Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Assignment #10

Ethical Decision Making Framework
NAME: Joshua Adams


(1) Choose one inquiry, from inquiries 1 - 28 (pages 114 - 117). Indicate which inquiry you chose, and then briefly explain it in your own words: I chose inquiry number five on page 114. A journalist named Nathan is from a patriotic family that never speaks ill of their country. In his career, Nathan has been a strong critic of his country and blames it for causing or perpetuating many of the world's problems. He even blames his country for the actions of other world leaders.
(2) Stakeholders: Name each person, group, organization, etc., that has a stake in this outcome. Nathan has a stake in the outcome because his job is on the line. Nathan's readers have a stake because they will probably base some of their thoughts and opinions on his writings and therefore depend on them to be truthful and objective. Nathan's family has a stake in the outcome because they want to preserve their reputation for being patriotic and non-critical of their country. The government has a stake in the outcome because Nathan's writings are causing people to distrust and even hate them.

(3) Are the details given sufficient? Why or why not? The details given are not quite sufficient because they don't really say whether or not Nathan is right. If Nathan is living in a horrible, oppressive country, he may very well be justified in his writings. Of course, if he were living in a country like that, the government would probably immediately put an end to his writings. The inquiry does not say where Nathan lives and it does not say if he is justified in his writings.

(4) What additional questions does this inquiry raise? Where does Nathan live? To what extent does his country cause or perpetuate problems in the world? Is Nathan justified in saying the behaviors of his country are responsible for the actions of other world leaders?


1. Obligations (aka "duties"): Optional this week
2. Moral Ideals (aka "virtues"): See breakdown of ideals below
3. Consequences (aka "outcomes" or "results"): Optional this week

NOTE: Not ALL of the following ideals will apply! Only consider the main ones that you believe apply, in the inquiry you chose. Don't just pick the easy ones to consider, because you didn't take the time to thoroughly read the chapter and learn what each one of these actually means. I will quiz you when we do group work on Thursday.

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Prudence: This virtue applies because the journalist has an obligation to be truthful and objective with readers. In order to honor this obligation, a journalist must use practical wisdom to deliberate thoughtfully about whether his writing is appropriate or not.

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Justice: Justice applies to this situation because it requires that the journalist be objective and give all parties their due, without bias. It requires that the journalist not "play favorites" with the parties in his writing.

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Temperance:

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Courage: This ideal applies because the journalist is brave enough to put his views on his country in the public forum even though the majority of people in his country openly disagree with him. If he is justified this virtue is even more apparent.

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Loving Kindness:

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Honesty: This virtue applies because the journalist holds great, influential power over his readers and he must not use this power to deceive or mislead his readers.

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Compassion: This virtue applies because the journalist may feel a great empathy for the people he sees in the world that are being wronged by his nation's government. He may even vicariously feel their pain and therefore feel a great obligation to write about the wrongs that are befalling them.

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Forgiveness:

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Repentance:

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Reparation:

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Gratitude:

* Cardinal Ideal/Virtue of Beneficence:

* Conflicting ideals--consider the relative importance of each; determine which ideal represents the greater good (or the lesser evil). See pages 110-11 for clarification. The ideals I chose that apply don't disagree with each other to any large extent but if I had to choose which ideal represents the greatest good (or least evil) I would pick prudence because it wraps the ideals of justice, courage, honesty, and compassion all into one by requiring that the journalist thoughtfully consider the plight of all parties involved and truthfully place the blame on all parties that deserve it objectively.


Alternative #1: If the journalist is justified in claiming that his country is responsible for some of the world's major problems and has even caused world leaders to behave negatively, then he should continue to point out and make public his government's abuse of power.

Alternative #2: If the journalist is not justified in his accusations then he could apologize for his false accusations and place blame where blame is due and justify it with believable and truthful facts.

Alternative #3: The journalist could continue to lie to his readers if he is not justified; of course, this would violate all the ideals and obligations he is supposed to be upholding.


Examine the action taken or proposed and decide whether it achieves the greater good (the most widespread "respect for persons")...if it does not, choose one that will, from your alternatives. Where the choice of actions is such that no good can be achieved, choose the action that will result in the lesser evil.

This inquiry really requires an either/or response because it does not give enough detail to the reader to know whether or not the journalist is justified in his accusations. If the journalist is justified in his accusations of his country then he is obligated to honor the ideals of prudence, justice, honesty, courage, and compassion (p. 107-109) by objectively and honestly informing his readers of the atrocities his nation's government is committing. If he is not justified, the journalist needs to apologize for his lies and place impartial blame where blame is due and back it up with justifiable reasons. In this case the journalist's ideals agree with his obligations and he must therefore follow them in order to yield the greatest good for all stakeholders. This "great good" can be achieved by telling the truth to his readers in his writing.


1. In your own words, describe something new that you learned from this week’s assigned reading material and guidance. Insert answer here. This week I learned that when ideals and obligations come into conflict, an individual must choose which one to honor based on what will yield the greatest good or least evil for all stakeholders involved. This is basically using the Utilitarianism or ends-based approach that bases its decisions on results and seeks out the result with the greatest good.

2. In your own words, describe in detail some insight you gained, about the material, from one of your classmates' blogs this week. Name the blog, and insert answer here. I learned from the blog of DDavis that we are all faced with conflicting obligations and virtues in our lives but we have to honor the one that produces the most good or least evil. She made this clear in pointing out that the basketball coach should not have let the player play in order to teach the player a lesson and set a precedent for future player behavior.

3. Did you post a thoroughly completed post to your blog on time this week? Yes, I filled out all sections that applied to my inquiry and I did it on time.

4. Did you ALSO print this out, so you can bring it to class and earn total points? Yes, I printed my post out and I will be bringing it to class with me.

5. Of 25 points total, my efforts this week deserve: I believe I deserve 25 points for my efforts this week because I read chapter nine and applied specific virtues to my inquiry. Then I chose which ideal was most important and I reflected on the reasons why it was most important.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Blog Assignment #9


In this section, we're going to return for a moment to Chapter 7, to the section that discusses errors that are common in the analysis of moral issues (p. 89). Briefly explain each of the following errors in your own words, as if you were explaining the concept to a friend who had never taken this class (consider who, what, when, where, why, how, when); and then give an example of each one, preferably from your own past experience.

Unwarranted Assumptions: Unwarranted assumptions are when we presume to know something that is not actually stated in the details of a situation. We are making an unwarranted assumption when we believe something to be true that has not actually been proven. Suppose a doctor was going to pull the plug on a comatose, but otherwise living patient who was hooked up to life support. We wouldn't be able to judge the action without understanding more intimate details about the situation, such as the requests of the family or a do not resuscitate provision on the patient's chart. If the family agreed that the patient had no quality of life, or the person who was comatose asked to be taken off life support in a living will, then the action of the doctor couldn't be unethical. However, if the quality of life of the patient was questionable, or the family members with power of attorney carried ulterior motives, then the actions of the doctor would be unethical. Assuming either outcome without knowing the facts would be unwarranted.

Oversimplification: Oversimplification makes us blind to details of an issue because it makes generalizations that can often ignore important details. An example of oversimplification can be found in the issues surrounding abortion. Many people who oppose abortion ignore that our population would explode without it and many people who support it ignore the barbarism of late term abortions. Oversimplification is the equivalent of putting blinders on and having "tunnel vision." A few details become important and other details which can many times be just as important are ignored.

Hasty Conclusions: Hasty conclusions occur when we make judgments about a situation based on our own biases without clearly and objectively examining an issue. For instance, some claim that Barack Obama had knowledge of Rod Blagojevich trying to sell his senate seat to the highest bidder. Some people made hasty conclusions that Barack Obama had to have knowledge of this because he was such a big part of Illinois politics. Many of these people had an open conservative bias and this probably shrouded their view of what was going on. More details would be needed to accurately draw that conclusion.


Briefly answer the following "chapter opening" questions, in your own words, based on what you learned by studying chapter eight:

1. What do we do in situations where there is more than a single obligation? In situations where there is more than a single obligation we must try to find a middle ground and give preference to both in a compromise. When this can't be done and we can only choose to honor one obligation and break the others, we must give preference to the obligation that carries more importance. For instance, when a trucking company is screening drivers and finds that some have DUIs on their record but it occurred a long time ago, they must choose between the liability of losing their load and truck on a bad driver and the welfare of the driver. In this case, the potential losses associated with someone with a recorded history of negligent driving would have to outweigh the welfare of the driver because the loss of the truck and load affect many more people than the driver alone. Therefore, the driver is not hired because of the company's obligation to promote safety on the highways and get loads safely to their customers.

2. How can we reconcile conflicting obligations? In order to reconcile conflicting obligations we must consider the relative importance of each and give preference to the more important one. For instance, a psychiatrist has an obligation to preserve a patient's privacy. However, if a patient tells the psychiatrist that they are planning to harm other people then the psychiatrist is ethically obliged to inform the authorities so as to prevent something bad from happening. In this case, preference was given to the more important obligation of the psychiatrist to prevent unlawful things from being committed by the patient.


1. In a nutshell, what is the most important thing, for you, that you learned from this assignment? The most important thing I learned from this assignment was the importance of carefully weighing each detail of a situation before making a judgment. There are so many fallacies associated with making an ethical analysis such as oversimplification, hasty conclusions, and unwarranted assumptions. I learned to try and compromise and honor multiple obligations when it is possible. When it is not possible, I learned to honor the obligation that carries the most importance.

2. How will you apply what you learned through this assignment to your everyday life? In my everyday life I will try to avoid jumping to hasty conclusions as I often do. It is all too easy to jump to conclusions based on my biases and I will make a conscious effort to stop doing that in the future. Also, I will try to avoid the other problems the book talked about such as oversimplification and unwarranted assumptions.

3. What grade do you believe your efforts regarding this assignment deserve? Justify your answer. I believe I deserve full credit for this assignment because I answered all the questions fully in paragraph form and gave an example in each answer. I used specific rationale directly from the book which proves I read the chapter.