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You may have experienced the pressure to see your college education as a means of obtaining money and power. An excessively success-centered outlook can lead to alienation from your responsibilities to others and from your own higher ideals. At Elmbrook, we believe that the development of your technical expertise must be continually matched by the strengthening of your ethical commitment. Our Ethics Seminars, held once a year, are meant to support you in this aim.

 

These annual seminars consist of one hour of teaching followed by two hours of discussion. The first section outlines general principles of ethics; the second applies these to cases taken from the real lives of professionals. The seminars are conducted by professors of professional ethics.

Spring 2017 Seminar

Your Conscience at Work:
Putting Right Principles Into Action

Michael Pakaluk

Professor of Philosophy, Catholic University of America

Conscience is a judgment that applies moral principles to particular cases. This judgment can be difficult, since it challenges us to bridge the considerable gap between universal principles and individual facts. This gap opens the possibility for conscience to be right or wrong, certain or doubtful, informed or ignorant. In a special way, professional work confronts each of us with these possibilities. Here are some typical situations:

  • You are offered a high paying job, but you suspect that it may involve putting investors’ money at unreasonable risk. Can you accept?
  • A new law requires your business to grant employees some medical benefits you find objectionable. Can you refuse?
  • You need to fire an employee, but are nagged by feelings of guilt. Should you still do it?
  • You have reason to believe that a colleague at work may be defrauding the company. Do you need to investigate further or report him?

The seminar will give participants the means to answer these and similar questions. In addition to providing general guidelines, there will be discussion and analysis of short and in-depth case studies.

We are often faced with a false choice between a radical relativism in which there are no moral principles, and an inhumane strictness that is incapable of doing justice to the complexities of real life. The seminar will enable participants to identify situations where they face issues of conscience, and will give them the conceptual tools needed to avoid these two extremes.

Previous Seminars

Risky Business:
The ethics of taking risks in professional life

Dr. Daniel Maher

Professor of Philosophy, Assumption College

Cooperation in Evil:
When your work helps others act unethically

Dr. David M. Gallagher

Professor of Ethics

Thinking Ethically on the Job:
Three Cases of Professional Ethics

Dr. David M. Gallagher

Professor of Ethics

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