Deontology generally focuses on the process people use to make ethical decisions, with the general assumption that an ethical process will, by definition, lead to ethical results. (COM 563 — Lesson 3 Overview)
Question: Can an exclusive focus on the process of decision-making — to the exclusion of a focus on consequences — yield ethical decisions?
Answer: Nope. The question itself suggests a lack of balance in determining the ethical decision. In fact, an exclusive focus on anything generally (in my experience, personally and professionally) leads to poor consequences, a lack of balanced results, predictably causing (at best) discomfort, and (at worst) serious harm.
But, let’s see what the experts say:
Kant’s “categorical imperative” is defined as “the unconditional moral principle that one’s behavior should accord with universalizable maxims which respect persons as ends in themselves . . . [and] . . . the obligation to do one’s duty for its own sake and not in pursuit of further ends” (retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/categorical-imperative).
Kant’s primary argument against consequence-based ethical decisions is summed up by Johnson’s essay, “Kant’s Moral Philosophy” (retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2012/entries/kant-moral/):
When we do something because it is our moral duty, Kant argued, we are motivated by the thought that, insofar as we are rational beings, we must act only as this fundamental law of (practical) reason prescribes, a law that would prescribe how any rational being in our circumstances should act. Whatever else such a law might be, it is, in virtue of being a principle of reason, true of all rational agents.
In other words, for Kant “process” can lead you to places other than obeying the universalizable maxim. However, universalizable maxims are anything but universalizable and do not take into account the multitude of factors impacting decisions, end results and consequences.
For example, if the universal maxim is that all people deserve access to affordable, high quality health care, then the logical decision is to legislate universal health care.
However, any piece of legislation must consider the implementation of the law — the how, who, where, what and when — for good or ill across multiple spheres, public and private. It is in the debates on the details of implementation, though, that necessary action to “respect persons as ends in themselves” can get bogged down by quibbling over details and action steps.
For Rawl’s, a simple solution is to “draw a veil of ignorance” over the issue when making ethical decisions. The veil of ignorance is necessary to preserve “a just society . . . [with] . . . equal citizenship . . . [and] . . . rights secured by justice . . . [that is] . . . not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests” (p. 4). From Rawl’s perspective, this approach “ensures that no one is advantaged or disadvantaged in the choice of principles by the outcome of natural chance or the contingency of social circumstances” (p. 12).
While Rawl’s theory is a lovely one, it again evades the reality of consequences. When the choice has been made, how does it play out? What is the impact, and on whom? These are important considerations when developing policies and programs that touch on the lives of a diverse population.
That being said, the reality in the policy arena is that policy makers can hand down expectations based on new laws (or revisions to current laws) that are not morally good. The public alludes to this when they criticize “pork barrel” budget privisos, or lobbyist-driven legislation. It then rests on the implementing agencies to bring to life the law in ways that are still morally good, even if they originated out of morally bad reasoning or actions.
Ross offers hope for the struggling implementer of poor policy, pointing out that “no act is right unless done from some good motive, such as either sense of duty or benevolence (p. 2) and that “the only acts that are morally good are those that proceed from a good motive” (p.4). In a very real sense, he moves the conversation from one of pure theory to one of action, stating that considering “the doing of a right act may be a morally bad action, and that the doing of a wrong act may be a morally good action; for ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ refer entirely to the thing done, ‘morally good’ and ‘morally bad’ entirely to the motive from which it is done (p. 7). A convoluted mouthful of hope, to be sure.
On the other hand, Ross also reminds us that “An act is not right because it . . . produces good results different from itself; it is right because . . . [the]. . . . production is right in itself, apart from any consequence” (p. 47).
So, where does that leaves us?
With the usual “it depends” and the impulse to make snarky comments about the ongoing fifty shades of grey notion when it comes to these sorts of discussions.
Like I said at the beginning — balance. Gotta have it.
Johnson, Robert, “Kant’s Moral Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 3-22, 60-65, 136-142.
W.D. Ross, The Right and the Good, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930), ch 1 & 2
When the goal is positive, growth-promoting outcomes for families, it only makes sense (in my mind, anyhow) to talk to families about their experiences, their hopes, dreams and fears. Where are things working well? How can that be capitalized? Where are things feeling stuck? What needs some WD-40 to make ’em go more smoothly?
These are critical conversations to have up front, long before programs and curriculum are designed. Long before laws, administrative codes and policies are written. And they need to continue. In a variety of formats and ways that support the widest array of voices being heard. One area that I struggled with in a former job was in getting buy-off at the leadership level to support authentic parent engagement. So, when this particular assignment came around, I decided to step up on my soapbox and start speaking my piece . . .
Both the public and private sector funders are highly interested but inadequately invested in early learning evidence-based programs and approaches which claim high return on investments (ROI). This all too frequently translates into programs design being driven by research strategies to prove efficacy; and worse yet, provided limited resources and funding when moving from pilot to replication phase. Scarcity models rely on a “one-size-fits-all” philosophy which leaves no room for the variety of interests, needs, strengths and challenges individual parents, families and communities bring to the table. However, research points to the value and importance of supporting parent participation in designing and implementing strong, effective programs and policies that support healthy, successful families and children.
Some research-based tidbits on the why this is important . . .
Including Parents in Evaluation of a Child Development Program: Relevance of Parental Involvement, Hamida Amirali Jinnah & Lynda Henley Walters, University of Georgia, 2008. http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v10n1/jinnah.html
“Parents have the major responsibility and control of a child’s development, and their decisions concerning success and failure should be considered important,” (Bernheimer, Gallimore, & Weisner, 1990; Guralnick, 1989).
“Understanding parent views (positive and negative) can be used to develop more responsive services and prevent program rejection,” (Upshur, 1991; Grela & Illerbrun, 1998).
“We also can learn more about the intended and unintended effects of a program from parents,” (Zigler & Balla, 1982).
“Finally, consumer satisfaction data collection from parents can be used to convince other audiences (e.g., funding agencies, administrators) of the usefulness of a program,” (Scheirer, 1978).
Some research on how parent voice informs program development and continuous quality improvement . . .
NATURALISTIC EVALUATION OF PROGRAMS. PARENTS’ VOICE IN PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS (Based on the grounded theory strategy, this study explores the participants’ subjective representations, being a useful source of information for future development of similar programs. Ştefan COJOCARU, Daniela COJOCARU. Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Iaşi, Romania, 2011.)
“The importance of program responsiveness to parents’ interests, concerns, preoccupations is mentioned very often in literature, alongside the concern that these programs do not disseminate the specialists’ preconceived (meaning “previously established”) opinions as to what the contents and the appropriate manner of delivery should be, but instead to illustrate the philosophy of parent participation in shaping the contents and the training process, as a guarantee of the final aim of the program . . .”
Additionally (same study): “. . . naturalistic evaluation is characterized by a high capacity of adaptation and flexibility in the entire process, from data collection to the negotiation of conclusions and recommendations. This flexibility of data collection process makes naturalistic evaluation preferable especially during formative evaluations because “the naturalistic paradigm is ideal especially in formative evaluations due to the possibility of changing its design in response to the new information necessary for the progress of evaluation and for improving the program,” (Williams, 1986, p. 87).
|Target audience||State agency directors, affiliated legislators, Governor’s office staff, mid-level executive management.|
|Anticipated setting||In-person, conference room, as part of a packed agenda. Limited capacity for cutting-edge media and technology.|
|Presentation title||Parent Voices: Powerful Influences for Powerful Outcomes|
|Purpose of proposal and presentation||To get legislative and top executive funding and resource support for required legislative agenda of parent participation in agency rule-making (WACs), program development and program funding decisions.|
|Climate or current state||Parent participation has been tokenized or seen as adequately addressed by legislators and agency staff as “parents themselves.” The reality is that the agency does not adequately involve “consumer” parents – and especially consumer parents in low-income situations – in developing rules, programs, and making funding decisions.|
|Problem you wish to solve||The general problem is that state agencies don’t engage citizens in a meaningful way to develop policies, programs and make funding decisions. The specific problem is that the agency that is required to involve parents in program and policy simply does not – partly because they are inadequately funded by the legislature and partly because there is not agency leadership buy-in of this strategy. Consequently, programs and policies meet with resistance and lack of support. This would improve with parent participation in every aspect of the agency’s work through a variety of mechanisms and methods with feedback loops and implementation reflective of the wisdom and experience that parents have to share regarding their interests, needs and desires for strong, successful families and children.|
|Statement on the solution||Families come in all shapes and sizes, with different interests, strengths and challenges. Effective and meaningful parent participation requires not only funding and resource support, but leadership that drives agency action. It’s not enough to say that parent participation is important – top level leaders must live that promise, as well.|
|Desired outcomes||An economic, geographic, educational, occupational, political and religious diversity of parent participation in determining policies, programs and funding which ultimately more closely match the needs and interests of parents.|
|Background info||RCW 43.215 finds that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers and decision makers and that parents and legal guardians should be involved in the development of policies, programs and budget decisions affecting their children.|
|Value statement – why is this important||Setting the stage for a healthy, successful adult life has its start in the earliest years. Citizen-paid (both through taxes and private dollars) programs and services should be designed in a way that respects and preserves the ability of parents and legal guardians to direct the education, development, and upbringing of their children; and that recognizes and honors cultural and linguistic diversity.|
I’ve never been much of a team sports fan, so this project challenged me to tackle it seriously. After all — we can’t always focus on only those things that interest us. After musing on well-known sports teams, I decided I wanted a team with a strong social justice bent or that did “really cool things” in the world. So, where does a savvy girl go for help parsing that puzzle? Facebook, of course. My friends had some groovy ideas:
The Oly Rollers a women’s flat track roller derby league in Olympia WA
Special Olympics Unified Sports teams promoting social inclusion for people with disabilities
Boise Bombers competitive quad rugby team in Boise, ID
Ascend Afghanistan an all-female, all-Afghan team climbing Afghanistan’s highest mountain
Stars of David co-ed Jewish softball team in Olympia WA
What a tough decision! Each team had compelling human interest and certainly a tie to social justice. And while I certainly resonated with the Boise Bomber’s choice of music on the website, have always wanted to summit a pinnacle in the clouds, have fond memories of church league softball (until I killed my knee) and treasure my school experiences volunteering with the Special Olympics, I went with the Oly Rollers. Their support of a young girl’s desire to make a difference raising money for Relay for Life in loving support of her friend grabbed me, but there are many other things to recommend the team, as well:
|Sports team name||The Oly Rollers|
|Type of sport||Women’s flat track roller derby league|
|Background and historyHow long they have been in existence, value and relevance to the community||Established in 2006, the Oly Rollers are a skater-owned and operated 501(c)3. Team members range in age from 14 – 50 and are students, teachers, mothers, soldiers, engineers, fire fighters — in a nutshell, energetic women who not only devote time to the “betterment of the league” and “promotion of the sport” but also give actively back to the community.|
|Mascot:What is the name of their mascot? What does it represent? (animal, warrior, etc.)||The team doesn’t have a mascot, per se — however, they have a favorite cause, inspired by one team member’s 11-year-old daughter. The cause is Race for the Cure. This young girl has a classmate battling cancer and wanted to help. She was too young to participate in the race — so the Oly Rollers stepped in to help raise funds.|
|Relevance:What makes this sports team special and unique? Why would fans want to go to their games?||The Oly Rollers actively work as a team within the sport and in the wider community to “grow as a stable organization of inspiring, self-confident athletes and positive female role models.” They also have a reputation for “providing quality, eye-catching, high adrenaline entertainment” that captivates audiences. They took the WFTDA national championship title in 2009, and have placed at least second in subsequent years. They truly provide positive and strong role models for cross-generations of women and girls.|
The first part of the assignment was to outline (using the Prof’s template) all the details about the sports group. I have to say (again) that I appreciate Professor Risenmay’s approach to prep work. It’s familiar and helpful. The next part was to develop an advertising message across different mediums: a 5×7″ print ad for a newspaper or other publication, a Google Adwords ad, and a Facebook Ad.
Since my advertising creation experience is a bit limited, I dug a wee bit on the internet to make sure I had some “rules of thumb” to follow. I found How to Write a Good Ad for the Newspaper with some quick guideposts to consider. Ads should include:
- Bold, well-worded, attention-grabbing headline
- Easy-to-read and clear font
- 2-3 sentences explaining the good or service
- Clear language — avoid jargon
- A relevant picture (or two)
- Contact information
With those ideas in mind, I did a quick, fast design using a Microsoft Word to create the 5″x7″ ad, plugging for the Oly Rollers upcoming fundraiser to support their participation in the national bouts:
draft advertising for 5×7″ news print
Google Adwords was another portion, for which I came up with this:
and creating a simple Facebook advertisement:
I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry for pancakes right about now . . .
This is still exciting! The possibilities available using the multimedia approach to explore how we do (or do not) honor a parent’s autonomy within the community seem pretty infinite at the moment. I think the multimedia approach can perhaps give more voice to the parent, the person who should be doing the defining. And who should have the platform and the supports to have her or his voice heard loud and clear when set against the backdrop of our American society that sends conflicting messages of self-sufficiency and autonomy, but also the “do as I say because I know best” message.
I received thoughtful reflective feedback from three classmates. They had a theme in common, encouraging me to slow down the scrolling text panes. To do that I moved the text clips to the track above the main video track and lengthened the text clip out. that of course meant I had to reset the video transition effects, which I did next. Another bit of feedback was to get rid of the “shhhh” clip entirely. I had wondered about the jarring effect of that text clip and removed it entirely and reset the video transitions.
As part of the final video project, I had used the audio recording from the previous Adobe project. In my review of the draft, I realized I needed to credit my friends Laura Adamson and Joyce Duerfeldt for their participation and fabulous voices in the introduction, so I added their names to the credits at the end of the video.
I also needed to re-credit the open source crowd noise, which was part of the audio clip I submitted for my Adobe Audition assignment. As stated in that assignment, SoundJay explicitly allows the use of “sounds free of charge and royalty free in . . . projects (such as films, videos, games, presentations, animations, stage plays, radio plays, audio books, apps) be it for commercial or non-commercial purposes,” provided the user follow their few simple rules. The SoundJay sound in my video blog that came over with the audio clips was the sound of the crowd talking. This was at the tail end of the video clip, leading up to the final “Stop!”
I don’t think I can say enough how grateful I am to the Alfani family for sharing their time and experiences with me as brand new parents. To protect their privacy, I made sure to upload the video as “unlisted” on the YouTube site. I’m glad they live in my community. It will be a joy to watch them grow as parents and to watch Elijah grow to adulthood and beyond!
One piece that didn’t make it into my video story was Laura’s comment that the experience of parenthood was giving her new insight into the important work she does with home visiting and family engagement. there’s nothing like the voice of experience — especially when that person can hold her perspective and another person’s perspective side-by-side comfortably. Laura will be bringing new depth and intuition in how to support parents in the ways they want and need. Stay tuned!
(Video address: http://youtu.be/VJKQQ7ud0n8)
Tutorial 1: http://youtu.be/eQhS1uk-dXQ
Tutorial 2: https://youtu.be/Ych53R2tbTg
Oi vey! What a challenge! This latest batch of tutorials leaves me really (really, really, really) longing for classroom-based instruction for this particular class. This is one class where I am not so sure that the on-line approach is necessarily the best — at least not for me. I did finally find a more comprehensive introduction on-line here — although again, I struggle with the fact that Adobe products are geared towards Apple and I am in a Windows environment, so that adds a component of complexity. I think it’s too easy as a student to miss critical points offered by the instructor, and I think it must be equally difficult for the instructor to lay-out the point-by-point necessary to successful assignments in absence of immediate feedback from the students. That being said, I trudged firmly along the path of learning. (I probably should have invested in stock with Tylenol first. *grin*)
The first tutorial was easily eight hours of my time, and I am still not happy with the end result. The transitions are abrupt, and the only way I was ever able to add fade in and fade out with the audio track was by chopping out the middle of the audio already provided with fade in and fade out. The lovely little yellow volume lines (promised by numerous U-Tube sites) never did materialize for me. So, the audio also does not sound good. And unfortunately, the monthly cost of the Adobe Creative Suite is not in the budget and the free trial period for Adobe Audition was expired. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Tutorial 2 recommended using Adobe Photoshop (also with a long-expired free trial) to create the animated titles in tutorial 2. I was so grateful that there was a second option, within the free trial of Adobe Premiere.
At any rate, back to Tutorial 1 — searching for a little school spirit. (This would be an interesting future topic — I simply don’t feel connected to “school spirit” and I’m not sure if that’s a function of being in my mid-40s or from not being physically on campus . . . but I suspect I’m not alone in that lack of connectedness . . . ) Searching Google did come in handy at various stuck places during Tutorial 1. For example, I found this nifty YouTube video that helped me work through resizing and panning the still cougar photograph. This tutorial on adding titles was quite helpful, as well. For an additional nudge with the crawling title effect, I found this YouTube tutorial. Adding transitions between scenes was actually fun and a relief, as I was quite distressed by the choppiness of the clips. I added “film dissolve” between all clips except for the following variations: a “non-additive dissolve” between clips 5&6, a “dip to white” for the transition to the still shot of the cougar, and a “dip to black” between clips 6&7.
The second tutorial was a bit easier to work with — perhaps because I gave it a couple of days for the first go-around with Adobe Premiere to settle in. (Or perhaps it was the antibiotic working on the sinus infection.) Whatever it was, the Professor Beam tutorial was very helpful for this particular assignment, and I had a 33 second piece of footage related to the video story project to play with, so that was nice to kill two birds with one stone (as it were).
And now on to the final step — being so very new to this sort of application, some clear instructions that one probably needs to establish a YouTube account in order to upload ones video tutorials would be helpful . . . along with step-by-step instructions on the whole export process. I once again tried the handy-dandy Google search which gave me a whole host of options related to this. However, as I already had a Google gmail account, it never became clear how to actually set up a separate YouTube account. (Side note: my cat snores. I had no idea cats snored . . . /side note).
Next up is taking another look at the footage I have shot for the video story, sketching out my story board, filling in the missing video clips by shooting some additional footage, and then moving to production. I really hope I can apply some of these tutorials in more adept and useful ways to the first draft.