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Book part
Publication date: 24 October 2019

Chris Provis

The idea of ‘identity politics’ has become quite prominent in news commentary. It has been referred to in explaining the 2016 US Presidential election result, the 2016…

Abstract

The idea of ‘identity politics’ has become quite prominent in news commentary. It has been referred to in explaining the 2016 US Presidential election result, the 2016 Brexit vote and a variety of other events in contemporary social life. The idea emerged under that title in the late twentieth century, and refers to political conflicts where groups unite and act on the basis of some shared identity. While the term initially referred to action by groups seeking to remedy past oppression, ‘identity politics’ may now refer to a wider range of cases where there is contestation based on recognition of some shared identity. Individuals’ identity is central to resurgent modern virtue ethics, but it has been suggested that virtue ethics is less relevant to political conflict than utilitarian views or theories of justice. However, an important distinction can be made between narrative identity, on the one hand, and social identity that emerges from individuals’ self-perceived group membership, on the other hand. It is narrative identity that figures in major accounts of virtue ethics. In many situations, narrative identity is importantly affected by group identity, but it is still only narrative identity that has intrinsic ethical weight. This suggests that virtue ethics has relevance to identity politics just because it urges attention to individuals’ narrative identity rather than to group identity.

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Ethics in a Crowded World: Globalisation, Human Movement and Professional Ethics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-008-5

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Book part
Publication date: 19 April 2018

Sarah Banks

This chapter presents a virtue-based approach to research ethics which both complements and challenges dominant principle- and rule-based ethical codes and governance…

Abstract

This chapter presents a virtue-based approach to research ethics which both complements and challenges dominant principle- and rule-based ethical codes and governance frameworks. Virtues are qualities of character that contribute to human and ecological flourishing, focussing on the dispositions and motivations of moral agents (in this case, researchers) as opposed to simply their actions. The chapter argues for the usefulness of ‘researcher integrity’, in the context of increasing interest internationally in ‘research integrity’ frameworks for regulating research practice. ‘Researcher integrity’ is analysed, including weak and strong versions of the concept (conduct according to current standards, versus reflexive commitment to ideals of what research should be at its best). Researcher integrity in its stronger sense is depicted as an overarching complex virtue, holding together and balancing other virtues such as courage, care, trustworthiness, respectfulness and practical wisdom. Consideration is given to educating researchers and university students as virtuous researchers, rather than simply ensuring that rules are followed and risks minimised. Several approaches are outlined, including Socratic dialogue, to develop attentiveness and respectfulness and participatory theatre to rehearse different responses to ethical challenges in research. Some limitations of virtue ethics are noted, including dangers of reinforcing a culture of blaming researchers for institutional failings, and its potential to be co-opted by those who wish to indoctrinate rather than cultivate virtues. Nevertheless, it is an important counter-weight to current trends that see research ethics as entailing learning sets of rules and how to implement them (to satisfy institutional research governance requirements), rather than processes of critical and responsible reflection.

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Virtue Ethics in the Conduct and Governance of Social Science Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-608-2

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Article
Publication date: 3 August 2021

Morten Bay

As interest in technology ethics is increasing, so is the interest in bringing schools of ethics from non-Western philosophical traditions to the field, particularly when…

Abstract

Purpose

As interest in technology ethics is increasing, so is the interest in bringing schools of ethics from non-Western philosophical traditions to the field, particularly when it comes to information and communication technology. In light of this development and recent publications that result from it, this paper aims to present responds critically to recent work on Confucian virtue ethics (CVE) and technology.

Design/methodology/approach

Four critiques are presented as theoretical challenges to CVE in technology, claiming that current literature insufficiently addresses: overall applicability, collective ethics issues, epistemic overconfidence within technology corporations and amplification of epistemic overconfidence by the implementation of CVE. These challenges make use of general CVE literature and work on technology critique, political philosophy, epistemology and business ethics.

Findings

Implementing CVE in technology may yield some benefits, but these may be outweighed by other outcomes, include strengthening hierarchies, widening inequities, increasing, rather than limiting, predictive activity, personal data collection, misinformation, privacy violations and challenges to the democratic process.

Originality/value

Though not directly advocating against CVE, the paper reveals hitherto unidentified and serious issues that should be addressed before CVE are used to inform ethics guidelines or regulatory policies. It also serves as a foundation for further inquiry into how Eastern philosophy more broadly can inform technology ethics in the West.

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Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

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Book part
Publication date: 19 April 2018

Nathan Emmerich

This chapter questions the way virtue ethics is being drawn into debates about the ethics of social research. In particular, it suggests that discussion of virtue may be…

Abstract

This chapter questions the way virtue ethics is being drawn into debates about the ethics of social research. In particular, it suggests that discussion of virtue may be motivated by a desire to counter existing, largely principlist, approaches to the ethics of research and its associated administrative structures; virtue ethics has a prima facie appeal for those who are seemingly in need of an alternative moral philosophy. In addition, I argue that, as it stands, the complexity of virtue theory is not fully reflected in, or acknowledged by, debates about the ethics of social research. In the light of these remarks I suggest that the resources of social research can be drawn upon to generate critical theoretical insights into the ethics of social research. I discuss how a normative understanding of practices, and the concept of synderesis understood in a broadly Bourdieuan framework, could provide a starting point for such critical insights. I conclude that this perspective might be taken to suggest that the ethical stance most appropriate to the culture of social research is one of ongoing critical engagement.

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Virtue Ethics in the Conduct and Governance of Social Science Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-608-2

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Book part
Publication date: 10 October 2006

Robert M. Veatch

This chapter questions the role of virtues in health professional medical ethics. It distinguishes between the ethics of conduct – usually expressed as moral principles …

Abstract

This chapter questions the role of virtues in health professional medical ethics. It distinguishes between the ethics of conduct – usually expressed as moral principles – and the ethics of the character – expressed as virtues. It questions whether virtues are intrinsically valued or valued instrumentally as the means to right conduct. It poses two problems for virtue theory: (1) The “naked virtue” problem – whether instilling virtues increases the probability of correlative morally right conduct, and (2) the “wrong virtue” problem–which of many sometimes controversial virtues should be promoted. The chapter ends by arguing that these are less serious problems for the morality of conduct.

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Lost Virtue
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-339-6

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Book part
Publication date: 17 September 2020

Jim Wishloff

Alasdair MacIntyre’s path-breaking book After Virtue launched him into a place of prominence in social and moral philosophy. Two central, and still relevant, themes are…

Abstract

Alasdair MacIntyre’s path-breaking book After Virtue launched him into a place of prominence in social and moral philosophy. Two central, and still relevant, themes are identifiable in the corpus of MacIntyre’s work. First, advanced modernity is in a perilous state because of the philosophical creation of the emotivist self. Second, virtue must be reclaimed if the crisis in moral philosophy is to be addressed and an institutional world worthy of what we are as human beings is to be built. MacIntyre’s heroic effort in this regard is a new presentation of a Thomistic Aristotelianism but he was not naïve about the chances of his project’s success. Emotivism has made it extremely difficult for a virtue perspective to even gain a hearing. MacIntyre proposed a way forward different from abstract theorising. He felt that at this point we could, and had to, learn how to act from accounts of exemplary lives. This chapter presents the wisdom of legendary basketball coach John Wooden as a contribution to aid in the recovery of virtue. The central claim being made is that it is long overdue that John Wooden should take his rightful place in the virtue tradition in ethics. This work gives John Wooden’s conception of leadership that flows from his understanding of virtue the attention it deserves. The examination of John Wooden’s life undertaken bridges virtue theory and leadership. Several other key elements of MacIntyre’s thought set the structure of the inquiry. The chapter begins with a biographical sketch of Wooden’s life because of the stress that MacIntyre places on tradition and narrative unity. The basis of Wooden’s reflection on virtue, the tradition informing his practical reasoning, is a selected canon of Western civilisation, its great literature and the Bible. The Midwestern values of hard work, honesty, faith, and caring for one’s family are also significant. MacIntyre places great emphasis on the need to understand the story of a life and, in particular, the need to understand how development was aided or hindered in childhood and what kind of apprenticeship into a practice was available. The singular influence John Wooden’s father had on his life is documented. The role that John Wooden’s teachers, coaches and mentors played in initiating him into the practice of coaching is reviewed. The experiential base for Wooden’s derivation of his emotionally healthy definition of success and his well thought out conception of the virtues is thus put in place. MacIntyre summarises the teleological structure of human life and the role of virtue in human flourishing by contrasting man-as-he-happens-to-be with man-as-he-should-be-if-he-realised-his-essential-nature. John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success identifies the combination of personal qualities and values, virtues, that fulfil MacIntyre’s second term, that are intrinsic to reaching one’s potential as a person. The 15 qualities Wooden gives – industriousness, enthusiasm, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, self-control, alertness, initiative, intentness, condition, skill, team spirit, poise, confidence, competitive greatness – are defined and illustrated. The rationale for the qualities and for their placement into a coherent whole is discussed. Basic elements of John Wooden’s leadership genius are then brought out. Leaders need to get the culture right, build cohesive teams, and be guided by a moral topline.

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War, Peace and Organizational Ethics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-777-8

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Book part
Publication date: 10 October 2006

Edmund Pellegrino

Public and profession alike are troubled by what they perceive as a loss of professional status in medicine. Can it or ought it be retrieved? How? These questions cannot…

Abstract

Public and profession alike are troubled by what they perceive as a loss of professional status in medicine. Can it or ought it be retrieved? How? These questions cannot be answered without understanding what a profession is, what professing medicine entails in the way of character traits, and whether, and how, these traits can be taught. Answers are sought in the phenomena of the physician–patient encounter, the theory of virtue ethics and its implication for character formation. In addition, the moral attitudes and practices must also be supportive of the idea of a profession. Courses in professionalism might help but the problem is first of all a moral one.

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Lost Virtue
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-339-6

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Book part
Publication date: 24 October 2019

Ramsha Naeem and Jawad Syed

The notion of virtue ethics emphasises individual character as the key element of ethical thinking, which may in turn affect individual actions. There is, however, a lack…

Abstract

The notion of virtue ethics emphasises individual character as the key element of ethical thinking, which may in turn affect individual actions. There is, however, a lack of attention to this aspect in mainstream theories and practices of motivation in organisations. To address this gap, this chapter focusses on theory of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and argues that it may be integrated with the conceptual framework of virtue ethics proposed by MacIntyre at the individual and organisational levels. A change in value-orientation may also enable a focus on good work instead of a narrow focus on monetary rewards. This chapter reviews literatures on motivation and MacIntyre’s framework, and develops a conceptual model to integrate virtue ethics with motivation. At the end, some avenues for future research are discussed.

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Ethics in a Crowded World: Globalisation, Human Movement and Professional Ethics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-008-5

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Abstract

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Virtue Ethics in the Conduct and Governance of Social Science Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-608-2

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Book part
Publication date: 19 April 2018

Richard Kwiatkowski

In this unashamedly polemical piece it is argued that we should not jump into bed with virtue too quickly. It is suggested that the concept of virtue is dangerously ill…

Abstract

In this unashamedly polemical piece it is argued that we should not jump into bed with virtue too quickly. It is suggested that the concept of virtue is dangerously ill defined, so it becomes what those in power hegemonically define it to be; that virtue’s rise may serve factional political purposes within social science; that system implications are frequently missed, side-lined or minimised so that virtue niavely becomes a purely individual construct; that aspirational codes, which expect a-contextual demonstration of ‘virtue’ from practitioners, need to be tempered with a dose of reality; and that the achievable ‘good enough’ is better than the unrealisable and idealised virtuously ‘perfect’. It is suggested that the implied centrality of ‘virtue’ in research is problematic, that being ‘critically virtuous’ has limits, and that better education will not necessarily lead to morality and integrity in research – any more than it does in the general population. Finally it is argued that ethics committees should focus on (probable) behaviours, rather than rather than imagined motives or vague character traits. Locating virtue in an individual is dangerous because it allows the system to blame and punish an individual, rather than acknowledge the collective responsibility of the whole system. It is suggested that we need to move from a purist pursuit of virtue to a more realistic and nuanced appreciation of the real world consequences of its adoption. Whilst the present emphasis on sound research ethics and responsibility is a positive development, we need to slow down.

Details

Virtue Ethics in the Conduct and Governance of Social Science Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-608-2

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