One of the most frequently encountered questions for an ethics professor is the basic one: “Can you teach ethics?” This, of course, is mildly threatening if you are a self-interested prof whose very role depends on the answer to that question being “yes.” How can anyone teaching ethics answer that question objectively? I think that there are good reasons to believe that you can teach ethics. First, if you cannot, it is virtually the only realm of education that is held to be unteachable. Second, if you examine the argument, what people are really saying is that you cannot teach ethics “up”; everyone knows that you can teach ethics “down,” as evidenced by the extensive cheating reported in colleges and the failures in business ethics that insure that I always have a job doing what I do.
I find myself in the awkward position of saying that ethics are not fully formed when students get to college, so they can be taught. That makes me uneasy, because I would prefer that they would be fully formed. But if they are not fully formed, it is quite possible that they are well formed when they get to college. By that I mean that a student is sensitive to what is right and wrong, and that student reaches informed judgments based on a defensible structure for ethical decision-making. I also mean that person has the moral motivation to do the right thing when it would be easy to choose otherwise, and then has the strength of character to follow through and actually do the right thing.
The best evidence of that to me is the picture above, which includes the three men in my life who are most important to me, my father and my sons. My dad, Ken, is an Iwo Jima veteran, and at 92 is still my hero. He taught me many things, but two of the most valuable were that hard work and commitment to my calling was my daily responsibility, and that there was no substitute for honesty. I wish that I could say that I saw those two things reflected in my life. But somehow, for all my shortcomings, I see them reflected clearly in my sons.
Kenny, my father’s namesake, is six years out of college and on the fast track with his multinational corporation. In fact, he is about to launch out on a significant career opportunity overseas that will take him far from us. Of course, I am happy for his successes. But I admire his quiet determination to work with uncompromising excellence, and to lead in the same way. I know that, day after day, he rises early in the morning to meet his commitments, and I have never heard him make excuses in the midst of trying circumstances. In fact, he has spent a good piece of his young career supervising people my age and trying to help them adopt the same commitment to excellence that he pursues. In all of this, he adds energy to any group of friends with his happy spirit and sense of humor. When he comes home, he demonstrates tremendous compassion and kindness to his younger siblings and his parents, and he takes a genuine interest in our lives.
Nathan, ten years younger, works just as hard. But I admire his focused search for truth, and his willingness to confront hard questions and to be uncomfortable in that search. He does not accept things at face value, and he has a habit of examining his own motives for why he does things. I think that will serve him well in the long run as he tries to maintain his character when he leaves home. He looks up to Kenny for many things, including his work ethic and his energy. No foosball table is safe when those two are on opposite handles, and Thanksgiving has been a stream of shouts and laughter as they have played together.
We will send Nathan off to the college classroom of someone like me. Nathan’s values, if not fully formed, are very well formed. And he is teachable. My hope is that his ethics professor will activate that search for truth and not undermine it.
But as I look at the picture above, I see the imprint of my father in my sons. My Dad was not a perfect guy; neither am I, and neither are my sons. But he is a man of integrity who has demonstrated lifelong commitment—to his family, to his work, to my mother. He has given my sons a great gift of which they are only partly aware.
Can you teach ethics? Yes. My father is living proof. It may not come with an assigned catalog number or classroom. But, life on life, we change those who are important to us. And I am grateful that one more time, last night, my sons were able to hear his voice and see his face.
I only hope he has a sense of how his life will reverberate in the generations to come.
Great post Mike. Your dad and you and your sons demonstrate that there are still good men around. And I agree with you that good character and ethics can be taught and I know you do it well both in your personal life and in the classroom.
You can definitely teach ethics and you do a great job of it, both by example and in your classroom.
Although I agree that ethics can be taught, I don’t believe they are as permanent as you describe above.
In the realms of psychology it is generally agreed that humans are creatures who wish to mimic each other. For example, people begin to mimic non-verbal communication such as hand gestures while conversing, general mannerisms of peers, and vocabulary.
I tend to agree that the same principal applies to a persons ethics. People may have an ethical foundation, but a portion of these beliefs will change in every situation. I believe the foundation rules a persons decision making. However, the change in this foundation will have a positive correlation related to the amount of time a person is exposed(taught) to a new set of ethics.
An applicant would typically not knowingly choose to work for a company that practices unethical behavior. In this scenario the foundation is the overruling factor because there is limited exposure to unethical behavior. However, if the applicant unknowingly accepts the job and is gradually exposed (taught) to unethical actions it would become the norm. In this example the applicant was taught a new set of ethics which will eventually become, at least in a small portion, a part of his/her foundation. As I mentioned, the longer the exposure the more it is incorporated into the foundation (The portion of “The Smartest Guys in the Room” (not shown in class) where employees knowingly shut down power plants would be an example of this.)
An extreme example of this scenario would be slavery in America. In complete hindsight the acts committed are the probably the most unethical behavior of this country’s past. If you were to interview a person of that time they would simply see no wrong due to the long exposure. Similarly, people began to view the acts as unethical due to the lessening exposure.
I agree, ethics are taught. However, they are not permanent. People’s ethics will be taught at every new encounter or situation they enter.
Would you say then that people are victims of their situations? Or rather that a consistent situation can mold someone over time? Or neither, or both.
I agree on some levels, but I think I would use different terminology. While I agree that ethical schools of thought and ideologies can be taught in a classroom setting, I feel that the greatest affect on the ethics of an individual beyond the initial foundation that has been laid is to increase or decrease sensitivity or awareness. I think that most peoples biggest struggle is not with choosing the “right” or “wrong” decision, but rather in recognizing the differences between the two. I think that this is where our exposure and environment come into play.
This blog spoke to me especially after our guest speaker made the pronouncement that ethics could not be taught. I found myself completely disagreeing with this man, but yet, agreeing on some level. To clarify, I feel that ethics cannot be taught by just anyone. No course taken online can provide a person with a new ethical foundation. Instead, it is the people in our lives that we idolize that have a lasting impact on our ethical principles (whether they are good or bad). In my own life I feel that I have never been set ethically. Maybe it is because I am only 21 and have not seen enough to have a solid foundation. However, I feel that as I see myself and others act it seems that our ethical and moral opinions on different situations change constantly. I feel that ethics are taught, not in a traditional sense, but instead in a fluid, ever-evolving self-reflection. I am constantly evaluating my peers, my idols, and my family to vicariously find my own moral and ethical values.
In short, I feel that ethics, as most things in life, cannot be taught in one instance or classroom. Instead they take a lifetime to develop and instill through observations of other’s actions and the actions of ourselves. Great article, I really enjoy that you care so deeply about this topic and I look forward to a great semester!
In my opinion, learning ethics is not something that can be done in a classroom. Ethics is something developed over time through life experience and interaction. Your father taught you ethics, but not because he sat you down and walked you through an ethical decision making model. You learned by watching him, mirroring him, following his example. Ethics classes might help you further understand how ethical decisions are made, and might even make you think about your own life, but I don’t think they teach you how to be ethical.
I agree with Mason, the study of ethics definitely goes beyond the classroom. Development of an ethical code occurs over the course of a lifetime and is derived from a wide range of observations and experiences. However, an ethics class such as yours can help to accelerate ethical development. Studying corporate scandals and examining the pressures affecting ethical decision-making challenges our ethical code as it has developed thus far in our life. Asking ourselves the tough questions and allowing time for some introspection like we do in this class really aids the process of ethical development.
I agree with this to an extent. Ethics is developed over time, but I believe that learning it in the classroom is part of the process and facilitates the development. For example, we were presented in class with Helen Sharkey’s story and now in the future we can avoid making her mistakes. Examining cases will not answer every question, but thinking about it now does allow for self-reflection and allows for the building of a strong “ethical muscle.”
I agree that taking an ethics course helps strain the ethical muscle. Dr. Shaub, I genuinely feel that requiring us to complete our WERS and discuss them with others has challenged our own morals and perceptions. I also feel that you recognize this in that you require us to come up with ten principles to help us guide our own lives as well as bringing in outside speakers. If it weren’t for my parents and my religion, I am not certain that I would be a wise and ethical person. If it weren’t for you, my ethical muscle may not have been exercised as much as it should have been this semester. I agree that ethics can be taught, if only to be fine-tuned given that our ethical foundations may have already been set.
Hi Dr. Shaub. Thank you for your post, especially about your father and the example he set for you and your sons. It is encouraging to see character passed down through generations!
I agree with you that ethics can be taught in an academic sense as we discuss and learn from case studies and theoretical principles. I wonder, though, whether the conviction, courage, and strength of character you mentioned can be taught. Without them, it would be difficult to translate book learning into an ability to make hard choices.
So can we teach ethics? Sure! But can we teach character?
I think yes, Sarah. What I meant by yes is that we can “teach” character by influencing people around us, by watching us, mirroring us, and learning from us. And actually, everyone can influence each other just like your character will slightly or badly change after you get along with another person for a long time. I believe this life-long learning is not able to teach just in one class. A professor may influence us by one semester class, but I think “teaching” character is just like teaching ethics because it needs some long-run influences.
I found the title of this post to be very intriguing, especially since Mr. Baskin posed this question to the class last Wednesday. I agree with your thought that ethics should be well-formed if not fully-formed when students get to college. Therefore, I think the main purpose of an ethics class in college is to remind myself and other students that ethics really do matter. It reinforces that we will face ethical dilemmas; it reminds us that everything in business is not black and white and we will have to “navigate the gray.” The class also provides us support and courage to make the right decision.
I agree that ethics can be taught and that it begins at a very young age when you learn from family and friends and continues to develop over the course of your life.
Loved this post. When I first read the title to the post, I answered in my head what my response would be if someone asked me that question. I don’t think I could successfully teach ethics in a classroom setting, but I could definitely teach an individual the differences between right and wrong. My brother is a great example of that. Him and I are close and he comes to me for a variety of different things. I have the opportunity to help him and discuss various situations/concerns with him. I know I am not perfect, but I feel as though I make a good role model for him and can help him as he grows older. My parents are great role models to me. I look up to them in everything and they are great examples in my life; teaching me right from wrong. Hard work, commitment, and responsibility are some of the many values my parents instilled in my brother and I.
I definitely agree with this statement, “. . . that person has the moral motivation to do the right thing when it would be easy to choose otherwise, and then has the strength of character to follow through and actually do the right thing.” An individual who is moral will be sensitive to what is right and wrong, and when choosing the right thing even when they could easily choose the wrong thing will follow through and actually do what is best for them and others.
The spring mini session has just began, but from the few lectures, I am already picking up on things and making jugments from what I have learned and heard you discuss that I otherwise would not have put any thought into. You teach ethics well, and I enjoy hearing your thoughts and lessons. From this post and the descriptions of your sons, I know you teach ethics well in your personal life as well. It’s amazing how one good person can teach many others and then those individuals can in turn teach others what it means to have good character and do the right thing. If we have more good in the world, a lot more individuals will be moral and make good decisions. This post is a great example of that – you learned from your father, and your sons learned from you. Commitment is key.
Congratulations on raising young successful men. I look forward to continuing to learn from you and gaining a better insight on ethical-decision making. I hope to teach others what I learn from your class.
The definition of ethics and morality, I believe, can be taught. The practice of and active decision to live out such ethical behavior, however, is a choice. Ethics, specifically a sense of right versus wrong, generally speaking does not need to be taught. You do not need to tell most people that lying, cheating, and stealing are wrong. I believe everyone is designed with a moral compass and it is each person’s decision whether he/she will follow and respond to it. In a professional sense, there are situations, ethical dilemmas, when the answer is not certain and although you cannot educate someone to know all the answers to said problems, you can teach ethical guidelines, such as truth-telling, that when followed will assist in making the right decision. Regardless of the “right” answer about whether ethics can’t be taught, an ethics class in school or at a workplace can be critical.
I found this to be very interesting. You claim that ethics are teachable at a college age. If this is true, how do you feel that the values parents instill in their children play into the matter? Do you think that ethics taught in college can overrule what was taught at home for the previous 18 years prior to attending a university?
Interesting questions, Ben. I think ethics are very teachable at the college age. I would say most of us haven’t been faced with really difficult ethical dilemmas just yet so teaching us that we will face these problems one day and preparing us as to how to work our way through them is what we are in the class to learn. I guess it is possible for a child to be taught a low level of ethical standards at home, but as kids grow, they learn more about the world around them and are smart enough to evaluate decisions by their own ethical standard that they’ve developed. And this can be easily shaped by taking a class. But ultimately, the person has to want to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to their careers and everyday life. Too bad Dr. Shaub can’t follow us around for us to ask what we should do in ethical dilemmas.
In my opinion, a person’s ethics have built a solid foundation by the time they reach college, but they will not be fully developed until long after. We have been taught in the classroom that your personality is a reflection of your 5 closest friends. I feel that this same principle can be applied to ethics, but maybe not as severe. If you surround yourself with ethical people all the time, wouldn’t it make sense that you would be more inclined to make ethical decisions? The same goes for if you were to surround yourself with unethical friends. I can thank my parents for instilling values in me that have calibrated my ethical compass, and I thank my close friends for continuing that.
I believe that our ethical values are influenced by our parents and upbringing. I also believe that while when we get into college our ethical values might not be completely formed. Before you go to college I think that the ethical values we live our lives by are not our own but more of what our parents values that we have accepted as our own. When children go off to college this is a time when we start to develop our own ethical values. I do not believe that you can truly teach someone in a classroom ethics. A person’s ethical values are their own. Each individual’s ethical values are different.
I believe that your values and ethical beliefs constantly change. There are many things that I would have done without even thinking about it when I was in high school, where as now I probably would not do. Our parents do the best they can to instill ethics in each of us, and I believe we do follow these for the most part. However, as we get older, while we still have our core of ethics from our parents, we begin to start thinking on our own and adopting some different ethical beliefs. This is where I believe that ethics can be taught. If you grew up in a family where stealing and cheating was viewed as okay, it will be a lot harder to teach that person ethics. Furthermore, in order to be able to teach ethics, the students have to be willing to listen and think with an open mind.
I do agree that ethics are not fully formed, that they are well formed by the time we enter college. However, I do question whether ethics is truly teachable because of the fact that they are so well-formed by the time we reach college. As you said in class before, people don’t like change. If this is the case, there has to be a substantial reason for an individual to change their ethical viewpoints if it doesn’t coincide with another’s viewpoint. Therefore, I’m not so sure that ethics are teachable in a classroom setting. I believe more that situations and experiences influence our ethics more so than someone telling you.
I agree with your perspective here, I do think ethics can be taught. I also agree that family and upbringing play a large part in shaping our ethical thinking and behavior. I have learned so much from my parents and am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from all four of my grandparents throughout my life. They have all had many experiences that they are happy to share with my siblings, cousins and me that preach the importance of honesty and respect.
I also think ethics can be taught in the classroom. It may not be as shaping as what I have learned from my family but it is learning none the less. In class we still hear the experiences of others and learn what to look for and how to recognize when some of the tough gray areas require an ethical decision to be made. Thank you, Dr. Shaub, for sharing this blog about your family and for investing in all of your students to help us prepare for the difficult decisions we will be faced with in our careers.
Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. Even though YOU are the actual ethics professor, it is great that you have learned and are still learning through the people who impact you the most. I really liked what you said in class about how we are influenced by the five people we spend most of our time with. It is so true and can be applied in any setting.
In relation to the question you pose in your title “can you teach ethics”, I think all of us are capable of teaching others. However, we must be willing to set the example for what’s moral and right. I think that an ethics class is important for all students because the class presents scenarios and ideas that we don’t normally think about (for example: gullibility). However, learning how to handle difficult situations also takes place in other realms of life. We are constantly gaining wisdom, but there may never be a point to where we are fully wise enough to make the correct decisions in the most difficult situations. But by getting exposed to ideas and coming up with our principles to which we wish to live by early on in life will prepare us for those grey area decisions we will face in the future.
Kirsten, I think you made a really good point in the reason why we need to take an ethics class, because the class presents things that we don’t normally think about. Although most of us have our own principles and rules to guide our behavior and know what is right and what is wrong, Dr. Shaub’s class gives us more to think about what to do when you are in an ethical dilemma, where you may sacrifice no matter what. I cibsuder myself as an ethical person, but sometimes it’s hard for me to confront people. And I feel this is my ethical weakness.
I think setting an good example for your friends and families would be much easier than teaching an ethical class, because students who take the ethical class are at least fully formed and are considered to have enough knowledge about basic ethical issues. Therefore, I don’t think everyone can teach ethical class, but they certainly can impact or teach others by their own good behaviors.
I would agree with Keith in the sense that I do think our set of operating ethical values will change over time. I actually think that lays the foundation for a strong case in favor of teaching ethics. It seems like a good idea to me to instill in students the habit of contemplating the basic assumptions they are making about good/bad or right/wrong as they are making important decisions or pursuing certain goals.
Certainly it is to be hoped that parents have taught their children the basics of ethical behavior (justice, honesty, a sense of virtue, etc.), but the years spent in college make up a very unique time period, just as childhood did. Students are dealing with new issues, especially issues related to their future as professionals. As they enter professional life, wouldn’t it behoove them to have input from some (hopefully) older and wiser instructor regarding tensions and problems they may soon face? Isn’t that process very similar to that by which healthy individuals are shaped by good parents?
Of course, the one problem with the teaching of ethics later in life is the fact that some students will have their minds made up about many of the topics. Refusal to learn will certainly preclude any benefit from an ethics course, but who knows what may happen in the mind of willing student?
I agree with the statement “… that ethics are not fully formed when students get to college, so they can be taught.” I would also argue that we are never “fully formed” so we can always be taught. To an extent, we have been molded for the past 18 years through family, friends, and personal experiences. However, college is the age when people start their next big molding process and decide to either follow the ethics they have previously been taught or forge their own path. In my time at A&M, I have watched friends become amazing, inspiring characters as well as friends fall in with the wrong crowd and become people who I barely know anymore. This experience alone is proof that we are never “fully formed” and can always be taught, for better or worse, by those who we surround ourselves with. Can a formal course get someone off the wrong path or make me a more ethical person? Maybe, but I think its true value is in providing students with the tools and knowledge to recognize and give weight to ethical situations they will experience in the future.
I also enjoyed reading your observations on your son’s and father’s ethical traits. I have always believed it was important to find traits that you admire in others and find some way (no matter how small) to incorporate them into your own life. Your class has rekindled my passion for this practice especially after reading so many articles where people have faltered in their ethical practices. I now see how important it is to continuously build up your “ethical strength”, and what better way then to always be working on making yourself a better, more ethical person!
I agree with you, Kristin. I also believe that we are never “fully formed” and that we are always at least somewhat impressionable – depending on the time and circumstances.
After the reading summaries on the first Monday, my group was thinking about the question posed “do moral standards change?.” I would argue that they do based on time and experience. Due to my knowledge and experiences, I would not make the same decisions today as I may have made while I was in middle school. Even in the past year of college, I look back and am amazed by how much I have grown as a person. I attribute most of that growth to overcoming various personal obstacles and also through a deeper study of my faith and theology. So then, I agree that ethics can be ‘taught.’ This class has already opened my mind to different scenarios and made me think differently about those scenarios.
Ultimately, I think the biggest foundation of our ‘ethical’ upbringing was made in our most impressionable age – as children. But that foundation was made based on more ‘black and white’ and clear ‘right and wrong’ scenarios. However, the older we become and the more educated and experience we are – we see that all scenarios do not have a ‘black and white’ answer. In this, we are never ‘fully formed’ and our decisions and ethics will continue to be fine-tuned in every situation we face.
I definitely think that we receive the foundation for our ethics and values predominantly from the way we were raised, rather than a classroom. However, I do believe that we can learn valuable lessons about ethics in a classroom setting. In the first two weeks of this ethics class, I have learned a lot about how I will apply ethics in my career from the stories that we have read about and discussed. For example, when we talked about how David Duncan was an accomodator and how that played a large part in his role as an audit partner in the Enron scandal, that was an important realization for me as a people-pleaser because it made me aware of the kind of ethical dilemmas that I will be faced with in the auditing profession.
I agree with many who have said that we have been learning the definition of what it means to be ethical since we were young, and we continue to learn about ethics as we grow and learn from the sources we choose to pay attention to (whether it be faith, laws, ethics class, intuition, etc). As we reinforce our principles through our responses to situations we face in life, I think ethics class can make a difference.
Ethics class is important for students like us because it reminds us that we are not “above” having a situation in our future that will really test us. We see examples of people like David Myers, who never imagined he could go to prison, and we are able to reflect on what influences our own decision-making. Recognizing an ethical dilemma and seeking the advice of those whom we respect to be able to act with the proper response is a framework from class that I think is easily applied in our lives.
Thanks for sharing, Dr. Shaub! Like you, my dad is a huge influence in my life. He has taught me the importance of hard work, perseverance, honesty, and prayer. I strive to treat others with the same respect and compassion he does, and often look to his example in times of difficulty. So yes- ethics can be taught, but it is taught by example. In Cynthia Cooper’s case, her parents and grandparents taught her the ethical principles she clung to during her days at WorldCom.
What I’ve enjoyed most about your class so far is listening to discussion challenging each other’s ethical beliefs. College is the time where students refine their principles– we need to recognize and refine what we truly value so we can cling to them when we’re without the safety blanket we enjoy at home.
I agree that good personalities can be taught or influenced by family where we have grown up. My father is also the hero hero in my world. His virtue and belief are alway around me though some of them I can not fully understand now. The environment is changing all the time and what I saw and faced may challenge what I am trying to form but not fully form.
Learning ethics is fundamental and necessary but we have to admit that it can not guarantee every student can make ethical decisions when the real pressure comes. If I would be the ethics professor, what pressure or responsibility I assume because ethics is so abstract, broad, and crucial.
I recently came to the conclusion that ethics, as we know it, cannot be taught in the classroom. Its practice can only be developed through repeated choices to act morally. However, the classroom adds a critical aspect to our ethical decision-making. By reading articles, listening to speakers, and considering past examples, we are able to reflect on our own choices and the underlying motives.
I am a firm believer that we are largely shaped by our environment. We reflect on our own actions, and those of the people around us, to develop an individual moral compass. In a sense, we “learn” ethics from those around us, but reflection is an important determinant in developing ethical views. The true value of our classroom experience comes from students continuing to think about their personal motives for many years into the future.
I find it interesting that in trying to teach ethics, many people take a consequential approach. It is true that you can educate people on the outcomes of their actions, and I think this leads to increased consideration of their ethical behavior through reflection. I think that especially for accountants, this method of igniting reflection is useful because of the inherent rationality in our profession.
I truly think that ethics can be taught. However, I do agree with some of the previous posts that ethics are largely shaped by our environment. Everybody is going to have a different ethics depending on who their parents were, where they grew up, who their friends were, where they attended school, ect. I know that this is especially true for me. My ethical background was widely shaped by my parents and the community that I grew up in. This is not to say that a person’s moral compass cannot be changed. I believe that there are many different things that can be brought to the light in an ethics course.
A couple of classes ago, we learned the different steps people go through when trying to make an ethical decision. I was intrigued by all the different ways a person can make a decision. I thought that it was enlightening and found myself taking a step back to see where I stood in the decision making ladder. Sometimes it is a good thing just to have it brought up so a person can reflect on their true standards.
I don’t think that an ethics class is going to change every single student that walks in and out of the door. But, I think it is worth it if it steers any student from going down a path that could lead to overwhelming consequences.
Dr. Shaub, I really enjoyed reading this post. I agree that ethics can be taught to some extent. As you said in your post, your father played a major role in molding your ethical beliefs and without him you would not be who you are today. Relating to teaching ethics in the classroom, I believe that having an ethics class provides an opportunity to explore different ethical situations to those who may not have a character such like your father in their life. It allows an individual to really take the time to assess their values and morals and to figure out who they are what they believe in. As I mentioned before, I believe that ethics can be taught to some extent, but ultimately everyone will have their own beliefs and values on different situations, but having a class to strengthen those values will lead to someone becoming fully formed ethically. I believe that teaching ethics is teaching one to be in tune with their own self to take the time to realize when an ethical situation arises and what their ethical compass directs them to do.
I thought that this blog provided a great example of how you consistently strive to not only teach ethics and moral judgment inside the classroom, but outside the classroom in your household as well.
I agree with your statement that ethics is something that is partially taught to us prior to when we step inside the doors of Wehner, and that it also evolves throughout our college and professional endeavors. However, in my opinion, I would say that the most learning for intangible skills like integrity and the ability to make ethical decisions lies foremost in the experiences we have throughout our lives. Students can be told time and time again what is right and what is wrong, but oftentimes, until they are placed in an ethical dilemma on their own, they are not ‘put to the test’ about what they know as right and wrong.
Take an example of a child learning how to tie his or her shoe. I remember when I was younger and my mom tried telling me over and over again how to tie my shoe. However, it wasn’t until my mom’s friend sat me down on the trunk of her car one day after school and had me involved in the experience of actually learning how to tie my shoe. Once I was forced to actually do it on my own, I actually was put to the test. Maybe it’s just because I’m a more kinesthetic learner, but I firmly believe that the knowledge of what we are taught in the classroom isn’t truly put to the test until we are put in a situation when we have to prove what it is we have learned.
The story of your boys was very touching, and it’s great to see how your father’s strong moral and ethical standards have been able to touch multiple generations thus far. I would love to one day hear about your father’s ethical situations he faced throughout his time in Iwo Jima. He sounds like a man of impeccable character and moral standards.
I agree that ethics is teachable in some respect, and I know there will always be situations in which the lines may be blurred making it harder to apply concepts taught in class. For example, the class today had differing views on Dr. Nixon’s presentation about which individuals acted most and least ethically in the mountain climbing scenario. I think the way people interpreted the dilemma caused for conflicting views. Each of us took away different key points and may have chosen to act differently. This does not even consider the common notion when solutions are “easier said than done.” I know I may have felt one way as an outsider listening to the scenario, but when put in the moment, may have responded differently. So even though our class has been taught the same points in lecture, it is easy for other factors to alter our behavior when applying ethics taught in class to real world ethical dilemmas.
Also, I can relate to the family aspect you discuss when it comes to teaching ethics. I think learning ethics is partially shaped by the environment one is brought up in. I know I always look to my parents and grandparents and talk problems through with them when it comes to working out the right and wrong in situations. Whether it is listening to my dad talk about his experiences as a doctor or my grandpa sharing his wisdom, I know they have provided me the greatest and most rewarding insight when it comes to modeling ethics.
Ethics can definitely be taught, as in people can be taught what is considered ethical and what isn’t. I think this knowledge is useless though, unless we work on internalizing it, thereby making it part of our nature. I believe that is done only by your own efforts by consistently applying the ethical principles in every facet of our lives, to the point where we don’t even have to think about them as we are applying them in our transactions.
I think that the basic principle of ethics can be taught. This is clear by how we are all influenced by different people growing up to form what we believe is right or wrong. However, I don’t think that how to actually apply ethics in different real life situations can be taught because of the different factors that come into play. As you have said in class most of the time it is not a black and white situation that is easy to define. I think that how you teach us in class by letting us see situations from different perspectives and asking questions that we might not have initially thought of may not be “teaching us ethics” (as in principles), but is teaching us how to identify an ethical dilemma and what to look for in the situation to help us make the right decision. Until the discussions in class, I had not thought about what I would do if I was in many of these situations and I probably would have never thought about it until I was actually in a situation. Your class is teaching me that I need to be more aware of what is going on around me and sometimes be more skeptical, since I usually just take people for their word. Also, I think that it is important that all of us learn what our core principles and values are before we enter the working world.
I absolutely believe that ethics can be taught, however, I think that we are more receptive and aware of the ethical actions and advice of those who we have a trusted relationship with. If an individual admires and respects someone, they are more likely to be consciously or subconsciously aware and responsive to the integrity of the other individual. I believe that my ethical framework was heavily influenced by my dad. Growing up, I always looked up to him and tried to mimic everything he did – from becoming a runner to talking about stocks. He has worked as a professional in the business world for as long as I can remember, and now, his sharing of experiences and wisdom is one of the most beneficial and inspirational things that I have.
I completely agree with your statement that ethics can be taught. Personally, I feel that ethics is an essential part of knowing right and wrong, which is what parents try so hard to teach us from an early age. In addition, I think that our learning about ethics doesn’t stop with our parents and that we are molded by our teachers and friends to create our own ethical views separate from those of our parents. Like you, I have been very blessed to have a dad that I admire and hope to make proud. He continues to be the person I look to to decide if something is right for my life. I can only hope that others have an ethical role model to look to!
I agree with the both of you! Our sense of right and wrong is shaped first from the outside: from our parents, our schools, our churches and our society. They all teach us the ethical survival skills necessary to keep us out of trouble — not to lie, cheat or steal. As we grow older, these ethics become internalized. When faced with an ethical dilemma, we make ethical decisions based on what the outside has taught us. So, we have all been taught ethics since we were young. It’s what we chose to do with the education that makes the difference.
I believe that you can teach about ethics and morally correct decisions, but I believe the choice to pursue ethical decisions has to come from within. I view this topic the same as I view spiritual motivation: you can teach someone about God, however, ultimately it is that person’s decision whether they want to actively purse God. For someone who was raised in a Christian or a spiritual home it would be easier for that person to pursue God and adapt their thoughts because they were raised that way. Others who did not grow up in a spiritual home may have a harder time finding that motivation to pursue God on a daily basis because it was not a part of their thought process for so long. However, if you are consistent, adapting your thoughts becomes easier, as with anything else in your life. It almost becomes second nature to develop your thoughts spiritually. In other cases, people who were raised in spiritual homes may not have that spiritual motivation because their heart just is not in it. To me, being an ethical individual means something has to click in your brain. It is then that you begin to hold yourself to a higher standard and find out whether you have the ability to attest to that standard. Just like placing your thoughts and actions on the spiritual path, making ethical decisions will not come easy all the time. This task will actually prove to be very difficult, but if you are willing to hold yourself to that standard which is higher, you will find that it will lead you to the decision you know you should make. I do believe ethics courses can help develop moral character but in the end you are going to have to want to be an individual of integrity.
I believe that ethics can be taught in a way of influencing. It can be taught just like what we did in class, discussing real cases from prior business years and listening to speakers speeches and comments. It can also be taught by influencing people, which I believe is a long term teaching not just one day class. A long term influence is like when you describe your father and sons who played an important role in your life, so that they influence you. I believe that because it is so similar for me that when I was in China, I have no idea about Christianity and no one will talk about it to me. After I came to the U.S, lots of my friends influenced me of God’s existence, which made me moved and feel beloved for four years. Without their influencing, I will never accept Jesus and believe in God and have the Holy Spirit. I believe teaching ethics is a short-run goal in our class and giving a right direction to students, but in a long run, ethics will be taught by influencing people around.
I do not believe you can teach others to be ethical. You can teach someone the meaning and importance of ethics but I am not sure the lessons can go much further. This is not to say that all ethics students are doomed. In fact, I think it goes much deeper than just teaching. To me, ethics are inspired rather than taught. I think that we are taught what is right and wrong and why it’s important to be good, but I think there has to be some form of inspiration that turn these lessons into actions. It’s important to say that I don’t believe ethics courses are a waste of time. I think they are very beneficial in challenging students to think of situations that we may not have ever considered unethical. However, without inspiration, the lessons learned in the classroom cannot be brought to life.
I believe that ethics can be taught to people. However, it is the way that the information is retained and taken to heart that matters the most. I believe that you can learn about ethics at home, at school, at work, though faith, etc.
Most people learn a lot about their ethical values by watching their parents as they grow up. They way I treat people and value others is definitely influenced by the way my parents demonstrated it to my sister and I while growing up. I believe it is so important that parents take the time to ingrain values and morals into their children.
Accounting 650 has already taught me so much over the past three weeks. Having all of these speakers come into to talk to us has taught me more about ethics then I’ve learned over the last three years here. Hearing about other peoples’ experiences has shown me what I want for myself in life and taught me how I will handle myself in situations I face in the future. If I was not in this class, I don’t know if I would ever have the opportunity to hear these stories that have moved me so much.
Mentors are so important while working. They are there to comfort you and to talk to you whenever you have an issue and need some advice. Everyone can learn from those above you in the company because they will have had experiences where they have needed to tap into their moral compass to see what was right or wrong. Learning from others experiences I believe is one of the most valuable lessons in teaching ethics.
I believe that you can learn a lot about moral values and what you would do in an ethical situation by listening to what you are taught in church or while reading the Bible. God has laid out His instructions for us in His book that He gave us. I don’t think we can argue that ethics/values cannot be taught because that’s the biggest example of all.
Thanks for this post Dr. Shaub!
I believe that ethics is not something that can be taught from a textbook or in a classroom. Your values are something that you are brought up with from your surrounding environment and from the experiences you go through in life. You will not learn these things in a classroom but from watching and doing and living your own life. I do believe that in a classroom you can make people aware of ethical situations and help them later in life when they are faced with ethical dilemmas. However, everything done in a classroom may not help, as by the time you are in college, ethics are already formed.
You can teach ethics to people who are basically ethical, and having said that, the fair question is why would ethical people need to be taught ethics? The good news is that most people are ethical, but we are creatures capable of making choices. Under pressure, even well meaning, good people can make wrong or unethical choices. An ethics class provides the opportunity to present hypothetical scenarios that students might experience in business or social situations as they go through life. In the absence of real life pressures, different situations can be considered and students can evaluate how they would react so that when actually faced with similar situations down the road they can draw from what they learned and conclusions they made in the classroom. In this very fast paced world we live in, this process is very valuable.
It is fair to say that although technology has made life easier, it has also made it much more complex. You could even say that our technology driven world offers more areas for cheating, and destructive behavior. The fortunately small sector of the population who are just innately unethical or lack a good conscience can do much more damage and do it much faster than they once could. These people may not be reachable in an ethics class. That is why it is so important that the rest of us connect with our ethical philosophies and consider options we may face in our lives and be ready to make the proper choices that demonstrate ethical behavior, and hopefully save the world from unethical people. An ethics class provides a workshop to help achieve this.
When I read the title of this blog, I immediately answered the question with a yes. I mean, isn’t it obvious…how else would we learn how to be ethical human beings if someone didn’t teach us? From a very young age, my parents instilled morals and ethics in me. The “good” person I am today is greatly due to my upbringing. The story about your sons and your father is inspiring, and makes me think a lot about my family and how fortunate I am for the values they have taught me. However, after reading some of the comments on this blog, I thought about teaching ethics from more of a business perspective. While you can certainly teach the principles of ethics and “how to be a good person”, I think a lot of people learn “business-related” ethics through their own experiences retrospectively. Take our speaker Helen Sharkey, for example. Looking back on her situation now, she knows certain things she would have done differently in her ethical dilemma (she would have trusted her gut more, told people outside the Dynegy group about the problem, etc), but at the time she was so caught up in the situation she wasn’t acting or thinking as ethical as she should have been. Simply put, you can teach someone how they should act in certain ethical situations and you can teach what is technically right and wrong, but until a person is put in a specific ethical dilemma they don’t know how they would actually act or what they would actually do. I think that is why people end up in situations like Helen Sharkey’s, and I think that is why even though some ethics can be taught, you cannot necessarily teach someone how to act in tough ethical scenarios.
Thank you for an extremely interesting post that shares how you acquired many of your views on ethics.
While I certainly believe that ethics can be taught, it is my view that most ethical and moral principles are developed when you are relatively young both by observing the people and individuals in your life as well as by a gradualforming of the principles you will hold for the rest of your life, often through your faith.
In my opinion it will always be difficult to effectively teach ethics. It is possible to model ethical behavior and help people understand the consequences of their actions but at the end of the day ethics typically boils down to a question of whether or not you choose to do the right thing and to me that is largely the product of beliefs and experiences I have had since childhood.
I think having a class on ethics teaches us about ethical dilemmas we could find ourselves in during our career and how to properly react in these situations. I’m not sure if you can really teach ethics, but seeing real life examples definitely can help shape us to make ethical decisions.
I do not believe ethics can be taught, or at least not in the traditional classroom sense. The classroom is a great place to become aware of ethical tools. It allows you to learn “technical” ethical terms, in which you can shape your ethicalness around, but at the end of the day, making the correct “ethical” decision cannot be taught. Real life examples can help mold our ethical decision making compass, but each situation that we encounter is different and must be assessed situationally at each encounter.
I think parents are the most important ethical teacher to their kids. When we were very young, we cannot tell right and wrong. Most of times, we only imitated our parents. We take it for granted our parents are good persons and they do everything right. We also learn a lot from our parents how they make judgment. Their thoughts have affected us a lot, and our thoughts will affect our kids.
Of course, ethics teaching in classroom also has its effect. We can think about ethical issues based on theory foundation. We have more opportunities to think, to discuss with professors and classmates. Then we can modify and perfect our thoughts.
I believe that you can teach ethics. However, you cannot teach someone to be ethical. Implementing ethics into ones daily life is a personal and emotional decision, not just a knowledgeable one. I am extremely fortunate to have grown up in a loving and caring home where I was taught to always do my best and be respectful. I was also taught to trust in God and He will help me in making life’s decisions. Even the tough ones. I believe that ethics classes in college and training in the workplace will aid in informing people about the ethical way to handle tough situations, but they will not make the decision for the individual.
I believe that you can teach ethics, whether its in a classroom or by showing through examples. But this in turn can not make a person ethical. In a classroom you are able to make students aware of ethics and teach them the values that should be used in everyday life. But it is not until the students are in situations that test their ethics and whether they rely on their learnings and upbringing.
I agree with you that you cannot make a person ethical, but you can teach them and make them aware of ethics. Ultimately, it is their decision to act ethically. Because ethics is what a person ought to do, you can theoretically teach a person about these universal truths and expose them to potential ethical dillemas. Dr. Shaub’s post highlights the beauty of being taught ethics be older family members. My story is similar to his in that both my faith and family have provided me with guidance for ethical understanding and application.
I do not necessarily think ethics can be taught, I think a better word for this would be instilled. Most of us have come into this classroom with the thought that we are all ethically sound, taught to us through solid parenting. But we haven’t had much experience in the “real” world, besides our internships. This class is giving us examples from the working world and what we can expect, and more importantly what is expected by us as professionals. Besides this class, I also believe A&M has further instilled ethics in all of our lives. The A&M community has helped us grow, it has given us an environment of respect and kindness. Do i feel that I am more ethical now? No. But I do think that I have a further understanding of what it means to be ethical and what I might go through in the future? Absolutely.
I agree with you that ethics may not be fully formed, but they are very well formed. I believe that we are shaped by our experiences and those experiences will have the greatest impact on our ethical views. For example, although Helen Sharkey knew right from wrong and her ethical views were very well formed while working on Project Alpha, I am sure this experience will shape her ethical dilemmas in the future.
Ethics have been taught to us all of our lives by our parents and the people around us. We can continue to learn about ethical situations and how to react in these scenarios. However, not every ethical decision will be black and white and we will have to trust our instincts in these types of decisions. Everything that we have learned throughout our lives, including what we are taught during college, will have an effect on our judgment.
I completely agree that ethics can be taught. I was a little thrown off by Mr. Baskin’s comment, but you effectively teach us ethics every week, whether the lesson comes from powerpoint slides, guest speakers, or examples of your daily life. Before starting this class, I think I would have answered this question differently, and agreed with Mr. Baskin. I thought I was confident in how I would respond when faced with an ethical dilemma, and didn’t think I needed to learn anything else. Although I did have a good idea of how I would respond, I have formed my ethical decision making skills even more in the past weeks. Ethics is a tricky subject to teach because many times there are no black and white, right or wrong answers. I think when subjects like ethics are being taught, actions speak much louder than words.
I agree with you, Theresa. Before taking this class, I think my opinion on teaching ethics would lean more towards Mr. Baskin’s claim. However, now that I am in this class, I feel that I am more able to recognize when an ethical situation arises. I had never gone into deep thought about how I would respond if put into precarious situations at work until these past couple of weeks. I also would have had difficulty knowing what actions are acceptable to take if my boss or supervisor pressures me to do something I know is wrong. Although my values were shaped throughout my life by my loving family and past experiences, I now feel much better equipped to stay true to those values and respond accordingly.
First of all, fantastic post. I have always wondered this same question. If you can teach,in a classroom setting,someone to be ethical, why are there so many examples of the latter happening in society today? After reading your post I can make two observations on this topic. One, that ethics isn’t just about being taught in a classroom setting. Yes you can go over the different approaches and ideologies to the mindset and agenda people might have in making the decisions they do, but i think that the most influential way to learn is to look at real life examples and hear from people who have been through it. Kudos to you because you do a great job of presenting such examples in your lectures and with your guest speakers. The second observation i can make is that ethics is also be taught by the people you surround yourself with. They are the ones that are going to shape who you are and ultimately going to be the people you can talk to when you are faced with difficult decisions.
It makes me happy to see that you have those kind of people in your life and makes me further appreciate the few I have in my life who are the same way. Thanks again for the great post!
Dr. Shaub, Your family is an excellent example how ethics can be learned from the environment around us. However, I understand why you said you were in an “awkward” position when saying ethics can be formed in students. Most of our basic values are formed at a very early age, so family plays the most important role. In your example, your father is the extinguishing role model of your family that passed his virtues to you and your sons. I agree that values of college students are still very sensitive and can be influenced in a positive way. I need to let you know that your class is bringing all of us a positive influence, and sharpening our sense of distinguishing what is right and wrong.
I believe ethics can be taught to a point. I was raised in a Christian environment growing up and would say that it has planted a solid ethical foundation within me. I have realized how blessed I am to have two loving parents that have guided me thus far in my life. However, for somebody to grow up where their parents maybe haven’t been the best role model, I believe they will struggle more with making ethical decisions on a day to day basis. This doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes, I just have a better sense of black and white than most people. I believe people can strengthen their ethical behavior and see unethical tendencies in their life, but for someone who never had a solid foundation I find this to be very difficult to teach what I have learned in the 22 years I have been alive.
This blog raised up an interesting question. I thought that everyone could teach ethics. The only difference was the way they would teach. We didn’t have a specific definition of ethic so far. We judged people whether they are ethical generally by the social common, but everyone had their own standard. On most cases, we would consider ethic as virtue, because it represented the natural part of human beings. Undoubtfully, a man with virtue like integrety and honesty could teach ethics and be a model himself. And family would have the biggest effect on one’s behavior. So I thought that ethics was not something could be taught, it was something one learned actively from the environment and all the people around him. And you cannot be ethical through one night. It also needs time to make it grow.
In my opinion, our sense of ethics and what is ethical develops over time through our own experiences and the experiences of those around us. Our parents, family, and others who we are close to teach us right from wrong at an early age. As we grow older we learn how to make these judgments for ourselves, and base our decisions off of them. However, our learning process is never truly finished. We are constantly developing our sense of self, and this is something that can be molded.
I think ethics can be taught. If nothing else, simply having conversations about ethics and ethical issues make us more aware. It brings the topic to the front of our minds, and it makes us think about the choices we make. While one 3 hour ethics course cannot guarantee that we will always make the “right” decisions for the rest of our lives, it can aid in improving our decision making process. Ultimately, this is immensely helpful when/if the time comes for us to make the tough choices.
I think you can teach someone what ethics is but that doesn’t mean they will be ethical. Teaching someone ethics can make them aware of what some dilemmas might be and how to handle them. From our class, I’ve learned how easy it is to get caught up in an ethical situation. This has taught me how to be more cautious in my business career but that doesn’t guarantee that I am always going to make the most ethical decisions. Like many people who commented before said, I think your surroundings help influence how ethical your actions are. If you have mentors and peers who are always doing the right thing, it will be easier to live a more ethical life.
As you have said in class, I think ethics teaches us how to identify when we are in a morally challenging situation and be able to take a step back and think about it. It changes the way we analyze ethical situations. However, this doesn’t mean you can teach everyone to act in the same way(ethically) in similar situations. People will evaluate their duties/consequences differently and take different courses of actions. Its a sad reality, however, there will be more Madoffs and Enrons.
I like the idea that our ethics are not fully formed when we enter into college. Just like Francine McKenna was talking about working out our ethical muscles, I believe that college is that perfect setting for that. As she said, it is important to be in an educational setting, not just classes but a hub for knowledge and experience. I can closely identify the learning of ethics to working out. You have the privledge of being our instructor and trainer, guiding us through challenging situations that we may not have faced before so that when we do, we will be well equipped. It is very important that we have practice and instruction so that we will be able to take care of ourselves, unlike the people who think that they are sufficient by themselves. I also believe that a well rounded education in ethics includes making mistakes and feeling the consequences. That is why we are in the prime spot for falling down and getting back up as a stronger person. Thank you for being our trainer for character building before we leave to face the marathons on our own.
I totally agree with your analogy that college is the perfect setting to work our ethical muscles, because if we fall we will get back up stronger. All my life it was easy doing what I have always been expected to do, especially in front of my parents, but now I have learned that what matters the most is the things we do when no one is watching, which is the basis for integrity. I hope in the future, whenever I am placed in situations where my integrity is tested by fire, I will be able to show my strength and not be carried away by pressures.
I definitely think that ethics can be taught or formed. I agree with the thought that ethics are pretty well formed by the time one gets to college. That being said, I can personally say I’ve learned a lot about ethics in the past 4 weeks, because the discussions that have taken place in class have opened my eyes to scenarios and principles that I would typically not consider on a day-to-day basis. I also believe that as humans we have some degree of inherent ethics, but these are fairly heavily influenced by our environment. In reading a book about a North Korean prison camp escapee, I found this to be true. This man did things that we as Westerners would consider to be ethically egregious, but in his situation he had to do these things to survive. It was only later when he interacted with South Koreans and Americans that he became ashamed of the things he did, because those societies think down upon the actions that he committed.
So yes, I believe ethics can be taught, even in the classroom form. I was skeptical of this notion going into this course, but I found it to be remarkable how wrong I was. Ethics are also formed by societies and life experiences as well. I believe ethics may be pretty well formed once you hit a certain stage in life, but I think one can continuously learn ethics their entire life.
I don’t think that ethics can be taught. Ethics is something that our parents instill in us as young children. Its your morals and the way you were raised. However, I do believe that Ethics classes can provide you with strategies to help you make ethical decisions. I think that this class has helped me become more aware of how to mitigate ethical situations, but I think that my parents have shaped my morals and ethics.
The question “Can ethics be taught?” is one that I had never thought about until entering ethics class this semester. My thoughts were, they have a class for it so of course it can be taught. This thought is most likely the product of 15 straight years of school and endless classes, and it is one that I had not questioned until now.
In thinking about how people actually learn ethics, I wonder how much nature vs. nurture applies. I know people with great moral character and I am amazed by how they got that way considering their upbringing and home environment. But I also think that much of who we are is a product of all of our experiences and what we are willing to absorb. Just because I read my ethics book for the past 2 hours doesn’t mean I absorbed any of it, though I indeed tried.
In my opinion, ethics can be taught, but only by those who want to learn.
As you mentioned, I think the way we are raised has a big impact on how ethical we becomes. By the time you go to college, you ethical framework should already be well formed. Ethics classes strengthen this framework. In my case, I am very lucky to come from a family that has good values. Your class have made my realize that it takes a lot more than that to make the right decision. We may face difficult situations in our career. We have to make sure to always follow our intuition and remember our values. If we don’t, we may face serious consequences. This applies even if you are not directly involved with the fraudulent transactions.
Like many others who have left comments on this blog, I believe ethics is not learned in the classroom, but by your experiences you have with others and seeing how they handle themselves in all different types of situations. For example, I am the person i am today ( a good person) because of the way my mom and dad raised me. They instilled the ethical values in me that make it possible for me to become a good person. Although I feel you can’t really teach people to be ethical, one thing I really love about your ethics class is that you help us understand that we are going to be put in tough situations in the future where we may not know what the most ethical decision to make is or if choosing to make the ethical decision is the right choice. I know from taking this class that there are pros and cons to every decision that we make, but you should always end up making the choice that will allow you to be able to live with yourself the best and not feel guilty.
I too feel that ethics are teachable in a layering process, over time and experiences. Core values are developed at an early age, and as you have expressed, children learn by example, good and bad. Therefore, family and the significant individuals in children’s lives do play a large role in developing the ethical thought processes, whether consciously or unconsciously.
For 21 years, I was blessed to have a great role model as part of my development and foundation. As with your father, my grandfather was a man quietly leading his life doing the right thing each day for those who mattered most to him: his wife, his children and their spouses, and his grandchildren. He was a humble man who lived his life with integrity and had his priorities straight. I was able to learn simple, honest truths from his talks with me, as well as from his behavior. I feel very fortunate to have him as my grandfather, and everyday I see his influences in my parents, my cousins, others whose lives he touched, and hopefully, in myself.
Your ethics class has been an opportunity to further develop and define my ethical thoughts and values. Through teachable moments with reminders from some speakers and learning experiences of others, such as Helen Sharkey, I have added to my ethical foundation. Please continue your commitment to our future. It has been a great learning experience with very real- world applications.
Great post! I agree that ethics can be taught. I think that the little things our parents teach us at a young age are often embedded in us and guide our decisions when we face an ethical dilemma. I can still remember my father making me return the nickle I took from my grandparents house when I was 3 years old, along with an apology! It was the small lessons like this one that my father set the standard higher for my brother and I. I also recall many “attitude checks” that I think also influenced our behavior growing up and decisions we made.
I also think that we are taught ethics “down” through situations more effectively than we are taught ethics “up” in the classroom. Obviously this is unfortunate, because it proves you can’t fully prevent bad decisions. The classroom is great preparation and very interesting to study, but I feel realistically many of us cannot predict how we will react until we are placed in a specific situation.
I really enjoyed your article. My point of view in this issue is that ethics can be both taught, but most importantly, reinforced. I believe we each have an ethics tool box containing many tools: our philosophies, maxims and principles. When we encounter a better tool we replace the old tool with the new tool, such as an outdated ethical philosophy with a modern one. Then, there are situations in which we encounter a tool that we did not have in our tool box that we know could help us in the future, so we add it too. Finally there is a situation in which we find a tool, but we believe the one we possess is better, so we do not add it. These situations rarely happen because our toolbox at this point in time is pretty much full, unless something radical happens in our lives, like adopting a new religion.
However, what I believe helps us the most is the ‘training sessions’ or ethics lectures we receive that instruct and remind us how, when, and why to apply those tools. This is what adds value. There is no doubt I will look back to this class as a significant marker of ethical development in my life.
The question being raised here “can you teach ethics?” sounds intriguing. In my own little world, I associate ethics to being identified as our moral righteousness such as goodness, prudence and integrity. Accordingly, ethics can solely never be taught; it can be acquired through our beliefs and practices. Thus, based on our beliefs, we learn something new by mostly validating it into being through constant practicing. Frequently, a good example here would be the study of a culture, as constant practicing would enable the culture to be part of an individual’s life, which becomes harder to break apart from. As a result, it is upon you the individual being to make certain and put into constant practice of understanding who you are as a person, knowing your limit and taking into consideration what you are capable of doing.
Yes, you can teach ethics in the classroom. It is possible to teach ethical theories, behaviors, and principals. However, duties and morals are a part of who we are, and those can differ for everyone. From birth to death, we develop and shape our ethical viewpoints and attributes based on who we surround ourselves with. We learn from examples. By teaching us your ethics knowledge, you definitely provide us with an admirable example on how we can better improve lives as ethical professionals.
I think that while ethics can be learned, they cannot be taught. I think what we see and hear around us makes an impression upon us and forms ideas in our head about what it means to be ethical. The biggest ethical influences in my life are parents. I spent my whole life watching and learning from them and how they act and I can confidently say that because of what I witnessed and experienced in that household, I established an ethical base. Although at times my parents and others have told me to act one way or the other (and I probably did act in the specified manner), I have a hard time believing that whatever I was told to do was added to my ethical base simply because I was told to do it.
To be more clear, I think that ethical behavior is impressed upon us- not taught in the way that you would teach someone a math problem or how to make a journal entry. That being said, there is value in an ethics class. I’m not necessarily going to be ethically enlightened from learning about the different philosophies and theories of moral principles but the life experiences we hear about from the professor and other speakers certainly make an impression in my ethical decision making.
I believe the best an ethics teacher can do is give us the knowledge and framework to aid in deciding what is right and wrong, but the moral motivation to actually choose right over wrong is something within the individual that most likely cannot be taught in a classroom.
“My hope is that his ethics professor will activate that search for truth and not undermine it.”
You may not be able to teach someone ‘correct’ ethics, in a sense that you can’t impose your ethics onto students and have them simply believe and live by those standards. Ethics have to be developed in an individual. But I think you can activate that search for truth, as you said above, and that will lead students to develop their own standards more fully. I think the purpose of this course is to get us thinking and evaluating our lives, not to create a mold of students who would all do the same thing in an ethical sitation. And if the purpose if to get me thinking, this course is set up very well, because I have spent a lot of time evaluating my character.
I agree with what you’ve said here Kellie about ethics having to be developed in an individual. I think that searching for your ethical truths is a journey that you must go on alone, but there are a number of pit stops and forks in the road that will influence you.
These influences could be situations or people in your life that may shape your outlook on certain things, or literature that you come across that challenges your views. The experiences and upbringing from your childhood are also a part of this path, as you determine how those events from your past will affect your future. All the while there are positive and negative aspects from life that influence your thinking. When you face a fork in the road and are forced to make a defining decision, your ethical judgement is shaped and tested.
I consider this class to have been a pretty big pit stop on my ethical journey, because it really has made me pause and take time to think about the path that I am on. Having this ethics course has made me determined to better define my own personal ethical standards, and evaluate the kind of person that I want to be.
I completely agree. I believe we are all born with some kind of sense of right and wrong. It is our experiences, how we’ve been brought up, and the people we have been surrounded by, that further and strengthen this “ethical muscle”. I think ethics is teachable in the sense that you can shed light on what it looks like to actively uphold one’s values and principles through actions and encourage others to evaluate how to apply this to everyday life. Like anything, I think developing this “ethical muscle” is very much a continuous process that occurs throughout our entire lives.
If ethics is not taught, then how else are we supposed to learn what’s wrong or right? Moral or not moral? Like you said, our ethical values are planted in us at a young age, whether it be by our parents, siblings, elementary teachers, tennis coaches, or piano teachers. In the process of teaching us how to tie our shoes, add and subtract numbers, hit a forehand, or play the piano, they are simultaneously instilling in us moral traits that will be used for the rest of our lives. Throughout my college career, I have reflected back numerous times on those certain individuals that shaped me into who I am today. I don’t remember the exact piano song I learned, or the form I first used to learn how to serve, but I do remember the life lessons that they taught me over the years. Throughout this ethics course, it has made me appreciate them even more and value the wisdom that they passed on to me. While ethics can be hard to explicitly teach in a classroom (although Dr. Shaub does an excellent job!!), it is easy to learn throughout ones life if surrounded by the right people.
I think that ethics can be taught to a certain degree. For me, my moral compass was formed by my parents, extended family, and other important people in my life over the years. Coming into college I still had a lot to learn, but I feel like I had a very solid moral foundation, just not a good set of business ethics. This class has really made me stop and think about possible scenarios that could happen to me in the real world and consider the severe consequences that could come about because of my actions. This class, along with other things that I have experienced, have adequately prepared me to deal with some issues that will come my way in the next few years.
So yes, I do think ethics can be taught to a certain degree. However, I think the degree to which a person can be taught ethics depends on the person’s morals and how they were raised.
I feel like ethics can be taught but it is up to that person to make that decision when it counts. However, I think teaching ethics should extend from the classroom to the “real word.” Growing up my parents helped me analyze certain situations where I made both good and bad decisions. They always told me to be honest. They shaped my thought process in ethical decisions well before college. This ethics course is helping me learn about ethics more of in the business sense and I have learned a lot especially with the exceptional speakers that we have had the opportunity to hear. I hope that I can teach my kids not only what it right and wrong, but to have the strength and courage to actually enforce it in their everyday lives.
The existence of good people in this world shows us that ethics can be taught in families most effectively. Obviously, Dr. Shaub and his father are prototypical examples of fathers that instill sound ethics in their children.
In the classroom, “taught” is too constrictive a word. In the education realm, ethics should be “exposed.” The study of past scenarios and philosophical theories play a significant role in the field of ethics, but the ethics professor’s most important task is to facilitate completely open discussion. Whether ethics can be taught or not, ethics can be learned through exposure to new points of view.
Without coming across as the devil’s advocate in this situation, I will first and foremost say I do agree that in some form Ethics can be taught.
However, I also believe that there is a certain caveat to that statement. In my opinion, it is not Ethics that can be taught, but rather it is the characteristics (honesty, integrity, sympathy, virtue, etc) that are demonstrated to us through personal experience with those around us. I think we personally learn how to ethical, or understand what constituents an ethical decision, by first-hand experience of the calculations people around us make to reach morally correct solutions.
Beyond this explanation, I believe that ethics cannot be directly taught because it relates to something inside of us. Like we learned about the ethical viewpoint of virtue, a person has to want to be ethical in order exhibit ethical decision-making. Without this want, even simply teaching on Ethics will prove to be unsuccessful.
In class something that my group always talks about is ‘can you teach ethics’? My answer before was no, that I don’t believe you can really teach ethics, but after reading this post I think my answer changes. This blog made me think of being taught in a different respect. Before I was always thinking of being taught in the classroom, and I still don’t think that one can truly be taught ethics in a classroom. However, in the past 22 years my family and friends have been teaching me ethics through their actions and words. The person I am today is because of the great values and morals that my family has shown me. However, just because we can be taught ethics, whether it be through family and friends or in a classroom, that doesn’t mean everyone will choose to be ethical.
I do not believe that ethics can be taught in college. Our ethics start developing at a very young age by the acts of the people we look up to. They are continually being constructed as we grow and will continue to be shaped until our last breath. Though we come into college with a set of ethics and morals, we can refine them through ethics courses. Courses that teach ethics cannot truly teach us ethics but just establish a basis/example of what our previously constructed ethical notions mean. Ethics are formed when real life situations are faced and a classroom just cannot simulate such an environment.
I am in the belief that people can be taught ethics. However, I believe it depends on where that person is in life. I think that someone would have a better chance to teach ethics to someone younger than rather older. I think once people reach a certain age, they have a general idea of who they are. On the same token, I think older people can be made aware of more ethical lessons. In short, I believe ethics can be taught, but I think that it is more effective to teach ethics at a younger age.
I think that ethics, more than being taught, must be lived. My guess is that very few of your students will ever remember a thing you taught or assigned them to read about ethical theory; however, we will always remember you. Dr. Shaub, you have already changed my ethical framework, but it had nothing to do with your teachings. Honestly, I tend to daydream more than anything when you teach… But I have seen ethics lived out. I have seen a teacher who lays down his life for students, who cares deeply about their futures, who invites people into his life and family. My ethical education didn’t begin when you spoke the first day of ethics class; it started the first time I came to after-class coffee during audit last semester and heard you speak about early marriage and your life as a young adult. Ethics may not be teachable, but you have taught me.
I do believe that ethics can be taught, but not necessarily in a classroom; however, if ever there were a professor who could, it is Dr. Shaub. In all seriousness, I did not want to take this class because like a normal 22 year old, I was like, “What can he possibly teach me that my parents haven’t already tried?” Turns out, a lot, but it’s not even necessarily the words that came out of Dr. Shaub’s mouth, but the situations he allowed us to encounter, such as numerous guest speaker’s and creating our own EAG presentations. Listening to Helen Sharkey’s story was life changing and something that I will remember for the rest of my life. These situations would have never happened if I had taken the other ethics professor last mini semester, or if I had attended another university with another professor. While Dr. Shaub gave very informative lectures, I do not believe that is it merely the book words or text that has changed by ethical views, but the stories I have heard from the people living through ethical dilemmas. Thank you, Dr. Shaub.
I believe that ethics can be taught in various different ways, including in a classroom. In general, ethics is something that you learn throughout life, and I know that my parents have always made an effort to emphasize the importance of always doing the right thing. They made the effort to raise me with ethical values, which is something that I am truly grateful for. A person’s life experiences are also a great factor in shaping one’s moral character. Not everyone faces the same challenges in life, so it’s difficult for all of us to have the same viewpoints and opinions about certain ethical situations. In a lot of ways, it’s hard for us to truly know how we would react in a situation until we are actually faced with that challenge. I believe that over time, people learn from their mistakes and experiences, which helps them strengthen their sense of morality.
Having said that, I also feel that learning ethics in the classroom is another opportunity for us to learn about ethics and its impact around the world. I know that this class has already exposed me to the different types of ethical dilemmas that have occurred in the past, and it has made me consider how I would react in these situations. Each guest speaker that we’ve had this semester has had a lasting impact on me, and I will always remember what they had to say. Overall, this class has greatly shaped my moral character, and I am truly grateful for all that I have learned.
I think ethics can be taught to some extent by teachers or relatives, and also through experiences. I can agree with you that students come to college partially “formed.” We get a good dose of right and wrong from our parents growing up. But ethics, as we have learned, is not always black and white and there isn’t always a purely right or purely wrong answer. I think it is good for us to hear different perspectives on ethics, like in a classroom. Yes, it can be difficult because you don’t want to offend anyone or tell students how to think. But it’s important to just make them think. Give them the tools to learn how to think ethically and hopefully, through experience, they will make a good ethical decision.
I think family members have an effect on the formation of one’s ethics more than others do because people spend most of time with their family especially during the learning period, like childhood. Apparently there are also many other people and factors that affect our experience, character, principles, and finally have a effect on our ethical intention and judgment.
After today’s presentations, I was impressed. Different group have different focus. But they all present us ethical dilemmas in our real life, some are small, some are huge. And after 5 weeks of the ethic course, most of us have same an ethical judgement. I think they have already acquired the ability to teach others ethics.
For me, I learned a lot from this class. And I think that what I’ve learnt in this class will last a lifetime. And this is just a beginning. I’m sure that there will be many opportunities for me to “learn” ethics from now on.
In my opinion, the concept of teaching ethics in a classroom (at least at the college level) is not that effective. Our ethical standards are essentially set at this point, and are not going to be changed by the results of a 6 week course. However, they will continue to develop based on our life experiences and interactions with our peers, but neither of these apply to a short ethics course.
Although I think teaching ethical standards is ineffective at this level, the exposure to different ethical situations is effective. While my underlying moral foundation hasn’t changed since we started this course, I would like to think the exposure and subsequent reflection have helped to increase my awareness to whether I am in an ethical situation or not. So while I don’t think you can “teach ethics” at the college level, the course is invaluable for helping students consider ethical issues they may have never thought about before.
This was a very interesting topic; one that I had not thought of before. I am finding myself really thinking on the topic and trying to figure out where the ethics in my own life came from. When I was little, I think I definitely “learned” ethics. My parents taught be between right and wrong, that lying was bad, and being nice to someone was good. However, as I grew older and got into my teenage years, I rebelled and did the wrong thing even though I knew it was wrong. In this sense, I had been taught ethics, and I knew what the correct choice was, I just decided not to take it. And then as I grew older I found the reason for why I wanted to make the right choice. My parents did a great job at teaching me ethics, but more than that, they taught me why being ethical was right. So in the end, it was my choice to want to make the right decision, but I would have never known why making an ethically sound decision was so important if my parents hadn’t taught me.
I think that even though you may be able to teach ethics, someone who does not want to be ethical is not going to be receptive to learning about it. I remember an article that we read in class mentioned something similar, in that you have to WANT to have virtues, and act with those in mind. I also believe that some people are so self absorbed that they have trained themselves to believe that if they are happy in the end, they will inherently think that that action is ethical. Since most people after 22 years are pretty set in their ways, I think that although you can really make them think about what is ethical, it is easy for them to revert to their old ways. I think an ideal solution would be to start teaching ethics in Kindergarten or Elementary school. It is kind of like a foreign language in that you have to constantly be practicing it. They say that a foreign language should be taught starting early on so students actually retain it, and I think the same goes with Ethics. Thankfully, I think this comes inherently from your family, but unfortunately not everyone gets the privilege of being raised by the most ethical people.
In my opinion, ethics is not something that can be learned from memorizing, taking tests or whatever we do for other courses. There’s no standard solution to any ethical problem therefore nobody could actually teach us how to be ethical. But one’s ethical standard can definitely be influenced by others. Afterall, our ethical standards are influenced by our families, friends, books and culture through growing up. I believe that is exactly what Dr. Shaub is trying to do when teaching ethics. By hearing guest speakers’ stories and thinking deeply through their ethical desicion-making process, we are able to put ourselves in their shoes to examine our ethics. In this manner, our ethics get reviewed and even reconstructed, not by anyone else, but ourselves.
Because I agree with your post and would rather not just parrot it all back to you, I’ll instead tell you what you’ve taught me throughout your ethics course.
Before our ethics class began, I wondered what/if I would learn anything through it. Honestly, I considered myself (and still do) to be a very ethical person. My parents raised me in a strong Christian home, taught me right from wrong, and instilled an excellent set of values in me. What I lacked before this course can be boiled down to one word: awareness.
You’ve taught me, through lectures and some incredible guest speakers, about how important it is to be aware of situations that I may or may not face. And along with that, to decide how I’ll react to those situations before hand, to really define my ethical standards now, instead of leaving it up to the heat of the moment. Because it not always “bad” people who get caught in unethical situations. It’s not always cruel intentions that fan the flame of deceit. It’s not always premeditated actions that lead to fraud. It can happen to anyone. And if you aren’t aware of this fact, it can happen more easily to you.
I agree, ethics is definitely teachable. However, I think it is right to say that most of our ethical personalities are formed by our parents, before we enter a college classroom. Taking an ethics course allows students to better define their ethical principles that have already been instilled in them. Additionally, being reminded of these ethical values is a great way to make sure students stick to the principles by which they have been raised.
If I were to guess, I’d say a formal ethics course does more to improve students’ ethical decision making through consequences rather than duty. Duty is something I feel is taught from a young age. However, learning about accounting scandals where people have paid a large price can be very motivational to improving ethical decision making from a consequence point of view.
I do believe that ethics is teachable especially in college. We come into our education with an open mind and possibly the basics. Some people do not get the schooling like you did when you were young so many students probably need this to strengthen their moral sensitivity. So that they know when they are in an ethical dilemma. I have learned a lot from your class, I didn’t realize how the smaller ethical dilemma’s could really have a serious effect on my moral perception of myself. I think that they should start teaching these concepts in high school too.
“Can you teach ethics?” Is a good question because no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. I feel that a person can inform an individual about ethics but not teach it. I feel that it is up to the individual to want to be ethical and stand by stong ethical principles. I also feel that an individual has to go through adversity, sometime, to understand what ethics really mean. After taking this class, it made me realize that no matter how ethically informed a person may be, he or she could still make wrong decisions. I agree with the approach to building ethical principles to set a foundation to handle tough ethical dilemmas. I also feel that in order to build these principles a person has to have a relationship with God though Jesus Christ.
As I read the end of this blog, chills ran through my body. Not the bad or scared kind of chills, but the chills of shear joy and happiness. It is so inspiring to read about the impact three generations of men have had on one another. I do agree that ethics can be taught. I also agree that when we get to college our ethics are fully formed. I believe that in college our ethics class challenges us to really look at ourselves and what we value. We already have our view of ethics instilled in us, but it’s through the teaching that we really are able to develop a more advanced ethical mind. That is what I believe is meant to be taught ethics.
I definitely think that ethics can be taught. I know the bulk of my ethical values come from my family and my background. However, many of the students ethical values are already in place before they reach your class (as you mentioned). If I have learned anything from this class it is about how to protect myself from committing fraud or stepping over the ethical boundary. Although the class has not changed my ethical beliefs, it has helped me realize what ethics looks like in the business world and the challenges I will encounter. Long story short, you’ve done a great job!
I believe that ethics can be taught by your family and community, in actions and in words, while you are growing up. I don’t an ethics class in college will have a very large effect on forming or changing your values. However, I do think that this class in college is very beneficial and will help us with facing ethical decisions in the future.
First of all, this class helps us in being able to recognize some of the ethical dilemmas we may come across as an accountant and in the business world. We are able to practice analyzing different situations, preparing us for how we will need to in the future. We are able to hear first-hand from people that faced ethical decisions, and what consequences their decisions led too.
By being aware of these situations, arguments that can be used on both sides, and consequences that can arise, we will be better informed and be able to have a more complete view of the decisions that we are going to make. I don’t think an ethics class would be very effective it tried to change your values, but if the class can do these things (like ours), then I believe that it will be very beneficial for all of us.
I believe you can teach ethics, but not in a classroom setting. I believe it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their kids right from wrong. Then, it is the child’s responsibility to take what they have learned and apply it in life, learning from their experiences. Most already have a firm grasp on what is right and wrong when entering the college setting. Therefore, I believe that what is being presented in an ethics class is simply heard but not learned as an ethical base is already established.
I do not think that having a conscience can be taught, but I do believe in the importance of being aware of these ethical dilemmas and what the right thing to do is before you come across them. Our ethics class explores areas of the profession that I had no clue existed, and I feel much more prepared to take on the crazy world of business than I did before this course.
I think that most people have an ethical compass- an innate sense of right and wrong. What I’ve learned from our ethics class is that in pressure situations, people don’t use that compass out of fear. I believe that knowing what/why you feel something is right or wrong, rather than just having that feeling, is paramount to actually making those correct choices in high pressure situations. That’s why having a good environment to learn ethics is so important.
As you have pointed out, most of us have a pretty good idea of our ethical capacity when we come to college, clearly due to our many impressionable years. However, looking back at the past month, I do believe that our ethical capacity can be adjusted if given the proper knowledge. There are many things I have learned this semester that have challenged me to be more of the person that I was raised to be. I believe that even with the proper upbringing and experiences up to the point of our college careers, our values can always be muffled.
Also, something stuck out to me in this post. “But, life on life, we change those who are important to us.” At the beginning of our ethics mini-mester, you told us we are roughly a combination of the five people we spend the most time with (the five people who are most important to us). I’ve made it a point to now challenge myself on who these five people are. As much as we think we are independent of others actions, we are truly affected by the company we choose. We also will affect our company in the same way. This brings more meaning and importance to the relationships I build and the people I become close with. With no doubt in my mind, I can say this is something I will long think about as I further develop relationships and build new ones.
I agree that ethics can be taught, just not in the typical classroom/textbook setting. I think you learn ethics by hearing from people’s experiences, like the speakers we have in class. I also think you learn ethics from being put in situations in which you have to exercise your “ethical muscles”. When you are put in these situations, that is when you avert to speakers you have heard, or other peoples experiences, to assit in the decision making. I think one thing that we learned in class that directly speaks to this, is that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Whether or not you think you are learning ethics, the people that are most important to you are teaching it whether you like it or not. This is why it is SO important to surround yourself with ethical people.
In much of the manner that one builds a resume and network to achieve success in a profession, I believe that is how becoming an ethics professor works as well. A doctor conducts research, studies tremendously, and requires many hours of practice to become a great doctor. Professors who wish to teach a subject must also put in their time and research to be qualified to teach a subjective course such as ethics. The doctor or the professor may not be perfect because nobody truly is, but if he is working towards being better at his profession and practicing it in a fair manner then that more than qualifies the man for his job. Ethics much like any subject can not be taught in one course, but instead takes years of practice and support from friends and family to master. So yes, ethics can be taught in class, but it takes great mentors who have put in their time and effort to learn the subject along with a positive circle of friends and family to support you through school.
I believe this question falls into this infamous grey area that we so often discuss when we talk about ethical dilemmas. I feel that you can educate someone about ethics by opening their eyes to ethical decisions they may overlook. However, it is my opinion that teaching ethics completely depends on the student. A student who is ethical and has a strong set of morals can be taught ethics because they are truly aware of what it means to act in an ethical way. But I don’t believe you can teach ethics to an unethical person. That may sound a bit obvious, but it is my belief that if someone is unethical by nature, they will not be receptive to ethical teachings.
This blog reminds me of when Dorsey Baskin expressed his skepticism regarding the value of teaching an ethics course. I will admit I also was skeptical in the sense that I do not believe that character or virtue can be taught. However, after taking this ethics class, the value in it became apparent. The various guest speakers have allowed me to see real life ethical situations in a very real way. The speakers, particularly Helen Sharkey, made me realize that these gigantic frauds can suck in regular people in small positions and ruin their lives. I feel that these stories will stick with me when I enter the professional world.
I think the role of a father or grandfather in ethics is different than that of a professor. In an ideal world, these men are in a position to influence their children from day 1. This exposure and influence allows them to affect the internal virtues that their children/grandchildren posses. A professor takes more of a role of bringing to light various issues and making the student conscious of his or her decisions. In the end, both offer great value to the development of young people as they enter the working world.
I do believe God has wirrten the law on each individuals heart. We know right or wrong and I believe that some from God. The blog above is a reminder of how one can lead by actions. Just because we know right from wrong does not mean we always do the right thing. But having and example above us, whether is be a mentor, Dad, or Grandfather, who have learned to listen the Spirit is a great example of how ethics is taught. I know I have watched my mentor make many tough decisions because he felt they were the right thing to do, and that alone has given me the desire to do the same. I would hope as I grow old, I continue to learn more about ethics and let my actions show how I am constantly learning ethics.
I believe that ethics are taught from when you are born until adulthood. If you grew up alone with no influences to mold you, you probably wouldn’t know much about right and wrong and how to be ethical. When a child is very young, I believe their ethics start forming based on what their parents say is right and wrong. Some people might stay at this ethical level their whole lives, making every decision based on what authorities tell them to do. It seems that the next level that people reach is based on group loyalties; loyalty to your family, friends, or an employer. This means that if you ask this person what they think is right or wrong, they will most likely answer with what their family, friends or employers have taught them. I feel that a more developed, educated individual will develop a more universalist point of view.
By the time we get to college, I think that most of us have developed most of our ethical values. However, I think an ethics class is crucial to make us think about strategies to use when we are confronted with ethical dilemmas both in school and when we enter the business world. From all of this, it is obvious that ethics can be taught.
I don’t think that everyone can teach ethics because we have different level of expression ability, but everyone must more or less influence other people on ethic issues, even this influence might be unconsciously. In other words, anyone can be my ethical teacher in some sense, professional wise person like Prof. Shaub or my parents, my boy friend, my friends or other instructors, even people that hurt me or humiliated me can help me to develop my ethical standards.
I just step into my 20th, some say the young people at this age will feel at sea and have no idea about the future career or relationship—I can’t agree more. At this age I feel so confused, seems that all the advantages I used to have are gone. I’m not excellence in study anymore and have no outstanding leadership; always fear of speaking in public and presentation; besides that, I’m not good at being a daughter or friend or girl friend, I said a lot crap that hurt people who love me. I feel like I’m getting into trouble on all sides.
All of these facts make me decide to study ethics, and rebuilding my character. I learned composure and don’t disturb by the outside from the book I’m reading; I learned providence from my mother; I learned tolerate and be nice to everyone from my boy friend. The most importantly, I learned how to build ethical standard in career and normal life in the ethics class. I want to say thank you to all the person who helped me go through this hard time, and I’ll continue self-improvement on ethical standards.
I personally believe that ethics can not be taught in a classroom. I like to think that my parents, family, and personal experiences have created my ethical values.
That being said, I think that the classroom is a great place to showcase examples of bad ethical values. During this minimester class we have studied and analyzed many accounting and business scandals. I think it is important for us to study these examples because it allows us to be prepared to be put in unethical situations. We have to hope that our ethical values are powerful enough to ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes as the people we studied this semester.
I believe that ethics definitely can be taught! You have opened our eyes to situations that we never thought we might face in the work field. We have all grown up with moral principles that we live by, but you have given us the motivation to abide by them and do what is right and good. I respect how real you are and how you live by example with your career and family.
Can ethics be taught in a classroom? I would have to say no. But I do believe that ethics can be taught throughout life. Parents, friends, books, and even TV can influence us in ways that shape who we are. It brings to attention the age old argument of whether one’s personality is something we are born with, or if it something that is shaped and molded over time. I believe the latter to be true, especially in the case of ethics.
We’ve all done things we regret, and we’ve all made mistakes that maybe we don’t regret. But we learn lessons from these experiences whether we know it or not, and when we are faced with a similar situation in the future we call upon these experiences to help guide us.
While I don’t believe the classroom is an ideal place to teach ethics, I believe it is a great place to ignite discussion about issues that in turn cause us to call on our previous experiences that in turn teach us ethical values.
I agree that ethics can be taught, but it can;t be taught from just a textbook. I think that it has to be taught from a professor who is truly passionate about what he is saying and that he can give that vibe off easily to the students. I personally feel that you are a great example of how to teach ethics. When I am in the classroom, somehow you make it very apparent that you care about all of us that are in there and I think that that vibe you give off makes the information stick with us so much more than if it was just any other class. This is the kind of environment that ethics CAN be taught in. If it is purely academic it will just go in one ear and out the other.
I agree with you that ethics can be taught, but I believe it is only to an extent. Those beginning to be taught need to have some type of ethical foundation, principles that have helped to guide them up to any particular point in their life. We begin to build that foundation at a young age by watching how our family interacts with other day-to-day and how they carry themselves. For me, I believed I built a strong ethical foundation not just because the advice given to me from my mom, but more so from observing how hard she worked at tasks and how selfless she was to go out of her way for anyone. Faith also helped to guide my mother’s choices in ethical decision-making, which she quickly showed to me. But I feel without at least some kind of solid foundation, teaching ethics will prove to be more than difficult.
Ethics are learned, you are not born with them. We learn them from our environment as we grow. And just as with all areas of life, ethics can be taught. But teaching ethics over 6 weeks in a classroom may not be the most effective way to teach the subject, even if it is the most efficient. I do think that the concepts taught in a course, such as the ethical decision making process and theories surrounding ethics, are of great importance to a person’s ability to fully understand their ethical values and where they stand on issues.
I think it is important that we answer this question with a “yes,” or else there is little hope for us all. I know I, personally, have much to learn in the realm of ethics and moral courage.
I think ethics is teachable but in a very different way than other topics. We can’t be given instructions, read a textbook, or make flashcards. Instead, the most effective way to learn ethics and develop principles to live by is through personal life experiences, like learning from a father as mentioned above.
In our accounting ethics class this semester the most impactful lessons were those that shared stories and experiences which taught lessons. We can learn from hearing about experiences from others but we will learn most by interacting with others and creating our own experiences.
I think that most of where we get our ethics is through the way we are raised. Most of it is learned when we are young, and solidified through our experiences as we get older. Therefore, I do not think that you can really teach ethics. The ethical theories and principles can be taught, but teaching a person to act ethically holds little value once a person has really grown up. This is the responsibility of the parent. Knowing this, I realize that my job as a parent will be extremely important.
I completely agree with you, Jessica. I think our individual ethical viewpoints are derived from our unique life experiences. With that being said, I think we can all agree that there are still over-arching principles of “right” and “wrong” that are somewhat objective, although in practice there might be some gray areas that are left up to the individual to interpret. I believe the best an ethics course can do is to provide students with the moral tools to evaluate a situation and act according to his/her moral principles.
I believe that you can teach ethics. I believe that is simple in itself. It is ultimately up to the student if they desire to live to the ethics they have been taught. I have been taught ethics my whole life by various high school teachers and college professors. My parents have also played a particular role in that development. Ultimately, it is up to me on if I wish to live to the ethical standards laid before me.
Nobody is perfect. That is something that I always have to remind myself about the topic of ethics. Being ethical doesn’t mean that you’re perfect and won’t ever make mistakes. But it does entail, and is ultimately defined, by how you react when you do make mistakes. I agree that it can be taught, but only to a certain extent. You can make students memorize lists and definitions, and making students aware of such terms and theories is important just for exposure’s sake. But in order for lessons from the classroom to truly be effective, the student has to genuinely want to adhere to what they have been taught.
I believe that ethics can be taught, because I believe this was the case for me this semester after taking an ethics class. I do not believe that you can define what someone should consider ethical, but you can provide a guideline for them to create their ethical principles. I feel as if the more exposure you have to being taught ethics, the more prepared you will be when you face ethical decisions in the workplace.
I believe ethics can be taught, but can only be taught by those who you truly trust and see as a role model. Yes different values can be introduced and taught by a guest speaker or stranger whom you’ve never met before, but I believe your CORE beliefs and values can only be shaped by those who you hold closest. Like your example, I find my core beliefs coming from the examples my father has given me. Being the second oldest of 7 and growing up in India, my father didn’t have it easy. He was the first of his family to come to America and shortly after began helping finance some of his brothers to come as well. He has always taught me to stay true to myself and value the family that you have, because in the end, they are the ones who matter most. I believe that as an adolescent your beliefs are vulnerable to your surroundings, and I thank my father for guiding my beliefs growing up.
I think you make a very good point. I think each person might have a different idea of what is “ethical” based on their own beliefs but I think we can all agree that we have learned ethical behaviors over time from our own experiences. Whether it was a teacher saying that we should not hit someone on the playground or a father who says to defend yourself if you get hit first and then the results of all those actions, they all form what you think is acceptable action to take. I think what I forget to realize is that character and ethics are two different things. Character is what shines through when no one is watching. I believe character comes from within ones heart. For me specifically, I believe this comes from Christ. The closer I am to Christ, the more I can physically feel what is right from wrong and I don’t just know what the right thing to do is, I truly want to do it. I think if you truly have a heartful hand in your actions, then ethics do not need to be taught, you already have them.
I believe that ethics can be taught. Our core moral beliefs and principles are learned at a young age and become more difficult to change as we get older. How ethically we act, on the other hand, can change depending on our environment if a person lacks moral courage. I believe it is unlikely for someone our age to change their beliefs after taking an ethics class but, at any age, people can be taught to act in a more ethical way if they are willing to learn.