deals with a universal personal value system compatible with all ethical
beliefs whether religious or secular.
Words: ethical factor, values, ethics, technology, love, kindness, respect,
human dignity, caring, responsibility, justice, mercy, social studies, science education, elementary education, secondary education, STS,
teaching, curriculum, Milton
Mayeroff, Carol Gilligan, William Leiss, Nell Noddings, Lawrence Kohlberg,
Return to Canadian Social Studies Super Site
Personal values can be
detrimental to others, and even more so in a technological society where
technology provides power to those who control it. An
ethic is proposed for the control of personal values based on the writings of
Milton Mayeroff, Carol Gilligan, and William Leiss. Love, kindness, and respect
for human dignity comprise this ethic for instruction in elementary and
secondary social studies. An earlier version of this essay was published as “Values,
Technology, and Social Studies” by
the McGill Journal of Education,
In a modern technological society the power that can
be exercised by those with authority to control the technology raises profound
axiological concerns for the well‑being of others. There is a need for a
values element to make students aware of their responsibility to others in the
exercise of power.
There is no contradictory evidence for the assumption
that if personal values are taught to students that these values will be applied
in a socially acceptable manner. I consider this assumption unsatisfactory, for
reasons noted below, and suggest an over‑arching set of values as a
yardstick for determining the impact one's actions will have on others and to
provide students with a means to assess the suitability of the action of others.
This yardstick consists of three values: love, kindness, and human dignity.
These values can be taught to children in social studies instruction.
For purposes of this essay, values are defined as
ideas and concepts of importance in people's lives (Fraenkel, 1977, p. 6) which
are held in esteem. They also lead to attitudes and actions considered worthy by
an individual or society. They are goals to strive for and live by and are also
yardsticks to measure human behavior.
Humanity is at the mercy of the values of those who
control science and technology. And society must note with much concern in this
post Holocaust era that the technological power of tomorrow will far exceed that
which was in the hands of yesterday's Third Reich. Values teaching takes on a
new dimension with the lessons of history in mind.
For teachers the message is that some students will
eventually be those people in control. Foucault notes that "individuals are
the vehicles of power" (1980, p. 89‑90). What are the values that
people must have to make this world a better place in which to live? What values
must people have to avoid harming themselves and others? These two questions
make fitting objectives to prepare students for their responsibilities when they
become adults. Nor are these questions merely heuristic: "science without
humanistic direction is not beneficial but rather dangerous" (Runes, 1966,
p. 140). In this regard, a broader view of technology, its relations to all
aspects of life, and the effect of culture on technology are not only important
(Casey, 1983, p. 122), but must be dealt with (Wells, 1962, pp. 365‑367),
since science and technology have given us new choices and provided us with the
moral dilemma of dealing with them (Mesthene, 1970, p. 60; Kirman, 1983, p.
111). We must also be cognizant of Ellul's warning that technology permeates all
of modem life (Ellul, 1967, p. xxvi).
The most intelligent decisions possible must be made.
Ballard (1978, pp. 204‑205) presents a view of technology where decisions
ultimately become irrevocable with destructive outcomes, since unexpected side
effects can appear in a new technology (Barrett, 1978, p. 20; Merton, 1967, p.
viii). In addition to this there is also the view of science as a values system.
Thus, we must also deal with the element of scientific materialism as a
universal criterion for measuring thinking (Barrett, 1986, p. 57), which in
itself is a reflection on secular values in our technological society.
What the scientist and technologist will or will not
do as a free person depends to a large part on their values. These values are
manifest in actions such as: the refusal of people to participate in
war‑related research and development, debates over using data from
unconscionable concentration camp "experiments," and in the
development of guidelines for ethical research that are now employed by many
universities and funding agencies. In a humane society, science and technology
are not divorced from ethics. A specific ethic for students at the elementary
and secondary level that is related to science‑technology‑society
considerations can provide a basis for discussing the power of scientists and
technicians in today's world and the need for control of science and technology.
Two extremes in teaching values must be considered.
The first is where the value is viewed merely as a slogan or catch phrase with
little more to it than recognition per se.
The other is the absolute where the value is viewed as an end in itself,
devoid of context, such as the value of obedience taken to an extreme as an
excuse for murder, or respect for authority taken as a rationale for not
thinking for oneself.
Because of these extremes, I believe that there is an
epistemology underlying values teaching that begins with consideration of the
goal of a person's set of values and is followed by consideration of the
individual's capacity to exercise these values. This latter element becomes
important because the relation to one's self and others is defined, in part, by
the person's values and the degree to which they can be exercised. Phrased as
questions by a teacher these considerations would be: "What are your
goals?" and "How will you accomplish your goals?"
A person's values and capacity to exercise them are
at the heart of an individual's free will. Personal decision can limit action.
But human beings belong to a society, and the society can also place limits on
one's freedom of action through social pressure (Fromm, 1973, p. 298). How are
personal values affected by this?
I have observed over a forty-two‑year teaching
career that personal values are usually taught as part of a child's
acculturation to society as a form of socially expected indoctrination. But
will personal values of many individuals
always be supportive of a humane morality, that is, will the welfare of others be considered? Without guidance or social
pressure. students may apply personal values in a manner harmful to others.
Examine the following list of personal values:
respect for authority, perseverance, cooperation, loyalty, obedience. A teacher
trying to inculcate such values in pupils would probably meet with approval by
many parents and school administrators who believe these values to be important.
Yet, unless the implications of such values are considered they can do as much
harm as good for society. The above listed values partially exemplify Hitler's
S.S. units who operated concentration camps and committed mass murder during
World War II.
The fact that values are personal attributes does not
mean that they will be applied in accord with humane principles. Reflecting on
World War I, Bertrand Russell noted that personal virtues were directed to
destructive ends and commented, “…rules
of conduct, whatever they may be, are not sufficient to produce good results
unless the ends sought are good. Sobriety, thrift, industry, and continence,
in so far as they existed during the war, merely increased the orgy of
destruction" (Russell, 1939?/1962, p. 267).
Personal values can be socially neutral, but become
non‑neutral in their application where others are concerned. For example,
courage can be a factor in a dangerous sport such as mountain climbing, and
affect no one but the climber, if he or she is climbing alone and has no family
or close friends who might be concerned. But courage can also contribute to
anti‑social behavior such as murder or bank robbery where a person's
actions affect others. Through the exercise of these values the individual
becomes a vehicle for power (Foucault, 1980, p. 98).
The element of values application provides the
teacher with an axiological aspect of values teaching of no small concern since
it is almost analogous to teaching about the good and bad of fire. Fire can be
of much help, but it can also kill or injure you and others. A warning is in
The pedagogical implication for a values praxis is
that personal values must be taught in a manner that makes the social context
explicit. This does not mean that teachers in a secular school system must teach
religion or morality. Rather, students must be able to confront the social
impact of their actions by examining how their decisions can affect others.
Such a confrontation requires a yardstick by which
actions may be measured and which provides an ethic for action. The values
clarification approach (Raths, Harmin, & Simon, 1978) attempts to get
students to examine what values they hold. The seven steps associated with the
values classification approach appear to me as a reflection on values, and a
process for choosing and acting on values. It is value neutral (Welton &
Malan, 1988, pp. 218‑219). This does not provide a yardstick or an ethic
for action. Moral reasoning, associated with the late Lawrence Kohlberg (Power,
Higgins, & Kohlberg, 1989), provides an ethic based on principle as a
yardstick for action. However, while an ethic based upon principle can provide
the rationale for action, it is lacking when the idea of principle is elevated
above the idea of humanity, as noted in a later section of this paper. An ethic
of caring, however, provides the necessary safeguards for human
well‑being. It is critically needed in a world coming more and more under
the influence of science and technology, because it emphasizes the
well‑being of others.
How could caring have universal validity to guide the
actions of human beings? I turn to this now and call this yardstick the ethical
The ethical factor is based on the concepts of caring
and responsibility as noted by Mayeroff (1971), Gilligan (1982), and Leiss
(1990). Mayeroff believes that caring is a basic element to one's place in this
world (1971, p. 2), and that caring for others involves helping them to grow (p.
6). Mayeroff goes beyond a utilitarian view of helping others and notes that,
"I experience the other's development as bound up with my own sense of
well‑being" (p. 6). Leiss states, "Caring thus supplies what is
most basic to any value system: a clear view of priorities and of individual
responsibility" (1990, p. 122). He believes that caring is
"concern," regarding "the intrinsic integrity of the other"
(p. 120). Gilligan's view of care is even broader and relates directly to a
response to the needs of others in an almost extended family‑like matrix
which she calls a "web of connection" (p. 62). For Gilligan, care and
compassion arise from an "ethic of responsibility" (p. 165).
These views provide a
an ethic of morality in today's technological society. The essence of these
views is that human beings come first and not the process, technique, or
application of science and technology. It is the humane response to the warning
of Norbert Wiener (1954) that " [w1e have modified our environment so
radically that we must now modify ourselves in order to exist in this new
The ethical factor is composed of three values that
take precedence over all other personal values to form an ethic of personal
conduct. These values are: love, kindness, and human dignity. How are these
values defined? How are they taught? Love is defined as an unselfish concern for
the well-being of others. Kindness is defined as concerned helpfulness. Human
dignity is defined as the esteem, nobility, and respect inherent in and due all
Love, kindness, and human dignity were defined. in
the above manner after examining dictionary definitions and modifying the
phrasing to eliminate words or nuances within definitions that either overlapped
the definition of the other two elements or broadened the definition to include
aspects too intensely personal to encompass all people. The object was to retain
the meaning with concise, universal applications. Granted, all three of these
values can be defined and discussed with great complexity. These simplified
definitions are designed for pragmatic classroom use at the elementary and
Why were these three values selected? Certainly, the
idea of human dignity, which also includes equality (Newmann, 1980, pp.
6‑7), applies to the prevention of harm to others and one's self. Love and
kindness provide an element of benevolence, concern, and a positive attitude to
help others that is not necessarily part of respecting human dignity. One can
respect another's human dignity in a grudging, sullen, or self‑serving
manner, e.g., where there is jealousy, anger, or personal gain. But add love,
and you have a positive feeling for the welfare of others. Add kindness and you
have a sensitivity to the feelings of others in need, coupled with action to
provide help. Yet love and kindness without human dignity can be a paternal and
benevolent dictatorial response to others. Even in the gentlest tone, to tell a
mature person, "Do as you are told. I know what' s best for you," is
the statement of a jailer. It is an affront to human dignity.
Taken together, these three values reflect a concern
for, and responsibility to others. They provide a positive response, not merely
in attitude, but in service, if you will. For Gilligan, helping is the sign of a
moral person, and "goodness is service" (1982, pp. 65‑66). Leiss
believes that caring for others provides satisfaction, as well as receiving
satisfaction from being cared for by others (1990, p. 123). Leiss' latter view
appears to be based on Mayeroffs belief that "people who care value caring
by other people and tend to encourage and further it in others" (1971, p.
38). Mayeroff stresses the element of the other's "worth in its own
right" (p. 4) and the importance of the independence of the other
"with needs that are to be respected" (p. 5). With love, kindness and
respect for human dignity, we have a pragmatic articulation of caring that can
be taught on the elementary and secondary levels as an ethic.
It may be claimed that inculcating love, kindness,
and respect for human dignity is a reasonable teaching expectation. But I do not
believe that there is a deliberate attempt to teach these three values in most
classrooms, or if there is, there is no focus toward an ethic of action to
protect others. Perhaps it is due to a hidden curriculum in our schools that
purports to elevate the sanctity of life to a major value, and is taken for
granted when personal values are inculcated. It is this attitude that underlies
why the ethical factor is needed, and why love, kindness, and respect for human
dignity must be explicitly taught.
Justice may be considered as an over‑arching
value for the control of the power of science and technology (Grant, 1986;
Jonas, 1984; Rawls, 1973). There is a gap in the literature, however, that does
not take into account how to deal with the subjectivity of justice and its
capacity to be used for opposite viewpoints. For example, one can argue the
merits pro and con of the abortion issue using the ideal of justice for both
What is considered justice in any society reflects
the paradigm of the power structure. If so, then justice like God can mean
different things to different people. It may therefore be argued that there is
an existential element to justice.
The above comments are not intended as a Nietzschean
view, rather a reflection on the changing elements of justice. Grant (1986, pp.
55, 60) also notes the. harshness that can accompany particular views of
justice, and the differing ideas of what is justice. Rawls (1973, p. 5) notes
". . . for what is just and unjust is usually in dispute ... the
notions of an arbitrary distinction and of a proper balance which are included
in the concept of justice, are left open for each to interpret according to the
principles of justice that he accepts."
Justice alone can be harsh and even violent. You can
be fair to a person with justice, but you don't have to be kind. You can give a
person what he or she is entitled to, but you don't have to do it with love.
And, depending upon the punishment, you can pass justice on a person without
respect for his or her human dignity. But with love, kindness, and human
dignity, justice has restraints. This is especially important if one reflects in
the extreme on a Nietzschean paradigm of justice where "there are other
human beings to whom nothing is due ‑ other than extermination"
(Grant, 1986, p. 94).
Justice is even subject to varying definitions
depending upon the circumstances. Thus, there is the definition in jurisprudence
of " [t]he constant and perpetual disposition to render every man his
due," the commutative definition which deals with contracts that place
people "on an equality," distributive justice governing rewards and
punishments that "does not consider all men as equally deserving or equally
blameworthy, but discriminates between them, observing a just proportion and
comparison," and which is Aristotelian in origin. Justice can also be used
in jurisprudence for virtue and equity (Black, 1951, pp. 1002‑1003). '
The factor is not a refined analog of mercy to
balance justice. Mercy is grace to be exercised as an ethical duty and is a
matter of conscience (Stammler, 1925, pp. 109‑110). The factor is a right
that is due to all. Paradoxically, it is both a
limiting factor for justice and a matter of justice.
With the ethical factor as a criterion for action,
any behavior that causes harm to one's self (with the exception of
self‑sacrifice, such as a parent saving a child) or another (with the
exception of self‑defense) is clearly unethical. Such a yardstick is a
make‑weight against outrageous demands on our students' behavior and
requires them to consider the effect of their actions. It is a guide for
personal values that can act as a restraint mechanism when necessary. In the
words of Mayeroff, "I become my own guardian ... and take responsibility
for my life" (p. 34).
Because not harming one's self or another is an
essential aspect of the ethical factor, it does not require pacifism or the
elimination of competition. It does mean that survival involves physical
self‑defense and economic sufficiency, but that carried to an extreme,
these become unreasonable, destructive, and uncaring. This happens when survival
is secure, and the force exerted on its behalf is unnecessary, but continuing.
Beating a subdued robber to death or driving a now noncompetitive but formerly
competitive business into bankruptcy are examples of extreme behavior.
Research indicates that the example of the teacher
and other role models is critical (Fraenkel, 1977, pp. 136‑138). Thus,
treating one's pupils with love, kindness, and respect for their human dignity,
and encouraging pupils to treat each other in the same ways reinforces such
behavior. With young children, reinforcement can be accomplished through
storytelling, role playing, simulations, games, and behavioral rewards that
recognize pupil applications of these values. Show and tell and current events
periods can also be employed to examine examples of love, kindness, and human
dignity, as well as what happens in their absence.
How does the ethical factor apply to a social studies
curriculum? Using an ever‑widening curriculum as an example, the following
would be such an application:
Grade 1 ‑
Me and My Family. The children can learn that they have rights which must be
respected by others, and that others cannot do certain things to them. What
these certain things are would be at the discretion of the teacher and the
circumstances of the community. The children can also learn that others such as
friends and family have rights which they must respect. There can be discussion
about what we mean by love and kindness. Children could be asked to demonstrate
these values at home and in class.
Grade 2 ‑
My School and Neighborhood. Activities can be discussed and acted on regarding
how the children could be good neighbors and good citizens of their school. The
ethical factor could be used as a guide for such behavior and also behavior
toward handicapped and elderly neighbors, and those in their school with
physical and mental disabilities.
Grade 3 ‑ My Community. In the examination of community facilities such as
community leagues, how the role of the volunteer is an example of the ethical
factor can be discussed. How local government can use the ethical factor for
legislation for the welfare of the community can also be discussed.
Grade 4 ‑ My Province or State. The history of the jurisdiction can be
examined and its development criticized using the ethical factor. Not everything
may be positive in such an examination. Thus, where Native people or other
minorities have been poorly treated, the ethical factor can be used to encourage
the children to discuss how the people in question should have been treated.
Grade 5 ‑ The Nation. Similar to Grade 4, the history of the nation can be
studied using the factor, and both positive and negative actions can be
examined. The treatment of Japanese‑Americans and Japanese‑Canadians
during World War II can be discussed and contrasted with how help was given to
people elsewhere following the war.
Grade 6 ‑ Other Lands. This also lends itself to using the ethical factor
in an historical study of the other lands. Current events can be a major element
for examining actions elsewhere, using the factor to decide on the ethical
implications of these actions.
students can discuss values and examine historical periods such as World War II
and the Vietnam War and the technological and scientific abuses that occurred.
Ethical guidelines for scientific research, and why these guidelines were
developed can also be discussed.
the middle and upper secondary levels, teachers might consider class discussion
of the application of the ethical factor to national and international concerns
for developing policy on these matters. For example, at the time of the invasion
of Kuwait by Iraq this could have led to a discussion of whether or not the
United States and others should aid Kuwait, and if so, the course of action to
the Iraq‑Kuwait situation, a grey area presents itself. While there would
probably be no argument about helping a victim, the nature of the help would be
subject to controversy. In this case there was a controversy about sanctions
versus an attack against Iraqi forces. In both cases, the ethical factor could
have been considered: the sanctions could reduce the amount of death and
destruction, but a quick military strike could alleviate the terror faced by the
Kuwaitis, free their country quickly, and pre-empt violations of sanctions that
could have further strengthen Iraq's position. Other arguments were also used
for both sides of this controversy, but in some circumstances, especially where
violence is involved, the decision is not between choices that are good or bad,
rather it is between bad or worse. In some cases one doesn't know which is the
less harmful or better course of action. While in others, one does. The
distressing decision to use atomic bombs to end World War II quickly is an
example of this bad versus worse choice. Regarding the ethical factor, what
matters is that only so much force and no more be used against an aggressor, and
that following an end to hostilities, humanitarian aid would be given to all who
There are other grey areas for which no ethical
system can provide satisfactory answers. Such is the fictional scenario of a
young American soldier during the Gulf War, maneuvering into position to cover
his platoon with flanking fire. At a signal he must be in position to fire at a
fortified position to prevent the Iraqi gunners from taking aim at his buddies,
and to fire on any Iraqi soldiers leaving the strong point to engage in flanking
fire or a counter attack. As he is moving forward, an Iraqi soldier pops up, his
hands raised in surrender. The young American realizes that the Iraqi is aware
the war is coming to a quick end and doesn't want any more of it. Yet, the
American must get to his position or his buddies will be in danger. If he takes
this man prisoner, what will he do with him? Will the Iraqi change his mind and
attack him upon seeing the American firing on his fellow soldiers? He can't
leave him behind, again, because the Iraqi might change his mind and perhaps
start firing at him or his platoon. He levels his weapon at the Iraqi's chest.
Wide‑eyed with fear the Iraqi calls out in English, "Please, I have a
wife and a child." As his finger whitens on the trigger, the American
realizes that the Iraqi saw him first and could have easily killed him, and that
the death of this Iraqi would make him a murderer under the Geneva Convention
For The Treatment of Prisoners of War. I leave the reader to complete the
scenario, but to also consider that the pragmatism of the battlefield is a harsh
one when you bear the burden of the welfare of your comrades in arms.
The above scenario can be used to examine the
difference between an ethic of principle, such as that used in a Kohlbergian
dilemma, and an ethic of caring noted in this paper. In a Kohlbergian dilemma,
the above scenario would center on whether or not the young American will save
his Iraqi prisoner at the risk of harm to his buddies. With an ethic of caring,
the scenario would center on how the young American can save his Iraqi prisoner
without harming his buddies. It becomes a matter of how one approaches the moral
problem. Perhaps the outcome might be the same with both moral approaches, but
with the ethic of caring it begins with the imperative to find a solution
without harm to anyone.
Even if the results of both ethical approaches are
the same there would be differences regarding the effect of the action on the
American soldier. If the decision to kill the Iraqi soldier was based on the
ethic of principle, then the American soldier could feel justified (an apt word
to use here) for his behavior. But with the ethic of caring, killing the Iraqi
would be an ethical failure done only to prevent worse from happening. In the
former case the matter is one that is morally defensible, while the latter is
one of apology and regret.
"So what?" asks the cynic, "In both
cases the Iraqi is dead." The difference is that the ethic of caring
requires consideration of ways of saving the Iraqi soldier as a right due his
human dignity. The ethic of principle does not require this, only that the
principle bearing upon the matter be appropriately applied.
The above examples have dealt with violence. An
important application of the ethical factor concerns the implications of new
technologies that may have hidden potentials for negative social change or harm.
There is a need to deal with these technologies with an ethic of caring in which
people are paramount over principles, and where the welfare of human beings is
the primary focus.
Teaching about the ethical factor is part of
educating children about their responsibilities to deal with technology and
control it. Agassi (1985) notes that the decision about the desirability of
social implications of technology is political, and needs citizen education to
deal with it (p. xiv). But children must also be intelligent and effective
utilizers and controllers of science and technology with items such as the
following: 1. Envisioning consequences that may not be apparent; 2. Considering
alternate functions; 3. Hypothesizing social reactions; 4. Predicting value
changes; 5. Examining validity of claims; 6. Exploring negative potentials; 7.
Integrating ideas (Kirman, 1975, p. 1).
Ethics without the element of effective action are
very weak. Since the ethical factor involves responsibility for the consequences
of decision‑making, students should have decision‑making experience
regarding the impact of science and technology on society. This can be
accomplished through simulations. For example, the teacher can present several
fictional heuristic scientific discoveries or technological inventions which can
have an impact on society. The students are in the role of decision makers who
are custodians of society's welfare and must approve or disapprove the release
of these items to the public. Their discussion of the pros and cons of each item
can make use of the seven items in the above list. The appropriateness of the
students' decision as caring people regarding love, kindness, and human dignity
could then be examined, with the students reflecting on the impact of their
The class could then examine the media for any newly
announced scientific or technological items. These items could be subjected to
the same treatment as the above heuristic ones. If any dangers are perceived the
students can act upon their findings through letters to the editor of newspapers
and professional magazines, and contact the developers of the items, elected
representatives, and government officials.
In a secular context, the ethical factor provides the teacher and student with a tool to explore "rightness" and "wrongness." This can be lacking in values procedures used in social studies. For example, in using Kohlberg's theory of moral development, even if a student is reasoning as if one's action has universal application, the action can be morally repugnant.1 Although the ethical factor can deal‑with questions of right and wrong, teachers should not expect either a unanimous decision or even a "right" answer (Aikenhead, 1985, p. 70). Examples of this are socio‑legal disputes where reasonable people differ, such as the topics of abortion and euthanasia. Dealing with a variety of opinions is in keeping with Leiss' view of caring that involves time "to understand the situation of the other in depth and to reflect on the tensions and possibilities that characterize any situation before choosing a course of action" (p. 122), Gilligan's concept of compassion within a responsibility ethic (p. 165), and Mayeroff s concern for patience and tolerance in dealing with others and one's self (p. 13).
The ethical factor has a corollary of social
responsibility. This corollary suggests that students evaluate the actions of
others and speak up as caring individuals if ethical violations are encountered.
Axiologically, this is a reasonable use of the factor for social pressure. It
also fits within Gilligan's concept of a "web of connection" (p. 62).
The class exercise dealing with the pros and cons of scientific and
technological items in the news is an application of the corollary.
The need for an over‑arching yardstick for
values‑teaching, composed of love, kindness, and human dignity in a
technologically advanced society, has been proposed and its elements defined. It
is based on the ideas of Milton Mayeroff, Carol Gilligan, and William Leiss.
This yardstick is a pragmatic attempt to use caring to guide students away from
harming one's self and others in the
application of power, and provides a basis for discussion and decision making for the control of science and technology.
began the development of the Ethical Factor as an element of caring in the
1980s, well before the Internet exploded into an information highway with search
engines such as Google. I had not come across Nel Noddings (1984/2003) ideas of
caring since her views of caring were still in the early stages of popularity
and dissemination. It was only after my essay on the Ethical Factor had been
accepted by the McGill Journal of Education did I come across Noddings’
caring. Significantly the MJE referees of my article did not mention
anything about Noddings, nor did the referees of two prominent U.S. social
studies journals that declined earlier versions. I would have gladly included
Noddings since her views of the well-being of others is of much value to ethics
teaching and is one which I agree with for the most part and would have
strengthened the objectives of my point of view. So what can I now say about
Noddings’ philosophy of caring?
philosophy is an intensely personal relationship with another individual –
more of a one-on-one relationship and is derived from a feminist perspective.
Noddings’ encourages what is necessary to protect the “cared-for” even if
the latter does not want it and provides a context that is geared to the
concerns of the “cared-for.”
Factor is a less intense personal approach and does not require close
involvement with the lives of others, but rather a position of doing no harm to
them and assisting them where possible using an explicit yardstick for action or
non-action. It is designed as a straightforward, uncomplicated ethic to be
taught and lived by and is geared to teaching ethics on the elementary and
secondary levels. I developed this philosophy in the context of an expanding
technological society and the need for an easily understood ethic in an era that
gives tremendous power to individuals e.g. a single touch of a button can
destroy a city.
Noddings and I are complementary in our desire for the well-being of other
people. We both generally eschew an ethic of “principle” as seen in
Kohlberg’s writings. Whereas Noddings directs her philosophy mainly to the
individual and is context oriented for action, I direct my philosophy to society
in general for didactic purposes to encourage students to behave in an ethical
manner and provide teachers with a structured tool with which to do it.
1. For an example of
this, see "Helga's dilemma," in Ronald E. Galbraith and Thomas M.
Jones (1975), "Teaching strategies for moral dilemmas: An application of
Kohlberg's theory of moral development to the social studies classroom," Social
Education 39 (Jan.) pp. 18, 20. (Strategy 13). Here a girl refusing to help
her Jewish friend escape from the Nazis is cited as an example of a decision
based on universal ethical principles. Please see the January 1991 Social
Education for my critique, "A note on Helga's dilemma: The dark side of
Kohlberg," and the September, 1991 Social
Education for reader responses in the letters section.
Agassi, J. (1985). Technology. Boston: D. Reidel Publishing Company.
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