Ethics

Leading With Soul: An Uncommon Journey of the Spirit.down arrow image

Bolman, Lee G and Deal, Terrence E. (1995). Leading With Soul: An Uncommon Journey of the Spirit. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This is not a book about moral education or character development, but rather a dialogue on leadership by two top business consultants. Their sage advice includes a reminder that leadership is the offering of oneself and one's spirit; that a personal signature, a personal responsibility for work done, allows employees to experience the "satisfactions of creativity, craftsmanship, and a job well done". The role of ritual and ceremony are explored. All this within the context of the spiritual evolution of a manager with unrealized potential and his guide who brings him out. This may be a good book to give to a principal for Christmas.

Computer Ethics and Professional Responsibility.down arrow image

Bynum, T.W. & Rogerson, S. (2003). Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing.

The editors of this book are both professors of philosophy and ethics. Bynum, located at Southern Connecticut University is a professor of philosophy, while Rogerson is a professor of computer ethics at DeMontfort University in the United Kingdom. Individually, they have each authored a number of journal articles regarding computer ethics and together, they founded the ETHICOMP conference/congress in 1995 which meets yearly and focuses on discussions and presentations regarding computer ethics.

The purpose of the book is to provide readers with a definition of computer ethics and a beginning understanding for why computer ethics is a subject into itself rather than a sub-set of other ethical genre such as ethics or medical technology ethics. The introduction begins by crediting Norbert Wiener, an MIT professor with originating the idea of computer ethics in 1950 with his book entitled The Human Use of Human Beings.

The book is organized around five big ideas: defining computer ethics, professional responsibility, codes of ethics, privacy, and global computer ethics. Various authors, many of whom are professors of ethics or philosophy, have written their perspectives regarding a related computer ethics topic. At the end of each section, there is a case to analyze which provides the reader a way to apply and reflect on the ideas presented in the chapter. Included is an appendix of six different codes of ethics from many of the computer programming organizations including The Software Engineering Code of Ethics and The Association for Computer Machinery Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

The accompanying website (http://southernct.edu/organizations/rccs/) is an extension of the book and well developed sections regarding the history of computing and the economics of computing. Additional resources, web sites and cases to analyze regarding computer ethics extend the written text of the book.

Part 1 of the book discusses what is computer ethics and presents definitions from experts in the field. The opening essay, entitled "Reason, Relativity, and Responsibility in Computer Ethics" by James Moor sets the framework for computer ethics. He begins his chapter by quoting from Bynum and Rogerson (editors of this book): "We are entering a generation marked by globalization and ubiquitous computing." Moor explains that the world is in the midst of a computer revolution that is "rapidly moving into every aspect of daily life." He argues that computers are logically malleable, because they can be manipulated to do most any activity in regards to inputs and outputs, and also informationally enriching because computers, especially when connected to the Internet, can be put to many uses in diverse activities. His assertions about computers and definitions of computer ethics are, in turn, quoted by many others in the book. He points out that computer ethics has two parts including the nature and social impact of computer technology and the responding ethical use policies regarding computer technology.

The second essay as part of defining computer ethics was written by Walter Maner. He discusses the unique ethical problems of information technology and postulates six levels of justification for the study of computer ethics. He then presents examples illustrating the levels and ethical questions ranging from computer use for stock market trading to computer programming.

This section of the book is concluded with an essay by Bynum outlining policies to guide one’s judgment. He then outlines an heuristic method by which to conduct an ethical case analysis. These eight areas of the analysis process include taking the ethical point of view, developing detailed descriptions of the case, identifying the ethical issues, apply ethical knowledge and skills, get the advice of others, apply one or more systematic analysis techniques, draw relevant ethical conclusions and then draw relevant lessons about the future. Throughout the book, there are cases that are relevant to both educational and professional organizations, companies and institutions that can be analyzed following this framework.

Part II of the book deals with professional responsibility. It is noted that computer professionals generally work in companies with a variety of laws, rules and policies. The editors note that within these types of jobs, there are roles that carry ethical responsibilities and obligations. Examples given regarding the types of roles and responsibilities include doctors, parents, bus drivers, school board members and parents. In this section, the issues of intentional and unintentional power are discussed along with ethical neutrality and positive and negative responsibility. The section concludes with a discussion of the types of ethics that should occur among software development professionals and in particular the principles of honor, honesty, bias, professional adequacy, care, fairness, consideration of the social cost, and effective and efficient actions.

In Part III, the importance of having codes of ethics in computer related fields is discussed. The editors highlight the fact that such codes serve the functions of inspiration, education, guidance, accountability and enforcement. They also emphasize that such codes should not be considered laws or ethical frameworks. The essay in this section by N. Ben Fairweather suggests that there are four ethical issues of the information age and they fall in one of these categories: privacy, accuracy, property or accessibility and referred to with the acronym, PAPA. He concludes that incomplete codes of ethics that may not address all aspects of a particular profession are useless because they cause employees to consider loopholes around the code. Overall, it is important that any codes of ethics that are developed should address all aspects of the jobs carried out by a computer technology company. The following section lists codes of ethics for six different computer technology professional organizations which could serve as a model for other organizations, companies and institutions.

In the next section, Moor writes about ways to justify privacy in relationship to computer ethics. He points out that there are two ways of justifying privacy. First, there are instrumental values which are values that are good because they lead to something else which is good. Second, there are intrinsic values are values that are good in themselves or an ends. Moor suggests there is a third justification for privacy which he calls core values. These are values found in all human cultures including life, happiness, freedom, knowledge, ability, resources and security. The rest of this section gives examples of the above. Another essay discusses how the data protection act passed into law in the United Kingdom in 1984 and 1998 is an example of how certain data should be protected and private (personal data such as medical or legal records), while other data can be less private (processed by organizations such as legislative discussions regarding laws).

The final section of the book deals with global ethics and if there are worldwide computer ethics that exist. Krystyna Gorniak-Kocikowska suggests that there is no revolution larger than the computer revolution. Up to this point in history, there has not been a common universal ethic of character and that the nature of computer technologies may cause one to take place. She emphasizes the importance of computer ethics and that there should be an agreement on the global character in cyberspace.

Overall, the book identifies key issues regarding computer ethics and provides a way to frame the field of computer ethics. Anyone interested in examining the ethics of the development of software, web pages, or blogs will find the essays useful to identify a developing code of ethics. The printed codes of ethics shared in the book will guide any organization or company in this process, despite the fact that technology and online technology applications change more quickly than books such as this can be written. The cases to analyze provide the reader a way to apply the ethics concepts discussed in each chapter.

The book mostly focuses on codes of ethics for companies and individuals who are professionally employed to develop technology code, software applications or web sites. Although one could generalize the principles presented, the book does not address ethics for individuals who have become "citizen journalists" through their blog entries or by creating their own web pages from their own personal computer. Educational institutions such as universities or school districts will find the codes of ethics a good framework for developing guidelines within their institutions, but there are limited references to educational institutions or the need for codes of ethics to be developed.

Reviewed by: Rob Darrow
Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at Fresno State (DPELFS)

Integritydown arrow image

Carter, Stephen L. (1996). Integrity. New York: HarperCollins.

This is not a book specifically for educators, though they would be advised to read it. Rather, it is the reflections of a wise Yale Law School professor about an important topic and its relation to our day-to-day actions. Carter defines integrity as having three elements: discerning right from wrong, acting on what one discerns, and saying what one is doing and why. He then applies these criteria to a wide variety of examples from Watergate (and lessons about leadership) to contracts, to grading systems and grade inflation, first amendment rights, marriage, sportsmanship and civil disobedience. He writes of commitments, promises, forthrightness and compassion, and along the way he presents wonderful examples from classic literature (e.g., Sophocles, St. Augustine, etc.), classic and modern legal cases (including the Senate confirmation proceedings for Clarance Thomas and the murder trial of O.J. Simpson), as well as from philosophy, theology, and history. This book is very readable and important. US. News and World Report calls it, "graceful and provocative".

Ethics in Special Educationdown arrow image

Howe, Kenneth R. (1992). New York: Teachers College Press.

Kenneth R. Howe has a joint Ph.D. in philosophy and education from Michigan State University, a Master's Degree in philosophy and a Bachelor's degree in philosophy from Michigan State University. His expertise is in the area of educational policy and he is professor of education in Boulder, Colorado at the University of Colorado.

Ofelia Miramontes was a professor of education and an Associate Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Equity. She specialized in first and second language acquisition and linguistic diversity.

The target audience for The Ethics of Special Education is said to be special educators but the authors make a point that all educators, administrators, and parents are involved in the decisions that individuals make in the area of special education therefore all would benefit from this book.

This book is designed as a method of fitting theoretical information into actual cases that have been heard by the Supreme Court. The content is designed utilizing case studies with a method of analyzing the information given, applying theory, and determining the outcomes that might be appropriate given the ethical dilemma.

The case studies are intended as a teaching tool and have specific information that students of this subject should come prepared with prior to whole group discussion. Howe and Miramontes recommend that all students should have contemplated all possible reasonable alternatives, should endorse one alternative, have reasoning aligned with why one particular alternative was selected, and any missing information that might have swayed the decision to a different alternative. Howe and Miramontes recommend that when grouping students for discussion of the case studies that there should be a philosopher and an expert in the area of special education for each group discussion. Howe and Miramontes point out that by using case studies for deliberation of ethical decision making, one is getting practice and that is the primary method of learning about ethical decision making.

One case study that is woven throughout the book as a method of typing the pieces together is a case regarding "Amy". "Amy" is a first grader that is hard of hearing. She was being offered hearing aides and training in lip reading. She was achieving academically, educational, and socially according to the school district. The parents, on the other hand, wanted a full time interpreter to provide services for Amy. They felt that she was being denied opportunity commensurate with the opportunities granted to other students. They also wanted to "maximize opportunity" given to Amy. In looking at Amy's case, as well as the other case studies presented in the book. Howe and Miramontes provide a structure for determining the process of looking at ethical deliberation. The recommended steps are:

  • Relevance of law?
  • Should law support family?
  • Factual information that is relevant?
  • Different conclusions (alternate facts)
  • What ethical principles are involved?
  • Are any of the ethical principles in conflict?
  • Should your role as parent, general educators, special educators, administrator, or attorney, effect your position?
  • What position would you support?

Amy's case was decided by the Supreme Court and the reasoning for their decision in favor of the school district was that PL 94-142 intended no substantive educational standard. The authors talk about the danger of ignoring ethical questions in favor of legal questions.

One specific framework offered by the book is Immanuel Kant's statement that "ought implies can". When making ethical decision, it is implied that the alterative being selected in possible.

There are two different types of methods of ethical decision making. They are principle-based decision making and virtue-based decision making. The principle-based decision making would take a specific ethical principle and apply it to arrive at the decision. The virtue-based decision making is taking someone who is considered virtuous, accepting their decision as the virtuous decision and applying their philosophy to your situation.

Another philosophical framework presented in the book is Aristotle's view that there is a scientific and an ethical model of reasoning. The scientific reasoning brings the particulars of a situation and brings them under universal rule. The ethical reasoning model is able to size up new and unrepeated concrete situations and arrive at a decision.

Howe and Miramontes talk about moral compromise. They lay out a definition by using a quote by Benjamin (1990). It states that "Splitting the difference between one's own viewpoint and opposing viewpoints while at the same time preserving one's integrity by remaining committed to one's original beliefs and principles.

Although this book was targeted toward special educators in general, I felt that this would be an exceptional book for teaching in the higher education environment as well as for special education administrators. Having some type of framework for educators to follow when trying to make legal and ethical decisions would benefit all. This book was published in 1992 but the information and process presented in timeless. I wish I would have had this book to follow the guidelines several years ago.

A challenge faced by many special education administrators is making placement and service decisions that are morally and ethically appropriate while still upholding the challenge of fair resource distribution. Following the law isn't always the only method of determining what out to be, and can be, done for the student in question.

Reviewed by: Tangee Pinheiro
Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at Fresno State (DPELFS)

How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Livingdown arrow image

Kidder, Rushworth M. (1996). How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living. Fireside (Simon and Schuster, Inc.).

Rushworth Kidder is the Director of the Institute for Global Ethics in Camden, Maine and supervising editor of its curriculum materials. In this book Kidder defines a process for ethical decision-making which provides the rationale for his character education curriculum. Although the book is not specifically directed to teachers, it is a very useful and practical handbook for those involved in thoughtful analyses of ethical perspectives related to the education of children and the education of teachers. Kidder proposes a multidimensional model for making ethical decisions based on clear philosophical positions and practical examples of everyday moral dilemmas. The components of the model include:

Three basic resolution principles (principles for resolving dilemmas):

  1. ends-based (i.e., utilitarianism)
  2. rule-based (i.e., Kant's categorical imperative)
  3. care-based (i.e., Golden Rule).

Four basic dilemma paradigms for evaluating between right vs. right positions:

  1. truth vs. loyalty
  2. individual vs. community
  3. short-term solutions vs. long-term solutions
  4. justice vs. mercy

Nine checkpoints for ethical decision-making:

  1. recognizing the moral issue
  2. determining the action (whose issue is it?)
  3. gathering relevant facts
  4. testing for right vs. wrong issues
  5. testing for right vs. right paradigms
  6. applying the resolution principles
  7. investigating a middle ground (the 'trilemma' option
  8. making a decision
  9. revisiting and reflecting on the decision.

The premise of the book is that thoughtful people need practice thinking logically about the right thing to do and then need to exercise that thinking. The book is full of examples and would make a good text for professional development activities.

Moral Couragedown arrow image

Kidder, Rushworth, M. (2005).

Defining moral courage as "the quality of mind and spirit that enables one to face up to ethical challenges firmly and confidently," Kidder, president of the Institute for Global Ethics, offers a treatise on the "courage to be moral" replete with examples and analysis. He offers a step-by-step guide, including checklists, on how to apply moral values to difficult situations, understand risks (more often career troubles and social ostracism than physical harm) and endure hardships brought on by moral courage itself. (Read more...)

Library Ethicsdown arrow image

Preer, J.L. (2008). Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood.

As the library profession has been continually changing many of the core values and ethics of librarianship have evolved along with it. The author embarks on an attempt to explain the history, values, and issues of professional librarianship based around these themes: identity, ethics, access, funding, and future. Within this framework the author argues for the professional need of a strong ethical starting point to ensure the services that are a hallmark of librarianship are delivered in an ethical manner. The book is a wealth of information on the topic and guides the reader across the themes in a logical manner with many relevant examples of ethical quandaries librarians face.

Jean Preer presents the evolution of library ethics by first describing the formation and growth of the library profession. From the first library school developed by Melvil Dewey at Columbia to the formation of the American Library Association Preer outlines the gradual development of a code of ethics for the library profession. She explains the rapid growth of libraries under Andrew Carnegie and other historical events that led up to the formal adoption of a library Code of Ethics in 1938.

As the profession of librarianship began to gain a stronger identity under the "Moral Compass" of the Code of Ethics and the expanding amount of library schools throughout the country it began to experience a vast array of challenges to their core values. The author uses the themes mentioned previously to guide the reader through examples of how these newly developed codes were challenged in interesting and unique ways.

Service by whom and for whom are looked at by examining the role of the library professional in relation to para-professionals and the diverse population of the United States that includes immigrants, the homeless, disabled, and children who all require unique services and ethical handling. Matters of patron hygiene and racial discrimination of African-American librarians in the South are explained through court cases that highlight the difficult questions often raised in the library environment.

What information should be accessible to users is presented to the reader by comparing obscenity to offensive and selection to censorship. The author explains the legalities of the terms and how they are applied in a library environment. Again with the use of representative court cases the author is able to shed light on sometimes hard to grasp concepts of information access in libraries.

With the invention of radio, television, and finally the internet the whole idea of "best information for the most people" had to be re-examined. Not only did these new formats cause much debate about indecency and who should police rating systems, but also brought into question the quality of the information as well. With D.W. Griffin's The Birth of a Nation the question arose if an obvious cinematic piece of art should be condemned and ignored because of it's inappropriate content or not.

The author throughout the work showed how librarians were always quick to adapt new technologies into their field and the internet was no exception. Not only was the internet adapted as a tool for librarians they also were active in developing standards about how it could be used in the library environment. Because of the foreseen dangers of immediate access to potentially harmful or offensive material Congress attempted to regulate the internet with the Communications Decency Act. The ACLU and ALA sued to block the act and allow all information allowed by the constitution to be accessible. The Supreme Court agreed and librarians are allowed to operate in an environment of global information where only that deemed by law as obscene can be banned.

The book takes us into more recent times with a discussion of the Patriot Act that was passed after 9/11/2001. Preer highlights the many attempts by librarians to maintain patron records in a confidential manner from even law enforcement agencies to no avail. The author leaves the question of patron confidentiality versus national security open for further debate as it is to this day. This question along with the growing movement of a more ‘social" web with the rise of Web 2.0 and social networking ends the work with thoughts of the future and how librarians ethics will evolve to meet it.

The book is strong in its usage of history to highlight the growth and development of the library profession. By using interesting court cases as examples the author is able to keep the reader engaged and interested in a somewhat obscure realm of professional ethics. The book also is able to flow easily from one juncture of history into the next and not leave the reader feeling that there were gaps in the historical coverage of the topic.

There were areas of weakness in the book however that at times leaves the reader confused and in need of clarification. Names are used throughout the book that may have been only briefly introduced earlier that leads the reader on a quick search for clarification as to this person's role in the book. Although there is the historical flow that is well done events are sometimes given cursory attention that later play a larger role than originally described causing pauses by the reader to adjust and make clear the writer's intention.

Together the strengths and weaknesses create a book rich in content and somewhat lacking in readability at times. The author attempted to give a broad framework of the ethics involved in librarianship and succeeded. While researching this topic I discovered that there was very little published on this subject and commend the author's thorough attempt at covering such an obscure ethical area in a profession in which some might question, "Librarians have ethics?"

Reviewed by: Ronald Oxford
Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at Fresno State (DPELFS)

The Moral Base for Teacher Professionalismdown arrow image

Sockett, Hugh. (1993). The Moral Base for Teacher Professionalism. New York: Teachers College Press.

How can schools restore the in loco parentis conception? How can we restore trust to the profession? In this thoughtful book, Sockett makes a case for professional ethics as a pervasive theme in teaching. According to him, the moral core of professional teaching is composed of four components: the individual character of each teachers, their commitment to change and continuous improvement, the depth of knowledge and understanding of the subject matter they teach, and their pedagogic strength (i.e., how well they teach what they know). While subject matter knowledge and pedagogical knowledge are components of the intellectual dimensions of teaching, character and commitment comprise the moral dimensions. Both are necessary to define the profession.

In several intense chapters, Sockett defines professional expertise as virtue, concentrating on honesty, courage, care, fairness and practical wisdom. Teachers must care about truth; teachers must "have deliberate practical reasoning in circumstances of difficulty, turbulence, or trouble"; teachers must be as responsible for children under their care as are the best parents; teachers must operate within a system of rules; and, teachers must strive for practical wisdom--knowing what to do when and why. According to the author, these components of professional expertise define the professional teacher. His book could meaningfully be used by faculty of individual schools at regularly scheduled meetings to stimulate discussion about the obligations and functions of teachers in schools today.

Ethics for Professionals in Education: Perspectives for Preparation and Practicedown arrow image

Strike, Kenneth A. and P. Lance Ternasky (Eds.) (1993). Ethics for Professionals in Education: Perspectives for Preparation and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.

Kenneth Strike is an eminent educational philosopher and the current authority on ethics in education. This book is directed to professionals seeking to understand the context for their ethical responsibilities. This edited volume is divided into three sections and its audience is educators at all levels. The first section explores philosophical thought on which ethical policy and curricula may be founded; the second section considers how ethics may be taught in schools and what factors interfere with ethics instruction in the schools; and, the third section considers how institutional issues (the leadership and atmosphere of the school, governing boards, state department of education, unions, etc.) influence the perception of ethics in the classroom. Throughout the volume, the various authors come back to the question of the necessity of ethics in education if education is to be called a profession. The first section sets the tone for the volume, but the second section, dealing with ethics in preservice education, is important for teachereducators as well as teachers. It is the heart of the book. The various chapters in section two deal with the moral dimension of teaching--e.g., the power teachers have over students and the personal relationships they build with them and the responsibility inherent in keeping those relationships ethical. Other chapters deal with the use of actual cases to teach ethics and teacher responses to both student relativism and student absolutism. Section three, the final section contains excellent chapters, with real examples, of how institutions (schools and professional organizations) impact the lives of educators and students. Overall, this book makes a very solid contribution to the professional development of the teacher seeking to clarify professional ethical issues as distinct from character education for children.

The Moral Sensedown arrow image

Wilson, James Q (1993). The Moral Sense. New York: Free Press.

In The Moral Sense, James Q. Wilson describes in broad sweep how the human species is bound together by mutual interdependence and a common moral sense. Regardless of culture, gender or national origin, Wilson, a renowned social scientist, argues for the universality of what he calls a shared moral sense and elaborates with examples: sympathy, fairness, self-control, and duty. These shared human traits explain much of our moral behavior. In the final part of his book Wilson gives an account of the sources of these moral sentiments: human nature, family experiences, gender and culture. This is a very enlightening book, full of examples, history, philosophy and social science. It is an important book, readable, and a useful resource for educators.

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