The Ethical Behavior of Ethics Teachers

Posted on Posted in Ethics, teaching philosophy

Here is an interesting link with some interesting links about the ethical behavior of philosophers. Here is a link to a related journal article. The bottom line is that philosophy professors not more ethical than non-philosophy professors despite being more likely to believe certain things, like eating meat, to be wrong.

This is related to but a bit different from something I’ve been interested in for a while, the normative questions around doing and teaching philosophy and ethics in particular.

Do philosophy teachers and ethics teachers have stronger moral obligations to act as moral exemplars than others do. As you might have guessed I think the answer to that question is that they do.

I think teachers and various other leaders, especially teachers of ethics, have stronger moral obligations because their actions have greater consequences. The view might seem a bit anachronistic but it is really just an extension of a commonsense principle that almost all would endorse. Most people think that the worse the consequences of an action the stronger our moral obligation not to perform that action.

I think that an ethics teacher’s practice of veganism has a greater impact on the world than someone who is not an ethics teacher and therefore they have a stronger obligation to be a vegan, or whatever of moral action you might consider to be important.

Now, there is of course the empirical premise that the actions of teachers, leaders, celebrities etc. affect what other people do. And for my argument I’m assuming they do.

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