Utility and impartiality: Being impartial in a partial world

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 22 (2 & 3):151 – 167 (2007)
This article proposes an eclectic and holistic model of ethics and ethical thinking. It uses this tripart model to show how partialities can be integrated into impartial moral reasoning. Ethical reasoning is divided into three problem areas or "levels" - cases, frameworks, and ultimate ethical goals. Each level employs its own form of reasoning. For evaluating cases, the author advocates an eclectic application of principles; for evaluating frameworks of principles, the author advocates contractualism; for evaluating ethical theory as a whole, the author advocates a notion of the human good inspired by Aristotelian perfectionism. This article argues that utilitarianism, which is one part of eclectic deliberation, is hampered by the idea that ethical reasoning must be based on a single moral criterion or "master" principle. The article concludes by showing how this eclectic model, supplemented by "mitigated impartialism," provides a systematic method for assessing partialities, with reference to the problem of patriotism in journalism.
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