Morality, Responsibility, and the University

Morality, Responsibility, and the University: Studies in Academic Ethics

Edited by Steven M. Cahn
Copyright Date: 1990
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Morality, Responsibility, and the University
    Book Description:

    "[A] timely and important book.... These thoughtful essays surely will shape the debate about morality in higher education for years to come and provide guidance in the quest to improve the quality of campus Iife." --Ernest L. Boyer, President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching This book, the first of its kind, consists of fourteen original essays by noted American philosophers critically investigating crucial moral issues generated by academic life. The authors ask: What are the standards of conduct appropriate in class-rooms, departmental meetings, and faculty meetings, in grading students, evaluating colleagues, and engaging in research? "The need for appropriate, sustained, philosophical analyses and examinations of practical ethics dilemmas in academic life undoubtedly is required since the reporting of questionable conduct alone does little to resolve the problem. This book of essays provides a vehicle for beginning this sustained investigation." --Betty A. Sichel, Long Island University "The essays address neglected matters which not only should, but I believe will, be of interest to academics...and perhaps a few administrators, which would be a very good thing indeed." --Hans Oberdiek, Swarthmore College

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0592-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
    (pp. 3-7)

    In recent years philosophers have been examining the standards of conduct appropriate to a variety of professions. The activities of physicians, nurses, lawyers, business managers, journalists, engineers, and government policy makers have all been subjected to critical scrutiny. Serious questions have been raised about the degree of moral sensitivity displayed in medical offices, courts, and boardrooms. Indeed, philosophers have even served as ethical consultants, and today a hospital staff may include not only surgeons, internists, and radiologists but also a specialist in medical ethics.

    One feature of the situation, however, is most curious, for the conduct of a particular group...

    (pp. 8-31)
    Alan Gewirth

    Universities stand in a double relation to human rights. On the one hand, all university personnel are the subjects or holders of the rights, including such of their corollaries as the right to academic freedom. On the other hand, university administrators have an especially strategic role as respondents or bearers of the duties that are correlative to the rights in university contexts. These include the duty to protect the academic freedom of their teachers and students and also the duties to provide as adequate educational facilities as they can and to refrain from discriminating against any of their would-be members...

    (pp. 32-55)
    Judith Wagner DeCew

    That freedom of conscience and expression is protected in the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights is probably no coincidence.¹ Such protection has been given preferred treatment by our judiciary during at least the past fifty years. In the institutional setting of a university or college, free speech takes on even greater importance. A university provides a public forum and an educational environment where students can learn original, bold, and diverse views. A university is widely viewed as a commonwealth of learning established primarily to allow and nurture free exchange of ideas and to promote the search for truth.²...

  6. 3 TENURE: Academe’s Peculiar Institution
    (pp. 56-75)
    Andrew Oldenquist

    Does everyone already have tenure? About fifteen years ago at my university an art professor made a small blue neon sign that said simply “tenure” in script and placed it in his studio window. Perhaps it counted as conceptual art; perhaps it won him tenure; I never knew. His art highlighted what professors believe is uniquely and profoundly important to their careers and their profession. The really dramatic thing about tenure is not just that it gives one security for life but that the alternative is immediate one year’s notice of banishment.

    Is tenure unique to the academic world, or...

    (pp. 76-92)
    Rudolph H. Weingartner

    Most personnel decisions—appointing, promoting, dismissing, just to name some central ones—are not at all peculiar to the academy but part and parcel of most human enterprises with a modicum of complexity. The ethics of personnel decisions in colleges and universities is a special topic only because these institutions differ from the likes of Coca-Cola bottling plants or headquarters of insurance companies in ways that are ethically relevant. To get a purchase on those ethical issues that are peculiar to decisions in the academy (and to other institutions to the degree to which they resemble it), I will begin...

    (pp. 93-108)
    Theodore M. Benditt

    In the palst few decades institutions of higher education have demanded greater research efforts from their faculties. Actually, this has been a phenomenon of higher education for most of this century, but there is probably a perception among college teachers that the pace has quickened in recent years. Some have applauded the strengthened emphasis on research, while others have thought it a regrettable departure from the proper mission of higher education, which, as they see it, is teaching. Many professors think that research is appropriate for certain universities, but do not think it an appropriate emphasis for their own, middle-level...

    (pp. 109-118)
    Paul D. Eisenberg

    Whatever may be true of them in other aspects of their lives, academics in thleir professional work and lives face some particularly knotty problems about truth telling. The difficulty is compounded by the many different areas of teaching and research, and even service work, in which such problems occur. In this essay I shall concentrate on some of the problems that arise in the areas of teaching and service; or rather, since the kinds of service work I have in mind may well be regarded as adjuncts to one's classroom teaching, I shall consider teaching and service together. Before turning...

    (pp. 119-133)
    Robert Audi

    Teaching is many things. It is conveying information, developing skills, and imparting modes of thought. It is imposing exercises, eliciting ideas, and encouraging imagination. It is creating attitudes, practicing communication among persons, and building citizenship. It is the modeling of personal styles, techniques of speech, and patterns of thought. It is a job, a profession, a passion, and, for some, a sacred trust. The moral responsibilities of teachers toward their students are numerous and far-reaching, particularly for teachers of the very young. Elementary school children, for instance, are highly impressionable. But even adult students are often deeply influenced by their...

    (pp. 134-149)
    Peter J. Markie

    “Do they want us to be theirfriends?!” That’s how a professor once reacted when the graduate students in his department complained about the faculty’s insensitivity to their concerns. I’m not sure that the graduate students wanted the faculty members to be their friends, but would it have been inappropriate for them to want that? Is it inappropriate to praise professors for being not only teachers but also friends to their students? It is generally agreed that the best college professors are caring, sensitive persons whose concern for their students extends beyond the classroom. Shouldn’t they let their interest in...

    (pp. 150-176)
    Nancy (“Ann”) Davis

    The notion of sexual harassment entered public consciousness in the United States with the publication of a survey on sexual harassment in the workplace conducted byRedbookin 1976. More than nine thousand women responded to the survey, and almost nine out of ten reported experiencing some sort of sexual harassment on the job.¹ Unsurprisingly, these revelations stimulated a lot of discussion in the news media, the popular press, and academic joumals.² At about the same time, sexual harassment was found by the courts to constitute a form of sex discrimination and thus to be illegal under the terms of...

  13. 10 BEYOND IN LOCO PARENTIS? Parietal Rules and Moral Maturity
    (pp. 177-194)
    David A. Hoekema

    There is a certain sort of privacy that consists not in being actually screened from others’ view but simply in the practice of not looking. Privacy of this limited sort is familiar in public restrooms, locker rooms, and hospitals.

    When I was a college student, this kind of privacy—and no otherprevailed within a hundred—yard circle of the entrance to the women’s residence halls between 10:45 and 11:00 p.m. on weekdays, 12:45 and 1:00 a.m. on weekends. Dozens of couples could be espied bidding fond farewells on the steps, along the porch railing, and among the low bushes about...

    (pp. 195-217)
    Norman E. Bowie

    One of the more significant developments in higher education in the 1980s is the growth of partnerships between education and industry. Most of these are research partnerships in the natural sciences, especially in biology. However, partnerships are found in the business education field and in other areas. Examples of such partnerships include a $52 million research fund at Washington University established by Monsanto Company and used by Monsanto and university scientists to develop pharmaceutical drugs and a $60 million fund to support FIDIA–Georgetown Institute, devoted to basic brain research and established by the Italian company FIDIA.¹ In addition, industry-university...

    (pp. 218-230)
    Alan H. Goldman

    As a new generation of women and minority group members turns college age and enters the job market, a generation with far fewer victims of discrimination in lower schools than previous generations, one hears less call for affirmative action in university appointments for reasons of compensatory justice and more call for diversity per se among faculties. Diversity in itself is held to be desirable apart from considerations of compensation. In this discussion I shall evaluate this appeal, distinguishing different forms or senses of diversity, different contexts in which the appeal is made, and different justifying arguments.

    That diversity within college...

  16. 13 ACADEMIC APPOINTMENTS: Why Ignore the Advantage of Being Right?
    (pp. 231-242)
    David Lewis

    Universities exist for the sake of the advancement of knowledge: its transmission by teaching, its expansion by research. Most of those who make academic decisions on behalf of universities will take the advancement of knowledge as their predominant, ultimate aim.

    Of course, some people in universities have different aims in mind. They may think the advancement of knowledge is meaningless, or square, or worthless, or unattainable, or just outweighed by some more urgent aim—the cultivation of entertaining new ideas regardless of truth, perhaps, or the civilizing of the future rulers, or the recruiting of a mighty army to smash...

    (pp. 243-270)
    Robert L. Simon

    In times of major social controversy, should colleges and universities function as political agents on behalf of particular causes? Although this issue is often forgotten in times of political quiescence, it rises to the surface again during times of political conflict. Protests against the Vietnam War, as well as concern in the 1980s over divestment of university investments in corporations doing business in South Africa, have generated criticism of the view that universities should be politically neutral. Can academic institutions justifiably remain silent in the face of such events as genocide, the waging of unjust wars, systematic and pervasive racial...

    (pp. 271-273)