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Media Ethics: Lecture #1 – Introduction and Piaget.

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1 Media Ethics: Lecture #1 – Introduction and Piaget

2 Introduction The rush of events forces the media to make ethical decisions by reflex more than by reflection. There are several mindsets involved in media ethics: – Ethics requires deliberation, careful distinctions, and extended discussion. – The news media emphasize toughness and the ability to make quick decisions in the face of daily crisis.

3 – Advertising and public relations professionals are expected to be competitive and enterprising and to advocate. – Entertainment writers and producers are expected to value skepticism, confident independence, and hot blood – tell an engaging story no matter what. Nevertheless, a solid reasoning process is a necessity even in a high-pressure environment in which there is a huge volume of work and action is highly valued.

4 Potter Box Facts 1 Values 2 Principles 3 Loyalties 4

5 The Fellowship of the Rings Whats it about? What is Frodos rings most seductive power? The ring of Gyges

6 Whats Right and Whats Wrong? Sophocless Antigone Antigone speaks of a higher law that requires her to bury her brother, despite an order from her uncle, King Creon of Thebes, forbidding burial of civil war rebels. Antigone says, Nor did I think your orders were so strong that you, a mortal man, could over-run the gods unwritten and unfailing laws.

7 Higher Moral Law At Nuremberg trials, problems of jurisdiction prevented crimes from being prosecuted under the laws of any one nation, thus indictments of Nazi war criminals referred tocrimes against humanity. Martin Luther King, writing in a jail in Birmingham, AL, invoked the writing of Thomas Aquinas to make a case against social prejudice: …a just law is a man-made code that squares with moral law or the law of God…an unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with moral law.

8 How Do We Learn About Moral Laws? As little children, from our parents. Jean Piagets The Moral Judgment of the Child. – Observation research on Swiss children in the 1920s – Brilliant insights still relevant today

9 Piaget Identified two social worlds in which children learn moral rules: – Adult/child relations – Peer relations Vastly different – From adults, children learn rules of constraint: top- down, unilateral respect for their superiors. – From peer relations, children learn rules of cooperation, based on mutual respect for ones equals.

10 The Rules of the Game All morality consists of a system of rules, and the essence of all morality is to be sought for in the respect which the individual acquires for these rules. – Most of the moral rules a child learns to respect come from adults, especially in the younger years. From the cradle, children are subjected to a multiplicity of rules, even before a child learns language. – These rules are very hard for the child to learn.

11 Piaget Studied Games Found two levels: (1) Practice of the rules and (2) consciousness of the rules. – Relationship between the practice of the rules and consciousness of them defined the psychological nature of moral realities.

12 The Four Stages of Moral Development Stage One: 0-2 years - Plays alone, makes own rules (motor and individual) – Child play for him/herself – Motor pleasure, not social pleasure

13 Stage Two: 2-5 years – Learns codified rules, but everyone plays their own rules; everyone can win. (egocentrism) – Plays for social reasons and to get a sense of winning.

14 Stage Three: 6-8 years – Cooperation; mutual control of the game. Rules still fuzzy; argue over rules. – Desire for mutual understanding of rules – The desire to win, beat others within the limits of the rules – Fairness, equity

15 Stage Four: 11-12 years – Codification of rules. – They understand the reasons for the rules. – Take pleasure in juridical discussions and deliberations of the rules. In Stage Four, a child must be able to reason formally, have a conscious realization of the rules of reasoning and be able to apply reasoning to a variety of situations.

16 Learning Rules The acquisition and practice of the rules of a game follow simple laws: – Simple individual regularity – Imitation of seniors with egocentrism – Cooperation – Interest in rules for their own sake

17 What Games Did You Play? Was your experience similar to what Piaget observed?

18 A young child has a sense of moral obligation that is expressed when the child accepts a command from someone that is respected – someone with power and authority. In older children, the rules undergo a complete transformation. Rules no longer are seen as external laws, sacred in so far as they have been laid down by adults, but as the outcome of a free decision and worthy of respect because they come from mutual consent.

19 It is from this moment that it replaces the rule of constraint that rule of cooperation becomes an effective moral lawthe law of universal cooperation. Cooperation is a universal moral law because cooperation leads to the practice of reciprocity.

20 Kants Categorical Imperative A person should act on the premise that the choices one makes for oneself could become universal law (for everyone) for all times. Treat humanity well always as an end in itself and never as a means to an end. Categorical means that the decision was not subject to situational factors. Thus, the existence of a higher unwritten and unfailing moral law.

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