Teaching Ethical Reasoning

Teaching Ethics 19 (2):147-170 (2019)
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Abstract

This article presents evidence supporting the claim that ethical reasoning is a skill that can be taught and assessed. We propose a working definition of ethical reasoning as 1) the ability to identify, analyze, and weigh moral aspects of a particular situation, and 2) to make decisions that are informed and warranted by the moral investigation. The evidence consists of a description of an ethical reasoning education program—Ethical Reasoning in Action —designed to increase ethical reasoning skills in a variety of situations and areas of life. ERiA is housed at a public, major comprehensive U.S. university—James Madison University—and assessment of the program focuses on interventions delivered prior to and during orientation for incoming first-year students. Findings indicate that the interventions measurably enhance the ability of undergraduate students to reason ethically. ERiA’s competency-targeted program and positive student learning outcomes offers a promising model for higher education ethics programs seeking to connect classroom learning in ethics to decision-making in everyday life.

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Author Profiles

Christian Early
James Madison University
William Hawk
James Madison University

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