March 28, 2010
The subject of mediation ethics is often conflated with discussions about standards of practice, the appropriate wording of codes of conduct, or forms of practitioner regulation. Rather than comparing the relative merits of conduct codes this paper seeks to explore the ethical thinking underpinning four seminal Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) books. These texts have both explicit and implicit ethical constructs, which are discussed and contrasted. Also introduced are ethical concepts from medicine, social science and law, as well as Ricoeur’s notion of the caring conversation. The paper concludes that the professionalisation of mediation now demands a transparent and articulated ethical basis – currently inchoate within the literature – and that further work should be undertaken in this regard.