the social responsibilities that GISc practitioners have to society. In addition, the code presents goals and aspirations that practitioners should strive toward throughout their careers.

In short, the purpose of the code is to serve as guidance to make decisions that will benefit society, the field of GISc, and the GISc practitioners.

Violations to this code cannot result in a the violator being denied the right to operate, but should lead to exclusion from the society and loss of its stamp of approval.

A positive tone is taken throughout the text of this code. GISc practitioners commit themselves to ethical behaviour rather than merely seeking to avoid specific acts deemed unethical. To create a list of 'unethical' acts would be difficult because this would exclude reasonable exceptions as well as create implicit approval of acts not on the list. By taking a positive tone, this code attempts to encourage an attitude focused on respect for others.

One final note: sometimes a GISc practitioner may become stuck in a dilemma where any course of action violates some aspect of this code. Some help might come from consulting works such as How Good People Make Tough Choices (Kidder 1995), which offers a decision guide. Ultimately, a practitioners must reflect carefully on a situation before making tough decisions. Contemplating various ethical approaches may be useful in reaching a decision; here is such a guideline:

  • View persons who exemplify morality as your own guide (Virtue Ethics)
  • Attempt to maximise the happiness of everyone affected (Utilitarianism)
  • Only follow maxims of conduct that everyone else could adopt (Kantianism)
  • Always treat other persons as ends, never merely as means (Deontology)
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