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Teaching College Students How to Solve Real-Life Moral Dilemmas

An Ethical Compass for Quarterlifers


Robert J. Nash and Jennifer J.J. Jang

Teaching College Students How to Solve Real-Life Moral Dilemmas will speak to the sometimes confounding, real-life, moral challenges that quarterlife students actually face each and every day of their lives. It will spell out an original, all-inclusive approach to thinking about, and applying, ethical problem-solving that takes into consideration people’s acts, intentions, circumstances, principles, background beliefs, religio-spiritualities, consequences, virtues and vices, narratives, communities, and the relevant institutional and political structures. This approach doesn’t tell students exactly what to do as much as it evokes important information in order to help them think more deeply and expansively about ethical issues in order to resolve actual ethical dilemmas. There is no text like it on the market today. Teaching College Students How to Solve Real-Life Moral Dilemmas can be used in a variety of ethics courses.
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Chapter 4. Our Nine-Question Problem-Solving System for Resolving Ethical Dilemmas


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We believe that all Four Moral Languages that we describe in chapter 3 overlap and, in many ways, they are mutually interdependent. Any attempt to discuss ethical issues in educational settings, and to resolve complicated ethical dilemmas both inside and beyond the college campus, needs to take into account the existence and persistence of all four languages. We encourage our students to speak these languages openly in our classrooms whenever they talk about specific ethical dilemmas. Make no mistake: These languages are always circulating in ethical discussions, but mostly undercover. Except for the Third Moral Language of codified rules and principles, the other three are frequently repressed in educational conversations because of what we would call “moral silence.”

This moral silence occurs because the First and Second Moral Languages seem less “logical” and objective than the Third. Also, the Fourth Moral Language seems too idealistic and sweeping to the moral objectivists. In addition, the First and Second Moral Languages seem touchy-feely, overly subjective, and divisive to some ethics specialists who want to present a “rigorous” united theoretical front to the academic community. Finally, too much discussion about morality and ethics, particularly in the professional workspace, tends to be focused exclusively on right and wrong conduct, official codes of ethics, prohibitions and injunctions, and what is litigious and what isn’t. What gets ← 45 | 46 → left out of so many ethics courses as well...

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