Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ethics Training is Missing the Mark: Here's Why

S. L. Young

Ethics is a topic that's often discussed by parents, schools, organizations, and employers. These discussions usually teach individuals about the importance of being ethical: what does it mean; why is it important; what are the costs of unethical activities? This subject matter must be taught; however, the toughest parts of being ethical are almost never discussed. That is... what are the emotional, physiological, and moral challenges that individuals who don't want to be complicit to unethical behavior experience?

Before exploring the affects of wanting to be ethical, the reason that ethics is important must be reviewed.

Ethics are behavioral standards that individuals, organizations, and societies apply and generally adhere to as acceptable. Without ethical standards, there can be numerous variables used to determine if something is right or wrong, good or bad. Notwithstanding these random variables, there are always individual considerations based on experiential learning; however, an individual's ethical standards are normally defined and developed by family, religious beliefs, friends, and societal practices. These standards provide common operating practices that are used to define the limits of acceptable behavior.

Generally, individuals know whether something is right or wrong. Although, there are times that ethical decisions will require additional consideration, input, or sometimes assistance to make the appropriate choice. The challenge - many times - is whenever a decision is within an unclear range or the biggest test is making a decision about whether to get involved to resolve a known ethical issue. During these times, individuals can experience an internal battle while attempting to make an ethical decision.
The internal impacts of making tough ethical choices can impact individuals:
Emotionally - a feeling someone has related to a particular situation, event, or consideration;
Physiologically - a body's reaction to making a tough decision, which could be stress, anxiety, sweat, depression, etc.;
Morally - a challenge to an individual's belief system weighed against the things an individual believes to be true --- but may be altered while making a tough decision.

These internal impacts are seldom (if ever) discussed during ethics training. This omission is unfortunate because an ability to process these intangible elements are important factors while individuals determine whether to be ethical during certain moments.

In a time that winning at almost any cost is more pervasive, there must be an increased focus given to educating individuals about the significance of internal processing in ethical decision making --- beyond the mental processing. Otherwise, a larger number of individuals are more likely to bend the limits of standards, rules, policies, or laws to receive an unfair or personal advantage.

After the allegations of ball deflation by the New England Patriots prior to Super Bowl XLIX, my nephew and I discussed the potential ethical issues. During our conversation, my nephew made a couple of points to support his argument: 1) the deflation was found in the first half, but didn't impact the game's outcome and 2) everyone cheats at some point. What?!?!
The rationale used in his positioning is troubling for several reasons:
First, a determination of whether something is ethical should never be decided based on an outcome, but instead by an evaluation of a consideration, situation, or an event;
Second, a choice to be unethical cannot be validated based on attempting to justify the behavior by rationalizing the actions or activities of another;
Third, individuals must be accountable and responsible for their actions --- including complicit acceptance of wrongdoings by allowing known unethical behavior to continue unchallenged.

There is a cost to individuals, organizations, and societies if unethical activities aren't resolved in a timely manner. However, there are also costs to individuals' emotional, physiological, and moral health while making a choice whether to get involved with the prevention of unethical behavior.

Decisions individuals make cannot be necessarily managed by external factors; although, if ethical training helps individuals to understand and prepare for the internal factors that might be experienced while dealing with ethical dilemmas, then more individuals will be better prepared to handle the internal impacts that can be experienced while attempting to behave ethically.

Additional information on workplace ethical dilemmas can be obtained in Mr. Young's solution-oriented book "Ethical Opportunity Cost: It's a matter of choice".

This post originally appeared on S. L. Young's blog on his website

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

African Values Are Not For Sale

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo

“African values are not on sale,” the new Chairman of Communications for the African bishops has said.

But Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo, Nigeria, is convinced they are under threat from what Pope Francis has called an “ideological colonization” that is seeking to destroy the family.

It's so bad, he says, that the United States has made clear it will not help Nigeria fight the Boko Haram terror group unless the country modify its laws regarding homosexuality, family planning and birth-control.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On civilized men

“The most pressing question on the problem of faith is whether a man as a civilized being can believe in the divinity of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, for therein rests the whole of our faith.”--Fyodor Dostoevsky

"Over-civilization and barbarism are within an inch of each other.--G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Learning to Question Narratives

Alice C. Linsley

We live by received narratives and rarely question them. They define us as a group: Ogala Sioux, Holocaust survivor, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, etc., and as members of a group we are not encouraged to critically assess the historicity and facticity of the narratives. My philosophy students are taught to do this in a logical fashion.

What is the value of this project? Critical analysis of group narratives helps students identity interpretations of historical events that do not align with facts. Further, the project leads to the proliferation of more accurate narratives, and these in turn raise more questions. Artists and novelists achieve greatness by doing this. Goya, Picasso, Cervantes, Faulkner and Hemingway are examples. Cultural anthropologists break new ground when they explore group narratives: Margaret Meade, Ruth Benedict, and Claude Levi-Strauss. In philosophy the great ontological questions have been relocated by those who question narratives, among them Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida. Students involved in this project are more likely to think out of the box. They are the future great thinkers.

It is not enough to merely question a narrative. Questioning alone produces nothing of value. It is the trend these days, very avant garde. Scholarly pursuit of the truth yields value. It is hard work, and many students will lose interest very quickly.  Imagine how many minds were wandering during Heidegger's early morning Aristotle lectures in which he began by reading lengthy passages in classical Greek. Consider how annoying Socrates' probing questions were to Athenians whose prestige was bolstered by their narrative.

An important principle for students to grasp is that narratives conceal as much as they reveal. They express realities that are beyond our consciousness. Heidegger points to this reality when he writes, "It is necessary to surpass Aristotle - not in a forward direction in the sense of a progression, but rather backwards in the direction of a more original unveiling of what is comprehended by him." (Aristotle's Metaphysics 1-3: On the Essence and Actuality of Force, p. 69)

In the weeks ahead, we will explore various narratives, employing critical analysis and scholarly deconstruction. We will discover, as did Heidegger and others, that ontological research is essentially historical in character.

In the weeks ahead, we will evaluate the narratives that speak of Roman Catholic priestly succession. the origins of Judaism, the antecedents of Islam, and the Protestant narrative.

Related reading:  Something Older; What May Christians Safely Disbelieve?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Quote of the Week - Father Gabriel Naddaf

Greek Orthodox priest Gabriel Naddaf says:
"In Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, innocent Christians are hanged for their faith in Jesus. Yet Reverend Stephen Sizer was welcomed as a guest of Khomeini’s daughter. Sizer’s hatred knows no bounds."

Crusading Anti-Zionist vicar Stephen Sizer is in Iran again to "expose" the Zionist lobby in England at an anti-Israel conference in Tehran. Presumably RPP will feature in his presentation to all those peace-loving anti-Zionist moderates gathered in Iran, as we made his official Zionist Lobby listing hereSizer implicates Iranian Christians by stereotyping them as belonging to a big Zionist Lobby.