Heberto Peterson

Full time professor , CETYS Universidad, Colegio de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades


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Is it important to teach ethics in graduate school?

We need to improve the way people in important and influence spaces in society make their decision taking process. One way is to continue giving ethics courses, but is these the best way? Should we start looking for another way to do it.

  • Apr 17 2012: I think, yes, because tho, when growing up, people are exposed to varying degrees of ethical teachings, times change, societal standards change (and not always for the better - case in point, the play-up of the Me-generation and the admiration of aggressiveness as the way to get ahead). A person's influences in their lives also change. Ethics can be forgotten or laid aside.
    A good reminder for all of us to be ethical in our dealings with others is never amiss. Sometimes the universe gives out lessons whereby we can all exercise our ethics - natural disasters, crimes, etc. Things that make us ponder and discuss, and ultimately reach out ethically, or not.
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    Apr 11 2012: Heberto, enseñar etica a los graduados de una escuela de negocios puede combinarse con descubrir la etica en la vida cotidiana, antes y despues de los negocios. La etica parte del ser interior y de su capacidad para reconocer lo verdadero de lo falso, lo cierto de lo incierto, la Verdad de la Mentira...habria que recordar que los cuatro fundamentales filosoficos son Verdad, Justicia, Bondad y Belleza, y la etica es el otro extremo de la estetica, aceptando que la estetica es lo que nos quita el aliento (aistou-aisthesis). El Sistema Universitario Jesuita, del cual forma parte la Ibero Tijuana, enseña la etica y impulsa a sus alumnos a descubrirla. Es una estrategia en dos lineas, la de la enseñanza directa en aula y la del descubrimiento en lo cotidiano. Chris Lowney lo refiere como una practica directa con el arte de decidir, cuando redefines al fracaso o al exito desde la indiferencia sublime que enseña San Ignacio. La etica es una forma de vida mas que una enseñana academica. Y aunque los valores se basan en principios universales, la etica practica en Malasya es otra muy diferente a la ue se conoce en Mexico o en los Estados Unidos. ¿Sera una cuestion de geografia y de cultura?
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      Apr 11 2012: Gracias Jaime por tu respuesta.
      Coincido contigo respecto al descubrimiento de la ética a partir de experiencias cotidianas. Y me gusta buscar esos reflejos de la Verdad, Bondad, Belleza y Justicia en las realidades humanas. De ahí mi interés en reflexionar sobre el tema. La ética para mi, es lo que mencionas, un ejercicio permanente, que va forjando precisamente un estilo de vida.
      Nuestro reto como educadores, es lograr inspirar a que se quiera vivir esta experiencia de verlo como ejercicio y estilo de vida más que cúmulo de conocimientos.
      Gracias de nuevo.
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    R H

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    Apr 7 2012: I believe ethics instruction in graduate school is more important, and will be more accepted by students, than ever. 20 years ago ethics was a mostly laughable, 'had-to-take' course for future 'decision makers'. Now, it's not so funny anymore. It is evident that concern for the welfare of humanity and the evironment (not to mention recent corporate policy mandates) has become mainstream. Ethics instruction therefore is critical for well-rounded decision-making. But I also agree that 'ethics' instruction needs to evolve with its explanations of topics to a post-postmodern world. We needs ethics to be able to show significance in outcomes. 'Data' is the driving word today for decision-making. Ethics needs to demonstrate relevance towards the desired outcomes by its influence through data findings (i.e., this result was achieved due to this ethically based decision vs. this paralell issue result attained through this unethical decision, etc.). Also, ethics must be seen as demonstrable in real-world scenarios, not just a theoretical ideal. Our new world is demanding more ethical decisions from those who make them, they better study how to do it. But a few courses studied in college is probably not enough to influence sufficiently someone's decisions. To me, people make decisions based on desired results or outcomes. This leads to the incentives for those outcomes. If the only incentives are for ethical outcomes, the choice will be clear. If unethical outcomes are incentivized - like they are currently - the outcome is equally predictable. Society needs to change its level of acceptance of unethical outcomes and results for the best instruction of ethics possible, in my opinion.
    • Apr 7 2012: I concur. Good and trusting relationships are very valuable. Each of us can be honest with ourselves, deeply internally, and ask, 'How do I want to be treated, or want commercial organizations, or persons to relate to me?'

      Relate to other people in the same way we want to be treated. If greed is more important, if material gain and power are the highest driving forces for one's behavior, then ask why.

      Ethics addresses human behavior and relationships. There is greater potential for conflict, war, destruction of relationships when ethical behavior is devoid or muted.

      What are we living for if we cannot find kind and respectful ways for commerce and economy? What is the purpose for living if we trample on others?

      More could be said. So, what ideas are worth spreading regarding this topic?

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      Apr 7 2012: Tank's RH and Mark Kurtz for your comment's.
      I agree that one of the challenges that ethic professors have, is to make the use of ethics arguments useful in day to day decision making, as relevant as a cost analysis. Incentives and long term vision to promote these references that can and will make a better society.
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    Apr 9 2012: Basic ethics should be taught at primary and secondary school.With business ethics at business schools, or professional ethics with whatever professional training law, medicine, etc

    I still use the basic framework I picked up in business school - Every decision - legal, economic, ethical perspectives
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      Apr 10 2012: Thank's Obey for your comment.
      What is your basic framework?
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        Apr 10 2012: Some ideas from Australian schools competing with, sorry, offering an alternative to special religious instruction. (I can't believe the governments in Australia pander to the religious voters by legislating in favour of teaching religion in public schools - so much for the separation of church and state)

        Primary School
        - Lots of practical examples and exercises e.g. being left out, sharing and bullying, being a good friend
        - Older kids - reflect on issues such as homelessness and child labour to help them consider the feelings and interests of others, Lying, cheating, stealing
        - How Important is it to Look Good? Are Rules Always Fair? Pride, Teasing and Animal Rights.
        With the goal of understanding consequences, having empathy, appreciating difference, recognising common capacities, recognising and acting on duties and giving equal consideration.

        High School
        - What is Ethics - secular branch of philosophy going back to Socrates
        - Ethical decision making, action and reflection
        - Teaching to think about ethical matters together and through the give-and-take of reasoned argument.
        - Teaching to properly to consider other people’s points of view and to be sincere, reasonable and respectful in dealing with their differences and disagreements
        Lots of class exercises
        - More examination of ethical models
        - Perhaps touching on the concepts of rights, law, justice, religious based morality compared to ethical questioning and exploration.
        The goal might be for students to have the capacity to consider personal and social issues and choices from within an ethical decision‐making framework.
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      Apr 10 2012: Tank's Natasha for your comment. One question, when you finish your ethics class, nothing change? Do you have new way or elements to analyse problems? Or the class did not give you something useful?
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    Apr 8 2012: Only if you want ethically run businesses and institutions.
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      Apr 10 2012: Tank's Edward for your comment.
      What if not? What is your personal opinion?
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        Apr 10 2012: What if you do not want ethically run businesses? That's called status quo.
  • Apr 7 2012: Ethics is one of those things we just assumed that people had. Now we realize that we should not assume and make sure. I doubt that a simple sermon-style lecture would work. Real life examples show better what this is about and why it is important.
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      Apr 7 2012: Tank's Gabo Moreno for your comment, I agree that sermon-like lectures don't work. Real life examples is one of the best ways to create a good environment to teach ethics.
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    Apr 7 2012: Coursework in ethics or moral reasoning is a natural fit for an undergraduate education and a natural subject of discussion in secondary school as well.
    At the graduate level, the ethics specific to a person's field may best be conveyed in the context of methods or practicuum courses rather than as a separate ethics course. For example, a graduate student in mathematics or physics might learn the standards for research as part of courses and mentoring that teach research skills as a subject. A separate course in ethics of research, unless 'course' means a short module, would probably not be necessary or desirable.
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      Apr 7 2012: Tank's Fritzie Reisner for your comment. Your comment about graduate level is, that the ethics subject must be part of every course? or your comment point the importance of applied ethics?
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        Apr 7 2012: My thought was that a full ethics course fits well into undergraduate liberal arts education. In a graduate or professional education, what might be most effective is to encounter ethical considerations in the context of the specific practices of the field. Different fields naturally raise different ethical issues in practice. It will often make sense in teaching the practice to explore the various aspects of that practice that a person needs to know to engage in the practice professionally, rather than to splinter off ethics into a separate course.I used the example of physics as one in which there certainly are ethical standards for doing research alongside technical aspects of doing research, like the operation of equipment and the analysis of data. It may make sense to include the variety of tools and considerations one needs to take into account in the practice of the discipline in an integrated way rather than splintering off the ethics of the field or ethics in general from the other skills and dispositions that are necessary for professional practice.