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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CD5590 LECTURE 3 Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic Department of Computer Science and EngineeringMälardalen University2006
The Ethics of Character:Virtues and Vices Moral Reasoning and Gender Based on: Lawrence M. Hinman, Ph.D. Director, The Values Institute University of San Diego
Introduction Concern for character has flourished in the West since the time of Plato, whose early dialogues explored such virtues as courage and piety*. Plato (by Michaelangelo) * fromhet
Two Moral Questions • The Question of Action: • How ought I to act? • The Question of Character • What kind of person ought I to be? • Our concern here is with the question of character
An Analogy from the Criminal Justice System • As a country, we place our trust for just decisions in the legal arena in two places: • Laws, which provide the necessary rules • People, who (as judge and jury) apply rules judiciously • Similarly, ethics places its trust in: • Theories, which provide rules for conduct • Virtue, which provides the wisdom necessary for applying rules in particular instances
Virtue • Strength of character (habit) • Involving both feeling, knowing and action • Seeks the mean between excess and deficiency relative to us • Dynamic balance • Secure desirable behavior Aristotle (by Michaelangelo)
Two Conceptions of Morality • In a simplified scheme, we can contrast two approaches to the morality. • Restrictive conception: • Child vs. adult • Comes from outside (usually parents). • “Don’t touch that stove burner!” • Rules and habit formation are central. • Affirmative conception: • Adult vs. adult • Comes from within (self-directed). • “This is the kind of person I want to be” • Virtue-centered, often modeled on ideals.
The Purpose of Morality • Both of these conceptions of morality are appropriate at different times in life. • Teenage years are the time when people make the transition from the adolescent conception of morality to the adult conception.
Rightly-ordered Desires and the Goals of Moral Education • Moral education may initially seek to control unruly desires through rules, the formation of habits, etc. • Ultimately, moral education aims at forming and cultivating virtuous conduct.
Virtue As the Golden Mean • Strength of character (virtue), Aristotle suggests, involves finding the proper balance between two extremes. • Excess: having too much of something. • Deficiency: having too little of something. • Not mediocrity, but harmony and balance.
Virtue and Habit • For Aristotle, virtue is something that is practiced and thereby learned—it is habit (hexis). • This has clear implications for moral education, for Aristotle obviously thinks that you can teach people to be virtuous.
Courage • The strength of character necessary to continue in the face of our fears • Deficiency: • Cowardice*, the inability to do what is necessary to have those things in life which we need in order to flourish • Too much fear • Too little confidence • Excess • Too little fear • Too much confidence • Poor judgment about ends worth achieving *feghet, rädsla
Nichomachean Ethics, 3.7 What is terrible is not the same for all men; but we say there are things terrible even beyond human strength. These, then, are terrible to every one- at least to every sensible man; but the terrible things that are not beyond human strength differ in magnitude and degree, and so too do the things that inspire confidence. Now the brave man is as dauntless* as man may be. *oförfärad
Nichomachean Ethics, 3.7 Therefore, while he will fear even the things that are not beyond human strength, he will face them as he ought and as the rule directs, for honor's sake; for this is the end of virtue. But it is possible to fear these more, or less, and again to fear things that are not terrible as if they were.
EN, 2 Of the faults that are committed one consists in fearing what one should not, another in fearing as we should not, another in fearing when we should not, and so on; and so too with respect to the things that inspire confidence.
EN, 3 Of those who go to excess he who exceeds in fearlessness has no name (we have said previously that many states of character have no names), but he would be a sort of madman or insensible person if he feared nothing, neither earthquakes nor the waves, as they say the Celts do not..
EN, 3 … while the man who exceeds in confidence about what really is terrible is rash. The rash* man, however, is also thought to be boastful** and only a pretender to courage. At all events, as the brave man is with regard to what is terrible, so the rash man wishes to appear; and so he imitates him in situations where he can. *överilad, obetänksam, förhastad , överdådig, dumdristig **skrytsam
EN, 5 The brave man, on the other hand, has the opposite disposition; for confidence is the mark of a hopeful disposition. The coward, the rash man, and the brave man, then, are concerned with the same objects but are differently disposed towards them; for the first two exceed and fall short, … *överilad, förhastad
EN, 5 …while the third holds the middle, which is the right, position; and rash men are precipitate*, and wish for dangers beforehand but draw back when they are in them, while brave men are keen in the moment of action, but quiet beforehand. *överilad, förhastad
Hercules (Heracles) – A Role Model • Heracles in Greek mythology, was a hero known for his strength and courage • The son of the god Zeus and a human mother Alcmene • Hera, Zeus’ jealous wife, was determined to kill Hercules, and after Hercules was born, she sent two great serpents to kill him. Hercules, while he was still a baby, strangled the snakes.
Hercules (Heracles) – A Role Model • Hercules conquered a tribe that had been demanding money from Thebes. As a reward, he was given the hand in marriage of the Theben princess Megara and they had three children. • Hera, still filled hatred of Hercules, sent him into madness, which made him kill his wife and children.
Hercules (Heracles) – A Role Model • In horror and remorse at what he did, Hercules was about to kill himself. But he was told by the oracle at Delphi that he should purge himself by becoming the servant of his cousin Eurystheus, king of Mycenae. • Eurystheus, urged by Hera, planned as a punishment the 12 impossible tasks, the “Labors of Hercules.”
Hercules (Heracles) – A Role Model • The first task was to kill the lion of Nemea, a lion that could not be hurt by any weapon. Hercules knocked out the lion with his club first, then he strangled it to death. He wore the skin of the lion as a cloak and the head of the lion as a helmet, a trophy of his adventure. • The second task was to kill the Hydra that lived in a swamp in Lerna. The Hydra had nine heads. One head was immortal and when one of the others was chopped off, two grew back in its place. ..
Hercules (Heracles) – What can we learn? • The impossible deeds were defined by gods. • Gods define “the rules of the game” • Gods show both virtues and vices. Hera is jealous in a typical human way. • Gods do not hesitate to use intrigue to fight humans
Hercules (Heracles) – What can we learn? • Great hero Heracles could go mad at times • He was however forgiven for his good deeds sake (justice of compensation) • Heroic deeds were both to help other people or to overcome ones own fear and weakness • Courage was a typical male virtue
Courage as a contemporary virtue • Both children and adults need courage. • Without courage, we are unable to take the risks necessary to achieve some of the things we most value in life. • Risk to ask someone out on a date. • Risk to show genuine vulnerability. • Risk to try an academically challenging program.
Courage and the Unity of the Virtues • To have any single strength of character in full measure, a person must have the other ones as well. • Courage without good judgment is blind, risking without knowing what is worth the risk. • Courage without perseverance* is short-lived, etc. • Courage without a clear sense of your own abilities is foolhardy. *ihärdighet, uthållighet, ståndaktighet
Issues of Courage • Fears, dangers, and rightly-ordered fears • Seeking out danger: mountain climbing • Courage and nonviolence: Gandhi • Courage and gender • Women’s courage is often undervalued • Men’s courage is tied to their gender identity
Compassion and Pity • Pity* looks down on the other. • Consequently, no one wants to be the object of pity. • Compassion** sees the suffering of the other as something that could have happened to us. • Consequently, we welcome the compassion of others when we are suffering. * ömkan **medlidande
Compassion • Etymology: to feel or suffer with… • Both cognitive and emotional • Leads to action • Contrast with pity
Compassion • Emotion is often necessary: • to recognize the suffering of others • emotional attunement • part of the response to that suffering • others often need to feel that you care • Compassion and gender • Men’s compassion is often suppressed • Women’s compassion is tied to their gender identity
Cleverness and Wisdom • The clever person knows the best means to any possible end. • The wise person knows which ends are worth striving for. • Wisdom and gender • Equally distributed • Often expected from old men and women
Self-LovePrincipal Characteristics Characteristics of self-love • Valuing yourself – from feelings of self-love • Knowing yourself – a long, often arduous, and never completed task • Acting in ways that promote your genuine flourishing • Having feelings of care, appreciation, and respect for others
Self-Love:Deficiency Deficiency • Too little feeling: self-loathing • Too little self-valuing: self-deprecating • Too little self-knowledge: unwilling or unable to look at one’s own motivations, feelings, etc. • Too little acting: not taking steps to insure one’s own well-being
Self-Love:Excess • Excesses of self-love take many forms: arrogance, conceit, egoism, vanity, and narcissism are but a few of the ways in which we can err in this direction. • Too much caring: self-centeredness • Too much self-valuing: arrogance, conceit • Too much self-knowledge: narcissistic • Too much acting for self: selfishness
Forgiveness • This, too, is a virtue indispensable for human flourishing • In any long-term relationship (friendship, marriage, etc.), each party will do things that must be forgiven by the other. • Long term relationships are necessary to human flourishing. • If we cannot forgive, we cannot have continuing long term relationships
Forgiveness:Excess and Deficiency • Excess: the person who forgives too easily and too quickly • may undervalue self • may underestimate offense • Deficiency: the person who can never forgive • may overestimate his or her own importance • usually lives a life of bitterness and anger
Concluding Evaluation • Virtues are those strengths of character that enable us to act according to ideals of good and right • The virtuous person has practical wisdom, the ability to know when and how best to apply these various moral perspectives.
Footnotes to Plato (and Aristotle) • "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." Alfred North Whitehead, the great 20th-century British philosopher
The Kohlberg-Gilligan Debate and Beyond Moral Reasoning and Gender
An IntroductionVirtue Ethics: Freud on Femininity • “Thus, we attribute a larger amount of narcissism to femininity, which also affects women's choice of object, so that to be loved is a stronger motive for them than to love. The effect of penis-envy has a share, further, in the physical vanity of women, since they are bound to value their charms more highly as a late compensation for their original sexual inferiority.”
Virtue Ethics: Freud on Femininity • “It seems that women have made few contributions to the discoveries and inventions in the history of civilization; there is, however, one technique which they may have invented – that of plaiting* and weaving.” Freud, S. (1933). New introductory lectures on psychoanalysis. Lecture 33: Femininity. Standard Edition, v. 22. pp. 136-157. *fläta
Le Deuxième Sexe - The Second SexSimone de Beauvoir 1949 • Woman as Other • “For a long time I have hesitated to write a book on woman. The subject is irritating, especially to women; and it is not new. Enough ink has been spilled in quarrelling …” Simone de Beauvoir http://www.philosophypages.com/ph/beav.htm
Lawrence Kohlberg • American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg (Harvard) studied under Swiss psychologist and philosopher Jean Piaget (1965), who had developmental approach to learning. Kohlberg extended the approach to stages of moral reasoning. • Using surveys, Kohlberg presented his subjects with moral dilemmas and asked them to evaluate the moral conflict. He was able to prove that youth at various ages, as youth proceed to adulthood, they are able to progress up the moral development stages presented, Lawrence Kohlberg (1927 - 1987)
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development • Kohlberg believed that individuals could only progress through these stages one stage at a time. That is, they could not "jump" stages. Kohlberg's ideas of moral development are based on the premise that at birth, all humans are void of morals, ethics, and honesty. • He identified the family as the first source of values and moral development for an individual. • He believed that as one's intelligence and ability to interact with others matures, so does one's patterns of moral behavior.