Ethics

“On some positions cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right”

Martin Luther King, Washington DC, 1968

 

This was my first course into the program, Summer 2013. The program of study has it under “core courses”. I’d rather put it under “seminal”, in the sense that my understanding of the program started there.

Rather than pointing out to the theories learned, I’d like to bring a few things that became clear to me during this course:

First, that I’m taking this program not at any place but at UIW. This means to me that there are a group of values embodied by the University and to recognize and embrace them is part of a “contract” of sorts that we sign upon admission. To work for those values is now part of my job description.

Once you make the grade, 3 letters will be forever attached to my name. PhD means Doctor of Philosophy and that implies I need to learn and understand philosophy, and also that being a “Doctor” is a social responsibility. In the future I will have to care for the advancement of science in my field and the building of philosophical concepts and questions.

Last, I came to realize that I had entered social sciences. While in Engineering and Business brevity commands a premium, here I must develop my capacity for a narrative.

One day our professor asked to complete a reflection. I sent diligently my point of view in the form of a list with Bullets Points, only to get battered down at the beginning of the next class, when I was informed and came fully aware of the difference between listing something with a few bullet points and building a narrative.

Point taken and lesson learned. I (almost) don’t use them.

But that night I felt compelled to farewell them, so I posted the following to our Facebook page

Obituary

my beloved Bullets Points.

Born when I sent my first TELEX to corporate, my Bullets Points accompanied me for most of my professional life.

Together, we traveled to the Land of  the Budget Presentation and once they fully grew, we conquered more than one Incredulous Customer. With them, I wrote memos (by hand!), telexes, learnt to use email, posted online, SMS and even twittered (as of yesterday, twitter is a word!).
Umberto Eco said that the list is the origin of the culture. I haven’t read the book (The Infinity of Lists), but for me a list is bullet points by other name, aren’t they?
Living in a comfortable semi-retirement, they barely showed up here and there in my lectures… but always the adventurous, they visited without invitation my reflections and other writings, which proved fatal.
Yesterday they finally -albeit unexpectedly- died after a confrontation with the Power of Narrative!
*I
*will
*miss
*you
*dearly

How do I define Ethics for myself?

Moral in Action.

I don’t think any particular philosophy or set of prescriptions will give you a fully functional set of  ethical rules. Ethics is not about that. Rather, Ethics is a changing sea, where from time to time you submerge  and a big effort is required to start anew.

As we say, “It depends…”. But if forced to choose, I can say that I bound myself to my duties, which I select freely and embrace warmly.

At the end of the semester, I posted a number of questions because I believe that Ethics is part of a personal quest during our time and transit during our life.

For the sake of clarity, I have edited them from the original post:

These are my guiding questions in ethical matters:

In no particular order and with no claim to perfection:

  • Is Too Big To Fail too good for us?
  • Does animals have personhood?
  • Does corporations should enjoy personhood?
  • What are the meanings and the implications of the change in the concept of family?
  • Should we be allowed to manipulate the genetic code?
  • Is the Military Industrial complex/ National Security apparatus out of control?
  • Is my expectation of privacy still valid?
  • Is the globe warming? not warming?
  • Are we moving to a discourse dominated by fundamentalisms?
  • The war for water is coming. are we ready?
  • While most living communities self regulate, we (humans) seem to be out of control. Is a big event due? (plague, virus, war…you name it)
  • Are we alone in the Universe?
  • What is the future of education?
  • What happens if China breaks down? another middle east?
  • As a nation, are we going down…or are we working in a more perfect union?

 

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