Journalism and media ethics texts commonly invoke Aristotle's Golden Mean as a principal ethical theory that models such journalistic values as balance, fairness, and proportion. Working from Aristotle's text, this article argues that the Golden Mean model, as widely understood and applied to media ethics, seriously belies Aristotle's intent. It also shortchanges the reality of our moral agency and epistemic responsibility. A more authentic rendering of Aristotle's theory of acting rightly, moreover, has profound implications for communication ethicists and media practitioners.
Albert and the career of virtue theory -- Modern virtue theory as foreground to Albert's moral philosophy -- Albert's ethical treatises -- The significance of Albert's moral treatises in early-thirteenth-century moral philosophy -- Approaching the moral order -- Meta-ethical reflections on "moral science" and its procedures -- The metaphysics of the good -- The architecture of moral goodness -- The genesis of virtue : intrinsic causes -- The genesis of virtue : extrinsic causes -- The concept of virtue -- The (...) organization of the virtues -- The passions -- Morality, obligation, and law -- Natural law -- Virtue's rewards -- Friendship -- Last ends and happiness -- Conclusion: Albertus redux. (shrink)
Time was, notably in the theories of classical and medieval moralists, when virtue figured as the central feature in the conception of moral worth. Today, the notion of virtue has slid into conspicuous disuse. Among a few writers today, one can still detect scattered indications of a return to varieties of this conception of goodness; but in most of the contemporary literature it is safe to say that the deontic and usually co-relative notions of ‘right’, ‘ought’, ‘duty’ and ‘obligation’ now (...) command the primacy that once was virtue’s. In works of this decade, for instance, it is not uncommon to encounter the following kind of statement: “The experience of moral obligation is the central element in the concept of morality.” The replacement of the concept of virtue with the language of “right” and “obligation” is an historical phenomenon whose investigation would probably uncover a number of contributing causes. Quite obviously, for instance, the shift owes a great deal to Kant’s insistence upon the dispassionately legislative function of the moral judgment. Yet even more radically, I think it could be shown that the interpretation of moral experience has too often been invaded with the properly epistemic concerns of certitude and objectivity in the moral judgment—hence the emphasis on the “right”—and too often grounded on the assumption that moral judgments are properly moral only when they measure up to this or that criterion. But it is probably more to the point to suppose that the erosion of virtue within philosophical discourse was brought about as much by its own obfuscation as by any competing counter-insistence upon the legislative models of imperativeness and prescriptivity. If, that is to say, the notion of virtue was displaced as a significant ethical principle, it was because philosophers themselves became unclear as to its origins and nature. More concretely, the demise of the notion of virtue was inevitable when it was cut off from direct participation in human actions and relegated exclusively to the private area of emotions and desires. (shrink)
The concept of an 'assumption' is discussed, and it is suggested that the psychological model implied by normal usage is misleading. A new model is proposed which distinguishes between 'assumptions', as constraints upon the thinking process, and 'postulates', as corresponding potential or actual propositional vocalizations. Some evidence for this model is provided, and its implications, particularly for the process of assumption identification, are discussed. It is suggested that assumption identification requires lateral thinking, and needs to be separated from problem-solving. The (...) discussion is offered as an instance of an appropriate type of fusion of psychological and informal-logical approaches. (shrink)
By virtue of its epistemic deficits, propaganda is very much an unethical phenomenon. Coping effectively with propaganda requires a communicative response that confronts its inherent unethicality with ethically grounded resistance. In this article, I propose two congruent plans of communicative action, each of which rests on an apparent ethical connection: J. Michael Sproule's (1994) reclaiming of classical eloquence, and Jonathan Rauch's (1993) provocative program of "liberal science.".
A recent issue of Report from the Institute for Philosophy and Public Affairs identifies four ethical issues for the 21st century. By not including media ethics, the Report overlooks a crucial logical priority. That oversight is reflected in greater academe where media ethics (unlike, say, biomedical ethics) is scarcely acknowledged. This article argues that communication ethics, as an integral part of the wider enterprise of media literacy, deserves greater prominence in our town-and-gown communities.