Skip to main content

ETHICS: MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS

Paul David Fornell, MS, LPCC, pfornell@unm.edu

     

COURSE DESCRIPTION

All of us from time to time reflect on the ethical dimensions of our lives. What sort of person I ought to be? Which goals are worth pursuing? How should I relate to others? We may wonder about the answers to these questions that have been provided by the most profound thinkers of past generations. We may speculate whether their conflicting opinions amount to disagreements about the truth or merely expressions of their differing attitudes. We may consider how their varied theories might help us understand ethical issues of our own day.

This course will provide the vehicle to address these matters. In part one we will examine some of the most influential ethical theories in philosophical thought, from ancient Greece to contemporary thinkers. Part two explores theoretical issues concerning the nature of ethical judgments, the resolution of disagreements and the evolution of ethical theories. And, then in part three we will delve into contemporary ethical problems that may include; abortion, euthanasia, famine relief, animal rights, capital punishment, business practices and universal health care – to name just a few.

Which ethical positions are correct? Just as each member of a jury at a trial needs to make a decision and defend a view after considering all of the relevant evidence, so each inquirer needs to make a decision and defend a view after considering all the relevant opinions. This course will provide the materials and venue on which to base your thinking. But the challenge and excitement of ethical decision making is that after taking account of the work others have done, the responsibility for reaching conclusions is your own. What sort of person will you be? Which goals will you pursue? And, how will you relate to others?

 

READINGS AND TEXTS

Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero, 2015 (9th ed.) McGraw-Hill

Additional Readings:
Each student will select at least one primary source (Aristotle, Kant, Dalai Lama, etc.) to present and utilize in their individual and team project.
The Codes of Ethics of pertinent professional associations will be examined (American Medical Association, American Management Association, Bar Association, etc.)

 

FILMS AND OTHER COURSE MATERIALS

Television:
In Treatment, The Office, and the ABC News Primetime Ethical Dilemmas.
Others to be selected by the students based on their interest areas.

Movies/DVD’s:
Inside Job, written and directed by Charles Ferguson, 2011
Why We Fight, written and directed by Eugene Jarecki, 2006
Others to be selected by the students based on their interest areas.

 

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS

Each student will research and present on an ethics expert of their choice (see selection of primary source above.) In addition to the readings required for class, students will select a focused area of ethical decision making to research and prepare an individual and group project. The area selected is designed to lead to a practical application of ethical decision making. For example, a proposed change in government ethics or business practices. The research paper and class presentation must demonstrate a synthesis of the ethical disciplines explored and integrate the theoretical and the practical applications from these disciplines. This research is also intended to be submitted for publication in a professional journal, newsletter or other appropriate source. Finally, students are encouraged to invite esteemed members of the community to present to class on their efforts in ethical decision making.

 

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Paul David Fornell, MS, LPCC has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and is a practicing clinical mental health counselor. Paul has served as the Director of Ethics for the American Counseling Association, is the current chair of the ACA Ethics Interest Network and has served as the chair of the ethics committee for the New Mexico Counseling Association and the New Mexico Clinical Mental Health Counseling Association.