Friday, 5 April 2013



I have looked at professional, personal and organisational ethics within my own practice.  The Reader encourages us to take this further and look at ethical theories that affect our moral and ethical decisions.

I have discovered such a huge amount of information  - fascinating, thought-provoking, and a challenge to my preconceived ideologies. 

Professionally, I had already looked at my own personal ethics. I then researched the code of practice of the R.A.D and C.D.E.T., which proved to be a valuable exercise and something which will now benefit my practice. I was introduced to new aspects of professional conduct that I had not previously considered. 
Initially, I began my research on theoretical approaches to ethics by looking at the word - "ethics". I discovered that the word derives from the Greek word "ethos" meaning "character" and from the Latin word "mores" meaning "custom". Together, they combine to define how individuals choose to interact with one another.

Reading further, I discovered that from a philosophical point of view, ethics is defined as governing the conduct of individuals as to what is good for both an individual and society as a whole.

Rosemary in her blog on Ethics introduced us to ethical proposals by various thinkers.

Purely because of the contrast in ideologies, I decided to research further the ideas of the consequentialist and deonotology approaches to ethical dilemmas.

The consequentialist approach to ethics is to do whatever brings about the best result in a situation.  They advocate a common sense approach.

I found a great example of this by Patrick Button in his blog on a lecture given by his College Dean - Dr. Kimberly Shankman.

"Three British sailors were adrift in a lifeboat on the open ocean, without water and dying of thirst.  One of the three was near death and his comrades killed him and drank his blood.  The two survivors were later rescued and charged with murder.  The reluctant cannibals were sentenced to prison instead of death due to the extraordinary circumstances of their crime.  The response of some of my classmates to this nautical horror story was almost as distressing as the act of cannibalism."

Immediately I felt that the act of cannibalism in this case was disgusting and morally wrong, but then, as Patrick points out, if the sailors had not eaten their ship-mate, all three would have died. In that situation, is it still morally wrong to kill? 

The consequentialist would say that what they did was for the greater good. The man would have died anyway and because of the act of cannibalism two survived instead of none.

A deontologist believes there are never any moral "grey areas". There is simply right and wrong.  The sailors were murderers and should be treated as murderers.

This deontologist approach seems a far simpler code of ethics to follow. However, personally, I would argue that until I was actually faced with the situation I really don’t know what I would do.

Karen Murdasi in her article on Consequentialism and Deontology ( invites the reader to carry out what philosophers call a thought experiment named "Would you shoot the hostage?" It is designed to personally discover whether you are a consequentialist or a deontologist.

"While trekking in the Andes you come across a guerrilla leader who has captured 20 local villagers. The guerrilla says if you will shoot one hostage he will let the other 19 go free. If you refuse to shoot, he will kill all 20. In the thought experiment the guerrilla leader is telling the truth and you have only two choices: to shoot, or to refuse. Choose to shoot, and you are a consequentialist, motivated by saving the 19 innocent people. Choose to refuse, and you are a deontologist, motivated by the fact that it is always wrong to kill an innocent person".

The deontologist would argue that it was the guerrilla that shot the villagers. The consequentialist would argue that this was selfish and that one person losing his life meant that 19 lived.

From researching both approaches, I really don’t know what I would do faced with this dilemma - I think I would just ask them to kill me!!!

Applying set ethical principles to my role as a dance teacher is difficult and I totally agree with Nicole Carman who in her blog on Consequentialism writes: 

"If I look at the concept of Consequentialism within my profession, would I ever tell a student he/she could not be in a dance performance because she was not as technically strong as the other dancers and was letting the group and the overall vision and concept of the piece be compromised because of this. I personally could not live with the fact that although the piece would look stronger, one child would be left feeling inadequate and isolated... The complete opposite to why I think participation in dance is beneficial. I understand that utilitarianism maximises the overall happiness but at what cost?"

I know that I could not tell a child that they weren't good enough, even for the "greater good".  I also believe I would be breaking the C.D.E.T's Code of Practice ("communicate a love of dance and encourage the art of dance") if I was to do so.

Applying the Deontolgist approach to my practice, the principle of an action being either right or wrong regardless of consequences, would prove difficult in some scenarios.  For example, we have a Santa that comes and gives out presents to the children at the dance school Christmas party - could I tell a child that there was no such thing as Father Christmas? The Deontologist would say I was lying to the children. 

I believe that you should always look at the consequences of your actions and be able to give an account for the decision you have made, both morally and ethically.

Ethics certainly has proved to be a fascinating subject, I have changed my mind so many times about my own ethics with each scenario researched.  

Ethics certainly does have an important place in the dance class. I truly believe for me it will never be just black or white, butI will strive to evaluate the consequences of all of my actions within the class.
Betty xx

No comments:

Post a Comment