The dilemma of teaching ethical dilemmas. Jenny Robertson . Aims . To provide an overview of teaching and learning related to ethical dilemmas in preparation for AS3.4. . Firstly ... What is ethics?.
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Ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Ethics, for example, refers to those standards that impose the reasonable obligations to refrain from rape, stealing, murder, assault, slander, and fraud. Ethical standards also include those that enjoin virtues of honesty, compassion, and loyalty. And, ethical standards include standards relating to rights, such as the right to life, the right to freedom from injury, and the right to privacy. Such standards are adequate standards of ethics because they are supported by consistent and well-founded reasons. (Ref Markkula Centre Santa Clara University)
Ethics also refers to the study and development of one's ethical standards. As mentioned above, feelings, laws, and social norms can deviate from what is ethical. So it is necessary to constantly examine one's standards to ensure that they are reasonable and well-founded. Ethics also means, then, the continuous effort of studying our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are reasonable and solidly-based.
‘The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Philosophers today usually divide ethical theories into three general subject areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics.’
The study of the origin and meaning of ethical concepts.
Where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Are they merely social inventions? Do they involve more than expressions of our individual emotions? Metaethical answers to these questions focus on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, and the meaning of ethical terms themselves
Takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behaviour on others.
The combination of ideas related to metaethics, normative ethics, and especially applied ethics fits well with the socio-ecological perspective, and the values underpinning the H&PE approach to health promotion, and particularly the way this understanding of ethics relates to the values of social justice.
For health education purposes, an ethical dilemma is typically a controversial issue (related to people’s well-being) that presents a situation where people (in a society) have differing perspectives (inclusive of values and beliefs) about what they think is morally right or wrong.
In 2012 the external assessment specifications will limit the choice
In 2013, the move to internal assessment for 3.4 will open up that choice – select something of interest to students AND which is an issue of current or recent debate – it needs to be supported by recent and relevant evidence (some NZ in addition to any international)
1st criterion: Explain, comprehensively, a contemporary dilemma or ethical issue from differing perspectives.
The critical analysis lens here is the process of working out what the nature of the ethical dilemma is, then analysing where the moral thinking and beliefs for and against come from and what they are based on.
2nd criterion: Analyse, perceptively, possible implications of the differing perspectives on the well-being for individuals, others, and society.
At the moment the focus is on: Individual(as related to human rights and personal safety), others (in relation to social structures like family or friendship or other peer relationships), society (as related to culture and opportunities for health promotion)
In order to keep the focus of the implications on the ‘ethical’ aspects of the issue and not on the practice in itself (legal or otherwise), the use of a set of principles like those provided (there will be other versions) is needed to work out what they implications might be
Task and discussion to work this idea through .....
Pose a situation based around a person directly affected by the issue.
What impact will the people who hold views for and against the issue have on the affected person’s well-being ... As an individual, in their relationships and as part of a society ....?
Recall: Individual (as related to human rights and personal safety), others (in relation to social structures like family or friendship or other peer relationships), society (as related to culture and opportunities for health promotion)
Get rid of that nasty second criterion and make it more flexible in order to talk about the impacts of the ethical dilemma on the well-being of people and society (in combination not necessarily separately) so the remainder of the analysis is about ‘explaining the implications of these differing and opposing perspectives for the well-being of people and society’