Dr. Christina Sommers draws attention to the problem of moral illiteracy of the generation, which comes from modern methods of teaching ethics. The author notes that teachers mainly analyze social policy, which is only a part of moral life; private morality is rarely considered. Part of the problem stems from the fact that many students are already moral relativists, which gives them no reason to judge ethically right or wrong. The “values clarification” principle or ethical dilemma, which aims to develop values without imposed, leads to moral skepticism and “holes in the moral ozone.” (Sommers 1) A possible solution may be a moral education in schools and higher educational institutions, the formation of moral responsibility, the transfer of knowledge and experience in ethical terms, which have been accumulating over the centuries.
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In the lecture, Dr. Gendler explores Aristotle’s central vision of virtue. Explaining the difference and the relationship between normative and descriptive laws, the professor connects his conclusions with the method of the ancient Greek philosopher. According to the lecturer, normative laws express summative judgments about how things ought to be, and descriptive ones tell you how things are. A good example is “the speed of light expresses a descriptive law about how fast you can go, and the speed limit of 65 mph expresses a normative law about how fast you may go.” (Virtue and Habit I) To transform normative obligations into descriptive laws, actions that are initially under conscious control must be automated through repeated practice. Aristotle’s basic inside is that if you want to become something, act as if that is what you already were. In this way, we become virtuous by acting as if we are virtuous.
A person can refer to the ethics of virtue described by Tamar Gendler when he or she experiences such an intention. An individual initially performing virtuous actions should be guided by the desire to be better and do good, not because it is necessary, but because it is his conscious choice. In this context, it is not fair to say about human programming; it also cannot be said that this view undermines the concept of good human behavior in relation to choice. Dr. Gendler’s approach of how the ethics of virtue becomes a part of us is consistent with Dr. Sommers’ thesis about what is necessary for schools today. For a person to think about what kind of person he wants to be and then act accordingly, questions of ethics of virtue should be given in school. By interacting in an environment that instills the value that there is no right or wrong, children can rise to vices.
For example, in the article, Sommers describes a teacher’s use of “values clarification” methods in her class. This leads to the kids declaring that “they value cheating and want to be free to do it on their tests.” (Sommers 3) However, this part of Sommers’ analysis may seem dubious because one example cannot guarantee that this system is fundamentally wrong and instills the wrong values. The emphasis is on the internal choice, which teaches a person to determine what he needs. This option is important in life and can be implemented differently with the foundations of morality.
The chapter entitled “A Hole in the Moral Ozone” can be considered a convincing part of the work. The information from the study proves how the situation with morality and ethics is now among the new generation. The personal experiences of the author and other ethics professors also draw attention and make one think about the future concerning the situation. This requires resolution, which is possible through instilling the foundations of ethical and moral issues, discussing them at further stages of education, and subsequently making people decide about a better virtuous life.
Sommers, Christina Hoff. “Teaching the virtues.” Public Interest, vol. 3, no. 3, 1993, pp. 1–4.
“Virtue and Habit I.” YouTube, uploaded by YaleCourses, 28 Oct. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reZA81S0zfI
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