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The Forum > Article Comments > Ethically speaking ... > Comments

Ethically speaking ... : Comments

By Eric Claus, published 5/4/2006

University graduates need a good dose of free thinking and an understanding of ethics.

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That sounds lovely Eric, but it won't happen. Pragmatic courses like business and engineering require a thinking style worlds away from the thinking demanded by philosophy. While we need both types there are precious few who can successfully do both.
Posted by chainsmoker, Wednesday, 5 April 2006 9:07:01 AM
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What they need first is the capacity to distinguish between fact and opinion, fact and assumption, fact and scenario, and all laced with liberal doses of realistic probability. But don't start with the undergrads, best get re-educating our political/administrative elite who routinely extrapolate to extremes from limited inputs and then take it all on board as proven fact.

But even if we were to succeed it would all be for nothing if decision makers are left with so little time for contemplation of the whole. We are governed by "pace morons", otherwise intelligent people who are given so little time to properly consider issues that their output is indistinguishable from the work of cretins.

And having cheered you all up one can only say, "be alert, not alarmed".
Posted by Perseus, Wednesday, 5 April 2006 9:50:39 AM
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Philosophy is a natural urge for some and some indeed are free thinkers whilst most are not, just like back in your day.

When Plato was around people were not free thinkers then either, yet he emerges. This is a nonsense crap article.

Some philosophy is trivial anyway.
Posted by Realist, Wednesday, 5 April 2006 10:02:04 AM
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A great idea - not that I think anyone will implement it, but in that it's like an awful lot of good ideas.

I particularly like the quote from the US employer who would rather English degrees than business degrees. Too much government policy seems to be based around the idea of universities as vocational training centres. Talk to anyone not in a strictly technical field though (law, engineering, medicine), and you'll generally hear that their work has little direct relation to their degree (whether it be business, commerce or arts). The idea that universities can and should turn out workplace-ready office workers is a myth - business itself is better placed to mould new employees. Let's leave universities to turn out well-educated, well-rounded people, capable of learning and adapting, and with an understanding of the society of which they are a part.
Posted by chris_b, Wednesday, 5 April 2006 10:25:34 AM
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There is no evidence, as far as I know, that people who study ethics or philosophers, and certainly humanities academics in general, are any more ethical than those who do not study ethics. They may know more about arguments concerning ethics, and hence how to argue more effectively for dubious moral positions as if they were ethical ones (such people were known to Socrates as sophists), but this does not mean that that they will behave in a more ethical fashion. All that ethics courses can provide is a guide book or recipe book regarding the rules to follow if one wishes to be considered, or have the appearance of being, ethical. It is a great fallacy to believe that courses pitched at adults can modify their behaviour in a significant way.
If we wish to produce 'more ethical people' then the place to start is the family and the age should be before the child's 7th year. This is an issue of behaviour not theory. Advanced education generally teaches theory.
Even so the idea that we can educate people into becoming ethical sounds nice but bound to fail in practice. However, it does provide extra employment for professional philosophers and creates a new occupation of ethicist. One wonders, following Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe, if they would be on the advance space ship containing the telephone sanitisers and other such professions.
Posted by GregM, Wednesday, 5 April 2006 11:56:09 AM
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Business ethics. Now there is an oxymoron.

As stated by GregM, itís a little too late in the development of a child to start teaching ethics when they are 18. Morality and ethics are traits generally inherited by primary objects (mother and father) in the childís formative years.

Compulsory University courses in ethics would just mean that students would have to acquire a new set of hoops to jump through in order to pass exams and essays. There is absolutely no guarantee that these ethics would be employed in latter life.

As the un-named American CEO in the article implies, any graduate can be taught just about anything, University just teaches students how to pass exams and essays.
Posted by Narcissist, Wednesday, 5 April 2006 3:13:12 PM
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