Transcript, Meeting 22, Session 3


September 2, 2015


Washington, D.C.


Sue Knight, Ph.D.                
Curriculum Author
Primary Ethics Limited

Robert F. Ladenson, Ph.D.            
Emeritus Faculty Associate
Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions
Illinois Institute of Technology

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DR. GUTMANN:  If I could ask Commission members and everybody to take a seat, welcome back.

We are going to dive into a discussion of ethical and deliberative skills across the lifespan, and we are honored to begin with Sue Knight, who joins us from halfway around the world.

Dr. Knight has spent more than 20 years researching and teaching within the University of South Australia's School of Education and Philosophy.  Her current research interests include the development of justificatory reasoning skills and the imbedding of philosophy within school curricula across all the years.

She has published extensively in these areas. Dr. Knight is currently lead for curriculum development and sole curriculum author for Primary Ethics, the not for profit organization delivering elementary ethics classes in New South Wales Public Schools.

Especially warm welcome to you in all senses of that term.

DR. KNIGHT:  Thank you very much.  And thank you very much for the invitation.

I want to speak to the question of how we might go about developing the ethical literacy of children and young adults.  I want to argue that one way is by imbedding ethical and more generally philosophical inquiry into the school curricula.

I want to argue, two, that such an approach is likely to be most effective when introduced in the early years of schooling.

In New South Wales, Australia, our so‑called primary ethics curriculum spans the years kindergarten, which is the first year of schooling of children age science, through to the end of year six, and we are going to extend that on to the end of year ten.  This part of the curriculum has only just been finished.

I would like to describe briefly the defining characteristics of this philosophy based curriculum and what I see as the value, but first some background quickly.

I take ethical issues to be those that affect the lives of others and not just other humans, but more generally other sentient things.  On this account, the realm of ethics is wide encompassing not only decisions about lying, stealing and so on, but also judgments about how to vote, whether to eat meat, and so on.  We can go on and on.

The curriculum is designed to foster in children a disposition to think well and for themselves about ethical issues, and I take this to involve recognizing and evaluating the reasons put forward in support of moral positions, acts and judgments.  This is in contrast to a blind appeal to authority.

The underlying conviction here is that such thinking is crucial for both individual well‑being and for the good of society as a whole, although I won't be defending that claim here.

A second underlying premise is that the process is involved in thinking well and for oneself about ethical issues are in part learned and that the learning starts early, from at least the age of two and a half.  This is a matter of science.  I will address this point later in arguing for the importance of engaging young children in ethical inquiry.

The third claim which might be taken to follow from first two is that supporting children to think well about ethical issues is properly a task for public or government schooling.  I would argue that together they present a compelling case for a secular ethics curriculum, which I think has the advantage if we compare it to a religious based system of providing what I see as a much needed universal platform for ethical inquiry.

What then might a secular ethics curriculum look like?  I would argue that there are a number of features that any such curriculum must have if it's to be effective.  These are the features I've tried to incorporate into the primary ethics curriculum.

Now I'd like to describe these six features and indicate the essential role each of them plays in the development of ethical literacy, at least as I see it.  So to be clear, I'm taking ethical literacy to involve the ability to recognize and evaluate reasons put forward in support of moral judgments and the disposition to use this ability widely.

Now, for the curriculum itself, its defining features and their value.  First, given the general lack in Australia at least of logic based critical thinking programs in schools, the curriculum supports children to develop the skills of argument.  Thinking well in any sphere involves formulating good arguments, arguments whose premises are both true and strong enough to support their conclusions.

The primary ethics curriculum includes the sequence of ten reasoning skills topics, beginning at year one.  At the early stages we aim to build upon children's implicit and partial grasp of logical rules and to help them develop these intuitive understandings further and later we encourage students to discover some of these important logical rules or patterns of reasoning and to make explicit use of them in thinking about ethical issues.

But as alluded to earlier, the skills are not enough.  Children must also be disposed to use them.  We must support students to cultivate certain habits of mind, including a readiness to seek the truth, to apply the rules of logic, and to think for themselves rather than appealing blindly to authority.

In attempting to cultivate the skills and dispositions that make for good ethical thinking, we must at the same time build in necessary background knowledge.  One of the great breakthroughs in understanding the development of children's thinking is the recognition that counter to Piaget's influential view, children can engage in higher order thinking, but only if they have the appropriate background knowledge.  Background knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition for enabling critical thought within a given subject matter.

The second feature of the curriculum is its surrounding in the long tradition of moral philosophy, of Western moral philosophy in the case of this curriculum, and that's because regrettably I have little knowledge of the Eastern tradition or traditions.

So our curriculum is grounded in moral theories which for over two and a half thousand years have been and are still being questioned, tested and modified through a process of rational argument and counter‑argument, and of course, this process continues.

I would argue that such theories provide our best hope of making progress towards answer to the questions what makes an action morally right or morally wrong, and what is it to lead a morally good life.

It seems to me then that to have any claim of authenticity, a secular ethics curriculum must be grounded in the normative ethical theories of moral philosophy, and this is true even of an ethics curriculum for very young children.

For the purposes of our curriculum, we identified three broad classes of theories, three broad approaches to ethical decision making.  Very roughly, one approach, utilitarianism directs us to look to the consequences of our actions, to the degree of suffering or well‑being that results.

A second so‑called act oriented approach argues for the overriding importance of our intentions.  We cannot be said to have done the right thing unless we've acted out of a sense of moral duty rather than, say, selfishness.  And moral duty demands that we treat others in ways that do not infringe the exercise of their reason or their autonomy.

The third approach, virtue ethics, emphasizes the importance of character and invites us to consider what character traits we must cultivate in order for us to lead a morally good life.

Although these moral theories differ from one another in various ways, they share a recognition of what we might call a common humanity, the idea that as humans we share the characteristics that make us worthy of moral concern, a capacity for suffering and well‑being, a capacity for reason, both of which we share to varying extents with other conscious creatures, and the capacity to strive for the development of good character.

And this leads us to the notion of equal human worth, the idea that the good of each individual must be considered equally important and proportionately to the good of other animals.

This idea of equal human worth is imbedded in the curriculum, as are the elements of the three philosophical approaches, and we encourage children to think for themselves about the strengths and limitations of these ideas.  This doesn't mean that we teach the theories explicitly.  What we aim to do using specially written stories and a particular questioning process, which I'll talk about later, is to encourage children to discover these ideas and to use them in their own moral decision making.

Our aim is to have children think for themselves about, for example, the extent to which the intention of the agent is important when judging rightness or wrongness of, say, breaking a promise.

We want children to think about whether we need to take the circumstances into account when deciding whether a particular act of lying is wrong.

We want them to think carefully about their relationships with their friends and to consider whether they care about their friends for their friends' own sakes or whether they might be simply using their friends for their own ends, and if they are, whether that's okay.

And we want them to think about how important it is to be a good person, to live a good life and, if it is important, what character traits we need to develop in pursuit of this goal.

Of course, we need to identify the skills children require to manage all this.

I'm sorry I'm coughing.  I'll blame the plane.

To take one example, in order to understand the effects of their actions on others, children need to be able to put themselves in another's place, and so we have a number of topics focused on the development of this skill.  We begin in year one by building on children's rudimentary capacity to empathize by asking them to imagine how it would feel to hold a hailstone in your hand or to mix up ingredients for a cake with your hands, and so on.

Over the course of the curriculum, the concept is revisited many, many times until in later years students come face to face with topics such as child labor and homelessness.  This example illustrates a third feature of the curriculum.  It's sequential and spiral formed, to use Joanne Brenner's term.  Ideas are introduced in simple form in the early years and extended and developed in ever greater complexity over the following years.

The topic of fairness provides an example.  Fairness is a fundamental ethical concept, and as such it's the focus of a number of topics in the primary ethics curriculum.

Actually looking at the time, I might leave out that example.

So the curriculum is sequential and spiral.  Why is this important?  The sequential part seems pretty obvious.  If we are after moral development, we need a program that builds skills and understanding in a sequential manner, and the spiral part, I'm persuaded by the arguments of John Dewey who argues that in teaching we must move back and forth between what is known and what is unknown, what is known and what is problematic.  Otherwise problems will arise in the learner's mind, and he says problems that are stimulus for thinking.

This idea goes back to Socrates.  What's important is understanding, and in order to understanding an idea, we need to think it through for ourselves, and it's puzzlement on the part of the learner that motivates her to think.

I believe this is right.  Thinking is hard work, and it's all too easy to amass a set of facts and regurgitate them, but this is not understanding.  Understanding an idea requires a grasp of the reasons behind it, and we can't achieve this grasp without thinking, without thinking for ourselves.

This goes back to my earlier point that children need to think for themselves rather than appealing blindly to an authority.

Now for a fourth key characteristic, namely, the curriculum's grounding in the rich and rapidly expanding set of empirical findings about children's moral development.  The reason for this is obvious.  If we want to enhance the development of children's concepts of fairness, for example, we need to know on average what concepts of fairness children hold at different ages.  It's this knowledge that allows us to be effective in scaffolding children's thinking about fairness and lets us raise questions that encourage children to reflect critically on their own notions of fairness, to see the strengths and weaknesses of these concepts, and to think about how those weaknesses might be overcome.

Finally, the curriculum works with a particular teaching approach.  This approach involves two elements.  One is Socratic questioning, the logically structured and open ended style of teacher questioning that's been handed down to us from Socrates in the West.

The second component is the well supported idea that learning is enhanced when children engage in dialogue with their peers.  Dialogue here is not mere talking, but talking that is shaped by the rules of logic, by a shared interest in the questions at hand and the shared respect for differences of views.

We call this two‑pronged teaching approach the community and inquiry method after Matthew Lipman, the great American promoter of philosophy for children.

So now the question arises:  if in the classroom we would have focused on children's ethical capabilities, might we enhance their development?  After all, this has been shown to be the case with general reasoning skills, critical thinking skills.

And could an early focus on the skills of moral reasoning make a difference?  I would argue that both suggestions seem plausible.  We know that the processes of ethical reasoning are in part learned.  This seems now beyond dispute.

DR. GUTMANN:  Finish your paragraph.

DR. KNIGHT:  Can I finish?  Thank you.

What's more, we know that the learning starts early.  Even very young children, as young as two and a half distinguish between moral rules, on the one hand, and social conventions, on the other.  So I won't give that example.

Can I just make two more points quickly?

DR. GUTMANN:  How about one more?

DR. KNIGHT:  Okay.  All right.  And we also know that as children progress through the educational system, their moral reasoning becomes more complex, and the correlation is stronger with educational level than with age, where they come to consider additional factors.

But it seems to me plausible to suggest that intervening with young children would make a difference, but I think what we really need is data, and we don't have any data, and we don't have reliable measuring instruments, and I think that seems to me the crucial issue.

DR. GUTMANN:  And you can come back to your other points when we get to the discussion.


DR. GUTMANN:  Thank you very much.

DR. KNIGHT:  Thanks.

DR. GUTMANN:  Next we'll hear from Robert Ladenson.  Dr. Ladenson is Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago where he taught philosophy for 43 years, retiring in 2012.

He specializes in moral political and legal philosophy and the philosophy of education.  Dr. Ladenson created, organized and developed the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Intercollegiate Bowl.

I remember when that was first instituted.  It's an academic competition in which more than 150 colleges and universities now participate.  It is one of those new institutions that just took off.

And in 2006, Dr. Ladenson was awarded the American Philosophical Association Philosophy Documentation Center Prize for Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs.

Thank you for joining us this afternoon.

DR. LADENSON:  Thank you.  Thank you.  It's an honor to be here and always a pleasure to talk about the Ethics Bowl.  It's my favorite subject.

To begin, just a general description of it.  It's an academic competition similar in some ways to debate and to moot court in law schools.  Its subject is ethics, however, and its primary educational purpose is to help students develop abilities and capabilities that are central to good ethical reasoning, and especially reasoning about issues in the public sphere, such as the ones we talked about this morning which are complex, controversial, hard to resolve, and highly viewpoint dependent.

The Ethics Bowl has some similarities with ‑‑ well, I'll just say because of its basic objectives, it has some important differences, crucial differences from debate and moot court, which I'll go on to describe shortly.

Just a little bit about the origin and growth of the Ethics Bowl.  It began in 1993.  My colleagues at the Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions at Illinois Institute of Technology and I developed the Ethics Bowl as an intramural event.

And in 1997, we persuaded the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics to sponsor it as a national competition, and the competition has taken place under the auspices of the association continuously since that time.

In its current form, there's ten regional Ethics Bowls that take place in the fall throughout the United States.  It's a little bit like March Madness.  Then the top 32 teams from the ten regions combined compete in the national competition at the APPE Meeting.

APPE now sponsors two other Ethics Bowls.  There's a National High School Ethics Bowl, which began in 2013, and now also a National Two‑year College Ethics Bowl.

I should mention the High School Ethics Bowl has just mushroomed, and in two short years already substantially exceeds the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl in terms of the volume of participation.

DR. GUTMANN:  I feel obligated to say, and we'll extend your time for a few seconds if you want to take a drink of water.  You've been holding this water bottle.  I feel like you feel like the clock ‑‑ health always comes first.  There you go.  That makes me feel better.

DR. LADENSON:  Well, it's allergies.

DR. GUTMANN:  No, I understand.

DR. LADENSON:  Okay.  Now, following the rules of the APPE Ethics Bowl are extremely detailed, and they've evolved now over two decades.  So I'm not even going to begin to try to summarize them for you.

But what I would like to do is to describe, to note three aspects of the APPE Ethics Bowls that I think are extremely important and really distinctive in terms of educational objectives, such as the one that have been discussed this morning concerning education for good ethical reasoning and for deliberation.

So I'll start.  The first aspect concerns what I call experiential education for open‑mindedness.  By way of background, six weeks before the competition takes place the team has received a set of 15 ethics cases.  They're each in length about one single‑spaced typed page.  The teams aren't given questions about these cases to ponder or to study.  Instead they have to identify the key issues in the cases for themselves and then develop a position on the case that they can state clearly and defend.

And as you might expect, none of the cases are easy to resolve.  They're all controversial, highly viewpoint dependent, and so forth.  So I'll say this.  It's impossible for an Ethics Bowl team to reach full agreement among its members on each case.  The nature of the questions precludes that.

So a team's challenge in preparing for the Ethics Bowl is to identify the key ethical issues raised by each case, and then work out positions on them that everyone on the team agrees are reasonable in the sense that a morally conscientious person could accept the position after careful consideration.

And to reach this kind of agreement among themselves each team member has to be able to listen to the others with an open mind.  The team members have to be able to consider seriously different views from their own and to appreciate their force, not in the sense of being persuaded necessarily, but in recognizing why a morally responsible person could hold that position or find them persuasive.

So the Ethics Bowl is structured in a way that the incentive to do well in the competition tends to motivate team members to make the effort to listen open mindedly.

Okay.  The second aspect I wanted to bring out is education for meaningful communication.  In an Ethics Bowl match there's two teams, a panel of three judges, and a moderator.  The moderator poses a question about a case to one of the teams, and then the team proceeds to make its presentation and address the moderator's question.

The other team in the match then comments on the presentation, and that's followed by an opportunity for the presenting team to respond to the commentary, and then a questioning period ensues in which the judges ask questions of the presenting team.

It is kind of modeled after the administrative hearings I used to conduct when I was a Special Education Hearing Officer, by the way.

But in the Ethics Bowl, unlike the debate, teams aren't preassigned positions to defend yea or nay, affirmative, negative.  So that raises an issue.  Well, what happens if the team that's supposed to comment agrees with what the presenting team said in its presentation?  The answer is that you have to keep in mind that the Ethics Bowl cases without fail are conceptually deep.  They're factually complex.  There is just a vanishingly small likelihood that a team in its presentation would leave the commenting team utterly speechless ‑‑


DR. LADENSON:  ‑‑ with nothing to say.  That just can't happen.

So, for example, the commenting team, even if it agrees with the presenting team's answer, can discuss aspects of the reasoning of the presenting team that it finds problematic, and even if it finds the argument persuasive, you know, even if it agrees both with the conclusion and the line of analysis that led to that, it can develop on its own another justifying argument which highlights other ethically significant considerations because, after all, you know, as we adverted to many times this morning, none of these questions are ever ‑‑ you have to reach a decision, but they're not the kinds of questions that can be closed for once and for all.

So the mark of an excellent commentary is the contribution it makes to mutually beneficial discussion, to meaningful communication.

And then the third point is what I call education to foster ethical understanding.  This brings us to the role of the judges.  There's three evaluation criteria, and these are clarity and comprehensiveness and a third category, which is kind of hard to sum up in a single phrase, but we used to call it deliberative thoughtfulness, which I think is apt in the context of this meeting.

The kind of deliberative thoughtfulness that matters in the Ethics Bowl is the kind that's essential to ethical understanding in connection with the kinds of issues that are posed by Ethics Bowl questions, which as I say are complex and viewpoint dependent and controversial.

Ethical understanding in this context is, again, as we said in many different ways this morning to a great extent perhaps largely consists of understanding the views of people who disagree with you.  This means not simply awareness of what they've written or said, but it calls for a serious effort to understand the views from the inside, to comprehend the key concerns motivating them, and at least to some extent appreciating the force of those concerns.

So the prepping and training efforts for APPE Ethics Bowl judges always emphasize the critical importance of posing questions to the team that's in a match to probe the team's ethical understanding of views different from their own, specifically in regard to the cases they consider.

So I'll just say to conclude that it's now been over 20 years that I've been engaged with the Ethics Bowl, and obviously after 20 years you'd better like it.


DR. LADENSON:  But there's many reinforcing aspects to this involvement, but I think the strongest reinforcement for me by far has been that I have personally received and I've read testimonials, wonderful testimonials, that were sent to other colleagues in the Ethics Bowl from students, but what's truly reinforcing is that many of these communications from students say something about what the student feels he or she took away from the experience.

Frequently in those cases, very frequently, the students' own conclusions that they describe correspond exactly to these three objectives that all of us who are involved in the activity consider to be at the heart of it.  That's what's kept me involved and, you know, why I'm here today.

DR. GUTMANN:  Thank you very, very much.

And I want to again encourage anybody to write down a question and raise your hands, including staff members write down questions, but raise your hands so people will know because there are new people who came in.  There are cards.  Just write them down and we'll bring them up and we will read them and do our best to answer them.

Who would like to begin with questions?  Anita.

DR. ALLEN:  Thank you.

I've had the pleasure of attending the Ethics Bowl as a former Executive Member of the APPE.  So it's great hearing you talk about connection with our own interests here in deliberative education.

I would say that the students' attitude at the event is not priestly.  I mean, they are as aggressive as a debate team would be.  They want to win.  It's not just about wanting to be right or wanting to be good.

But that doesn't mean anything you said isn't completely true.  I think that as you point out, I mean, having to sit down as a group and work through these problems does constitute a kind of deliberative engagement with ethics, which is, of course, a very, very positive thing.

I did want to know what you thought might be some of the weaknesses or some of the challenges of the Ethics Bowl in terms of ethics education.  I'd like to hear you comment on that.

And then, Ms. Knight, I'd love to hear you comment briefly on a comment you made in passing.  I think that the sentence, again, "well, notwithstanding Piaget," dot, dot, dot."  Could you follow through on the moral development challenges of what you're trying to accomplish in Australia?

DR. LADENSON:  Okay.  Well, I'm not and I don't believe any of my colleagues either are Ethics Bowl missionaries.  We don't believe it's the answer to ethics education.  So I'll just say it goes without saying there's many things it doesn't do and can't do.

But to be more responsive, I think the point that Dr. Allen raised is a continual concern, that the motivation is competitive, and there is an unavoidable tension between the competitive aspect of the Ethics Bowl and the educational aspect of it, and is there a once and for all answer?  No, this is a continual issue.

I should mention the Ethics Bowl now has developed in a form where there's kind of an extensive organizational structure of committees and planning for rules and procedures and, you know, many different aspects of it.  How to deal with the tension between competition and education is a continual ongoing issue for 20 years.

But I guess my feeling about that is that competition and education are both parts of life.  I mean, in that respect the Ethics Bowl reflects life, and in a society, political society or a family, we have to continually negotiate and reconcile.  We do that in the Ethics Bowl, and I don't want to take all the time, but I could describe a number of the different things we've done over the years to try to address that.

DR. KNIGHT:  Well, I think we have a consensus amongst development cycle, educational cycle that Piaget was just plain wrong when he said that children, young children, couldn't engage in higher order thinking.  There's a lot of research to support, you know, the case against that claim of his, but it seems to be the case that he didn't build in the requisite background knowledge when he was asking children to make inferences, and so they just weren't able to do it.

But I think now we've got an amazing amount of some ongoing research now into moral development of young children, and I think perhaps beginning with Turiel from Berkeley and now being continued by Larry ‑‑ what's his name?  Anyway, sorry.  My mind's gone to ‑‑ Nucci, Larry Nucci and Smetana, which shows that from about the age of two and a half children can distinguish between social conventions and moral rules; that if you ask a child of two and a half whether it's wrong to hit someone, is it okay, you know, describe a little scenario, they'll say that's wrong, and if you say, well, is there a rule about it being wrong in your family, and they say, "Yes, there's a rule."

And then you ask them, "Do you think it would still be wrong even if there wasn't a rule?" they say yes.  But you ask about a convention, a social convention like using your fingers to eat rather than cutlery, well, if no one saw it or if there wasn't a rule, that wouldn't be wrong.  So that's at two and a half.

Yeah, and so they actually give reasons for their views, yeah.

DR. GUTMANN:  Ethics versus etiquette.  Very good.  They probably don't have those words yet, but that's still ‑‑


DR. GUTMANN:  Well done is better than well said.

I have some questions that I'm going to ask the questions together because of time constraints and then you can choose.  You don't both have to answer all of them, but you'll see they're directed.

So Misti Anderson, who is one of our Presidential Commission staff members, Senior Policy and Research Analyst:  Dr. Knight discussed the importance of student discussion and interaction as part of the ethics curriculum.  How do they teach deliberative skills to young students?  And are these skills considered to be part of the curriculum?

So to what extent is deliberation part of education?

And let me ask the next question as well and then I hope I'll have time for the others, too.

Also from Misti:  given the past politicization of character education and the mixed public reaction to implementing this standardized common core curriculum in American public schools, how might the Commission engender support for widespread ethics education at the primary or secondary level?

And that could be for either of you.  Do you want to begin?

DR. KNIGHT:  Yes.  Well, I haven't got an answer to the second.

DR. GUTMANN:  Right, because you're ‑‑ I understand that.  We'll let Robert.

DR. KNIGHT:  Yeah, yeah.  I mean, I don't know how to do these things.

DR. GUTMANN:  Well, are deliberative skills part of it?

DR. KNIGHT:  Yeah.

DR. GUTMANN:  And if so, how do you see them being integrated?

DR. KNIGHT:  The teaching method is, as I said before, based on, I guess, Matthew Lipman's work and for him the community of inquiry was key to everything.  Without it you have nothing.  So it's the central plank of the curriculum that I've written, and we do it in all sorts of ways, but it takes time to develop a community of inquiry.

So initially we have a teacher asking most of the substantive questions and children responding.  Before too long they obviously recognize that their idea is different from one another.  They're in a classroom.  So they will know one another, and they are often really, really surprised to find that a child comes up with a particular ethical view.  They might have been good friends and they hadn't known that.

And it is the modeling by the teacher that is the most important in developing that kind of respectful disagreement, but I mean, I guess it's a bit like the Ethics Bowl in the sense that if you don't have diversity of opinion, you haven't got anything, but you need to have that respect.

DR. GUTMANN:  Right.  So one of the things that Diana Hess in her experiment showed is that it's really important if you don't have preexisting diversity of opinion, which on some issues is very unlikely, you know, that you won't have it, but on other issues maybe it would be less so; the teacher has to create structures of role playing for students and assign positions to create some of that diversity.

DR. KNIGHT:  Yes.  I have never come across a situation where there's not diversity of opinion in a classroom.

DR. GUTMANN:  Yeah, yeah.  Let me put it this way.  If there is not sufficient diversity because experiments do show if you have a classroom where 80 percent of the students believe X and the other 20 percent believe not X, the 80 percent will dominate the 20 percent to the detriment of good deliberation, and you need a teacher who can actually have a method that would prevent that from happening.

DR. KNIGHT:  Yes, I would see that method as being questioning.  I mean, we do have role playing in the curriculum, but we have follow‑up questions that are built in so that if everyone ‑‑ "okay.  Here's another question."

DR. GUTMANN:  So we'll agree that there needs to be some method to prevent the domination, the tyranny of the majority.

DR. KNIGHT:  Yeah, yeah, and so there's a whole ‑‑


DR. KNIGHT:  What I'm writing is "if necessary, ask this question."

DR. GUTMANN:  Great.  So, Robert, before you answer this question about how might we support or really the question is how might be engender support for widespread ethics education at, you know, the pre‑collegiate level, let me just make a comment, which is there is something ‑‑ and I don't say this lightly ‑‑ quite brilliant about the way, whether intentionally or not ‑‑ I hope it was intentionally ‑‑ but the way you structure the Ethics Bowl by having the teams before they even compete have to discuss the cases as a group and see if they can come up as a group with positions.

Because that is a method to engender deliberation before they even get to the competition field, and it actually has an analogy of very clear ‑‑ this goes to Anita's question ‑‑ of very clear parallel with athletic team competition at its best.  Athletic teams have to practice as teams before they get on the playing field and compete with other teams, and you've structured this so there's the virtue of deliberative teamwork in situations where there isn't an obvious single answer.

So I just wanted to say that and commend that, and say that we as a Commission, that would be something we could, you know, say is really important.

DR. LADENSON:  I should mention ‑‑

DR. GUTMANN:  We have this hard question, which is how do you engender support for ethics education.

DR. LADENSON:  Before I get to that, I should just mention I wish I could look around the table at everyone right in the eyes and tell them that all of the educational virtues that the Ethics Bowl came to me in an epiphany.


DR. LADENSON:  But like everyone else that's been involved, I just discovered of them.  Originally I was intrigued with the idea of simply trying to develop a game format, and I guess it's to my credit that I recognized early that there was something out of the ordinary about it, but it was a discovery more than ‑‑ yeah, okay.

And that's a question we struggle with, too, on both the collegiate and the high school level.  Generating involvement is very difficult.  It's particularly difficult in the high school context because of the nature of high school curricula and so forth.

I think a first step might be to initiate communication with the people who are central in organizing the high school Ethics Bowl to get their input.

DR. GUTMANN:  That's good.

DR. LADENSON:  I'm kind of the George Washington of that.  I'm not involved operationally ‑‑

DR. GUTMANN:  Yeah.  No, that's a good point.

DR. LADENSON: ‑‑ in the Ethics Bowl anymore.  That would be a place to begin.

I'm of two minds about it.  On the one hand, the idea of institutionalizing it in a school whether a college or a high school is very appealing to have it across the entire high school.

But I also think it may be that volunteerism is kind of embedded in the ethics school, too.   You know, people come ‑‑ come to it because they choose to ‑‑ everyone, whether it's faculty, sponsors, or students ‑‑ they're there by choice.  No one tells them they have to do it.  It may well be that that's intrinsic to its success as well, so there is ‑‑ there are some hard issues here.

DR. GUTMANN:  There are plenty of things that are deemed important throughout our society that are not ‑‑ don't become important, because they're required.  Athletics is another example.

Any case, thank you.  We are way over time, so I want to thank you both for your presentations.


I will come back to some of these questions in our next session, which is on fostering and measuring success in ethics and deliberation.



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