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UNIT THREE

MORAL AGENT

A) Definition: MORAL AGENT


A being whose actions are capable of moral evaluation. A competent and reasonably mature human somebody that has a capacity for making moral judgments and for taking actions that comport with morality.

What characteristics does a moral agent has? Exist no universal / standard definition of a moral agent Moral agent possesses three criteria Moral Content Moral Form Moral Dimension

1) MORAL CONTENT
Two important aspects - societal rules - human characteristics

Societal Rules Rules do not exist by themselves, but compiled from the old, new knowledge and experience Rules include customary rules and reflexive morality IMPORTANCE OF RULES Improve the standard of living Develop intellectual capacity Protect human life Defend human rights and peoples welfare Prevent degradation in behaviour and morals of the society Human characteristics An individual should have virtuous characteristics / ethical code Acquired from parental upbringing, religious education and moral instruction

2) MORAL FORM
PRINCIPALISTIC ETHICS: Based on laws and rules that regulates people important to avoid unrest

ALTRUISM ETHICS: unselfish concern for the needs or interests of others, providing gratification vicariously or from their responses. SITUATIONAL ETHICS: absolute standards are considered less important than the requirements of a particular situation. The standards used may, therefore, vary from one situation to another, and may even contradict one another.

3) MORAL DIMENSION
Three dimensions: reasoning, feeling and performance 3Hs principle Reasoning: thinking and judging (head) Feeling: emotion and feeling (heart) Performance: behaviour and action (hand)

Head -know the good

3 H Principle

Heart love the good Hand do the good

Analysis of the three elements: MORAL REASONING to be able to make moral reasoning i.e. to think and judge rationally and freely

an essential component in ethical decision making

MORAL EMOTION

to have moral emotions like conscience and sensitivity over feelings of what is wrong or shameful, of anxiety, sympathy, empathy, generosity, love, compassion, motivated by what is altruistic and correct such feelings will enable the individual to act morally

moral emotions are important to control ones behavior and actions and prevent one from doing anything that is anti-social

MORAL ACTION to be able to conduct oneself in a manner that is morally correct, i.e. to act in a fully responsible way, according to ones ability, in making decision based on careful reasoning and moral emotions

an individual who possesses moral action but lacks


emotion is considered as IMPERSONAL

an individual who possesses moral action but lacks


reasoning is considered as IRRATIONAL

an individual who possesses moral reasoning and

emotion but lacks action is considered as UNSTABLE

MORAL AGENT AND MORAL RECIPIENT


Who can become a moral agent/moral recipient? (Ashmore 1987) Only human (rational reasoning, free-feeling and emotions) A person who does something that is immoral is not stupid insensitive to the suffering of his victim

B) MORAL CONFLICT
Why does conflict happen? Groups and individuals have collective and personal goals. Differences are one of the reasons why conflict happens though not all differences may cause conflict. It can be due to : 1) Ethnocentrism 2) Communalism when one group feels they are better / greater than the other When group members show respect & commitment to respective groups only

Conflict is a state of mind. It has to be perceived by the parties involved. If two or more parties are not aware of a conflict, then no conflict exists. It is a process which begins when one party perceives that the other has frustrated, or is about to frustrate, some concern of his. Conflict can loosely refer to stress and frustration. Since it involves more than one person, it is a social process.

Forms of Conflict
a) Collective conflict b) Individual Conflict a) Collective conflict - It involves large number of people who had a rational plan to achieve a given objective. - Can be exemplified in actions such as output restriction, go-slows, overtime bans, work-to work rules and strikes. b) Individual conflict - It involves an individual and another party.

STRATEGIES IN RESOLVING CONFLICTS


In daily life, we often observe irrational responses to conflicts. These include: 1. ignoring the conflict altogether 2. using dishonest, underhand means like offering/soliciting bribes 3. becoming persuasive and emotional 4. resorting to aggression

Models of Resolving Conflicts


1. Value Analysis Strategy A. The Fraenkel Approach Step 1: Conflict What is the dilemma? (Social, personal, interpersonal, intergroup) Step 2: Choice of Action What are alternative actions that can be taken to resolve the conflict? Step 3: Effects For each alternative action, what are the effects which are likely to happen? Step 4: Results What results can be obtained from those effects? What are the proofs? Step 5: Judgment Which result is better? What are the criteria for the choice? Step 6: Decision on Action What is the decision? B. The Coomb Approach Step 1: Conflict Step 2: Identification Step 3: Fact-gathering Step 4: Fact-evaluating Step 5: Relevance of facts Step 6: Decision What has actually happened? Is it a conflict? What are the values in conflict? (e.g. between responsibility and justice} List the facts that are present in the conflict. Evaluate each fact. Is it true or false? Find the facts that are relevant to the criteria and choose alternative actions. From the facts being evaluated, make a really good and definite decision to resolve the conflict.

Step 7: Test moral principleTest the moral principles present in the decision taken on value and action.

The Value Analysis Strategy deals with conflicts analytically by identifying beforehand the value elements and facts. For each fact, it studies the pros and cons of the actions that may be taken. This implies that in this strategy an individual has to think rationally and logically about the facts relevant to a conflict before he makes a value judgment. When analyzing relevant values, the individual is required to study the effects that are likely to happen, to consider the feelings and welfare of people involved in the conflict, and to give priority to result or consequence as a whole when taking action based on the decision made. 2. Cognitive Moral Development Lawrence Kohlberg formulated a three-level arrangement. Each level had two stages. Kohlberg strongly believed that moral changes fit the stages found in his study. This strategy can be used by an individual to solve the conflicting moral value by choosing the highest level of moral development, i.e. to comply to avoid being morally condemned. Level 1: Pre-conventional level Stage 1: - Oriented towards fines (punishments) and obedience to superior power. - Consequence of a physical action determines what is good and bad. Stage 2: - Oriented towards actions which instrumentally satisfy own needs and sometimes the needs of others. - The elements of justice, sharing and reciprocity: You scratch my back and Ill scratch yours. Level 2: Conventional level Stage 3: - Oriented towards good boy-good girl image. Good behaviour that helps and makes other people happy is highly regarded. Stage 4: - Oriented towards authority, law and social regulations. - Good behaviour implies performing ones duties, respecting authority, rules and public tranquillity. -One gains respect through good behaviour. Level 3:Post-conventional level Stage 5: - Oriented towards social contract with legalistic and utilitarian elements. - Actions considered right on the basis of general good and public standards. - All values and norms are relative. There must be consensus and compromise. Stage 6: - Oriented towards universal ethical principles. - Moral thinking that is logical, universal and consistent.

- Do not exploit others in the process of seeking what one desires. - Right action is based on self-commitment towards moral principles.

3. Strategy of Hierarchy Building The hierarchy strategy goes like this: It is assumed that two or more values cannot be achieved together. So it is fitting to ask: Which value should be considered? The answer is obvious: The more important one. Hence, from hierarchical ranking of values, a decision is made. The problem with hierarchical thinking is that conflicting values do not always neatly form hierarchies. In other words, it is not always obvious that of two conflicting actions or policies, one will guarantee a rich result or reflect a more fundamental value than the other. 4. The Strategy of Dissolution The basis of the strategy of dissolution of conflict is the development of alternatives that avoid the problem. If tension is due to divergence without conflict, then it is possible to accommodate the divergence by doing both. If tension is due to undesirable sets of consequences of either of the two alternative courses, where there is still a third or fourth course of action, then avoid the first two courses. If a conflict arises between two aims owing to the present circumstances, then change the circumstances so that, despite divergence, there is no longer conflict between the two aims. This strategy to resolve value conflicts, in other words, is built upon flexibility at all levels. 5. The Strategy of Compromise The strategy of compromise proposes that: - everyone should be agreeable to some benefits - every party should be ranked equally - not all values may be achieved