If you have taught or researched professional ethics, whether medical ethics, business ethics, engineering ethics, or one of the others, you are familiar with the typical case study scenario where a professional ethics board must make some morally difficult decision.
What often puzzles me about these sorts of cases is that they are often only made truly difficult by background considerations that are practically salient, but morally insignificant. In particular, I have in mind cases where the moral solution is clear, but things like money and governmental regulations get in the way.
I am not going to argue that these cases are in fact simple. They are not. The background considerations are real and matter. What I will argue instead is that these cases reveal that something quite important is missing from ethics boards: anarchists and anti-capitalists.
The problem is that these boards, at least in pretty much every case study I have seen, take these legal and economic conditions as background assumptions that cannot be challenged. But that is to insist that the moral question must be figured out without affecting money and governmental rules. That is, the moral issues, which often revolve around life and death themselves, come in significantly secondary ways to the assumptions that we must keep costs realistic and not break any rules.
But those background assumptions should be challenged just as much as any of the other factors in a difficult dilemma type case. Yet, many people just have little experience or inclination to challenge the ideas that money and the law are set in stone and must be taken for granted.
So, the solution is fairly clear at this point: every ethics board should have some members who are willing to think around those background assumptions. They should have some members who do not always assume money and laws cannot be challenged and must be left as they are. They should have some members who are willing and able to think outside of the capitalist/statist box.
Anarchists and anti-capitalists (which perhaps can often be found in one board member, though two might be better in almost every case) should be included on every professional board to make sure these assumptions are challenged.
Ethical boards, then, must be radical.