What should be taught in courses on social ethics?

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The purpose of this article is to discuss the concept and the content of courses on “social ethics”. I will present a dilemma that arises in the design of such courses. On the one hand, they may present versions of “applied ethics”; that is, courses in which moral theories are applied to moral and social problems. On the other hand, they may present generalised forms of “occupational ethics”, usually professional ethics, with some business ethics added to expand the range of the course. Is there, then, not some middle ground that is distinctively designated by the term “social ethics”? I will argue that there is such a ground. I will describe that ground as the ethics of “social practices”. I will then illustrate how this approach to the teaching of ethics may be carried out in five domains of social practice: professional ethics, commercial ethics, corporate ethics, governmental ethics, and ethics in the voluntary sector. My aim is to show that “social ethics” courses can have a clear rationale and systematic content.
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First archival date: 2020-05-05
Latest version: 2 (2020-05-10)
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