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A Performance Model of Virtue Chuck Huff & Laura Barnard Psychology, St.Olaf College For the Innovations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference,

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Presentation on theme: "A Performance Model of Virtue Chuck Huff & Laura Barnard Psychology, St.Olaf College For the Innovations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference,"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Performance Model of Virtue Chuck Huff & Laura Barnard Psychology, St.Olaf College For the Innovations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference, February, 2007, Northfield MN Introduction Most of the accepted models of ethical behavior are unidimensional, emphasizing either principled reasoning (Kohlberg, 1971), or a virtue model of integrity and character (Crisp & Slote, 1997; Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Both these approaches view the moral life as a series of decisions held together by commitment to values and implemented by willpower. The principled reasoning models recommend practice in reasoning as the correct method for pedagogy. Virtue models emphasize instead character, but other than recommending mentoring provide little guidance on how virtue might be taught. We propose a four component model of the influences on the successful performance of ethical computing in the workplace. This model is based on our interviews with moral exemplars in the computing profession, and on an extensive review of the current literature in moral psychology. This model outlines the personal and situational constraints on ethical performance and suggests what can be taught. Finally, we show how this model guides the teaching of the course Ethical Issues in Software Design, a project- based class that concentrates on the ethically informed software design rather than on ethical reflection on computing policy. Uncovering Successful Performers of Virtue: Moral Exemplars References Developing Indexes of Craft and Reform We designed a coding system based on the informal analysis. Two independent coders coded each story from each exemplar for the presence or absence of 12 items: social support and antagonism, use of technical or social expertise, the description of harm to victims or need for reform, action taken toward reform, design undertaken for users or clients, effectiveness and ineffectiveness of action, and negative and positive emotion. Italicized items were used to create an index of Craft engagement and underlined items were used to create an index of Reform. The resulting plot clearly shows groups of reformers (above mean on reform; below mean on craft) and craftspersons (above on craft, below on reform) and two interesting cases high on both. Conclusions The four-component model we propose (see figure in upper right) grounds moral action in relatively stable personality characteristics, guides moral action based on the integration of morality into the self-system, facilitates moral action with morally relevant skills and knowledge, and shapes moral action by the context of the surrounding moral ecology. The model seeks to explain the daily performance of moral action of computing professionals and to illuminate ways that computing professionals might be trained to be more active, ethically committed, and ethically effective in their daily performance. Personality Among our exemplars, we found that craftspersons were more likely to score high on the personality characteristic of openness to experience, while reformers were more likely to score high on extraversion. Thus personality can ground moral action, but it does not solely determine moral character and action. Aristotle proposes a ship metaphor for the influence of personal inclination. If a ship has a natural inclination to one side, the wise pilot will steer a bit towards the other to correct. New work in personality theory (Roberts et al., 2006) suggests that this kind of steering, particularly when reinforced by social roles, can actually produce changes in personality characteristics in early adulthood and later. Thus, though we treat personality as an anchoring point for moral inclination, it can be influenced by appropriate life experiences. Integration of Morality into the Self System (see the figure at upper right) Much has been made of the centrality of moral commitment. Psychologists (Blasi, 2005) and philosophers (Crisp & Slote, 1997) treat moral commitment, or moral integrity, or moral will, as the critical determinant of moral action. But though moral commitment has played this central role, few theorists have spoken carefully about the components of moral commitment, how it is cultivated and achieved, and the ways that it influences moral action. Again, recent work in psychology can help us build a multi-faceted view of how moral commitment is important to the self that guides moral action. Skills and Knowledge (see examples at upper right) The literature on virtues has usually portrayed them as dispositions that one can improve by practice (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). But just what is it that is strengthened by practice? Is a virtue like a muscle that gets stronger with use? Or is it like a skill that gets better with appropriate coaching and practice? Again, current literature in moral psychology can help untangle this question. There are aspects of willpower that are like muscle (Vohs & Baumeister, 2004), but much of what we call virtue is based in skills and knowledge of how to act in particular worlds (Narvaez 2005). Skills can be practiced to the level of expertise and automaticity, and knowledge can be learned even to the level of implicit use without conscious reflection. Together these shape the successful expression of, but do not solely determine, moral action. Moral Ecology Finally, moral action is embedded in a social surround that can either support or thwart it. We call this social surround a moral ecology, or more accurately, a system of interlinked moral ecologies. Countries, cultures, industries, companies, divisions, workgroups, mentorship networks, and professional organizations all have morally relevant expectations and pressures that constrain and sometimes support moral action. Individuals can enter and leave moral ecologies, can influence them and can even act in defiance of them. Thus, knowing how to navigate in the relevant moral ecologies is a crucial moral skill for computer professionals. Moral ecologies thus constrain and support, but do not solely determine moral action. Guiding a Project-Based Class with the Model Our goal in this exploratory study was to find and interview people who were successfully integrating ethical concern into their practice of the computing profession. We hoped these interview would help us understand the factors that supported their successful ethical performance. We followed a method taken from one of the classic moral exemplars studies (Colby & Damon, 1992). We recruited a panel of 7 experts in computer ethics to establish the criteria for the selection of exemplars in computing, to provide initial nominations for the sampling, and to approve each member of the sample. The final criteria on which the panel agreed were: 1.Either a) a sustained commitment to moral ideals or ethical principles in computing that include a generalized respect for humanity, or b) sustained evidence of moral virtue in the practice of computing. 2.A disposition to make computing decisions in accord with one's moral ideals or ethical principles, implying also a consistency between one's actions and intentions and between the means and ends of one's actions. 3.A willingness to risk one's self-interest for the sake of one's moral values. 4.A tendency to be inspiring to other computing professionals and thereby to move them to moral action. No one was included in the sample if a panel member had any objection to their meeting the criteria. The Sample The final sample of 24 exemplars had 9 women and 15 men. 13 exemplars had significant experience in academia, 15 had significant experience in industry, and 3 had significant experience in government policy (seven had experience in more than one area). 11 were in the final decades of their career and 4 were retired. The response rate of 71.43% is quite high given the nature of the sample. The Exemplars Many, though not all, of the exemplars gave their permission for their interviews to be publicly identified with them and for their names to be released as participants in the study. Among these are: Simon Rogerson: Founder of EthiCOMP, first Professor of Computer Ethics Elizabeth France: First Data Protection Registrar in the UK James Towell: Cambridge Grad, Private Consulting Steve Shirley: Early pioneer in business computing Enid Mumford: Early pioneer in socio-technical systems Francis Grundy: Pioneer in encouraging women in computing Alan Newell: Pioneer in developing systems for the handicapped Alan Cox: LINUX Pioneer, Jan Holvast: Pioneer privacy advocate Ove Ivarsen: Developer of the USER Award from LO The Interview The 3 hour interview, based on McAdam’s life story protocol (McAdams et al., 2001), asked them to tell stories from their professional life. There were stories of influential others, of low and high points, from early in their career and from recent events. It was held in two sessions on consecutive days and digitally audio-recorded. The recordings were transcribed and the transcriptions approved by the interviewees. Only minor revisions were made by the interviewees. Analyzing the Interviews The transcripts have been informally analyzed for themes and also rigorously coded. We are in the process of additional qualitative coding. The informal analysis suggests that most of the exemplars consciously cultivated a network of support for their activities and cited multiple people as positive influences. In common with other work on exemplars, our exemplars did not think of themselves as morally extraordinary. However, all were active problem solvers and saw the challenges in their projects as a mix of moral, technical, and social challenges. In response, they used both social and technical skills in almost all their work, often explicitly claiming that the two were mutually supporting in determining their success. There appeared to be at least two different approaches to our exemplars’ moral careers. We have labeled these that of the craftsperson and that of the reformer. Craftspersons tended to focus on their clients or users and to draw on pre-existing values in computing (e.g. user focus, customer need, software quality) to define the goals of their work. Thus they tended to view themselves as a provider of a service or product (e.g. computing for the handicapped) and to view difficulties or disagreements as problems to be solved. Reformers tended to be crusaders who were attempting to change the values in social systems (organizations, professions, national cultures). They tended to view individual as victims of injustice and to attempt to remedy that injustice. Craft Score (in SD from mean of 0) Reform Score (in SD from mean of 0) Simon Rogerson Elizabeth France James Towell Steve Shirley Enid Mumford Francis Grundy Alan Newell Alan Cox Andrew McGettrick Jan Holvast Ove Ivarsen Viiveke Fåk Niklas Halberg Personality Moral Ecologies Moral Skill Sets Less Mutable More Mutable Personal Control External Control Integration of Morality into the Self System The Four Component Model Teach These Influence this Prepare for These Be aware of this Personal Projects Past Behavior & Experience Beliefs, Attitudes, & Values Motives & Strivings Roles, Life Tasks, Possible Selves Affiliations & Relationships Stories & Defining Memories Elements of the temporally extended and contextually distributed self Integration of Morality in the Self System Adapted from McGregor & Little (1998). Work on expertise suggests that becoming an expert takes 10,000 hours of practice. This must occur in a structured environment that rewards correct solutions, matches explicit theory and strategy with coaching and practice, and provides extensive, focused practice (Hogarth, 2001). Narvaez (2005) provides evidence that the skills associated with moral action can be taught using an expertise model. In the required project-based class Ethical Issues in Software Design, computer science majors get explicit theory, strategy and tactics in the moral skills (e.g. collecting data to understand users and the socio-technical system in which software is embedded). Students read social science studies of technology, methods manuals in user-centered design, philosophical and theological work on vacation and the meaning of work, and detailed cases of computing technology as it effects the interests and values of stakeholders and social systems. This explicit instruction is tied directly to a project in which students work in teams to evaluate an existing or proposed software system for an external client. Clients so far have included the school registrar (for a proposed student information system), a community based non-profit (for a blogging site), and the local school district (for their website for the district and 5 schools). Sixty per cent of the student’s grade is based on team performance on this project. Moral Imagination: projecting oneself into the perspective of others (e.g. collecting data about a socio-technical system). Moral Creativity: generating solutions to moral challenges while responding to multiple constraints (e.g. crafting solutions that respond to multiple constraints) Reasonableness: Gathering relevant evidence, listening to others, giving reasons, changing plans/positions based on reason (e.g. crafting communication strategies for proposed solutions). Perseverance: planning moral action and responding to unforeseen circumstances while keeping moral goals intact (e.g. constructing and navigating ethical dissent processes). Moral Skill Sets Blasi, A. (2005). Moral Character: A Psychological Approach. In D. K. Lapsley & F. C. Power (Eds), Character psychology and character education, (pp ). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Colby, A., & Damon, W. (1992). Some do care: Contemporary lives of moral commitment. New York: Free Press. Crisp, R., & Slote, M. (eds.) (1997). Virtue Ethics: Oxford readings in philosophy. Oxford, UK: Oxford Press. Hogarth, R. M. (2001). Educating Intuition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Kohlberg, L. (1971). From is to ought: How to commit the naturalistic fallacy and get away with it in the study of moral development. In T. Mischel (Ed.), Cognitive development and epistemology (pp ). New York: Academic Press. McAdams, D. P., Reynolds, J., Lewis, M., Patten, A. H., Bowman, P. J. (2001). When bad things turn good and good things turn bad: Sequences of redemption and contamination in life narrative and their relation to psychosocial adaptation in midlife adults and in students. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(4), McGregor, I., & Little, B.R. (1998). Personal projects, happiness, and meaning: On doing well and being yourself. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, Narvaez, D. (2005). The Neo-Kohlbergian Tradition and Beyond: Schemas, Expertise, and Character. In G. Carlo, & C. P. Edwards, (Eds). Moral motivation through the life span. Volume 51 of the Nebraska Symposium on motivation. (pp ). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. Peterson, C. & Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: a handbook and classification. New York: Oxford Press. Roberts, B. W., Walton, K. E. & Viechtbauer, W. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin, 132, Vohs, K., & Baumeister, R. (2004). Ego Depletion, Self-Control, and Choice. In J. Greenberg, S. L. Koole, & T. Pyszczynski (Eds). Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology. (pp ). New York: Guilford Press. Supporters: National Science Foundation Curriculum Based Resources DUE and DUE Life Stories of Moral Exemplars in Computing SES Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, Demontfort University, UK St. Olaf College Student Collaborators Britta Anderson Nathan DeWall Erin Engelbart Mike Knoll Cassie Seningen Joe Stewart Jenny Ingebritsen Kristyn Aasen Craig Enlund Nicole Gilbertson


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