Doing right by students: professional ethics for professors

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Doing right by students: professional ethics for professors

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Title: Doing right by students: professional ethics for professors
Author: Fassett, William E
Abstract: Academic interest in professional ethics burgeoned during the 1970s and 1980s, subsequent to public awareness of ethical failures in law, medicine, business, and government. Only recently, however, did academics turn their attention to the ethics of the academy itself. New models of academic ethical behavior developed during the 1980s drew heavily on the work of medical ethicists, but failed to recognize that differences between the professoriate and other professions ought to result in different principles for professors' guidance.This work formulates a set of ethical principles specific to the relation between professors an their students in American higher education.Chapter I explores the applied ethics literature for a method to identify and validate ethical principles applicable to a given profession. Drawing on the work of Rawls, Beauchamp and Childress, and Jonsen and Toulmin, a quasi-casuistic approach is adopted whereby provisional principles are tested against considered judgments in cases.Chapter II begins the search for a list of provisional principles. The nature of the academic profession and its claims is developed from an historical review. Then six existing approaches to ethics in higher education are examined; Alethetropism; the Medical Ethics Model; the Fiduciary Relationship Model; the Power Disparity Model; Codification; and Nel Noddings's version of a Caring Perspective. Finally, three classes of ethical challenges in academia (Decline of an Ethical Ideal; the Professorate as Title to a Sinecure; and Role Conflicts) are elucidated and discussed.Chapter III explores constellations of roles and the role-sets of professors and students to further characterize the nature of ethical expectations for the academic profession. The set of provisional principles is completed: alethetropism (the creation of an environment in which truth is respected); nonmaleficence; respect for autonomy; justice; and trustworthiness. Exclusion of beneficence and fidelity from the academic model is justified.Chapter IV develops a taxonomy of professors' ethical failures which classifies 43 cases drawn from a review of 129 case reports in the legal literature, the news media, and the secondary literature. By case discussions, the provisional list of principles is validated, and its utility in conjunction with a caring perspective is defended.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 1992

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