Instructor: Karl Wielgus
Address:Metropolitan state University 700 East Seventh Street St.Paul MN 55106
Overview:This seminar is designed to use your knowledge from your work in Human Services and improve your understanding of ethical decision making, as well as a means act in ways consistent with ethical principles in your work. Doing the right thing is never automatic, is not guaranteed by rules or codes. What is required is an ability to think, decide and act deliberately.
Objectives:After completing the seminar and integrating the learning with your Human Services experience, you should:
Peter (1995). How Are We to Live? New York
Singer, Peter(1993) Practical Ethics. New York
Bly, Carol. (2000). Changing the Bully Who Rules the World. Minneapolis
In addition to the examination of what might have served
as guidance through a situation, you should also consider
the reason for making a good decision rather than another
one. What should have been the consequences of doing the
wrong thing? If you had decided to act differently, what
would have prevented you?
Finally, describe what you think the decision you made had any moral dimensions at all. At this point, you should try to look at the basic question of what makes an action connect to any kind of moral matter. Is a decision just something that is involved in getting work done, or does it have significance beyond the moment.
This exploration should be written up before the class meeting and written up after reading a section from How Are We to Live? (Three-five pages) I suggest you think through your experience and select out the matter you want to work on. Try to address the questions I have set down above. After writing out your thoughts, read the Singer Material. See if what he has written modifies your thinking. Are the matters that come up in your thoughts when you apply some of his questions to the matter you are focused on? The purpose here is to learn the extent to which a lot of things we do are done with a tactic, unformulated framework. This effort can help you begin to make the tactic more explicit by using questions to draw out things we take for granted.
This assignment is worth 100 points.
The framework needed for this paper will be developed
during the period the class is meeting. Various worksheets
and exercises each week will provide the conceptual
framework needed to do this paper.
This analysis is worth 100 points.
Readings: Chapters 1-5 in How Are We to Live?
Due: In your work in Human Services, you have observed, participated in, and worked in situations that required choices to be made by those involved. In class, the students will learn from each other's decision situations and the tactic guidelines that were involved. Through the reading and discussion of decisions, we will better understand what makes a decision ethical or not. For most or us, ethics is not a deliberate consideration and so values, norms, and guidelines are brought into our decisions. The only time we may appreciate that there are some ethical issues is when our decisions are challenged or judged by another. The writing carried out before the first class will form part of the basis for the work together.
Exercise 1: Values, Beliefs, Truths and Lies that guide behavior. Write up of the guidance system we use. Ethical failures arise from a lack of connectedness between actions and contexts. The film "Mindwalk," an excellent tool for learning about models that inform our actions, will be viewed and discussed in class. To use the framework of the film, perhaps ethical problems are the consequence of a crisis in perception or lack of it.
Due: Statements of values, lies and beliefs that guide
your behavior. This is an exercise in thinking that will
take about three pages to write up. The issues to be
addressed will be on worksheets that will have been handed
out in the first class. In class, the focus will permit us
to begin to recognize that ethics calls for making
conscious what usually remains implicit in our actions.
Ethics does not come up until there is a clash between
these and the requirements of a situation. The importance
of knowing the paradigms we use in our work must be
Discovery of the paradigms that guide our work and decisions must be articulated in order to make ethical decisions. Human Services work requires this. The idea that there are ultimate values and the problem, of the connecting among actions which are not immediately apparent are considered. How ethics can be moved from a mechanical to a relational paradigm is explored. These issues will be discussed in class and the material from the first exercise will be relevant.
Exercise 2: Organizations are the environments where we do work and they have significant effects on ethical behavior. This exercise will require a mapping of any roles you have played in organizations. These roles entail social dynamics that hinder or advance ethical behavior. We are the characteristics of these roles and how do they impact personal behavior. One case study to be completed for next class. Current or pervious work experiences will be appropriate to consider and reflect upon. A worksheet for this will be provided in class. This exercise should be two pages to three pages in length.
Due: Role in organizing analysis. From the class, it should become clearer that certain arrangements enhance or hinder ethical decision making. The ethical decisions requires knowledge of the social milieu in which work is done. Lack of this has hindered ethical development because of the assumption that ethics is a matter of personal belief and knowledge. Group work in the class will provide an opportunity to discover how ethics requires attention to the social realm. Stress is one of the indicators that work needs to be done on the ethical elements is an organization.
Exercise 3: A role analysis - the context of action and decision. The role framework to be use will be provided in class. In addition, a supplemental reading on social roles will be given out. The role analysis will take about three pages to complete.
In class, the idea of a code or organizational code as a solution of ethical issues will be explored. Each student will bring an example of some professional or organizations code. The problems created by trying to go from an abstract code to a practical decision are examined as is the connection of human development and ethical development. In the decision making in Human Services, there can be regression in the service of abstract codes or development through active decision making. Topics for exploration: Human development theories - Kohlberg, Levinger, Erickson and their relationship to ethical decision making. The clients' problems and the Human Services profession's problems have a common base. Ethical action is a path that carries us from lower levels of development. What ethical behavior is possible without policing? The theories all seem to point out basic issue - ethical behavior is central to the problem of human development. Perhaps work in human services is related to the matter of helping lives move along the stages of growth.
Exercise 4: Evaluation of the weeks work. What is the level of psycho-social development in the organizational and group environment? What are the grounds for "doing the right thing and how is the "right decision" encouraged or reinforced? Ways to sustain ethical action in the daily environment. The material used for this analysis will be provided in the class session.
This class will be a summary of what has been worked on. There will be no additional assignment. Summary and syntheses. The class will draw up a practical protocol for enhancing ethical decision making. One decision from personal exploration will form the basis for a revised decision and an account for the changes in the decision that are more congruent with ethical decision making. Hopefully the initial work you did at the beginning of the class can be revisited. This class will be an opportunity to approach experience with the tools we have worked on. The various activities and exercises have provided new ways to define and experience action in the professional sphere and to consider the ethical dimension. In elaborating and articulating the ethical grounds for action, it will prove helpful to utilize dialogue with others. What should be clear at this point is that the question of whether and what is ethical is not a once and for all decision, it is a process.