ELLA's EL29: Let’s Make Our Ethical Reasoning More Effective


Note #1: For purposes of this course the terms ethical and moral will be interchangeable. It should also be noted that the purpose of this seminar is not to make you more moral or ethical but to enhance your ability to reason through moral/ethical problems!.

Note #2: There are three primary formats for holding discussions in the class: round-table — when each person (or team) provides comments, input &/or feedback in an orderly way, and at the invitation of the prof; crossfire — moderated within the group itself, comments and questions will go back and forth among the participants (the prof will only intervene if he determines too few are dominating the process); conversation — this is directed toward the prof, initiated by questions, queries or concerns raised by group members.

Why I’m even interested in this stuff!?

I tend to think along the same lines as my professional colleague Peggy Connolly:

We are confronted on a daily basis with ethical dilemmas... Should a parent leave a sick child alone or stay at home with the child and risk losing the job that provides health insurance? Is it morally permissible to pay protection money to stay in business and provide for one’s family? Is it ethically acceptable to create a child to be a donor for another? Whether deliberative or unconscious, satisfying or distressing, decisions about moral issues are ubiquitous in daily life, affecting choices & behaviour in public & private spheres...¹

Intelligent, reasonable and deeply caring individuals hold diametrically opposing & mutually exclusive perspectives. We continue to be challenged to find ways to acknowledge others’ perspectives respectfully, and to honour those who hold them, even when it is not possible to accommodate their positions...²

Despite the prevalence of ethical challenges in daily life, few people have had training in moral reasoning... Still, today, although students who enroll in ethics classes may be exposed to ethical theory, they may have limited opportunities for examining its practical application to the complexities of everyday moral situations...³

¹ Ethics in Action: a Case-based Approach, Connolly, Peggy et al, Wiley-Blackwell (2009) p.1
² Ibid p. 1 & 2
³ Ibid p. 2