DANConferenceWalton.doc - Fullest Humanity Implications for the Ethical Life Dialogue Australasia Conference Melbourne April 2003 As someone external to

DANConferenceWalton.doc - Fullest Humanity Implications for...

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Fullest Humanity- Implications for the Ethical Life Dialogue Australasia Conference Melbourne, April 2003 As someone external to the teaching profession, my task today is as I see it is to bring in the external perspective that might serve to draw you back to some of the basic issues that we are often to close to see. One of the dangers that we can slip into at academic conferences is that of being too clever. Cleverness, like so much of the language, labels and trappings that we use, can exclude and divide us from each other. Intellectualising can also be a defence against actually having to honestly grapple with the emotions associated with difficult subjects. Much of applied ethics is, in contrast, common sense and seemingly very simple. The issue of ethics arises out of the fact that as human beings we are relational creatures. Once we come up against an‘other’, whose desires and needs impinge on our own, we encounter the issue of choice. We ultimately define who we are, the sort of human being that we become, through the choices that we make. The issue of ethics must be accessible to everyone regardless of background, education, intelligence or age. As ethicists we help people to identify and reflect on the choices that they might make by holding a mirror up to them in a way that inevitably will have the affect of bringing people home to themselves as they seek to identify all of the conscious and unconscious issues that can affect good judgement. We do this in the world of business because economic rationalism has not worked to do the very thing that was intent on delivering- increased productivity. Economic rationalism has attempted to remove the inconvenient vagaries that come with the human dimension of our economic world by treating people as machines. What is becoming clear, however, is that human beings work better if they are happy and feel valued. The irony of our highly mechanised world is that simple values of trust and confidence are essential to its survival and success. So, in business ethics, we are having to re-teach people about how to build this trust and confidence, through behaviours and throughout their organizations. We are having to teach people to think critically, to think long term in an environment that is ruled by the short term, to think broadly and big picture when everything tells us that we should be specialising and narrowing our focus. We are having to teach people to feel comfortable with the language of values and right and wrong in a society that has all but lost this language. So, when asked to speak at this conference I thought to myself: Great that will be an easy topic, a welcome relief from to my usual experience when working in the field of business ethics of tiptoeing around the subject of the meaning of our lives that sits a baby with a dirty nappy, in the midst of a group of people all trying to ignore it lest it ask something of them that that they are unwilling to give. Little was I prepared for the turmoil that was to follow as I tried to find a place to begin a topic that is seemingly simple but quickly grows to
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