Virtue Ethics and Aristotle

            Aristotle founded his work on the character of the on the virtuous being. According to Aristotle, virtues such as honesty, justice, patience, and courage develop over time and through life experiences. Through time individuals develop such behaviors through watching, and observing; an intellectual virtue. Upon learning and reflection, an individual develops a balance of virtues to be practiced in life; moral virtue.

Virtue ethics emphasizes virtues rather than the duty or consequences of the action. Historically, deontology and utilitarianism failed to address virtues, motives and moral character, moral education, moral wisdom, friendship and family, happiness, and the role of emotions. To address the sort of person an individual should be or how an individual should live, virtue ethics re-emerged filling the gaps of deontology and utilitarianism.

Virtue, practical wisdom and eudaimonia are three concepts central to virtue ethics. A virtue is more than a habit or the accomplishment of a single action. Virtue consists of emotions, emotional reactions, choices, values, desires, perceptions, attitudes, interest, expectations and sensibilities. It is the whole-hearted acceptance and a way of life.

To be fully virtuous is rare. It is not a simple acceptance of a rule nor is it a pure analysis of consequences. To be fully virtuous an individual must take action despite the circumstances and without temptation to do otherwise. Aristotle defined the need for an individual to find the perfect balance; not doing too little as or too much. The challenge is that there are no codes or rules to finding this balance (Cahn, 2013).

To find this balance one must utilize practical wisdom; the combination of intellectual and moral virtue. Practical wisdom is the knowledge or understanding that allows the person to do just that in any situation. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, a virtuous person is a morally good, excellent or admirable person who acts and feels well. Practical wisdom comes with life experience, is a mindfulness of consequences of possible actions and is the ability to recognize an aspect of a situation as more important than another.

Eudaimonia, the heart of virtue ethics, is termed as happiness or flourishing. Aristotle clarified happiness by explaining that it is not based on pleasures. Happiness is determined by how well a person lives life; a life of patience, courage, temperance and justice. It is with these inner traits that happiness is said to be a result. There is no universal ideal for happiness as it relies on the perspectives of the individual, is charged with cultural reality, and there is justification of traits (Cahn, 2013). However, Aristotle lays claim that living a virtuous life is necessary to achieve eudaimonia.

Virtue ethics is concerned with the good life and answers the questions of “How should I live? What kind of person should I be?” It examines how one should be all the time and the development of character; defining a virtuous life over acting virtuous for a specific situation. The question is which is the correct path to follow? (Cahn, 2013).

Campaign Financing

In the arena of political campaigning the disproportional funds available impact the expected equal opportunity of those campaigning. Individuals running for office use the funds provided to them to advance their opinions and influence the voters. However, whether knowingly or not, the imbalance of campaign funding presents a moral dilemma.

In the view of virtue ethics the ultimate goal of the individual is happiness; internal happiness. To achieve this level of happiness, Aristotle discusses the necessity of the individual to live a virtuous life of balance in areas such as fairness. The question lies here as to whether the imbalanced funding is fair to the individual and to society at large.

In the case of campaigning, the intent is to hear to voice of all. Despite the fact that not all voices want to be heard, it is fair to hear all sides of the debate. Aristotle might describe this as a way to develop intellectual character. To provide a fair chance of campaigning, the ideal would be a level playing field of funding for all. Unfortunately, this is out of the individual hands and in the hands of the government.

As a leader, focused on virtue ethics, the moral choice is to ensure an open mind and a focus on learning about all candidates to the fullest extent. The goal should not be looking at the bells and whistles of the campaigning but at the political beliefs of the candidates. To ensure fairness and examine politics through via virtue ethics, a moral leader would look beyond the action and consequences of additional funding. The virtuous leader examines the traits and behaviors of the candidates; an examination of character.

Impact

            Virtue ethics is regularly observed in the field of education. This has gone back as far as Aristotle who believed that there was a need for teachers to guide individuals in their pursuit of happiness. As classrooms are examined today learning communities attempt to develop the individual character. One can find statements of character on the walls, in handbooks, within lessons, as a portion of the curriculum, within in grading rubrics and as a basis of school culture. The result is the necessity for teachers and educational leaders to recognize their role.

Virtue ethics is recognized as a skill, which can be learned, practiced and developed through life experiences over time. Aristotle recognized that individuals were born amoral and needed the guidance of teachers to develop the virtuous being. The virtuous being is aware of virtue within their actions, favors good behavior over bad behavior and acts in response to a regular pattern of moral behavior (Aristotle 4, 2008). Teachers can provide students with good experiences that help students to develop and choose what the kind of individual they want to be in life. Individuals who develop good habits will act virtuously and those who develop poor habits will not. The natural ambition of humans is to achieve a life of excellence, virtuosity and morality. However, this natural ambition is skill to be taught and learned.

 

 

 

 

 

References

Billborough College. [BillboroughRS]. (2014, July 5). Welcome to Ethics and Philosophy. [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfZaSiODjjs

Cahn, S. (2013). Exploring ethics: An introductory anthology. 3rd Ed. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

DarkAngelStarQ. (2008, November 24). Aristotle Part 1. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=175bR_BU0m8

DarkAngelStarQ. (2008, November 24). Aristotle Part 2. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuL3NwhdyEQ

DarkAngelStarQ. (2008, November 24). Aristotle Part 3. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2e5uYtvGG8

DarkAngelStarQ. (2008, November 24). Aristotle Part 4. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zVmZiU0j1k

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP). http://www.plato.stanford.edu

 

 

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Justice Ethics and Rawls

 

 

John Rawls views justice “a social arrangement that ensures the interests of some are not sacrificed to the arbitrary advantages held by others” (Cahn, 2013, p. 158). Differing from the view of justice as an individualistic virtue, Rawls defines justice as a social virtue, or the basic structure of society. Justice, according to Rawls, implies a social cooperation and agreement of certain fundamental guidelines, which he derives from an original position.

The original position of Rawls begins with the basic assumption “that no one knows his place in society, his class position, or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like” (Cahn, 2013, p.158). The “veil of ignorance” is a hypothetical screen from which the principles of justice are chosen behind to ensure that no individual “is advantaged or disadvantaged in the choice of principles, by the outcome of natural chance of the contingency of social circumstances” (Cahn, 2013, p. 159). From this basic premise, justice is formed by two principles, which “apply to the basic structure of society and govern the assignment of social and economic advantages” (Cahn, 2013, p. 161).

The first principle, the liberty principle, is described by Chan (2013) as “equality in the assignment of basic rights and duties” (p. 159). Rawls recognizes that individuals want to be respected, treated with dignity and not repressed setting forth a basic set of equal and fundamental rights which include freedom of speech and assembly, political liberty, freedom of thought and freedom of person. Unlike the utilitarian view, individuals do not have to trade off individual rights for any economic or social advantage (Harvard, 2009). The challenge here is that the individual liberty is always in the forefront. Justice is viewed first on the individual liberties and second at the societal level, which shows a lacking in care ethics and social welfare.

The following of this first principle is fixed as such meaning that the basic freedoms of the individual cannot be debated and must come before the second principle.

The difference principle, the second principle, applies to the distribution of income and wealth. According to Rawls, wealth and income do not need to be equal but it must be to the advantage of everyone; both the rich and the poor (Cahn, 2013). Essential in this distribution is that the basic liberties must be fulfilled, and equal opportunity must be set for all.

Rawls recognizes individuals are born with certain natural traits such as skills, talents, opportunities, wealth, and social status. As a result, these traits with individuals are born into, or in some cases not born into; there is a sense of inequity, which lies out of the hands of the individual. Rawls sees these advantages as unjust to those without. To eliminate the unjustness, Rawls prescribes that if an unequal distribution is used then the greatest good must be to the disadvantaged resulting in a different perspective than that of both the utilitarians and Aristotle.

Top 1%

Society does not need a level field but “those who have been favored by nature, whoever they are, may gain from their good fortune only on terms that improve the situation of those who have lost out” (Harvard, 2009). A suggestion of Rawls may be a higher tax structure for the wealthy but in any case the 99% should see the greatest benefits from the gains of the 1% to be just. The injustice is not within nature or that life is not fair but rests in the way society handles the distribution.

Meritocratics argue the 1% should be rewarded for their efforts. However, based on the premise of Rawls theory of justice the merit system does not take into account that natural abilities which bring forth effort in an individual. A merit system may eliminate upbringing but it cannot take into account natural talents of individuals. It is not just to provide merit based on an innate talent which another individual did not have access to; inequality.

When the veil of ignorance is raised, imbalances stemming from “accidents of birth” arise. Not all individuals have the talents or opportunities to help them reach the top 1% but this is not to say that the 1% should be depleted. The just scheme is to “permit and encourage the gifted to exercise their talents” since the well-being of society depends on the cooperation of all individuals (Harvard, 2009; Cahn, 2013). The unequal distribution is just if the disadvantaged see the greatest benefit.

Justice in Education

Merit pay is based on rewarding teachers for their successes in the classroom. Based on the perspective of Rawls and justice, the system of merit pay in determining wages may be seen as unjust.

Teacher professional development or training is to be considered. Teaching training in not available to all teachers. This inequity puts an unfair advantage in the experiences of teachers, in the system, and then later in the determination of merit. Although an equality of training is not feasible or required of a just system, a just system recognizes these inequalities as such.

The merit system for teacher pay may be unjust if the unequal dispersion of funds does not benefit the disadvantaged teachers. The difference principle dictates that arbitrary characteristics do not need to be equal, but they should work to everyone’s advantage so the prized teachers aren’t discouraged and others are supported in bettering themselves (Harvard, 2009). The merit system “would be just only if the choices that benefit those with talents and attributes that society arbitrarily prizes also benefit those without those attributes” (Cahn, 2013, p. 158). In the search for a pay system, which is just, a leader would look for ways in which the disadvantaged teachers benefit from higher wages granted to the prized teachers. The ideal is not to level the playing field of teachers but to support those who are not at the prize level. Merit systems thus far have not taken on the just perspective.

 


 

References

Cahn, S. (2013). Exploring ethics: An introductory anthology. 3rd Ed. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

Harvard University. (2009, September 8). Justice: what’s the right thing to do? episode 8: what’s a fair start?. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcL66zx_6No

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP). http://www.plato.stanford.edu

 

 

Utilitarianism and Consequentialism Perspectives of Bentham and Mills

Utilitarianism, referred to as consequentialism, bases morality on consequences. The focus turns from the reasons for actions and results to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Cahn (2013) terms “the supreme principle of morality is to act so as much happiness as possible, each person counting equally.” as “what is right in conduct is not the agent’s own happiness but that of all concerned” (p. 117). This approach to ethics and morality is seen in the classical approaches of Bentham and Mills whose theories resulted from legal and social concerns. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Bentham and Mills addressed the “desire to see useless, corrupt laws and social practices changed” resulting in a normative ethical theory and critical tool in morality. “The right thing to do, the just basis for law, is to maximize utility” (Harvard University, 2009).

The perspective of Bentham is to maximizes happiness; the governing factor of individuals. Bentham takes on the view that all individuals and society is governed by pain and pleasure and that any moral system has to take this into account by maximizing pleasure; “the greatest good for the greatest number. In deciding law and what is just, the right thing to do is to choose the one that maximizes balances of happiness over suffering (Harvard, 2009). Everybody’s pleasures count. All that matters is the intensity and duration of the pleasure and pain with the higher pleasure being the one, which produces stronger and longer happiness.

Bentham’s angle of utilitarianism aligns with act utilitarianism. “An act is right if and only if it results in as much good as any available alternative” (Cahn, 2013, p. 126). It is the value of the consequences of the act that count. Experience can guide act utilitarianism knowing that not all alternatives can be considered for every act. As a result, Cahn (2013) recognizes “rules of thumb” as of practical importance.

Rule utilitarianism is a second type of utilitarianism where “an act is right if and only if it is required by a rule that is itself a member of a set of rules whose acceptance would lead to greater utility for society than any available alternative” (Cahn, 2013, p. 127). Rather than determining the value of the act, rule utilitarianism bases the righteousness of an act is based on finding the value of the consequences of following a set rule. Cahn (2013) states that for rule utilitarianism “the best chance of maximizing utility is by following the set of rules most likely to give us our desired results” (p. 127).

Following the perspective of rule utilitarianism, Mills affirms the work of utilitarianism by adding a sense of humanity and a qualitative approach to that of Bentham’s. Mills claims “some pleasures are more worthwhile than others” veering from the focus on quantity and focusing on quality of happiness (Cahn, 2013, p. 114). According to Mills, it is possible to distinguish higher from lower pleasures. The test for distinction amongst pleasures is that if individual experiences both, the higher pleasure will naturally, and always is preferred (Harvard University, 2009).

Act and Rule Utilitarianism

The case of the Phillips Morris case where the Czech government commissioned a cost benefit analysis to determine the gains from smokers in the Czech is a prime example of act utilitarianism. As a result of the cost benefit analysis, the government found the benefits of tax revenues from sales, health care due to early death, pension savings and house cost savings to outweigh the deaths of individual smokers. Phillips Morris based their decision to keep smoking in the Czech based on the reason that the allowance of smoking was for the greater good of society. The societal gains and happiness were greater than the loss of the lives of the few.

Using this view, the case of underfunding some public schools can be morally understood. If we know that there is an underfunding of some public schools, we accept that per pupil spending is a significant factor in student outcomes and we conclude that education is the best way to provide impoverished students with the best chance of escaping from poverty as an adult, then a cost benefit analysis can provide a backing for supporting the underfunded schools. If the cost of supporting the underfunded schools outweighed the cost of funding impoverished adults, then act utilitarianism view would say to find the funding to support the schools. The act of supporting individuals now in their lives has a longer duration of happiness, which would maximize utility and serve the greater community.

Impact

            In the field of education, there is an entire community to be considered when making decisions. Taking on the view of doing what is best for the greatest number of individuals can be a guiding theory in many situations. The struggle will arise when the situation involves evaluating moral dilemmas.

Utilitarianism can be viewed in the relationships between teacher and students. A student may share a personal story with a teacher where there is an intent to harm one self. The assumption by the student is the sharing is to remain private. However, the teacher quickly comes into a moral dilemma. Does the teacher share the story with administration or keep it private? Teachers are obligated by law to tell the story.

The view of utilitarianism would ask the teacher to view the acts, the alternatives and the act, which would maximize happiness. Although I do not necessarily believe in the cost benefit analysis in this case, this is one alternative. The utilitarianism view may determine that the loss of one life here may outweigh the costs of supporting this student in need or vice versa. The act would have to be one, which benefits the most number of people and creates the greatest amount of happiness.

 

 

 

References

Bentham, G. (1789) An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Retrieved from: http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdfs/bentham1780.pdf

Cahn, S. (2013). Exploring ethics: An introductory anthology. 3rd Ed. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

Harvard University. (2009, September 8). Justice: what’s the right thing to do?. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O2Rq4HJBxw

Mills, J.S. (1879) Utilitarianism. 7th Ed. London, UK: Longmans, Green & Co. Retrieved from: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11224/11224-h/11224-h.htm3

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP). http://www.plato.stanford.edu

 

 

A Theory of Justice: John Rawls

John Rawls views justice “a social arrangement that ensures the interests of some are not sacrificed to the arbitrary advantages held by others” (Cahn, 2013, p. 158). Differing from the view of justice as an individualistic virtue, Rawls defines justice as a social virtue, or the basic structure of society. Justice, according to Rawls, implies a social cooperation and agreement of certain fundamental guidelines, which he derives from an original position.

The original position of Rawls begins with the basic assumption “that no one knows his place in society, his class position, or social status, nor does anyone know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like” (Cahn, 2013, p.158). The “veil of ignorance” is a hypothetical screen from which the principles of justice are chosen behind to ensure that no individual “is advantaged or disadvantaged in the choice of principles, by the outcome of natural chance of the contingency of social circumstances” (Cahn, 2013, p. 159). From this basic premise, justice is formed by two principles, which “apply to the basic structure of society and govern the assignment of social and economic advantages” (Cahn, 2013, p. 161).

The first principle, the liberty principle, is described by Chan (2013) as “equality in the assignment of basic rights and duties” (p. 159). Rawls recognizes that individuals want to be respected, treated with dignity and not repressed setting forth a basic set of equal and fundamental rights which include freedom of speech and assembly, political liberty, freedom of thought and freedom of person. Unlike the utilitarian view, individuals do not have to trade off individual rights for any economic or social advantage (Harvard, 2009). The challenge here is that the individual liberty is always in the forefront. Justice is viewed first on the individual liberties and second at the societal level, which shows a lacking in care ethics and social welfare.

The following of this first principle is fixed as such meaning that the basic freedoms of the individual cannot be debated and must come before the second principle.

The difference principle, the second principle, applies to the distribution of income and wealth. According to Rawls, wealth and income do not need to be equal but it must be to the advantage of everyone; both the rich and the poor (Cahn, 2013). Essential in this distribution is that the basic liberties must be fulfilled, and equal opportunity must be set for all.

Rawls recognizes individuals are born with certain natural traits such as skills, talents, opportunities, wealth, and social status. As a result, these traits with individuals are born into, or in some cases not born into; there is a sense of inequity, which lies out of the hands of the individual. Rawls sees these advantages as unjust to those without. To eliminate the unjustness, Rawls prescribes that if an unequal distribution is used then the greatest good must be to the disadvantaged resulting in a different perspective than that of both the utilitarians and Aristotle.

Top 1%

Society does not need a level field but “those who have been favored by nature, whoever they are, may gain from their good fortune only on terms that improve the situation of those who have lost out” (Harvard, 2009). A suggestion of Rawls may be a higher tax structure for the wealthy but in any case the 99% should see the greatest benefits from the gains of the 1% to be just. The injustice is not within nature or that life is not fair but rests in the way society handles the distribution.

Meritocratics argue the 1% should be rewarded for their efforts. However, based on the premise of Rawls theory of justice the merit system does not take into account that natural abilities which bring forth effort in an individual. A merit system may eliminate upbringing but it cannot take into account natural talents of individuals. It is not just to provide merit based on an innate talent which another individual did not have access to; inequality.

When the veil of ignorance is raised, imbalances stemming from “accidents of birth” arise. Not all individuals have the talents or opportunities to help them reach the top 1% but this is not to say that the 1% should be depleted. The just scheme is to “permit and encourage the gifted to exercise their talents” since the well-being of society depends on the cooperation of all individuals (Harvard, 2009; Cahn, 2013). The unequal distribution is just if the disadvantaged see the greatest benefit.

Justice in Education

Merit pay is based on rewarding teachers for their successes in the classroom. Based on the perspective of Rawls and justice, the system of merit pay in determining wages may be seen as unjust.

Teacher professional development or training is to be considered. Teaching training in not available to all teachers. This inequity puts an unfair advantage in the experiences of teachers, in the system, and then later in the determination of merit. Although an equality of training is not feasible or required of a just system, a just system recognizes these inequalities as such.

The merit system for teacher pay may be unjust if the unequal dispersion of funds does not benefit the disadvantaged teachers. The difference principle dictates that arbitrary characteristics do not need to be equal, but they should work to everyone’s advantage so the prized teachers aren’t discouraged and others are supported in bettering themselves (Harvard, 2009). The merit system “would be just only if the choices that benefit those with talents and attributes that society arbitrarily prizes also benefit those without those attributes” (Cahn, 2013, p. 158). In the search for a pay system, which is just, a leader would look for ways in which the disadvantaged teachers benefit from higher wages granted to the prized teachers. The ideal is not to level the playing field of teachers but to support those who are not at the prize level. Merit systems thus far have not taken on the just perspective.

 


 

References

Cahn, S. (2013). Exploring ethics: An introductory anthology. 3rd Ed. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

Harvard University. (2009, September 8). Justice: what’s the right thing to do? episode 8: what’s a fair start?. [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcL66zx_6No

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP). http://www.plato.stanford.edu

 

 

Care Ethics: Theories of Morality

Ethics of care is recognized by Stander-Staudt as the “moral significance in the fundamental elements of relationships and dependencies in human life” where in ethics “seeks to maintain relationships by contextualizing and promoting the well-being of care-givers and care-receivers in a network of social relations.” The ideal shared by Carol Gilligan (2014), a formative leader in care ethics, is that we live in relationship with each other and not as isolated individuals; a voice with no gender.

Gilligan’s understands the world as being populated with networks of relationships rather than people standing alone and speaks of ethics of care as an emphasis of relationships and responsibilities (Sander-Staudt; Tong & Williams, 2014). Gilligan signifies that morality is not about the absolute right thing but the responsibility of choosing the better thing to do is based on relations and emotions. Veering from the universal rules typically abided by in traditional theories, care ethics fosters a connectedness among people takings on a different voice; “What is the responsible thing to do when you find yourself in a situation or relation when there seems no way of acting that will not cause hurt?” (Cahn, 2013; Gilligan, 2012).

The emphasis of emotions in morality is typically rejected in rational moral theories. “People must do more than merely obey the letter of the law” and choose moral actions that are “infused with the appropriate emotions, sentiments, and feelings” (Tong & Williams, 2014). Held further terms “moral inquires that rely entirely on reason and rationalistic deductions or calculations as deficient” (Cahn, 2013, p. 145).

This inclusion of emotions brings about a feminine angle. Kholberg, in fact, built the ideal of moral development with a gender-biased perspective. Gilligan disputed his model and viewed care ethics from themes removing gender-bias. However, according to Sander-Staudt, the overlap and strong attempts by women to strengthen care ethics has made it a hard to separate care ethics, feminine ethics, and feminist ethics. As a result they are often treated and seen as one.

Care involves maintaining the world of and meeting the needs of one’s self and that of others according to Sander-Staudt. Held extends care as both a practice and as a value. Care as a practice being the caring relations that brings individuals together in ways that are morally correct. Care can then be defined as the most basic, according to Held, as it is it helps to determine the morality of situation and helps to define the concern with relations; a differing perspective from care in virtue Ethics which “focuses on the character of individuals” (Cahn, 2014, page 144).

In any case, Held upholds that care ethics can help to create communities which promote healthy social relations, of those which reliant on self-interest. According to Held via the work of Sander-Staudt, “a globalization of caring relations would help enable people of different states and cultures to live in peace, to respect each others’ rights, to care together for their environments, and to improve the lives of their children.”

Underfunding Public Schools

“Human relationships are not between equally-informed and equally-powerful persons but between unequal and interdependent persons” (Tong & Williams, 2014). In the case of schools that receive underfunding there are different perspectives as to the moral thing to do but in all perspectives morality is through care.

The best model for human relationships, according to the works of Held, is that of a mothering person and a child. Life is about more than conflict, competition, and controversy or about getting what one wants (Tong & Williams, 2014). Life is, as mothering persons know, also about cooperation, consensus, and community and about meeting other people’s needs (Tong & Williams, 2014). The moral action of educators is to seek out the educational needs of the students.

According to Kittay in Sander-Staudt, the first goal of public policy must be to empower society’s dependency workers; empower the educators. It is the moral obligation of society to looks for ways to empower the educators to. “To each according to his or her need, from each to his or her capacity for care, and such support from social institutions as to make available resources and opportunities to those providing care” (Sander-Staudt). Using Tronto, it is the “privileged irresponsibility” that allows the most advantaged in society to purchase caring services, delegate the work of care-giving, and avoid responsibility for the adequacy of hands-on care (Sander-Staudt).

Ethics of Care in Education

Nodding believes that “if we are to develop truly effective social policies about matters such as homelessness, mental illness, and education, we have much to learn by starting at home where the origins of care have their roots” (Tong & Williams, 2014). The real care requires actual meetings with “specific individuals; it cannot be bestowed from afar upon individuals in general” (Tong & Williams, 2014). Although not providing a direct action, a fault of care ethics, a perspective is given towards the moral action.

Nodding “developed the idea of care as a feminine ethic, and applied it to the practice of moral education” (Sander-Staudt). Through her frame, Nodding rejects the universal principle for prescribed action and judgment, arguing that care must always be contextually applied. The caring for students refers to actual hands-on application of caring services” and caring about is the “state of being whereby one nurtures caring ideas or intentions” according to Sander-Staudt. There is no universal rule to provide the right prescription of care for students. The moral action is to consider students through a maternal lens.

There is a moral obligation to take action by practice or value. The moral obligation is to care about distant humans, and recognize that caring-about a person is an important motivational stage for inspiring local and global justice. Sander-Staudt brings to the forefront Baier’s call to trust as the fundamental concept of morality. As teachers a first step may be creating an environment of trust and allowing for the moral emotions. In the words of Held and Nodding, we cannot care for everyone but justice cannot happen without care (Tong & Williams, 2014). We must start somewhere.

References

Audiopedia. (2014, August 28). Ethics of Care. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ZkdDddmXk0M

Cahn, S. (2013). Exploring ethics: An introductory anthology. 3rd Ed. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

Gilligan, Carol. (2012, April 23). Carol Gilligan on Women and Moral Development, Big Think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2W_9MozRoKE

Sander-Staudt. Care Ethics (n.d.). In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/care-eth/

Tong, R. & Williams, N. (Fall 2014). Feminine Ethics. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/encyclopedia/        archinfo.cgi?entry=feminism-ethics

 

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Worldviews A Comparison of Methodologies and Support for a Mixed Method Design

Up for debate is the trustworthiness of research methods: quantitative versus qualitative. Quantitative researchers firmly hold on to data, cause-and-effect, rules, and logic as it is developed from statistical data and its importance of proving a hypothesis. They use standardized methods, studies and tests, which they believe decreases the objectivity of the participants. Qualitative researchers stand on the extreme opposite believing strongly that there is more to research than numbers and the scientific method. It is the qualitative researcher who believes social and human factors hold the true data, which goes above and beyond that which is seen numbers. They hold fast to the descriptive data provided by the individuals who are the meaning of research. The question lies in which method effectively addresses the research study.

According to Creswell (2012), the quantitative researcher describes a research problem through a description of trends or a need for an explanation of the relationship among variables. Initially the researcher relies greatly on the literary reviews so as to develop a strong backing as to why the research is important and necessary. Quantitative researchers create questions and look to find the answers to these questions. Once the necessity of the research is developed it is these researchers who rely on standardized methodologies of data collection to create statistical models where numeric data can be analyzed and correlations can be identified amongst variables. It is important to note that the quantitative researcher purely focuses on the numerical data with the objective of testing theories and hypotheses; refraining from personal interactions or descriptive analyses.

One of the challenges for a practicing researcher is the background knowledge and skill one must have to effectively use the quantitative method. A thorough understanding of statistical knowledge and the process by which statistical data needs to be analyzed is not necessarily a skill mastered by a practicing researcher. It is also essential to take into consideration the audience, as quantitative research can be formal and not easily accessed by all readers.

At the opposite end of the research spectrum is the qualitative researcher. Creswell (2012) notes these researchers as those who explore a problem, which has previously been identified. For this reason, the qualitative research relies on the literature to provide evidence and reason for further research. The qualitative researcher is not looking to answer questions, but is instead looking to gain perspectives, and further insight on a specific area of research. As a result the methodologies, which are used to collect descriptive data are distinctly different from those used by quantitative researchers. Because the qualitative researcher sees social and scientific cause-and-effects as one intertwined process, the data collected and analyzed is rich with language and description. The value of the individual within this methodology is regarded highly in this process and cannot be separated out or considered as a bias. According to Pole (2007), “The only way to understand human behaviors is to focus on the meanings that events have for the participants by looking at what people think, feel and do.”

Researchers Yilmaz, Altun and Olkun (2010) utilized qualitative methodologies when looking for factors that affect students’ attitude towards mathematics. Yilmaz et al. (2010) interviewed a small sampling of students by asking open ended questions (i.e. how do you feel about math?, how you feel about your teacher?, what kind of factors affect whether your like/hate your math course?) to gain their personal opinions. Through the analysis of student responses, Yilmaz et al. (2010) found that using different materials in teaching, teachers’ classroom management skills, teachers’ content knowledge and personality, teaching topics with real life enriched examples, and students’ opinion about mathematic courses, were the factors that affect students’ attitude towards math courses. It is important to mention that in identifying the value of their qualitative findings, Yilmaz et al. (2010) documented that students’ attitude are mainly measured by attitude scales, which show whether they have positive or negative attitudes. Without this quantitative data, they may not have had the lead to develop their research.

Research by Pole (2007) identifies qualitative data as being less reliable and accurate at times despite the fact that they have developed better tools for classifying and analyzing descriptive data. Pole (2007) also states that quantitative data can also be inaccurate and invalid due to the inability to control human experiences. Researchers Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004) suggest taking a non-purist approach, specifically in the area of educational research, to overcome the weaknesses of each individual method and to utilize the combined strengths of both methodologies.

Both purist groups of researchers have come to realize there are common factors amongst their methods. First, research is affected by “what is noticed or observed, the background knowledge, theories and experiences of the researchers, as well as the attitudes and values of the communities in which the researchers are embedded” (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004). Secondly, the values of the researchers further “affect what they see, how they interpret what they see and what they choose to explore” (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004). And lastly, more than one theory can fit a set of data, a hypothesis cannot be fully tested in isolation and there are often assumptions made with statistical data (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004). This consensus brings about reason to end the pragmatic war, as there are weaknesses within each.

The pragmatic approach not only balances the weakness of the single approach to research but also encompasses the best practices in answering research questions. Researchers Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004) stress that what is most important is the question and the methods that follow should provide the best practices for gathering the answers. Consider qualitative methods when a deeper understanding is needed such as exploration of common experiences of individuals to develop a theory, the shared culture of a group or individual stories to describe the lives of people (Creswell, 2012). Utilize quantitative methods when looking for trends and of explanations of whether or not an intervention influences an outcome (Creswell, 2012). However, the combination of both methods allows educational researchers to elaborate, enhance, illustrate and clarify results from one method with results from another; releasing limitations of using any one method.

The primary reason for research in the educational arena is to study and better understand problems within the system, teaching and learning; to add value. Instead of thinking of quantitative and qualitative research as opposites, Creswell (2012), Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004) suggest thinking of each as a point on a continuum using induction, deduction and abduction interchangeably to best address the research question. It is permissible to mix qualitative and quantitative models and methods. The mixing of data collection approaches, two separate mini-studies or beginning with one method and transforming to another are all permissible. It is possible to have two worldviews mixed throughout research (Pole, 2007). The point is for researchers to be creative and not limited in the research process so as to consciously design ways in which they can effectively answer the research question (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie (2004). As Pole (2007) states, “education researchers are able to build stronger studies which lead to better inferences when the mixed method of research is used.”

Will researchers consider the mixed methods trustworthy? Or will the purists forever consider the educational research invalid?

References

Creswell, J.W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Johnson, R. B., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2004). “Mixed methods research: A research paradigm whose time has come.” Educational Researcher, 33(7), 14-26.

Pole, K., (2007). “Mixed method designs: A review of strategies for blending quantitative and qualitative methodologies.” Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 20(4), 35-38.

Yılmaz, C., Altun, S. A., & Olkun, S. (2010). Factors affecting students’ attitude towards Math: ABC theory and its reflection on practice. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 4502–4506. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.03.720

 

 

Kubler-Ross Theoretical Lens: Practice with Theoretical Frameworks

Overview

A common desire study the relationship between individual emotion and organization change in schools is the foundation of Kearny and Hyle’s work. Coming for the world of management Kearny “realized that grief models could be powerful tools for both the understanding and the management of the individual grief” (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 110). Hyle adds the dimension of organizational change as it is seen from the angle of educational. With the expectation that grief and organization change are similar in both schools and business, Kearny and Hyle’s study focuses on educational organizations via the Kubler-Ross lens.

Kubler-Ross Theoretical Framework

            The Kubler-Ross model describes a non-linear progression of grief. Through this lens grief is identified not as a series of processes but as stages, which can replace each other, be repeated or co-exist. These stages consist of denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although reliant on the emotions individuals experience as the result of loss in life, Kearny and Hyle recognize these emotions as similar to those which individuals may experience as organizations experience change.

Organizational Framework

According to Anfara and Mertz (2006) individual grief models are not commonly used to analyze organizational change. However, the Kubler-Ross framework is easily visualized and provides clearly defined relationships for organization in a non-linear fashion; strengths identifies by Kearny and Hyle (Anfara & Mertz, 2006). The Kubler-Ross lens identifies a specific emotion at each stage of grief where works by Bowlby lack in specificity necessary in data collection and analysis (Anfara & Mertz, 2006). Kubler-Ross is also a well-researched and supported theoretical framework; a model used as a foundation for additional theories such as Perlman and Takacs (Anfara & Mertz, 2006). Lastly the Kubler-Ross provides a model that is operational and easily applied to the grieving constructs seen within organizational change.

Overview of Study

Purpose

Kearny and Hyle focus on individual loss and grief for those who stay within an organization as key factors in the failure of educational change (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 110). According to Anfara and Mertz (2006), this the basis of this study relies on researchers such as Fullan, Hargreaves and Sarason who claim that schools have tried to change but have not been successful in the endeavor. Kearny and Hyle consider that “the lack of success in change is based on a lack of attention to individuals and their emotional experiences during the process of change” (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 110). As a result, the study of Kearny and Hyle focuses on “the individual loss and grief for those who stay with the organization as possible key factors in the failure of education” (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 110).

            With a lacking in studies of individual, change-related emotions within organizations, Kearny and Hyle chose this as their purpose for their study. The missing component was that of a theoretical framework to study individual emotions and organizational change. Kearny and Hyle utilized the Kubler-Ross model; a widely used model for organizational change and life loss (Anfara & Mertz, 2006). As a result, their purpose to “identify emotional impacts on individuals who had experienced organizational change” was defined (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 118).

Study Site and Focus

The study site for this work is that of a technology training school chosen from a series of state technology schools within the southwestern part of the United States. Located within a rural community of 5,500 people this school is identified as being a part of a close-knit community although the school itself serves over seven counties within the district. The school relies on its five member publicly elected board of education as well as state and local taxes, funds from tuitions and fees, federal grants and loans.

At the time of the study, the superintendent of 17 years was close to retirement thus providing Kearny and Hyle with a school about to go through an organizational change. With new leadership, the study site encountered what Anfara & Mertz (2006) describe as “new philosophies and practices that resulted in far-reaching changes” (p. 112). Kearny and Hyle identified this as an opportune location and time to develop a primary focus of their study as “the impact of those changes on employees of the school” in addition to a secondary focus “on the widespread changes that had been proposed as the state level of the technology school system” (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 112).

Methodology

            The process of data collection occurred over an 8-week period addressing overall changes within the school. Participants voluntarily participated in a four-phase process which included the personal and organization information; a demographic profile. Participants then completed two drawings to describe their organizational experiences. These drawings were then used as a based for unstructured interviews where participants explained their individual pieces. Kearny and Hyle used the unstructured interviews to focus on emotions and capture emotion-base data via a list of feelings from which participants identified those, which they identified most with. Follow-up interviews were then utilized to ask clarifying questions, perform member checks and discuss the value of the drawings methodology.

The implications of the Kubler-Ross lens on methodology are noted as viable in future qualitative research. The drawing utilized in this study and within future studies may be considered tools for researchers who are looking for a path towards participants’ emotions and feelings. These same drawings also provide a succinct window to the participant’s experiences. Kearny and Hyle describe the drawings the methodology, which allowed the collection of crucial emotional data that was needed for the successful use of the Kubler-Ross model (Anfara & Mertz, 2006).

Data Analysis

The Kubler-Ross model provided an initial structure to develop an initial plan for analysis. Utilizing the Kubler-Ross grief construct as a theoretical frame, the data collected was sorted into those which fit the grief cycle and those that did not. Participants were found to fall into categories of those who had experienced organizational change and those who anticipated organizational change supporting the idea that grief can be anticipatory as suggested by the Kubler-Ross model (Anfara & Mertz, 2006). Numerous participants shared change-related emotions and an expenditure of energy on the organizational changes. However, every participant shared that the organization change was “good” and the individual reactions. As a result Kearny and Hyle concluded that grief occurs even when the response to change is “good.”

The data collected offered a full spectrum of emotions that fit the Kubler-Ross grief model. Kearny and Hyle share the individuality of emotions being just as individual as the experiences. Thus bringing about the question as to whether a process can exist when there are differing experiences and perspectives (Anfara & Mertz, 2006). This further led to Kearny and Hyle developing an understanding of dependence as it relates to the Kubler-Ross model. Each change brings about new emotion and individualized feelings. There are also the feelings that commonly exist which are not a direct result of the change. Emotions and feelings are not linear or singular making the Kubler-Ross model dependence on how it is “applied – as a process or a collection of emotions” (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 124).

Summary

The Kubler-Ross lens utilized by Kearny and Hyle provides a new dimension to studies on organizational change. Different than other studies the work of Kearny and Hyle transformed the focus from common constructs such as leadership and processes to one based on individual emotions. In the words of Anfara and Mertz (2006), “it would not make sense to use this model to address traditional components of change because the focus of these models is institutional or organizational whereas Kubler-Ross’s is individual and emotional” (p. 118).

Kearny and Hyle’s decision to utilize the Kubler-Ross lens is defined as a “best-fit” model. The Kubler-Ross grief model provided “appropriateness and usefulness for understanding emotions and grief and the potential for it to be operationalized in a way that made it useful for guidance in study design, data collection and analysis” (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 123). They are clear to back their framework choice as one that “provides clarity in research design, data collection, and analysis which is impossible to get in any other way” (Anfara & Mertz, 2006, p. 125).

References

Anfara, V.A., & Mertz, N.T. (2006). Theoretical frameworks in qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.