As commonly understood, professional ethics consists of shared duties and episodic dilemmas--the responsibilities incumbent on all members of specific professions joined together with the dilemmas that arise when these responsibilities conflict. Martin challenges this "consensus paradigm" as he rethinks professional ethics to include personal commitments and ideals, of which many are not mandatory. Using specific examples from a wide range of professions, including medicine, law, high school teaching, journalism, engineering, and ministry, he explores how personal commitments motivate, guide, and give (...) meaning to work. (shrink)
The study of engineering ethics tends to emphasize professional codes of ethics and, to lesser degrees, business ethics and technology studies. These are all important vantage points, but they neglect personal moral commitments, as well as personal aesthetic, religious, and other values that are not mandatory for all members of engineering. This paper illustrates how personal moral commitments motivate, guide, and give meaning to the work of engineers, contributing to both self-fulfillment and public goods. It also explores some general frameworks (...) for thinking about these commitments and calls for further exploration of them. (shrink)
Positive psychologists aspire to study the moral virtues, as well as positive emotions, while retaining scientific objectivity. Within this framework, Martin Seligman, a founder of positive psychology, offers an empirically-based argument for an ancient and venerable theme: happiness can be increased by exercising the virtues. Seligman's project is promising, but it needs to pay greater attention to several methodological matters: greater care in defining happiness, so as to avoid smuggling in value assumptions of the sort suggested by the title of (...) his book, Authentic Happiness; more attention to the gap between happiness as overall satisfaction and specific gratifications ; the danger of sliding to subjectivism by equating self-assessments of virtue with objectively-justified values of the sort Aristotle had in mind; awareness of how “positive” emotions and attitudes presuppose value assumptions. (shrink)
Contrary to Mele's suggestion, not all garden-variety self-deception reduces to bias-generated false beliefs (usually held contrary to the evidence). Many cases center around self-deceiving intentions to avoid painful topics, escape unpleasant truths, seek comfortable attitudes, and evade self-acknowledgment. These intentions do not imply paradoxical projects or contradictory belief states.
Creativity in science and engineering has moral significance and deserves attention within professional ethics, in at least three areas. First, much scientific and technological creativity constitutes moral creativity because it generates moral benefits, is motivated by moral concern, and manifests virtues such as beneficence, courage, and perseverance. Second, creativity contributes to the meaning that scientists and engineers derive from their work, thereby connecting with virtues such as authenticity and also faults arising from Faustian trade-offs. Third, morally creative leadership is important (...) at all levels of science and engineering. (shrink)
In this wide-ranging, accessible book, Martin asks: are we replacing morality with therapy, in potentially confusing and dangerous ways, or are we creatively integrating morality and mental health? Martin touches on practical concerns like love, work, self-respect, self-fulfillment, guilt, depression, crime, violence, and addictions. He uses examples from popular culture as well as drawing on a line of thought that includes Plato, the Stoics, Freud, Nietzsche, and contemporary psychotherapeutic theories. In the end, Martin convincingly shows how both morality and mental (...) health are inextricably intertwined in our pursuit of a meaningful life. (shrink)
If we are responsible for taking care of our health, are we blameworthy when we become sick because we failed to meet that responsibility? Or is it immoral to blame the victim of sickness? A moral perspective that is sensitive to therapeutic concerns will downplay blame, but banishing all blame is neither feasible nor desirable. We need to understand the ambiguities surrounding moral responsibility in four contexts: (1) preventing sickness, (2) assigning financial liabilities for health care costs, (3) giving meaning (...) to human suffering, and (4) interacting with health care professionals. We also need to distinguish different kinds of blame, explore the interplay of justice and compassion in avoiding unjustified blaming of victims, and work toward a unified moral-therapeutic perspective that encourages individuals to accept responsibility while avoiding destructive forms of blaming. (shrink)
Creativity explores the moral dimensions of creativity in science in a systematic and comprehensive way. A work of applied philosophy, professional ethics, and philosophy of science, the book argues that scientific creativity often constitutes moral creativity—the production of new and morally variable outcomes. At the same time, creative ambitions have a dark side that can lead to professional misconduct and harmful effects on society and the environment.
‘Marital faithfulness’ refers to faithful love for a spouse or lover to whom one is committed, rather than the narrower idea of sexual fidelity. The distinction is clearly marked in traditional wedding vows. A commitment to love faithfully is central: ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part… and thereto I plight [pledge] thee my troth [faithfulness]’. (...) Sexual fidelity is promised in a subordinate clause, symbolizing its supportive role in promoting love's constancy: ‘and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her/him.’. (shrink)
With reference to the “Campus Wars” debates, this paper argues that within the classroom, professional responsibilities justify professors advocating for personal commitments which are pertinent to their discipline. In fact, given a professor’s commitment to pursuing truth in the classroom, this advocacy is both inevitable and desirable. The question to ask, then, is what separates appropriate from inappropriate forms of influence on students. The author draws on the American Association of University Professors’ Statement of Professional Ethics to explore ethical tensions (...) that professors face in the classroom and to motivate further discussion about these tensions as they pertain specifically to ethics teachers. After arguing that the chief tension an ethics professor must navigate is that which arises between the pursuit of truth and respect for student autonomy, the author moves to a consideration of various pedagogical strategies for negotiating this tension. Though each strategy discussed holds advantages and disadvantages, the author maintains that the question of appropriate advocacy is important and complex, and that it calls for further study. (shrink)
In “Personality Disorders: Moral or Medical Kinds—or Both?” Peter Zachar and Nancy Nyquist Potter (2010) reject any general dichotomy between morality and mental health, and specifically between character vices and personality disorders. In doing so, they provide a nuanced and illuminating discussion that connects Aristotelian virtue ethics to a multidimensional understanding of personality disorders. I share their conviction that dissolving morality–health dichotomies is the starting point for any plausible understanding of human beings (Martin 2006), but I register some qualms about (...) their discussion of responsibility. Zachar and Potter target the morality-health dichotomy as it appears in Louis C. .. (shrink)
In this book, Michael Davis, one of the most insightful writers on professional ethics, substantially revises and integrates fifteen of his previously published articles, making them available to a wider audience. Several professions are emphasized: law, engineering, and police work (including international law enforcement). Yet the topics discussed have relevance to all areas of professional ethics: defining professions, the moral authority of professional codes, intelligently interpreting codes, professional autonomy and discretion, dirty hands, and goals in teaching professional ethics.
At their best, mottos help us cope by crystallizing attitudes, eliciting resolve, and guiding conduct. Mottos have moral significance when they allude to the virtues and reflect the character of individuals and groups. As such, they function in the moral space between abstract ethical theory and contextual moral judgment. I discuss personal mottos such as those of Isak Dinesen (“I will answer”) and group mottos such as found in social movements (“Think globally, act locally”), professions (“Above all, do no harm”), (...) philosophy (“The personal is political”), and therapeutic groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (“One day at a time”). (shrink)
In suggesting that “philanthropy is almost the only virtuewhich is sufficiently appreciated by mankind,” Thoreau did not wish to denigrate charity, but he took offense when even minor Christian leaders were ranked above Newton, Shakespeare, and other creative individuals “who by their lives and works are a blessing to mankind.”1 Such individuals might be motivated primarily by caring for nonmoral goods, such as scientific truth, aesthetic appreciation, or creative achievement. Yet, paradoxically, they often benefit humanity far more than they could (...) have through direct humanitarian service. This creativ- ity paradox has been given less attention than paradoxes of self-interest and altruism, but it contains an important insight about moral motivation. It also forces us to clarify the distinction between moral and nonmoral goods, and hence our conception of what morality is. (shrink)
Moral creativity consists in identifying, interpreting, and implementing moral values in ways that bring about new and morally valuable results, often in response to an unprecedented situation. It does not mean inventing values subjectively, as Sartre and Nietzsche suggested. Moral creativity plays a significant role in meeting role responsibilities, exercising leadership, developing social policies, and living authentically in light of moral ideals. Kenneth R. Feinberg’s service in compensating the victims of 9/11 provides a paradigm instance.
It is now commonplace to call persons sick when their wrongdoing becomes entrenched, extensive, and extreme. This mixing of moral and therapeutic categories seems incoherent if we uncritically embrace a morality-therapy dichotomy: Behavioral problems like alcoholism are either moral or therapeutic matters, but not both. This paper dissolves the dichotomy by arguing that chronically abusive drinking is simultaneously a sickness and wrongdoing. Alcoholism is at least partly a self-inflicted impairment of responsible agency that has unhealthy consequences and usually requires therapeutic (...) interventions. Morality and therapy are not inherently opposed. Morality enjoins compassionate helping and nonjudgemental therapy, and therapy is rooted in moral values of caring and respect. The polarized positions of Herbert Fingarette in Heavy Drinking and George E. Vaillant in The Natural History of Alcoholism are reconciled by paying close attention to their accounts of the condition, causes, consequences, and cure of alcoholism. (shrink)