Evening M.A. Program in Applied Ethics (without Thesis), (Second Education)

1. The Aim of the Program

 

Why do we need ethics? Why does applied ethics matter? It matters because we will not survive the 21st century with the 20th century ethics. Academics, professionals, engineers and many other people in business, media, education, public service, Law, Medicine confront many ethical issues in their daily work. The immense power of modern technology, business, and media extends globally. Many decisions taken by those professionals guide and shape our society. A good decision can benefit millions, but an unethical one can cripple our future. So while an understanding of ethics has become an integral and indispensable part of the training and education expected of academics, professionals, engineers, social workers, and leaders, it is not always delivered as part of their formal education.

 

The Philosophy Department’s graduate program in Applied Ethics at Middle East Technical University is designed to fill this gap, which links analytic and foundational studies in applied ethics with case studies and concrete problems arising in public and professional life. The features of this program are intended to prepare professionals for ethical decision making and for a greater sensitivity towards ethical issues in their professional lives. Thus, the program offers a unique complementary formal education in applied ethics.

 

2. Admission Requirements

 

The requirements for the admission to the program are listed at the web page of the Graduate School of Social Sciences (APPLICATION). In addition to those requirements, recommendation letters and an interview shall be taken into account. Moreover, those candidates who are currently working or with prior experience in professional life will have a priority in admission to the program.

 

3. Description of the Program

 

The program is designed to appeal to professionals of all sectors, public and private.

 

The Student enrolling in this program will take five core courses, which aim to equip her/him with the basic knowledge necessary to understand and evaluate theoretical, historical and applied aspects of ethical knowledge. Moreover, the student must take five elective courses with the approval of her/his advisor(s). The program project is to be taken after the completion of course work. The program, if completed successfully, will yield a M.A. degree (without thesis) in Applied Ethics. The program must be completed at most in six semesters.

 

3.1. Degree Requirements

 

The requirements for the degree by course work are shown below:

 

Core Courses:

 

PHIL 581: Research Methods in Applied Ethics

 

PHIL 582: Ethics and Value I: Theoretical

 

PHIL 583: Ethics and Value II: Applied

 

PHIL 584: Ethics of Argument and Persuasion

 

PHIL 585: Ethics and Decision Making

 

PHIL 589: Term Project

 

Elective Courses:

 

PHIL 586: Ethics and Computer Technology

 

PHIL 587: Ethics of Discourse

 

PHIL 588: Environmental Ethics

 

PHIL 590: Ethics and Self-Awareness

 

PHIL 591: Media Ethics I: Theoretical

 

PHIL 592: Media Ethics II: Applied (Prerequisite: PHIL591)

 

PHIL 593: Media Ethics III: Research on Case Studies

 

PHIL 594: Ethics in Organizations I: Theoretical

 

PHIL 595: Ethics in Organizations II: Applied (Prerequisite: PHIL 594)

 

PHIL 596: Ethics in Organizations III: Research on Case Studies

 

PHIL 597: Business Ethics

 

3.2 Course Descriptions

 

 

3.2.1 Core Courses:

 

PHIL 581: Research Methods in Applied Ethics (3-0)3

 

This course starts with an assumption: Research Method in Applied Ethics is qualitative and is based upon rules perspective. The reason for this assumption is that in ethics, both descriptive and prescriptive (normative) methods are inadequate. The former reduces ideas to law-like generalizations of behaviour, while the latter gives a fixed catalogue of recipe-like collection of norms. As a third alternative, rules approach assumes that at the rule-governed level of ethical conduct, rules provide form for the ethical behaviour, while reducing neither ideas nor action to secondary status. Any and every field of applied ethics may be considered as a field of consensus over some rules. A code of ethics, in this sense carries properties unique to rules, and not to law-like generalizations. A code of ethics as a "rule" first of all, has normative power, i.e., it tells us how to "correct" our behavior once we deviate from it. A rule in this sense is a criterion of making a choice. Secondly, a rule must have generality. It must be simple enough to apply to a wide range of cases. Thirdly, a rule must have necessity, i.e., must invoke, in the parties involved, a sense of obligation. The subject's "feeling of obligation" or of "normative necessity" plus his performative act of obedience to "rules" is nothing but the "closure" of the structure called a "code of ethics". Collection of a particular group of such structures for a particular field (such as media, business, environment, etc.) will constitute a part of the grammar of applied ethics.

 

The first part of this course examines the concept of rule and related concepts such as "rule governed behavior", "normative power", "constitutive-regulative rules" and answers to such questions as "What are the analytic (a priori) and empirical aspects of a rule?" "What is the logical make up of a rule?" "What are the relationships between rules and performative actions?" etc.

 

The second part of the course aims at making explicit the connections between a code of ethic and a rule. Two major attempts at taxonomy of constitutive-regulative rules (Searle and Habermas) will be given as illustration. The students are expected to develop similar taxonomies for the concrete cases when they take Research on Case Studies (PHIL 593 and 596).

 

This course is the regulative back-bone for the other courses whose contents are about theoretical or practical aspects of the grammar of applied ethics.

 

PHIL 582: Ethics and Value: Theoretical (3-0)3

 

The very continuity of the social order suggests that there is some degree of agreement about values, or at least some conformity to common principles of action. If so, the problem of philosophical reflection becomes one of deciding what our value commitments are and whether they can be defended as rational. The aim of this introductory course will be to pursue such reflection in conjunction with a reading and discussion of texts by major thinkers of the past (e.g., Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche). The course will thus categorize, classify and summarize some of the major ethical theories such as subjectivism, objectivism, conventionalism, utilitarianism, the appeal to nature, the appeal to the golden rule, Kantianism, egoism, etc. The main focus will be to identify the criterion of rationality that these theories imply.

 

PHIL 583: Ethics and Value II: Applied (3-0)3 [Prerequisite: PHIL 582]

 

The course will begin with consideration of various arguments encountered in everyday life on ethical or moral issues. After developing some skill in identifying ethical and moral arguments and disagreements, major competing ethical theories that the students studied in PHIL 582 will be applied to these moral problems. In order to fulfill this aim, several concrete and pressing contemporary moral problems will be chosen such as birth control, abortion, capital punishment, etc. The students will be encouraged to write and think clearly about these problems, weighing alternative solutions and criticizing those which are weak or untenable. The main focus will be to provide the student with the skills necessary to identify a moral problem and to introduce her/him to critical philosophical thinking over moral issues.

 

PHIL 584: Ethics of Argument and Persuasion (3-0)3

 

The connection between argument and ethics is an old one: Aristotle in his Rhetoricswrote that rhetorics was an offshoot of ethical studies. Modern persuasive techniques such as advertising methods, mass media, Internet, etc., make this connection between ethics and argument more problematic than the ancient time of Aristotle. Some people take the position that all persuasion is unethical. This school of thought finds intellectual support in the writings of Plato. Other people, coming from the tradition of Aristotle make a distinction between ethical and unethical persuasion. The first part of this course will review these theoretical views on persuasive arguments. The thinkers, whom this course examines, include ancients (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero) as well as moderns (Weaver, Toulmin, Habermas....) ones.

 

The second part of this course takes a closer look at the questions "When is it ethical to persuade?" and "How are such arguments constructed?" The students will be encouraged to write and think clearly on some ordinary life examples of ethical and unethical arguments and to apply certain models of constructing arguments to these examples.

 

PHIL 585: Ethics and Decision Making (3-0)3

 

Ethical dilemmas and conflicts confront business managers, public administrators, and other professionals, as well as ordinary individuals, on a daily basis. How to avoid making decisions based upon prejudice and emotion? How to make rational decisions under insufficient information or under risk? Decision theory is concerned with models of decision-making by rational individuals. The subject has lately become relevant not only to economics, philosophy of science, and theory of rationality, but also to management science, political philosophy, and ethics. This course, which assumes no knowledge of mathematics beyond high-school algebra, provides an introduction to the fundamentals of decision theory, paying attention to matters of ethical and social choice.

 

PHIL 589: Term Project (3-0)3

 

Each student will be asked to pursue an individual MA Term Project on applied ethics by using all the conceptual tools so far acquired.

 

 

3.2.2 Elective Courses:

 

PHIL 586: Ethics and Computer Technology (3-0)3

 

This course examines central ethical issues involved in the production and use of computer and computer based communication and information technologies. We will begin by introducing certain philosophical problems related to the peculiarities of computer use and communication through the Web and proceed to case discussions on ethical topics like privacy, right to access to information, property rights, hacking, professional ethical codes, reliability and security.

 

PHIL 587: Ethics of Discourse (3-0)3

 

Ethics of Discourse is an important movement in twentieth century philosophy. Philosophers like Apel and Habermas regard discourse ethics as a basis for establishing norms. Norms are a matter of consensus of the equal participants of discourse and not a question of a privileged subject. This course examines discourse theory of ethics and its practical applications.

 

PHIL 588: Environmental Ethics (3-0)3

 

Environmental ethics is a controversial area in applied ethics in at least three respects: complexity of environment, conflict of interest in environment, and human centered ethical traditions, concepts and theories neglecting the non-human environment. So, while uncertainty and conflict of interest increase the demands on ethical principles, the basic assumptions of traditional ethics are difficult to extend to the non-human environment. For example, people have rights, but do other (higher) animals? Do even plants have an interest? Can only individuals deserve to be subjects of moral considerations or can groups of individuals, such as species and ecosystems also be included into moral consideration? What is our fair share of the atmosphere? These and similar questions are treated by both anthropocentrists and ecocentrists.

 

PHIL 590: Ethics and Self-Awareness (3-0)3

 

Contemporary ethics either examines the language of morality or argue about the comparative merits of pragmatic ethics, Kantian ethics and utilitarianism. All of these ethical positions presuppose that human beings are free to direct their own lives and take full responsibility for both the values they hold and actions they perform. They assume that humans can become fully aware of the forces motivating them, determine which of these forces are ethically superior to others and act on the basis of this awareness. This creates an important gap in ethics. The failure of ethicists to respond to the discovery of the unconscious and the relevance of psychotherapy to question fully the values of ethics has meant that we have lived with two isolated discourses concerning human agency in our culture. In this course, by rethinking and reformulating the primary concepts and categories of ethics, the gap between traditional ethics and psychology of the unconscious will be bridged.

 

PHIL 591: Media Ethics I: Theoretical (3-0)3

 

Existing global attempts to develop a grammar of media ethics.

 

The first part of this course will be a theoretical overview of world literature in media ethics. The nature of ethical problems in mass media and journalism will be examined. Code of ethics concerning accountability of the media, fabrication, plagiarism, veiled attribution, conflict of interests, individual privacy vs. public interest, etc., will be critically assessed. The three criteria developed in the Research Methods (PHIL 581), namely, generality, necessity, and power will be used in this evaluation.

 

The second part of this course will examine the ethical aspects of information technology, media imperialism and the question of "Global Conversation".

 

The final part of this course will review the international efforts (by UNESCO, European Community, etc.) to develop supra-national codes of ethics in the above-mentioned areas of moral problems in media. The three criteria mentioned above (generality, necessity, power) will be used to evaluate these codes of ethics.

 

This course constitutes the basis of the applied courses (PHIL 592-593) in media ethics.

 

PHIL 592: Media Ethics II: Applied (3-0)3 [Prerequisite: PHIL 591]

 

The existing situation of the grammar of media ethics in Turkey.

 

This course is continuation of PHIL 591. Added to the student’s prior knowledge, a series of bi-weekly seminars will enable her/him to see the ethical problems in media in concrete setting and from the angle of its practitioners. To this aim, guest speakers from both media, universities and other media-related organizations will be invited to these seminars. The instructor of this course has the task of organizing and monitoring these seminars and getting the students actively participate into them. The seminar reports written by the students will be discussed and critically evaluated by the class during the week following each seminar, and will constitute the basis for her/his performance evaluation.

 

PHIL 593: Media Ethics III: Research on Case Studies (3-0)3 [Prerequisite: PHIL 581]

 

Each student's individual attempt to contribute to grammar of media ethics.

 

Each student taking this course will choose, at the beginning of the semester, a case study in a field of media ethics (developed in detail in PHIL 591). Case studies may be chosen from both national and international events such as "Susurluk", "Watergate", "Zippergate", "Marmara Earthquake", etc. Students will present weekly papers towards reconstruction and evaluation of the pro and con arguments in relation to moral problems involved in the reflection of these events on media. Based on her/his knowledge of research methods (PHIL 581), each student, in the end, will attempt to develop a taxonomy of codes of ethics concerning her/his choice of particular case.

 

PHIL 594: Ethics in Organizations I: Theoretical (3-0)3

 

Existing global attempts to develop a grammar of organizational ethics.

 

In the first part of this course, theories and concepts upon which organizational ethics are based will be reviewed. The nature of ethical problems, the types of ethical dilemmas which people may face in various organizational contexts will be examined. Codes of ethics concerning moral issues such as individual and corporate responsibilities, prevention of fraud and corruption, public trust will be critically addressed. The three criteria developed in the Research Methods (PHIL 581), namely, generality, necessity, and power will be used in this evaluation.

 

In the second part, ethical issues emanating from cross-cultural and international business transactions, such as the imposition of differing (or conflicting) ethical standards and requirements, in the areas of human rights, environmental issues, pollution, bribes and kick-backs will be examined.

 

In the final part of the course OECD guidelines and other attempts to develop global standards for organizational and business ethics will be critically assessed. The same criteria mentioned above (generality, necessity, power) will be used in this evaluation.

 

PHIL 595: Ethics in Organizations II: Applied (3-0)3 [Prerequisite: PHIL 594]

 

The existing situation of the grammar of organizational ethics in Turkey.

 

This course is a continuation of PHIL 594. Added to the student’s prior knowledge, a series of bi-weekly seminars will enable her/him to see the ethical problems in concrete setting and from the angle of business practitioners. To this aim, guest speakers from both public and private organizations will be invited to these seminars. The instructor of this course has the task of organizing and monitoring these seminars and getting the students actively participate into them. The seminar reports written by the students will be discussed and critically assessed by all the class during the week following each seminar, and will constitute the basis for her/his performance evaluation.

 

PHIL 596: Ethics in Organizations III: Research on Case Studies (3-0)3[Prerequisite: PHIL 581]

 

Each student's individual attempt to contribute to grammar of organizational ethics.

 

Each student taking this course will choose, at the beginning of the semester, a case study in the field of organizational ethics (developed in detail in PHIL 594). Case studies may be chosen from both national and international events and efforts. Students will present weekly papers towards reconstruction and evaluation of the pro and con arguments in relation to moral problems involved in these events. Guided by her/his knowledge of research methods (PHIL 581), each student, in the end, will attempt to develop a taxonomy of codes of ethics for her case.

 

PHIL 597: Business Ethics (3-0)3

 

The course aims to increase ethical awareness and to provide students with a better basis upon which to build their own repertoire of behaviors as managers, now or in the future. The purpose will be to enhance students’ understanding of potential ethical issues facing managers in modern organizations, the ethical dilemma which can present themselves and to suggest ways in which these dilemmas might be more effectively dealt with in the practical situation. The issue of corporate responsibility, what it means in the modern world will be explored examining various corporate violations. The course also aims to impart the reasoning and analytical skills needed to use ethical concepts in business decisions with a view of critical thinking and moral reasoning.

 

 3.3 The Advisory System

 

Two advisors are to be assigned to each student. At least one of the advisors must be a member of the Academic Committee. Advisors will be assigned by the end of the first semester.

 

 3.4 The Academic Committee and Steering Committee

 

The Academic Committee consists of the contributing staff members. The Academic Committee elects three members of the Steering Committee which will serve for two years, and these members are to be approved by the Head of the Philosophy Department. One of the members of the Steering Committee is to be chosen by the Head of the Philosophy Department as the Coordinator of the Program. The program, its content and execution shall be constantly monitored and improved by the Steering Committee.

 

4. Activities Accompanying M.A. Program in Applied Ethics:

  1. Center for Applied Ethics (in progress).
  2. Applied Ethics Certificate Program, via SEM (in progress).
  3. National Congress in Applied Ethics. (Nov.8-9. 2001, METU, Cultural Center)
  4. International Conference on Applied Ethics (Scheduled for 2001-2002.)
  5. International Project in Applied Ethics via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.(Scheduled for 2001-2002.)
  6. Textbooks and proceedings to be published via METU Press.