Character Matters: On the Advantages and Limits of Teaching Virtue Ethics to Future Professionals

By Angelika Potempa.

Published by The International Journal of Humanities Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 30, 2014 $US5.00

This paper reflects the concerns of an Ethics generalist at a public university that wants to enable its students to behave professionally in their chosen careers and workplaces. The paper will argue that character education (in addition to other ethics approaches) should not only be addressed in ethics courses, but across the curriculum by encouraging the students to explore moral implications of knowledge and skills they are acquiring as students and which they will need in their professions. It is of utmost importance that the students understand the context-dependability and the grey areas in decision-making processes. Since many decisions are made under time constraints, without the luxury of weighing the pros and cons of applying different ethical theories, or are made by somehow following the rules that seem to apply in one’s organizational environment, many people later revisit their decisions and the values that guided them. This re-evaluation has the potential for conflicts, problems, and stress. The paper will address, in addition to, some of the prenotions and intuitions that are part of the decision-making process. The theoretical framework for this discussion is based on psychological findings and character ethics, such as, Plato’s and Schopenhauer’s.

Keywords: Ethics Teaching, Virtue Ethics

The International Journal of Humanities Education, Volume 13, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 30, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 398.627KB)).

Dr. Angelika Potempa

Associate Professor, History Department, The University of Texas at Brownsville, Brownsville, Texas, USA