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1. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Christopher Meyers The Ethics of Ethics Centers: Editor’s Note
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2. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Michael S. Pritchard, Sandra L. Borden In Support of a “Generalist” Orientation for an Ethics Center
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Western Michigan University’s Center for the Study of Ethics in Society has always had a “generalist” approach—that is to say, an interdisciplinary orientation toward studying a broad range of ethical issues. This article explains how the center’s “generalist” orientation developed and why it is desirable for promoting public reflection about ethical issues. It focuses on these dimensions: (a) valuing an across-the-curriculum approach to promote understanding of complex ethical issues; (b) adopting a broad, rather than narrow focus, when it comes to ethics; (c) committing to practical ethics, which bridges theory and practice to shed light on issues of practical relevance to all; and (d) decentering philosophy as the arbiter for what counts as “doing ethics.” The article ends with a look at challenges concerning stable funding and administrative support for a center that does not fit neatly into a single academic unit or specialty and shares some lessons learned.
3. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Cordula Brand, Thomas Potthast The Mission before the Mission: Toward an Ethics of Ethics Centers
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The goal of this article is to offer a three-step approach for a systematic discussion on the procedures, roles, and responsibilities of ethics centers. First, we identify three levels of responsibility: scientific, organizational/institutional, societal/global. Second, we propose that justice (as outlined in the concept of Sustainable Development), contextual pluralism, and a process orientation serve as normative foundations for developing ethics centers’ mission. Third, we outline and emphasize the crucial role that teaching plays in the work of ethics centers, as well as in other academic (and non-academic) institutions. As an overarching perspective, we suggest two complementary kinds of approaches for the role of ethics especially in scientific research: i) ethics becoming a constitutional part of any research (and teaching) project. ii) specific in-depth interdisciplinary projects with ethics being the research (and teaching) topic.
4. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Joseph Spino On the Structure of the Virtuous Ethics Center
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When evaluating the success of an ethics center, one can look to the center’s level of engagement and achievement with affiliated institutions and communities. Such criteria are appropriate. What can be overlooked, however, is the internal structure and processes that help constitute the ethics center itself. In short, it is not merely the results an ethics center may claim that should be of interest for evaluating institutional health and longevity, but the very character of the organization itself. Using criteria offered in support of corporate agency and character, I argue that ethics centers can possess organizational agency and a “character” of their own. While not the same sense of character we associate with human beings, the “character” (and “virtue”) I describe is still a meaningful and identifiable feature that can and ought to be developed within the structure of ethics centers.
5. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Aine Donovan Strategic Leadership as a Tool for Growth, Mission Alignment and Long-term Stability
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This article provides guidance and rationales for managing transitions within ethics centers as directors and staff are hired. The structures that reinforce the mission and ensures that the center continues to provide benefit to the community requires delicate strategizing among campus and community constituencies. The principles and practices that serve as a best-practices management approach are articulated within this article.
6. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Donna Riley, Justin Hess, Brent Jesiek Decentering an Engineering Ethics Center
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In this article we reflect on ethical issues arising amid our efforts over the past four years to set up a university-level engineering ethics center to facilitate faculty, staff, and student collaborations across disciplines. In this account we place considerable emphasis on relations with campus administration, including conflicts arising over the interests of potential donors and research sponsors; state and national political contexts; turf (specifically the balance of ownership over vision-setting and action between faculty and administrators); and the scope and role of ethics in a STEM-focused public land grant university. We also discuss challenges we faced in communication, both across disciplines in a large university setting, and with administrators inclined to conflate professional ethics with other topics such as technology ethics or public policy concerns. We share discussions we have had among ourselves around what types of alternative structures might facilitate our mission; and how such alternatives might help us resist replication of the kinds of problematic power dynamics we are already witnessing and navigating. It is our hope that our participation in this conversation provides an opportunity for us to learn from others, share what we have learned thus far, and come to a position of greater clarity regarding our intentions and priorities. Most of all we seek moral imagination to identify creative paths forward for a broad set of stakeholders to more deeply encounter professional ethics in discovery, learning, and engagement.
7. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Nate Olson, Kallee McCullough Demonstrating Ethical Leadership in a Virtual World: Accessibility, Community, and Identity
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, ethics centers were forced to reimagine program delivery. In a tumultuous time with rampant social isolation, the need for ethics education and dialogue was also critical. The authors, members of the directorship team of the Kegley Institute of Ethics (KIE), discuss how KIE met these challenges through organizing over fifty online events during the pandemic, including webinars, pedagogy workshops, ethics bowls, intercollegiate student conversations, colloquia, film viewings, and podcasts. The article describes both the opportunities and challenges that different types of virtual events present and argues that innovation in online programming can help ethics centers show ethical leadership in their communities. As one example, we discuss how online events can both enhance and hinder accessibility for participants. We also describe how online programming presents both barriers and opportunities for community building and can prompt ethics centers to reflect on their identities and missions.
8. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Jonathan Beever Conceptual Stewardship and Ethics Centers: The Case of Integrity
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In this essay I propose that ethics centers should take leadership roles in clarifying uses of normatively thick and complex concepts. Using the concept of integrity as an example, I build a case for increased focus on thick concepts at work in ethics. Integrity is a special case, given its conceptual complexity and the diversity of contexts in which it is utilized. I argue that failure to focus on conceptual clarification leaves the door open to misuse or manipulation of ethical concepts and to contextual siloing, each of which limits the work that ethics and ethics centers can do in support of institutional cultures. Ethics centers stand, or—as I make clear—should stand, as conceptual stewards for articulation of the importance of such concepts in balancing external ethics visibility and personal ethics engagement.
9. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Lisa S. Parker Ethics Centers’ Conflicts of Interest and the Failure of Disclosure to Remedy this Endemic Problem
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Individual and institutional conflicts of interest arise with increasing frequency and negative sequelae as universities and their principals, as well as individual faculty members, engage in research (and other activities) with support from profit/not-for-profit entities. This essay examines how institutional and individual conflicts of interest (COI) arise for ethics centers and their faculty/staff, respectively. It defines COI, endorses a reasonable person standard for determining when COI exist, and considers problems that arise when disclosure of COI is embraced as a remedy for them. It argues that transparency and disclosure are generally inadequate measures to address COI, especially those of ethics centers. It concludes by sketching other measures that may be ingredients in attempts to avoid, manage, or mitigate the COI of ethics centers and their faculty/staff.
10. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Michael Burroughs On Ethics Institute Activism
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Social injustice and calls to activism take many forms, whether in environmental, medical, legal, political, or educational realms. In this article, I consider the role of activism in ethics institute initiatives. First, as a case study, I discuss an activist initiative for police reform led, in part, by the Kegley Institute of Ethics at California State University, Bakersfield. Specifically, I outline the formation of the Bakersfield Police Department—Community Collaborative (BPD-CC), created to review regional and national police policy and training recommendations and to solicit and formalize community-sourced recommendations for policing reform and building trust and greater partnership between the BPD and community. Second, I discuss outcomes and implications of this project and consider its significance for understanding activist roles available to the community engaged ethics institute more generally. In this discussion, I explore practical dimensions and ethical implications of activist approaches in the work of an ethics institute.
11. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Michael A. DeWilde A Business Ethics Center Rethinks Its Role
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This paper explores some of the reasons why we, as a business ethics center housed at a state university, are transitioning from being a largely neutral platform on business ethics topics to becoming an advocate for specific perspectives. Comprising the topics of interest are issues such as climate change, capitalism, and certain medical and public health controversies. Presented here are four main reasons behind this move: pluralistic arguments, moral “switching,” existential crises, and combating disinformation. Two examples regarding capitalism and vaccine mandates are used to demonstrate advocacy in practice.
special symposium on diversity
12. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Erik Wingrove-Haugland, Jillian McLeod Not “Minority” but “Minoritized”
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Rather than referring to “minorities,” “members of minority groups” or “underrepresented minorities,” we should refer to such individuals as “minoritized.” Using “minoritized” makes it clear that being minoritized is about power and equity not numbers, connects racial oppression to the oppression of women, and gives us an easy way to conceive of intersectionality as being a minoritized member of a minoritized group. The term “minoritized” reveals the fact that white males and other dominant groups minoritize members of subordinated groups rather than obscuring this agency, describes microaggressions better than the term ‘microaggressions,’ and helps explain the need for solidarity within minoritized groups. It gives us a powerful way to promote racial justice by appealing to the common experience of being excluded. While using “minoritized” risks creating a false equivalence that sees all instances of being minoritized as equal and discounting unique forms of oppression by subsuming them under a single term, using this term carefully can ensure that its advantages outweigh these risks.
13. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Stephen Scales Killing Races and Witches
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Since the concept of race is scientifically nonreferential, it is tempting to think that we can simply eliminate it right away from our lexicon, from our statistical categories, from our lives. But those of us who are eliminativists about race in the long run need to take a more roundabout path in killing off this concept. Through the painstaking work of teaching our students that race, though biologically nonreferential, remains part of various systems of oppression, and engaging in open dialogue and political organization in order to make racial categories economically and politically irrelevant, the concept of race must die a slow and painful death.
14. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Heather Stewart Diversifying . . . Aristotle? Engaging Diverse Students with New Approaches to the Nicomachean Ethics
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Taking seriously the notion that diversifying our philosophical pedagogy is of both intrinsic and instrumental importance, this paper offers a defense of, and model for, a pedagogical approach aimed at making canonical philosophical texts more appealing—and more useful—for diverse students. Specifically, taking Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics as a case study, this paper considers how we might make this text more engaging for students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. It does so by offering a five-step model, which involves: situating the text in its historical context; acknowledging and addressing problematic content in the text; drawing out novel or underexplored themes and questions from the text; bringing the text into dialogue with diverse and contemporary philosophical approaches and issues (e.g., feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, and non-Western philosophies); and applying issues, themes, and concepts from the text to contemporary matters or current events as much as possible. Specific examples are offered regarding how to achieve each of these steps when teaching the Nicomachean Ethics.
15. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Charles Verharen Nietzsche and Three Africana Philosophers on Diversifying Ethics Across the Curriculum
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This essay takes Nietzsche’s remarks on ethics as springboards for developing a method of diversifying the teaching of ethics to confront twenty-first century existential crises. Prompted by Darwin’s research, Nietzsche envisioned humanity’s self-extinction through science and technology unchecked by philosophy. A curriculum for teaching ethics to confront that catastrophe includes all the intellectual disciplines and focuses on the evolution of ethics over time. The curriculum’s primary objective is to stimulate students to create new values appropriate to their changing circumstances. After focusing on Nietzsche’s early efforts to define philosophy’s role with respect to art and science, the essay advances a rationale and methodology for diversifying ethics across the curriculum. The essay then describes African American and African proposals that have the promise of transforming Nietzsche’s remarks on promoting diversity in ethics into practical instruments for guaranteeing life’s future.
16. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Samantha L. Fritz Removing Disability in Children: An Essay on Barnes’s The Minority Body
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In this paper, I respond to one aspect of Elizabeth Barnes’s argument in The Minority Body: a Theory of Disability. To do this, I first explain her argument as it applies towards children: in order to have a genuine “mere-difference” view of disability, one may not cause nor remove disability. The consequence of this theory is that it is impermissible for parents to choose to remove their child’s disability. I argue this is incorrect. Barnes’s assumption relies on a non-interference framework, which is inappropriate when applied to children. When we use an interest-protection framework instead, it becomes at least permissible for parents, and in some situations obligatory, to choose to remove their child’s disability. Because the permissibility or obligation is situationally dependent, this view is consistent with Barnes’s overall argument for the mere-difference view of disability.
17. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Beth Dixon, Allie Boudreau, Austin Burke, Aaryn Clark, Sarah-Margaret Cowart Playing the Poverty Simulation Game: A Course in Analysis and Revision
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In the spring 2020 semester six students enrolled in a topics course in the philosophy department at my institution titled, “The Poverty Game.” We created this article by collaboration based on fourteen weeks of writing assignments and class discussions. All of us participated in an on-campus poverty simulation “game” sponsored by the Teacher Resource Center. Our objectives in the course were to critically analyze the game by asking questions and challenging assumptions about goals, rules, narrative profiles, and solutions to poverty that were implied by the simulation. We then set about to revise the game. Our suggested revisions highlighted structural conditions as part of an explanation about why populations and subgroups are poor. Identifying these inequities positioned us to recommend justice solutions to poverty and, further, to empower players of the simulation to become agents of change.
18. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Jon Borowicz Moral Friendship as Perfectionist Resistance
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There are striking points of affinity between Hannah Arendt’s concept of a politico-moral variety of allusive thinking, and Stanley Cavell’s concept of aversive thinking characteristic of Emersonian Moral Perfectionism (EMP). Although both Arendt and Cavell’s EMP are pessimistic if not hostile to the suggestion of the redemption of a vibrant public sphere, their thought suggests possible moves toward a practical politico-moral philosophy—political philosophy as provocative moral practice recognizable in Socrates and Diogenes of Sinope. The paper teases out threads of thought in Arendt and Cavell toward an account of a quasi-public perfectionist philosophical practice—call it moral friendship—supportive of political-moral judgment in response to social conditions of its repression. Moral friendship is ultimately the cultivation of moral taste that enables one to notice moral phenomena susceptible to one’s judgment whose failure to be noticed is an occasion for regret.
19. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Michael J. Murphy Modifying Clinical Ethics Cases for Pedagogy: The Case of “Enzokuhle”
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In order to effectively prepare students for medical decisions with complex, ethical disagreements and value-laden conflicts, a progression from simpler case analysis to multi-layered conflicts is often helpful. Presented here is a unique case of pregnancy in a true hermaphrodite from recent medical literature. The case is artificially layered with additional, medical and discoverable contextual issues to help analyze three distinct questions in medical ethics: 1) Is it ethically permissible to perform an elective termination of pregnancy (ETOP) on a minor, 2) Is it ethically permissible to keep this information from the parents, and 3) are additional and complicating medical features included in confidentiality agreements involving minors? The pedagogical goals include introducing and effectively utilizing the Orr-Shelton, four box method of clinical ethics assessment, demonstrating the need to uncover/discover important contextual (cultural, religious, family, etc.) features not usually incorporated fully into patient charts, to prepare medical students to research and become familiar with the local legal environment, and to illustrate that what appears to be a single a single ethical dilemma is likely far more complex requiring a multi-focused assessment.
20. Teaching Ethics: Volume > 21 > Issue: 1
Norman St. Clair, Deborah Poole Exploring and Developing a Comprehensive Teaching Model for Graduate Ethics Education Across Disciplines: An Instrumental Case Study
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Our research addressed an increase of unethical practices in professional settings identified in the literature, and this increase coincides with a shift in U.S. culture from principle-based ethics to one trending toward moral relativism. We discovered many programs lack comprehensiveness to deal with the complexities of culture in graduate education. The purpose of this instrumental case study was to explore and develop a conceptual framework for a comprehensive teaching model targeting graduate-level educators, administrators, and educational boards across disciplines. Data were collected over 13 years from a doctoral professional ethics course at a private, faith-based university in South Texas. Using a Design Based Research process following Reeves’ (2006) guidelines, we developed a multi-disciplinary graduate theoretical teaching model for ethics: Comprehensive Professional Ethics Teaching Model (CPET model), grounded in our data analysis and findings. Recommendations include implementing and testing the efficacy of the CPET model in subsequent studies.