The Moral Vocabulary Approach (Teaching Philosophy)

Abstract: At or near the beginning of many textbooks and syllabi in applied or professional ethics is a unit on philosophical moral theories (such as utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics). However, teaching such theories is of questionable value in this context. This article introduces the moral vocabulary approach. Instead of burdening students with complex ethical theories, they are introduced to the logic of elementary moral concepts. This avoids many of the drawbacks of teaching ethical theories, while preserving the benefit of equipping students with the conceptual tools they need to critically analyse ethical issues.

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A Primer on Moral Concepts and Vocabulary (Teaching Philosophy)

Abstract: This article is an introduction to moral concepts. Its purpose is to introduce and explain vocabulary that can be used both in examining ethical theories, and in talking about the ethically significant aspects of concrete situations. We begin by distinguishing descriptive and normative claims, and explaining how moral claims are a special type of normative claims. We then introduce terms for the moral evaluation of actions, states of affairs, and motives. Focusing on the question ‘what should be done?’, we talk at some length about factors that influence the moral evaluation of actions, such as rights, duties, and consequences. We also cover related concepts such as justifications, excuses, praise, and blame. Finally, we discuss ethical reasoning and the roles played therein by principles, values, and theories.

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Oxymoron: Taking Business Ethics Denial Seriously (Journal of Business Ethics Education)

Abstract: Business ethics denial refers to one of two claims about moral motivation in a business context: that there is no need for it, or that it is impossible. Neither of these radical claims is endorsed by serious theorists in the academic fields that study business ethics. Nevertheless, public commentators, as well as university students, often make claims that seem to imply that they subscribe to some form of business ethics denial. This paper fills a gap by making explicit both the various forms that business ethics denial can take, and the reasons why such views are ultimately implausible. The paper argues that this type of serious engagement with business ethics denial should be an important part of the job description for teachers of business ethics.

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