Editor's note: This paper was read at the eighth annual University of Dayton Philosophy Colloquium, held in 1979.

In the course of this paper, I will first present a sketch of some of the cardinal characteristics of professions, as these characteristics bear upon understanding their collective responsibilities. After a brief review of these distinguishing characteristics, I will compare the different senses of obligations that one can attribute to professions and then to their members. I will first examine what is involved in simply being a member of a profession, then a member of a profession within a particular governmental organization (i.e., a state), and finally, the collective responsibility of members of particular professional associations. On the basis of these background reflections, I will proceed to address some particular issues concerning the collective responsibilities of physicians.



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