Yes ethics can be taught. There are as many approaches to teaching ethics as there are ethics instructors. According to Magee, a course in ethics can help students understand the dangers of rationalization. A lot of bad behaviour goes on because good people tell themselves that such behaviour is not, in fact, bad. In the vast majority of cases, such rationalizations are rooted in very poor reasoning. Second, a course in ethics can quite simply give students the opportunity to talk, at length, about ethics, something they likely wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to do. This can have several different positive effects. For instance, it can make students more comfortable talking about topics that might otherwise be too awkward to raise. Finally, there’s even something practical to be gained by having students read theoretical, scholarly articles on business ethics. Such articles can have two benefits. First, if chosen carefully they can exemplify for students what first-rate reasoning about ethics actually looks like. In other words, good articles on ethics are effectively special-topic exemplars of advanced critical thinking skills. Students who study such first-rate reasoning in the classroom stand a better chance of being able to engage in solid ethical reasoning in the workplace. A further benefit of exposure to scholarly articles is that such articles tend to be relatively high-minded: they call on readers to think carefully about ethics, and to take the ideas of moral obligation seriously.
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Dec 19th, 2014
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