Ethical_Foundations_and_Perspectives

Ethical_Foundations_and_Perspectives - INTRODUCTION ETHICAL...

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Unformatted text preview: INTRODUCTION ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES The Cinema, a metropolitan movie theatre, was gutted by fire. Advertised as “the best spot in town for gay film buffs," the Cinema fire killed 16 men, including a minister, a politician, and a banker. The police did not release the names of the casualties until three days later. One victim’s next of kin could not be located before then. Another carried false identification and was finally recognized through a dental examination. Both city newspapers, the News—Print and the Sentry/Citizen, normally re— ported the names and addresses of disaster victims after the official investigation and the release of information. On the day of the fire, each newspaper printed a brief account of the disaster and an explanation for withholding the names. On the third day, the News—Print published the names and addresses of the deceased; the SentryaCitizen dropped the story completely. This event aroused the curiosity of media ethicists across the country. Both editorial staffs may be appropriately called to defend their decisions. The News—Print editor claimed “legitimate reader interest." The fire was obviously a significant local event, and the newspaper had always carried com— plete accounts of public disasters. The editor reasoned that this fire was no exception. The Citizen claimed to be protecting the interests of the survivors. “We are not sure the victims were homosexuals, and we do not wish to plant that suggestion in the public mind.” Both editorial staffs gave a specific reason for justifying opposite decisions. Why? Who was right? When this case is presented to a journalism ethics seminar for discussion, the students usually argue passionately without making much headway. Analysis degenerates into inchoate pleas that suffering survivors deserve mercy or into grandiose appeals to the privilege of the press. Judgments are made on what 2 \ INTRODUCTION Henry Aiken calls the evocative—expressive level, that is, with no justifying reasons. 1 Too often media ethics follows such a pattern. Students and practitioners argue about individual sensational incidents, make case—by‘case decisions, and do not stop to examine their method of moral reasoning. Instead, a pattern of moral deliberation should be explicitly outlined where the relevant considerations are isolated and given appropriate weight. Those who care about ethics in the media can learn to analyze the stages of decision—making, focus on the real levels of conflict, and make defensible ethical decisions. This test case can illustrate how competent moral justification takes place. The Potter Box Moral thinking should be a systematic process. A judgment is made and action taken. One paper concludes survivors of the victims ought to be protected and withholds names. What steps are used to reach this decision? How does a paper decide that an action should be done because it is right or should be avoided because it is wrong? The second paper considers it immoral to withhold news from its readers and prints the names. Any single decision involves a host of values and they must be sorted out. These values reflect our presuppositions about social life and human nature. To value something means we consider it desirable. Expressions such as “her value system” and “American values” refer to what a woman and a majority of Amer’ icans, respectively, estimate or evaluate as worthwhile. We may judge something according to aesthetic values (harmonious, pleasing), professional values (innovav tive, prompt), logical values (consistent, competent), sociocultural values (thrift, hard work), and moral values (honesty, nonviolence). We often find both positive and negative values underlying our choices, pervading all areas of our behavior and motivating us to react in certain directions.2 Newspeople hold several values regarding professional reporting; they prize immediacy, skepticism, and their own independence, for example. In the case of the Cinema fire, readers, family members, and reporters all value homosexuality in varying ways. These values taken in combination with ethical principles yield a guideline for the newspaper such as “protect the innocent.” The good end, in this instance, is deemed to be guarding an innocent person’s right to privacy. The means for accomplishing this end is withholding information about the victims. Likewise the News—Print came to a decision and based an action on that decision. The public has a right to know public news, the newspaper concluded; we will print the names. What values and ethical principles determined this decision? This paper strongly values the professional rule that important informa- tion should be distributed without hesitation. The staff argues that everyone ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES —— 3 ought to be told the truth. Professional values may be 'stated‘in positive or negative terms. In fact, an ethical principle often is established: Tell the truth under all conditions.” If we do this kind of analysis, we can begin to see how moral reasoning works. We understand better why there can be disagreement over whether or not to publicize this case. Is it more important to tell the truth, we ask ourselves, or to preserve privacy? Is there some universal end of actions that we can all respect, such as truthtelling, or do we choose to protect some persons, tempering the truth in the process? Thus we do ethical analysis by looking for guidelines and we quickly learn to create an interconnected model: we size up the circumstances, we ask what values motivated the decision, we appeal to a principle, and we choose loyalty to one social group instead of another. Soon we can engage in conflicts over the crucial junctures of the moral reasoning process, rather than argue personal differences over the merits of actual decisions. One disagreement that appears to be at stake here is a conflict between the norm of truthtellmg and the norm of protecting the innocent. But differing values and loyalties can be ’ entified too. ld Creative ethical analysis involves several explicit steps. Dr. Ralph Potter of the Harvard Divinity School formulated the model of moral reasoning introduced in our analysis of the Cinema fire. By using a diagram adapted from Professor Potter and therefore conveniently labeled the “Potter Box,” we can dissect this case further (see Figure 1.1). The Potter Box introduces four dimensions of moral analysis and aids us in locating those places where most misunderstandings occur. Along these lines we construct action guides. Note how this box has been used in our analysis of the Cinema fire: (1) We gave a definition of the situation, citing newspaper policy, police activity, and possible options. One newspaper printed the names when the police completed their investigation; the other did not. Both always followed the policy of printing the names of disaster victims, but in this case they chose differently. (2) Why? We have examined some of the values, both positive and negative, that might have been operative. But we clearly see that we have not exhausted all the values. We could have stressed that public persons—in this case, the banker, politician, and minister—must be reported consistently in news dissemination or Definition Loyalties Principles Figure 1.1 The Potter Box. 4 INTRODUCTION readers will not trust the paper’s integrity in other situations. Nor may we suppose that a person is a homosexual simply because he dies in a gay theater. Even though we may personally value heterosexuality, we may not simplemindedly assume that being caught in a theater catering to gays is embarrassing to every— one. Each value influences our discourse and reasoning on moral questions. (3) We named at least two principles and could have listed more. One paper invoked the ethical principle of truthtelling and the other a person’s right to privacy. But other principles could have been summoned: Do the greatest good for the greatest number; do the just action; love your neighbor. One newspaper feels obligated to print the truth, even if some innocent people get hurt or are misunderstood. The other newspaper will not print the names, even at the risk of losing some credibility. (4) From the outset a conflict of loyalties is evident. The News—Print claims it is acting out of sympathy to its readership in general. The Citizen claims to act sympathetically toward the victims of the fire. Moving from one quadrant to the next, we finally construct our action guides. But the problems can be examined in more depth. Conceive of the box as a circle and go one step further. This time, concentrate on the ethical principles. Next time in the cycle, focus on the definition of loyalties. If the major source of disagreement is over professional values, for example, concentrate on that area the second time around. Often we value certain things without thinking about them; debating them with those who are not easily convinced will make us more critical of ourselves in the positive sense. The News—Print values release of information and properly so. But is that an absolute overriding all other consid— erations? Our sexual mores are often honestly held, but having them periodically challenged leads to maturity. In such a process of clarification and redefinition, each element can be addressed in greater detail and then the deeper insight connected to the other quadrants. The matter of choosing loyalties usually needs the closest scrutiny. The Potter Box is a model for social ethics and consequently forces us to articulate very precisely where our loyalties lie as we make a final judgment or adopt a particular policy. And in this domain we tend to beguile ourselves very quickly. Examine the Citizen’s decision once again: Protect the innocent; publish no names. Who is the staff thinking about when they make that decision? Perhaps they are considering only themselves. They say they do not wish to increase the suffering of survivors and the grief of the victims’ families. They claim they do not want to inflict pain. They contend they do not want to lead people to label the victims as homosexuals when the victims might not have been gay. They seem to be saying that they could not live with their conscience if they were to print the news. But on additional reflection their loyalties may actually be different. Are they really protecting the innocent, or protecting themselves? Certainly, not reporting names is a means to an end, but the end could be their private comfort. ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES —— 5 The staff members appear to be interested in a gain for society. They appear to protect the innocent, maximizing their privacy and minimizing scandalous gossip. But the crucial question must be faced once more: For whom did they do all this? If they do not return to the top right‘hand quadrant of the diagram and inquire more deeply where their allegiances lie—for whom they did it—they have not used the Potter Box adequately. Probe the NewsaPrint’s decision in the same manner. Tell the truth; print the names, it was decided. If the paper had always printed the names of victims, why should it make an exception this time? If it excludes them now, will exceptions be necessary again and again until the paper’s credibility is ended? The News—Prints readers have certain expectations; must these not be met, the staff seems to be asking. If decisions are made that undermine credibility, has the company’s long‘range ability to contribute to society been damaged? What is more important, the welfare of the community’s citizens at large or the welfare of those in the fire accident? Even if the rumors are untrue, will some of the stigma of homosexuality be removed by implying that certain prominent people might have been homosexuals? In the initial analysis, the News—Print did not seem to be concerned for the survivors. Its imperative was to tell the truth or lose the trust of advertisers, readers, and employees. But maybe this newspaper’s loyalties to its readers can actually benefit the Cinema victims also. It could be reasonably argued that if the truth is told often enough, the public will be less shocked about homosexuality and less curious about private affairs. In time the survivors of the tragedy could become more than objects of curiosity. The truth of the tragedy may finally outweigh idle speculation and gossip. Important issues such as these are encouna tered and clarified when the loyalty quadrant is considered seriously, either in the first round of decision making or in more intensive analysis later. Choosing loyalties is an extremely significant step in the process of making moral decisions. As the preceding paragraphs indicate, taking this quadrant seriously does not in itself eliminate disagreements. In this arena, honest disputes may occur over those who should benefit from our decision. For media personnel who are sincere about serving society, choices must be made among various segments of that society: subscribers and viewers, sources of information, politiv cians, ethnic minorities, children, and so forth. Our calculations need to consider that flesh—and—blood people known by name cannot be sacrificed for euphemisms and abstractions such as the public, clients, audience, or market. In any case, the Potter Box is an exercise in social ethics that does not permit the luxury of merely playing mental games. Conclusions must be worked out in the rough and tumble of social realities. Often professional ethics makes a final appeal to moral princia ples and rests content if a decision can be justified according to some reasonable guideline arising from that body of scholarship called ethics. As developed in the 6 K INTRODUCTION next section, ethical principles are crucial in the overall process of reaching a justified conclusion. However, in the pursuit of socially responsible media, clarity over ultimate loyalties is of paramount importance. In addition to considering each step carefully, the box must be seen as a circle, an organic whole (see Figure 1.2). It is not merely a random set of isolated questions, but a linked system. We have moved from first impressions to explain— ing various aspects of what is happening in the situation. Each newspaper has declared its loyalties. It now has a mechanism to assess further its values and principles. A decision about the Cinema fire is now possible. But the Potter Box can also be used to adopt policy guidelines that will govern future behavior in similar circumstances. Based on this episode, the papers might decide to alter their policy regarding names. At least the editorial staffs will be aware that there is a system for reaching a comprehensive policy regarding similar events. Through the four steps, institutions can establish or strengthen company policy regarding anonymous sources, suicide coverage, confidentiality, trial coverage, advertising to children, and so forth. But we are still left with the initial question: Which newspaper made the right decision? This returns us to a central inquiry raised by this exercise: Is there a universal ground for making ethical decisions, an overarching theory from which we can choose among competing alternatives? Or, is ethical decision making a process of adjusting to the mores and commitments of a given community? Potter’s circular model, with its potential for continual expansion, takes both aspects seriously (see Figure 1.3). Community mores are accounted for when elaborating in step two on the values people hold and when separating out our loyalties before making a final choice. But the sociological matters are tempered in the Potter Box by appealing to an explicit ethical principle. Without such an appeal, a conclusion is not considered morally justified. Under the circumstances, both papers made a morally defensible decision. Feedback Particular Judgment or Policy Empirical Definition Choosing Loyalties Appeal to Ethical Principle Identifying Values Figure 1.2 ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES _———__ 7 Both modes of argument are consistent and coherent. In this particular case, either choice can be made with integrity and defended. Both aim toward a good widely held in our society, though these goods are defined differently. Often one media company will adopt a morally enlightened option and the other Will choose to break promises, cheat, and deceive. Such immoral behavior cannot be. Justified by serious attention to the Potter Box cycle. Happily there are Situations in which both options are ethically credible. The Potter Box process does allow competing goods to stand. These conflicts can then be addressed by appealing to ultimate values, metaphysics, or theology.4 For our purposes in this volume, the process by which choices are made is of the greatest importance. Media professions are demanding, filled with ambiguous situations and conflicting loyalties. The practitioner must make decisions quickly and without much time for reflection. Knowing the elements in moral analysis sharpens our vocabulary and thereby enhances our debates in media ethics. By understanding the logic of social ethics, we improve the quality of our conceptual work and thereby the validity of the choices actually made in media practice over the long term. The four dimensions introduced with the Potter Box, in effect, instruct media practitioners and students in developing normative ethics for situations of crisis or confusion. (Citizen: withhold publication) (News-Print: publish names) JUDGMENT LOYALTIES (Citizen: to survivors) SITUATION (Citizen: 16 reputable men died under questionable circumstances) (News-Print: to general readership) (NewsAPrint: community disaster happened) PRINCIPLE VALUES (Citizen: homosexuality is embarrassing, even wrong) (Citizen: protect the innocent) (News-Print: always tell (News-Print: professional the truth) credibility is paramount) Figure 1.3 8 INTRODUCTION Using Ethical Principles The Potter Box can help guide us through the various cases presented in this book. In the Cinema situation, the relevant empirical matters are reasonably few and simple. There may be some dispute over the theater’s clientele—whether or not the 16 who died were homosexuals. But the essential details are fairly easy to list. The Potter Box insures that we always treat the specifics very carefully. Our disagreements often result from our seeing the actual events differently. When a newspaper purchases a building secretly, sets up a bar, and records city officials on camera, a host of details must be clear before a conclusion can be reached, before we can decide whether it was entrapment, an invasion of privacy, or deception. When debating a station’s responsibility to children, much of the disagreement involves the station’s profits and how much free programming of high quality it can contribute without going broke. The question of controlling advertising usually is divided over the effect we consider advertising to have on buyer behavior. Often we debate whether we must overthrow the present media system or work within it. Actually these quarrels are usually not genuine moral disagreements. Regarding the need to destroy the system or work within it, for example, both sides may appeal to a utilitarian principle that institutions must promote the greatest amount of good possible. The debate might simply be over facts and details, over conflicting assessments of which strategy is more effective, and so forth.5 Our values need to be isolated and accounted for also. In this straightforward Cinema episode, the values held regarding homosexuality probably had the greatest influence on people’s attitudes about what ought to be done. People having the most positive commitments to gay rights, for example, would see no reason not to publish the victims’ names. But several other values entered and shaped the decision—making process. No exhaustive list of the values held by participants is ever possible, but attention to them helps prevent us from basing our decisions on personal biases or unexamined prejudices. Our values constitute the frame of reference in which theories, decisions, and situations make sense to us. Cases and commentaries, as they appear in this book, attempt to clarify the first two squares in the Potter Box. Case studies, by design, describe the relevant details and suggest the alternatives that were considered in each situation. The cases themselves, and the commentaries particularly, explicate the values held by the principal figures in the decisionamaking process. Occasionally the commentaries extend even further and offer ethical princi— ples by which the decision can be defended. Yet, on the whole, these norms or principles must be introduced by readers themselves. As the Potter Box demon— strates, appealing to ethical principles which illuminate the issues is a significant ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES —— 9 phase of the moral reasoning process. Often one observes newspapers and broad— .‘ casters shortcircuiting the Potter Box procedures. They typically act on the basis of professional values; in effect deciding while in quadrant two what their action will be. In the Pentagon Papers (case #13), for example, the New York Times 7 a, decided to publish the story because they valued First Amendment privileges so strongly that no other considerations seemed necessary. However, based on the Potter Box we insist that no conclusion can be morally justified without demon— ’ strating clearly that an ethical principle shaped the final decision. In this regard, we follow the standard definitions that locate the act of valuing deep within the \human will and emotions, while ethics involves critical reasoning about moral questions. The two quadrants on the left side, including values, explicate what actually happens. The two on the right side, including ethical principles, concern why something ought to happen. The left half of the box is descriptive and the right half normative. However, while the options can be outlined, the imposing of moral principles . by teachers and authors is normally counterproductive in that it undercuts the " analytical process. The purpose of sound moral reasoning is to draw responsible conclusions which yield justifiable actions. Therefore, several ethical norms are introduced below. In analyzing the cases, these principles can be incorporated where appropriate and beneficial to given situations. Historically ethicists have established many moral principles. The five ethical guidelines described in the following pages have achieved a significant hearing in the Western tradition, and together represent a reasonably wide scope of timevtested alternatives.6 Readers acquainted with other theories from across the globe are encouraged to substitute them instead. 1. An'stotle's Golden Mean: “Moral virtue is appropriate location between two extremes.” The golden mean is a middle—level principle which emerged at the earliest beginnings of Western philosophy in fourthrcentury B.C. Greece. An ethical norm of enduring quality, the theory of the mean—more exactly rendered as “Equilibrium and Harmony”—was developed before Aristotle by the grandson of Confucius in fifth—century B.C. China. By his “Principle of the Mean” Aristotle meant that moral virtue is a mean between two extremes, the one involving excess and the other deficiency.7 From Aristotle’s predecessor, Plato, the Greeks inherited the four cardinal virtues: justice, courage, wisdom, and temperance. When doing his ethics Aristotle emphasized moderation or temperance and sharpened it. just as wisdom is reason— ing well, so moderation is living well. In moral virtue, excellence is regarded as a mean between excess and defect. Courage is a mean between cowardice and temerity; a generous person follows a mean between stinginess and wastefulness; modesty is a mean between shamelessness and bashfulness; righteous indignation 10 INTRODUCTION stands between envy and spite. Propriety is stressed rather than sheer duty or love. As a biologist, Aristotle noted that both too much food and too little spoil health. One begins operating with this principle by identifying the extremes— doing nothing and exposing everything, for example, in a question of how to report some event. In case number 2, “Employment and Civic Duties in Lewis— ton,” two competing obligations can be resolved through the mean. The news paper rejects both the excess of excluding all outside involvements and the defect of paying no attention to external affiliations. In this situation, the application of Aristotle’s principle leads a paper to publish a financial disclosure of the pub! lisher’s holdings, to withdraw from potential conflicts of interest such as local industry boards, to report all staff connections, and so forth, while allowing other civic involvements. The basic idea is prominent in several diverse areas. In journalism, the sensational is derided and the virtues of balance, fairness, and equal time are recognized. When faced with a decision of whether to prohibit all raising of tobacco and to allow unregulated promotion, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took the golden mean—banning cigarette ads from television and placing warning labels on cigarette packages. The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) and Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) are a classic political example. Those who want an arms buildvup without restrictions on the one hand and those who favor dismantling of nuclear weapons on the other are bound to be unhappy with SALT, START, and other negotiations on the nuclear summit. But in extremely complicated situations, Aristotle would contend, the golden mean is the most fair and reasonable option. This ethical principle may be the only intelligent appeal when negotiating between the legitimate claims of two legally appropriate entities. The point for ethics is that virtue stands between two vices. That such vices are not always easy to locate is true enough. In considering action regarding a hostile editor, a reporter cannot say, “The two ends of the scale are to murder him or burn down his house, so I will take the mean and merely pummel him senseless in a back alley.” Bank robbers cannot justify themselves by operating at night so customers will not be hurt, and by taking only $10,000 instead of $100,000. Finding excess and defect involves honesty and imagination before their mean, that is, responsible behavior, becomes clarified. Moreover, some issues are not amenable to a center. A balanced diet positioned between famine and gluttony is undoubtedly wise, but occasionally our health requires drastic surgery also. There were slaves in Greece; Aristotle opted for treating them well and fairly but not for the radical change of releasing them altogether. Bear in mind, though, Aristotle does not advocate a bland, weak—minded consensus or the proverbial middletof'the—road. The mean cannot be reduced to political compromise or bureaucratic muddles. We say of an artistic masterpiece, 11 ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES “nothing can be added or subtracted without spoiling it,” and this is Aristotle’s intent with the golden mean as well. Moreover, while the word “mean” has a mathematical flavor, a sense of average, he explicitly denies that a precise equal distance from two extremes is intended. He speaks of the “mean relative to us,” glut is, to the individual’s status, particular situation, and strong and weak pointse Thus, if we are generally prone to one extreme we ought to lean toward another this time. Affirmative action programs thereby can be justified as appropriate since they help correct a prior imbalance in hiring. The mean is not only the right quantity, but at the right time, toward the right people, for the fight reason, and in the right manner. The distance depends on the nature of the merit as determined by the weight of the moral case before him. Think here of the Greek love of aesthetic proportion in sculpture. The mean in throwing a javelin is four—fifths of the distance to the end, in hammering a nail nine—tenths from the end. 2. Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act on that maxim which you will to become a universal law.” Immanuel Kant, born in 1724 in Konigsberg, Germany, influenced eighteenth—century philosophy more than any other Western thinker. His writ— ings established a permanent contribution to epistemology and ethics. Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals (1785) and Critique of Practical Reason (1788) are central books for every serious student of ethics. Kant gave intellectual substance to the golden rule by his categorical impera— tive which implies that what is right for one is right for all. As a guide for measuring the morality of our action, Kant declares: “Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”9 Check the underlying principle of your decision, he says, and see whether you want it applied universally. The test of a genuine obligation is that it can be universalized. The decision to perform an act must be based on a moral law no less binding than such laws of nature as gravity. “Categorical” here means unconditional, without any question of extenuating circumstances, without any exceptions. Right is right and must be done even under the most extreme conditions. What is morally right we ought to do even if the sky should fall, that is, despite whatever consequences may follow. Kant believed there were higher truths (which he called noumena) superior to human beings’ limited reason and transcending the physical universe. Conscience is inborn in every person and it must bei/obeyed. The categorical imperatives, inherent in human beings, are apprehended not by reason but through con— science. By the conscience one comes under moral obligation; it informs us when we ought to choose right and shun evil. To violate one’s conscience—no matter how feeble and uninformed—brings about feelings of guilt. Through the con— science, moral law is embedded in the texture of human nature. 12 ——_——_ INTRODUCTION The moral law is unconditionally binding on all rational beings. Someone breaks a promise, for example, because it seems to be in his or her own interest. But if all people broke their promises when it suited them, promises would cease to have meaning and societies would deteriorate into terror. Certain actions, therefore, are always wrong: cheating, coveting, stealing, dishonesty, for exam— ple. Benevolence and truthtelling are always and universally right. These moral duties are not abrogated by the passage of time nor superseded by such achieve’ ments as the Bill of Rights. Even if one could save another’s life by telling a lie, it would still be Wrong. Deception by the press to get a good story or by advertisers to sell products cannot be excused or overlooked in the Kantian view. Violent pornography in entertainment is not just one variable among many, to be explained away by appealing to the First Amendment. Kant’s contribution is called deontological ethics (dean from the Greek word for duty). The good will “shines like a jewel,” he writes, and the obligation of the good conscience is to do its duty for the sake of duty. 10 Ethics for Kant is largely reducible to reverence for duty, and his work is like a hymn on its behalf. For Kant, categorical imperatives must be obeyed even to the sacrifice of all natural inclinations and socially accepted standards. Kant’s ethics have an austere quality, but they are generally regarded as having greater motivating power than subjec— tive approaches that are easily rationalized on the basis of temporary moods. Kant’s dictum encourages obedience and faithful practice. 3. Mill’s Principle of Utility: “Seek the greatest happiness for the greatest number.” Utilitarianism is an ethical View widespread in American society and a notion well developed in philosophy. There are many different varieties, but they all hold in one way or another that we are to determine what is right or wrong by considering what will yield the best consequences for the welfare of human beings. The morally right alternative produces the greatest balance of good over evil. All that matters ultimately in determining the right and wrong choice is the amount of good promoted and evil restrained. Modern utilitarianism originated with the British philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748—1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806—1873). Their traditional ver— sion was hedonistic, holding that the good end is happiness or pleasure. The quantr ity of pleasure depends on each situation; it can be equal, Bentham would say, for a child’s game of kickball as for writing poetry.11 Mill contended that happiness was the sole end of human action, and the test by which all conduct ought to be judged. 12 Preventing pain and promoting the pleasurable are for Bentham and Mill the only desirable ends. Later utilitarians, however, have expanded on the notion of happiness. They have noted that if pleasure is upheld as the one object of desire (in the sense of “wine, women, and song”), then all people do not desire it (Puritans do not) and ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES _—_—— 13 it cannot be the only desired goal. Thus, these utilitarians argue that other values ‘besides pure happiness possess intrinsic worth—values such as friendship, knowla edge, health, and symmetry. For these pluralistic utiliarians, tightness or wrong- .ness is to be assessed in terms of the total amount of value ultimately produced. The press’s role in Watergate, for example, did not yield a high amount of pleasure for anyone except enemies of Mr. Nixon. Yet in a utilitarian perspective, the overall consequences were valuable enough so that most people considered the press’s actions proper, even though pain was inflicted on a few. Worked out along these lines, utilitarianism provides a definite guideline for aiding our ethical choices. It suggests that we first calculate in the most conscien— tious manner possible the consequences that would result from our performing the various options open to us. In making this estimation we would ask how much benefit and how much disvalue would result in the lives of everyone affected, including ourselves. Once we have completed these computations for all relevant courses of action, we are morally obligated to choose the alternative that maxi, mizes value or minimizes loss. Knowingly to perform any other action would result in taking an unethical course. The norm of utility actually becomes a double principle. It instructs us (1) to produce the greatest possible balance of good over evil and (2) to distribute this as widely as possible. Hence utilitarianism is often defined as promoting the greatest good for the greatest number. In this sense, the principle directs us to distribute a good consequence to more people rather than to fewer, when we have a choice. 13 Two kinds of utility are typically distinguished: act and rule utilitarianism. For act utilitarians the basic question always involves the greatest good in a specific case. One must ask whether doing this particular act in this circumstance will result in a balance of good over evil. Rule utilitarians, also attributing their view to Mill, construct moral rules on the basis of promoting the greatest general welfare. The question is not which act yields the most utility, but which general rule does. The principle of utility is still the standard, but at the level of rules rather than specific judgments. The act utilitarian may conclude that in one specific situation civil disobedience obtains a balance of good over evil, whereas rule utility would seek to generate a broadly applicable moral rule such as “civil disobedience is permitted except when physically violent.”l4 While happiness is an end hard to argue against, utilitarianism does present difficulties. It depends on our making accurate measurements of the conse quences, when in everyday affairs a blurred vision often emerges from the results of our choices, at least in the long term. Who can possibly calculate the social changes which will occur in the wake of computer technology in future decades, for instance. Moreover, the “greatest public benefit” principle applies only to societies where certain nonutilitarian standards of decency prevail. In a society of ten people nine sadists cannot justly persecute the tenth person even though it 14 _\ INTRODUCTION yields the greatest happiness. In addition, utilitarians view society as a collection of individuals, each with his or her own desires and goals; the public good is a sum total of private goods. These ambiguities, while troublesome and objection‘ able, do not by themselves destroy the utilitarian perspective, at least for an intellectually sophisticated audience. For our purposes in this volume, no moral norms can be considered free of all uncertainties, and the obvious difficulties with utilitarianism can be addressed in round two or three when using the Potter Box technique.15 Occasionally in resolving the cases in the following pages, utility is the most productive principle to include in the lower righthand quadrant. In the classic case of Robin Hood accosting the rich in order' to provide for the poor, act utility appropriately condones his behavior as morally justified. 4. Rawls’s Veil of Ignorance: “Justice emerges when negotiating without social differentiations. ” John Rawls’s book, A Theory of Justice, is widely quoted in contemporary work on ethics, and from his perspective fairness is the fundamental idea in the concept of justice.16 He represents a return to an alternative to utilitarianism He articulates an egalitarian perspective that carries the fami iar socia contract theory of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau to a more fundamental level. In easy cases, fairness means quantity. Everybody in the same union doing similar work would all fairly receive a 10 percent raise. Teachers would give the same letter grade to everyone with three wrong. All the children at a birthday party should have two cookies. Eliminating arbitrary distinctions expresses fairness in its basic sense. However, Rawls struggles more with inherent inequalities. For example, players in a baseball game do not protest against different positions or decry the fact that pitchers touch the ball more times than outfielders do. We sense that graduated income taxes are just, though teachers pay only 22 percent and editors, advertisers, and film producers perhaps find themselves in the 50 percent bracket! When situations are inherently unequal, blind averages are unfair and inr tuitional judgments too prone to error. Therefore, Rawls recommends his now classic “veil of ignorance,” asking that all parties step back from real circum— stances into an “original position” behind a barrier where roles and social dif— ferentiations are gone. 17 Participants are abstracted from such individual features as race, class, sex, group interests, and other real conditions and are considered as equal members of society as a whole. They are men and women with ordinary tastes and ambitions, but each suspends these personality features and regains them only after a contract is in place. Behind the veil, no one knows how he or she will fare when stepping out into real life. The participants may be male or female, 10 years old or 90, a Russian or a Pole, rookie or veteran, black or white, advertising vice—president or sales representative for a weekly. As we negotiate ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES —__—_ 15 social agreements in the situation of imagined equality behind the veil of ignor— ance, Rawls argues, we inevitably seek to protect the weaker party and to minimize risks. In case I emerge from the veil as a beginning reporter rather than a big—time publisher, I will opt for fair treatment for the former. The most vulnerable party receives priority in these cases and the result, Rawls would contend, is a just resolution. Because negotiation and discussion occur, the veil of ignorance does not rely merely on intuition. Such individual decisions too easily become selfvservmg and morally blind. Nor is the veil another name for utility, decisions based on what is best for the majority. Again, the issue is virtuous action, not simply action that benefits the most people. Rawls’s strategy, in fact, stands against the tendency in democratic societies to rally around the interests of the majority and give only lip service to the minority. I Two principles emerge from the hypothetical social contract formulated behind the veil. These, Rawls declares, will be the inevitable and prudent choices of rational men and women acting in their own self’interest. The first principle calls for a maximal system of equal basic liberty. Every person must have the largest political liberty compatible with a like liberty for all. Liberty has priority in that it can never be traded away for economic and social advantages. Thus the first principle permanently conditions the second. The second principle involves all social goods other than liberty and allows inequalities in the distribution of these goods only if they act to benefit the least advantaged party. The inequalities in power, wealth, and income upon which we agree must benefit the worst—off members of society.18 Consider the press coverage of Edward Kennedy and Chappaquiddick. Nor— mally such coverage is justified on the basis of the public’s right to know superseding a person’s right to privacy. But put Ted Kennedy and a newsperson such as Roger Mudd behind the veil of ignorance, not knowing who will be who when they emerge. Undoubtedly they would agree that the reporting of issues is always permissible, but that Chappaquiddick itself, many years after the inCident, is undue harrassment in the absence of any new material. Rawls’s principle precludes reporters from using their power to invade the privacy of innocent victims caught in a news story. On a broader level, place politicians and journalists behind the veil and attempt to establish a working relationship agreeable to all after the veil is parted and space/time begins again. All stark adversary notions would disappear. It would not be agreed that elected officials as a class he called the enemy or liars since those who emerge as politicians would resent such labels. Independence, some toughness, and persistence seem reasonable for the journalist, but a basic respect for all humans would replace an unmitigated and cynical abrasweness among reporters. 16 INTRODUCTION 5. Judeo—Clm'stian Persons as Ends: “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.”19 Ethical norms of nearly all kinds emerge from various religious traditions. The highest good in the Bhagavaerita, for example, is enlightenment. Of all the options, however, the Judeo—Christian tradition has dominated American culture to the greatest extent, and its theological ethics has been the most influential. The ethics of love is not solely a Judeo—Christian notion. Already in the fourth century B.c. , the Chinese thinker Mo Tzu spoke in similar terms: “What is the Will of Heaven like? The answer is—To love all men everywhere alike.”20 Nor are all JudeovChristian ethics a pure morality of love; some ethicists in that tradition make obedience or justice or peace supreme. But the classic contribution of this religious perspective, in its mainline form, contends that ultimately humans stand under only one moral command or virtue: to love God and humankind. All other obligations, though connected to this central one, are considered derivative. “Love your neighbor” is normative, and uniquely so in this tradition, because love characterizes the very heart of the universe. Augustine is typical in declaring that the supreme good is divine love.21 The inexhaustible, self'generating nature of God Himself is love; therefore, human love has its inspiration, motive, and ground in the highest reaches of eternity. Man is made in the image of God; the more loving humans are, the more like God they are. The Judeo'Christian norm differs from other ethical formulations at this very point. Love is more than a raw principle, stern and unconditional, as in Kant’s categorical imperative. Regard for others is not just based on a contract motivated by self—interest, as in John Rawls. It remains personal at its very roots, and while rigorously dutiful, it is never purely legalistic. As Emil Brunner notes in summarizing the biblical exhortations: “Live in love.” Or, still more plainly: “Remain in love." It is the summons to remain in the giving of God, to return to Him again and again as the origin of all power to be good and to do good. There are not “other virtues” alongside the life of love. . .. Each virtue, one might say, is a particular way in which the person who lives in love takes the other into account, and “realizes” him as “Thou.”22 The Old Testament already spoke of lovingkindness. But the Christian tradir tion introduced the more dramatic term agape—unselfish, other—regarding care and other—directed love, distinct from friendship, charity, benevolence, and other weaker notions. To love a human being in agapic terms is to accept that person’s existence as it is given; to love him or her as is.23 Human beings thus have unconditional value apart from shifting circumstances. The commitment is un' alterable; loyalty to others is permanent, indefectible, in sickness and in health. It is unloving, in this view, to give them only instrumental value and use them merely as a means to our own ends. Especially in those areas which do not ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES —— 17 coincide with a person’s own desires, love is not contradicted. In this perspective, one ought to love his neighbor with the same zeal and consistency with which he loves himself. Agape as the center of meaning in JudeovChristian ethics raises significant :issues which ethicists in this tradition continue to examine: the regular failure of 3:5 adherents to practice this principle, the relationship of love and justice and of Educ personal and institutional, the role of reason as distinguished from discema sment, and whether agape is a universal claim or if not, its continuity with other alternatives. However, all agree that loving one’s neighbor in this tradition is far from sentimental utopianism. It is thoroughly practical, issuing in specific help to those I iwho need it. “Nei hbor" desi nates the weak, oor, o hans, widows, aliens, and g g p rp disenfranchised in the Old Testament. Even enemies are included. This love is not discriminatory: no black or white, no learned or simple, no friend or foe. .While not denying the distinctions that characterize creaturely existence, agape ys uniquely blind to them. Love does not estimate rights or claims and then determine whether the person merits attention. The norm here is giving and forgiving with uncalculating spontaneity and spending oneself to fulfill a neighv bor’s well—being. To Whom ls Moral Duty Owed? The Potter Box forces us to get the empirical data straight, investigate our values, and articulate an appropriate principle. These steps accomplished, the process faces us with the question of our ultimate loyalties. Many times while doing ethics, direct conflicts arise between the rights of one person or group versus those of others. Policies and actions inevitably must favor some to the exclusion of .pthers. Often our most agonizing dilemmas revolve around our primary obligation «to a person or social group. Or, we ask ourselves, is my first loyalty to my mmpany or to a particular client? To reach a responsible decision, we must clarify which parties will be in! ’ fluenced by our decision and which ones we feel especially obligated to support. When analyzing the cases in this volume, we will usually investigate five cater gories: l. Duty to ourselves. Maintaining a sense of integrity and following our con— science may finally be the best alternative in many situations. However, careerism is a serious professional problem and often tempts us to act out of our own selfainterest while we claim to be following our conscience. Z. Duty to clients/subscfibers/supporters. If they pay the bills and if we sign con— tracts to work for them, do we not carry a special obligation to this class? Even 18 \ INTRODUCTION in the more amorphous matter of a viewing audience that pays no service fee for a broadcast signal, a station’s duty to them must be addressed when deciding which course of action is the most appropriate. 3. Duty to one’s organization or Often company policy is followed much too blindly, yet loyalty to an employer can be a moral good. Whistleblowing is one aspect here also, that is, exposing persons or procedures who are harming the company’s reputation. Reporters might even defy court orders and not give up records, under the thesis that in the long run the sources on which media companies depend will dry up. Thus duty to one’s firm might conceivably take priority over duty to an individual or to a court. 4. Duty to professional colleagues. A practitioner’s strongest obligation is often held toward colleagues doing similar work. Reporters tend to prize first of all their commitments to fellow reporters and the standards of good reporting. Some even maintain an adversary posture against editors and publishers, without violating the standards of accepted etiquette. Film artists presume a primary obligation to their professional counterparts, and account executives to theirs. These professional loyalties, almost intuitively held, also must be examined when determining what ought to be done. 5. Duty to society. This is an increasingly important dimension of applied ethics and has been highlighted for the media under the term “social responsibility.” Questions of privacy and confidentiality, for example, nearly always encounter claims about society’s welfare over that of a particular person. The “public’s right to know” has become a journalistic slogan. Advertising agencies cannot resolve questions of tobacco ads, political commercials, and nutritionless products without taking the public good fully into the equation. Violence and pornography in media entertainment are clearly social issues. In all such cases, to benefit merely the company or oneself is not morally defensible. In these situations, our loyalty to society warrants preeminence. Throughout this volume the media practitioner’s moral obligation to society is stressed as critically important. Admittedly the meaning of that responsibility is often illrdefined and subject to debate. For example, when justifying one’s deci— sion, particular social segments must be specified: the welfare of children, the rights of a minority, or the needs of senior citizens. As emphasized throughout this introduction, in spite of the difficulties, precisely such debate must be at the forefront when considering the loyalty quadrant in the Potter Box. No longer do the media operate with a crass “public be damned” philosophy. Increasingly the customer is king and belligerent appeals to owner privilege have been lessened. However, these gains are only the beginning. They need to be propelled forward, so that a sincere sense of social responsibility and a genuine concern for the citizenry become characteristic marks of all contemporary media operations in news, advertising, and entertainment. ,E’I‘HICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES _—— 19 The version of the Potter Box described here in the introduction furthers this book’s overall preoccupation with social responsibility. Consider the upper tier .of “the Potter Box (empirical situation and ultimate loyalties) that stresses the sOCial mtext and social order. As noted earlier, the Potter Box as a. schematic design is not just eclectic, a random gathering of several elements for justifying a deCiSion mt policy. The lower half (values and ethical principles) deals more With analytir ical matters than it does with sociological ones in everyday experience. But the lower tier feeds into the higher. Also the two levels are integrated at cruc1al .junctures so that social situations initiate the process and the choice of cultural loyalties forces one toward the final decision. Thus the loyalty component espe— sally provides a pivotal juncture in moral discourse and indicates that conceptual analysis can hardly be appraised until one sees the implications for institutional arrangements. The line of decision making that we follow, then, has its final meaning in the . .gsocial context. Certainly precision is necessary when dealing with ethical princiv I aples, and their relation must always be drawn to the values held and empirical situation described. But the meaning becomes clear when the choice is made for a particular social context or a specific set of institutional arrangements. ConSidered judgments, in this view, do not derive directly from normative princ1ples, .but are woven into a set of obligations one assumes toward certain segments of soc1ety. In this scheme, debate over institutional questions is fundamental and ethical think— ing is not completed until social applications and implications have been deSig— nated. In social ethics of this kind, the task is not just one of definition but an elaboration of the perplexities regarding social justice, power, bureaucracies, and cultural forms. Social theory assumptions are central to the task and not periphera 1‘25 Who Ought to Decide? During each phase of ethical reasoning, some actor or group of actors is directly involved in deciding, determining values, selecting moral norms, and choosmg loyalties. The cases in this book cannot be read or discussed fruitfully without constant attention to the question of who is making the decision. Applied ethics always considers seriously at every step the matter of who should be held account— able. There are usually numerous decision makers involved. In simple cases, it is an organizational matter where an editor or executive decides rather than a reporter or sales representative. In more complicated areas, can producers of entertain— ment dismiss their responsibility for quality programming by arguing that they merely give the public what it wants? Are only parents to be held accountable for the television programs that children watch or do advertisers and networks carry INTRODUCTION 20 responsibility also.7 If so, in what proportions? Does the person with the greatest technical expertise have the greatest moral obligation? Vice versa, we must be wary of paternalism in which laypeople and informal social networks are down— graded in the decisioanaking process. When is the state, through the courts, the final decision maker.7 Giving absolute authority or responsibility to any person or group is morally disastrous, yet insisting on accountability across the board is an important endeavor and helps to curb the human penchant for evading one’s own liability. For all the emphasis in this volume on social ethics, the individual practia tioner ought not become lost. Only the individual is truly personal and therefore an authentic moral agent. It is true that a firm or institution, when infused and animated by a single spirit and organized into a single institution, is more than a mere sum of discrete entities and has a personality of its own. It is also true that such institutions can in a sense be held accountable for their deeds and become the object of moral approval or disapproval. But only in a limited sense. Such institutions are real enough, but they lack concreteness. Those we seek to call into account while reasoning morally are not organizations or generalities, but precisely individuals. These alone are existing and responsible agents and these alone can be praised or blamed.26 Certainly there is corporate obligation, and it is a meaningful notion. When individuals join an organization, and as long as they remain members, they are co’responsible for the actions taken by that organization. What is to be observed, however, is that guilt finally rests upon individuals. We wish in this volume to have all persons judged according to the measure of their responsibility and involvement. It should be obvious that this is not a plea for a heavy-handed individualism; that would stand directly at odds with the social ethics of the Potter Box process. The point is that responsibility, to be meaningfully assigned and focused, must be distributed among the individuals constituting the corporation. Individuals are not wholly discrete, unrelated, atomistic entities; they always stand in a social context with which they are morally involved. But individuals they nevertheless remain. And it is with each person that ethics is fundamentally concerned. Gross attacks and broad generalizations about entire media systems usually obscure more than they enlighten. On most occasions such assessments are not normative ethics but hot—tempered moralism. The cases and commentaries in all three sections of this book, filtered through the Potter Box model, steer media practi— tioners toward socially responsible decisions that are justified ethically. NOTES 1. Henry D. Aiken, Reason and Conduct (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962), pp. 65—87. [CAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES _——_— 21 For helpful background, see Richard L. Morrill, “Values as Standards of Action,” in his Teaching Values in College (San Francisco: Jossey—Bass Publishers, 1980), chap. 3. The name “Potter Box" is a designation of Dr. Karen Lebacqz, Pacific School of ‘ Religion. The original version is described in Ralph B. Potter, “The Structure of Certain American Christian Responses to the Nuclear Dilemma, 1958—63” (PhD. diss., Harvard University, 1965). Potter assumes this framework in Ralph B. Potter, . “The Logic of Moral Argument,” in Toward a Discipline of Social Ethics, ed. Paul Deats - (Boston: Boston University Press, 1972), pp. 93—114. This is actually labeled the “ground of meaning” level in the original version. As Potter describes it in his dissertation, “Even when ethical categories have been explicated with philosophical exactitude it is possible for one to ask, ‘Why ought I be moral?’ or ‘Why ought I to consider your expressions of ethical judgment and your pattern of ethical reasoning to be convincing?” Further inquiry “drives men ultimate— ly to reflect on their more fundamental ideas concerning God, man, history, and whatever is behind and beyond history.” Potter, “The Structure of Certain American Christian Responses to the Nuclear Dilemma," pp. 404—405. . While taking the empirical dimension seriously, this does not imply a commitment to neutral facts and what is called “abstracted empiricism" in C. Wright Mills, The Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), chap. 3, pp. 50—75. W. I. Thomas‘s “definition of the situation” is actually a more sophisticated way of explicating the empirical dimension of moral questions. See W. I. Thomas, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences (New York: McGraw—Hill, 1937), p. 8. .6. Ethical egoism has not been included in the list despite its immense popularity. The ." authors stand with those who doubt its adequacy and coherence as an ethical theory. Furthermore, the view that everyone ought to promote his or her own self—interests does not synchronize with the social responsibility thrust of the Potter model. How— .3; ever, there are several formulations of ethical egoism and students interested in ,. pursuing this option should see Edward Regis’s significant attempt to present a concep— : tion that overcomes the standard objections. Edward Regis, “What Is Ethical Egoism?” Ethics 91 (October 1980): 50—62. For a history of the debates in this area, see Tibor R. Machan, “Recent Work in Ethical Egoism," American Philosophical Quarterly 16 (1979): 1—15. 'V 31-. :7. For example, Nicomachean Ethics, in Introduction to Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon (New York: Modern Library, 1947), (1104a) p. 333, (1106a) p. 340, (1107a) p. 341, (1138b) p. 423. 8. Ibid. (1107a) p. 340. 9. Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, trans. H. J. Paton (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1964). PP. 69—71, 82—89. 10. Ibid., p. 62. " 11. Bentham suggests a scheme for measuring the quantity of pleasure in human acts in Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (New York: Hafner, 1948), chaps. 3—7. 12. John Stuart Mill reached this conclusion in the last chapter of A System of Logic (London: J. W. Parker, 1843). He attempted 18 years later to expand and defend this 22 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. INTRODUCTION conviction. See John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1861), esp. chap. 2. For a significant discussion of these and related issues, see Samuel Gorovitz, ed., Utilitarianism: Text and Critical Essays (Indianapolis: Bobbs—Merrill, 1971), pp. 59— 401. The Potter Box can function without this distinction, but a working knowledge of act and rule utility increases the Box's sophistication. Students are therefore encouraged to read additional descriptions of these two forms of utilitarianism, such as William Frankena, Ethics (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: PrenticeaHall. 1962), pp. 29—35; and Paul W. Taylor, Principles of Ethics: An Introduction (Encino, Calif: Dickenson Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 63—72. A twentieth—century act—utility is presented in George E. Moore, Principia Ethica (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1954), chap. 5. Richard Brandt and J. O. Urmson are prominent rule-utilitarians. Cf. Richard Brandt, “Toward a Credible Form of Utilitarianism," in Morality and the Language of Conduct, eds. H. N. Casténeda and G. Nakhnikian (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1963), pp. 107— 143; and J. O. Urmson, “The Interpretation of the Moral Philosophy of J. S. Mill,” The Philosophical Quarterly 3 (1953): 33—39. For an exceptional analysis of utilitarianism for beginners, see Arthur J. Dyck, On Human Care: An Introduction to Ethics (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1977), pp. 57—71. John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Belknap Press, 1971), chap. 1, pp. 3—53. Ibid., chap. 3, pp. 118—192. For critique and elaboration of the two principles, see Norman Daniels, ed., Reading Rawls: Critical Studies of A Theory of Justice (New York: Basic Books, 1976), part III, pp. 169—281. A rationalized and secularized account of this principle was developed by Kant who centended that we ought to treat all rational beings as ends in themselves and never as means only. The JudeovChristian version is included here because of its vast influence on the popular level. William Frankena judged JudeovChristian ethics to be even more important to Western society than utilitarianism. Cf. E. R. Hughes, Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1942), p. 48. Augustine, The Confessions, trans. J. G. Pilkington (New York: Liveright Publishing Corp., 1943), (2.2) p. 40, (4.10—4.13) pp. 71—75, (7.12) p. 150, (9.1) p. 188, (10.1) p. 218, (10.29) p. 249, (13.1—13.4) pp. 340—343. God’s love is a basic theme throughout Augustine’s writings. For a summary, see Frederick Copleston, “St. Augus- tine: Moral Theory,” in his A History of Philosophy, vol. 2 (Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1960), pp. 81—6. Heinrich Emil Brunner, The Divine Imperative, trans. Olive Wyon (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1947), pp. 165 and 167. For a comprehensive review of this concept, see Gene Outka, Agape: An Ethical Analysis (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972); pp. 7—16 are particularly helpful in understanding the meaning of agape. For the best available introduction to the historical and contemporary issues in ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PERSPECTIVES _—__—_ 23 Christian ethics, see Edward LeRoy Long, Jr., A Survey of Christian Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967); and his A Survey of Recent Christian Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). . The precise role of philosophical analysis and social theory is debated even among 26. those who generally follow this decision—making paradigm. Potter himself emphasized philosophical analysis as the primary element in moral deliberation, highlighting, in effect, the principial quadrant as the key to a tough’minded social ethics. James Childress follows the spirit of Potter’s apparent focus on philosophical ethics in the analytical tradition. See James Childress, “The Identification of Ethical Principles," Journal of Religious Ethics 5 (Spring 1977): 39—66. The desire for precision does war against the power of a comprehensive method. But the issue is not over the desirability of philosophical rigor versus the benefit of social theory. Both are indispensable forms of knowledge for ethical reflection. The question is which domain galvanizes the total process of reaching a justifiable moral decision. Which particular emphasis achieves the superior disciplinary coherence for applied ethics? Stassen argues for a “focus upon social theory which includes philov sophical analysis but extends beyond it" (Glen H. Stassen, “A Social Theory Model for Religious Social Ethics,” The Journal of Religious Ethics 5 [Spring 1977]: 9). This volume provides a streamlined version of Stassen’s adaptation of Potter, a schematic model that seeks to be both useful and rigorous. Henry Stob, Ethical Reflections: Essays on Moral Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerd— mans, 1978), pp. 3—6. ...
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