noblesse oblige n : the obligation of those of high rank to be honorable and generous (often used ironically) [Webster's Dictionary]
Part of the impetus for professional responsibility is associated with the concept of "Noblesse Oblige". Corporations exist as separate legal entities in perpetuity because the laws of our society allow them to exist. The advantages of such privileges are manifest in the proliferation and power of corporate entities. The concept of "Noblesse Oblige" focussed on the duties and benefits of the privileged in our society to help improve the quality of life for the rest of society. The privilege of accumulating wealth and power in perpetuity can and should be conditioned upon principles that require corporations to enhance the quality of life for the rest of society. Maintaining employment near historic levels and to retirement for long term employees are minimal conditions worthy of the corporate privilege. [C. Scott Bridges Harvard `67].
The ACM Code of Professional Conduct explicitly prescribes certain PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES that we should review and understand.
As professionals we have an obligation to not only conduct ourselves in accordance with the expectations of our profession, but also as senior members of the community in which we reside. Professional responsibility then goes beyond the obligations to the profession but also to the community.
See the last slide of the class notes for more references.