Teaching ethics in universities and teaching professional ethics

Belshaw, Christopher (2009). Teaching ethics in universities and teaching professional ethics. In: Strain, John; Barnett, Ronald and Jarvis, Peter eds. Universities, Ethics and Professions. London/New York: Routledge, pp. 113–125.


My intentions here are fourfold. First, I aim to provide an overview of the ethics-related activities that are regularly taking place in our universities today, looking initially at teaching in particular, and then considering the broader picture. Second, I want to consider what professional ethics does and should involve, and to raise certain questions about the relation between its concerns and the sorts of teaching the university can legitimately provide. Third, the current emphasis in professional ethics with the virtues, a focus borrowed from academic philosophy is, I’ll argue, not altogether well suited to what is needed from professional activities and expertise. I end, fourth, with some suggestions, first, as to how a compromise moral theory might better suit the needs of the professions and, second, how professionals might best involve themselves in ethical debate and decision-making.

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