Teaching Notes

You must become the flame on the candle. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Media Ethics. 02 Duty Proper

Due Feb. 14: Please briefly explain the difference between act and rule utilitarianism. Identify the philosopher associated with each. In the same post but a separate paragraph, also explain the difference between prima facie duties and duty proper, and identify the philosopher who developed these ideas.

Use the class handouts to help answer the question.

19 comments:

Daniel said...

There are two types of utilitarianism, act and rule. Act utilitarianism as defined by Jeremy Bentham is when someone acts in good faith without thinking of the long term consequences. While in rule utilitarianism as defined by J.S. Mill, focuses more on the long term repercussions of the actions in question.

W.D. Ross is the philosopher who came up with the Theory of Prima Facie duties and duty proper. Prima Facie suggest that at first somethings may be self-evident. However, duty proper is when these prima facie duties conflict, usually as a result of serious thought. Prima facie is a sort of "gut-instinct" which may be right sometimes, but duty proper is the only way to confirm or deny these instincts.

(I accidentally posted this on the media ethics 01 file.)

Kaitlyn said...

There are two types of utilitarianisms called act and rule. Act utilitarianism is associated with Jeremy Benthham and rule utilitarianism with J. S. Mill. They vary from eachother because act utilitarianism is the theory that one should always do whatever act will produce the most utility in the circumstances. Rule utilitarianism is the theory that one should always abide by a set of rules that will generally tend to maximize utility. For example, a rule utilitarian would never lie beacause since we were all babies, we've been told "don't lie, lying is very bad." They will stick to this "rule." However, an act utilitarian will generally follow the rules, but if a circumstance arises where more good would come from lying, they will do so.
W.D. Ross is the philosopher responsible for developing the ideas of prima facie and duty proper. A prima facie duty is what one thinks is their moral obligation as a pose to their duty proper which is their actual moral obligation.

Daniel Maudsley said...

Utilitarianism can be divided into two different ideas, and means of approach. There is Act Utilitarianism and Rule Utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is associated with Jeremy Bentham, and suggests that you should act in a way that produces the best consequences for the greatest amount of people. Rule utilitarianism is associated with J.S. Mill and suggests that we should follow certain rules that will lead toward general good.

Prima Facie is simply what a person believes should be their moral obligation, almost like a standard, and duty proper is just the actual moral obligations we hold onto for own sake.

Jenn M said...

Act Utilitarianism states that one should do the morally right action which will create the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Rule utilitarianism states that one should abide by a set of morally correct rules in which will generally make the greatest number of people happy. The philosopher associated with act utilitarianism is Jeremy Bentham, and the philosopher associated with rule is J.S. Mill.
W.D. Ross's Moral theory contains the ideas of prima facie duties and duty proper. Prima facie duties foundation is the relationship between people. It states what our moral duties should be. Duty proper is when two or more prima facie duties conflict with each other, and one had to to the morally right thing.

Yanna said...

Utlitarianism is broken into two sections: act and rule. Rule utilitarianism, first proposed by John Stuart Mill, is rigid in that a wrong action is always wrong regardless of the result of the action. Act utilitarianism on the other hand is a bit more flexible; it states that a wrong action may be "right" if the result benefits the greater good. Act utilitarianism was introduced by Jeremy Bentham.

W.D. Ross developed the ideas of prima facie duties and duty proper. Prima facie duties refer to moral standards stemming from past experiences that one should uphold. Duty proper is simply another way of saying moral obligation. Duty proper is derived from prima facie duties. A person can have many prima facie duties but there is only one duty proper for each situation.

Jimmy said...

Act Utilitarianism is associated with Jeremy Bentham who believes that one act will produce the greater good in a certain situation. Rule Utilitarianism associated with J.S. Mill is not so spontaneous. He believes that you can only do something for the greater good if it is good in every situation.

W.D. Ross's Prima Facie Duties say that some things are right despite the consequences. Ross's Duty Proper guides the Prima Facie Duties by telling which duty is more important to uphold.

Melissa Vitale said...

The act of utilitarianism proposed by Jeremy Bentham and J.S. Mills is performing the greater good for others without expecting anything in return. The rule of utilitarianism is to do on to others as you would want them to do to you.

Prima facie duties and duty proper was introduced by a philosopher named W.D. Ross. Duty proper is more of an obligation to do waht you think is right. Where as, prima facie is having morals that you have grown up with and developed over time, its a persons' belief of right and wrong.

danielle c. said...

Utilitarianism is often associated with the saying “the greatest good for the greatest number.” The act of utilitarianism is taking part in doing something good for the benefit of one’s self and others. Donating to charities is a prime example of acting on utilitarianism. The rule of utilitarianism is the idea of putting happiness and pleasure before sadness and suffering. It is a moral rule that must always be followed because otherwise there will be consequences to face. A Greek philosopher Epicurus was said to have come up with the idea of utilitarianism, but credit is given to Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

Prima facie and proper duty were introduced by philosopher W.D Ross. Prima facie is something that is obvious. Proper duty is a way to act upon the obvious (instinct) whether it is positive or negative.

coy pusey said...

Both act and rule are two major forms of utilitarianism. As defined by J. Bentham, Act is the action by someone thru good faith not thinking about its long term problems. On the other hand Rule utilitarianism defined by J.S. Mill, focuses more on the long term consequences of your the actions.

Prima Facie duties and Duty Proper was developed by a W.D. Ross a philosopher. Prima Facie is the feeling you get if what you're doing is correct, while Duty Proper deals with obivious or clear morals aka right from wrong.

Kristen said...

The first type of Utliltarianism is defined by Jeremy Bentham as Act Utilitarianism. It focuses on one act, or which act will provide the most happiness for the most people in a certain situation. Basically, which act will have the best consequences for the most number. The second type is Rule Utilitariansim, which was created by John Stewart Mill. Mill basically states that there are certain rules one must follow in order to create happiness, certain actions are inherently good and others are inherently bad. Basically it is the Golden Rule, the 10 Commandments, etc.

The philosopher who created the idea of Prima Facie duties and the Duty Proper was W.D. Ross. A Prima Facie duty is a moral obligation that one must hold (fidelity, reparations, gratitude, justice, beneficence, self-improvement,and nonmaleficence). A duty proper arises in a conflict with a prima facie duty, in which one must choose which duty is more important. For example breaking a promise to relieve distress.

Dana said...

Act Utilitarianism is a concept brought about by Jeremy Bentham that states that among all other alternatives a person is given, the act that they choose was chosen for the greater good of all considered. John Stewart Mill's concept was Rule Utilitarianism. This concept stated that unless the action being performed belonged to a set rule, it was not to be used. The rule is for the greater good and any action against it is not ethical and shouldn't be taken.

W.D. Ross introduced the theory of Prima Facie Duties (fidelity, reparation, gratitude, justice, beneficence, self-improvement, and nonmaleficence) which stated that one should take things at face value or on their first impression unless to be proven wrong. Duty Proper is when one has Prima Facie Duties that conflict and an action is chosen after serious thought has been made in order to trust in the first instinct.

Rachel said...

Act utilitarianism, as defined by Jeremy Bentham, is doing what's best for the majority of people at that moment. Rule utilitarianism, as defined by J.S. Mill, is following guidelines that do not change no matter what the circumstance, but over time benefit everyone. Prima Facie duties and duty proper as defined by W.D. are instincts innate in everyone (duties) or non-instinctual ethical action (duty proper). Basically a duty proper is doing what you know is morally and ethically right, but a prima facie duty is the action of doing something that you feel obligated to do regardless of whether or not it's ethically right.

O said...

Act and Rule are two forms of utilitarianism, it is defined by J. Bentham, that Act is the action by which someone with good faith not thinking about the long term problems. Rule utilitarianism defined by J.S. Mill, focuses more on the long term consequences of someone the actions.

Prima Facie duties and Duty Proper was developed by a philosopher W.D. Ross,in which Prima Facie is the feeling one get when they are doing something correct, while Duty Proper deals with obivious or right from wrong.

Ryan said...

Act Utilitarianism is associated with Jeremy Bentham. Act utilitarianism states that the morally right action is the one which produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Rule utilitarianism is associated with J.S. Mill. It states that the morally right action is the one that is in accordance with a moral rule whose general observance would create the most happiness.

Prima Facie duties and duty proper are based on the theories of W.D. Ross. Prima facie suggests that on first examination, a matter appears to be self-evident from the facts.Duty proper is the actual moral obligation to do something.

lorraine said...

Act utilitarianism, associated with Jeremy Bentham, observes the potential consequences and chooses what will create the most happiness. Rule utilitarianism, associated with John Stuart Mill, observes rules that lead to the greatest good.

W.D. Ross developed the prima facie duties and duty proper. Prima facie duties are things that are self-evident, which in moral decision making means it's conditional. Duty proper is a moral obligation.

ashley said...

Act Utilitarianism Act, Jeremy Bentham suggests that decisions are maded based on the consequences that positively effects the greatest amount of people. J.S. Mill, suggests that there are guidelines that shoukd be fallowed to make a good decision for the general good, this is Rule utilitarianism.

Philosopher W.D Ross introduced Prima facie and proper duty were. Prima facie is something that is stemmed from experience. Proper duty is a way to act upon the common sence and is unsystematic and follows no logical principle.

Jamie said...

Utilitarianism can be broken down into two main concepts, act and rule utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is “the greatest good for the greatest number”; meaning that if something is good for most, therefore it must be good for all. Act utilitarianism, formulated by Jeremy Bentham, requires us to do what is best for the largest amount of people and what will produce the highest amount of satisfaction among these people. Whereas, rule utilitarianism concentrates on the long term effects of a particular decision, weighing out the benefits and consequences of a decision based on a particular set of rules. Regardless of the outcome of a decision, Mill created these rules to be strictly followed.

W.D Ross can be credited with the formulation of the ideas prima facie duties and duty proper. Duty proper is the obvious moral obligation one holds to himself in situations. Prima facie duties is the thought of what is morally right or wrong.

Lisa said...

Utilitarianism is the ethical standpoint that an action is right is it produces the more benefits than harm for the people affected.

Jeremy Bentham's is associated with the term act-utilitarianism or "extreme" utilitarianism which is the original form of the principle. It holds that a person should act according to which choices overall consequences will be better than or as good as any other options for action available.

John Stuart Mill elaborates on this by saying that the consequences are not so easily predicted and so instead a person should follow the rule that has the best consequences when regularly followed... follow the rules. - Rule Utilitarianism.

W.D. Ross's seven prima facie duties are fidelity, reparation, gratitude, non-maleficence, justice, beneficence, and self-improvement and he believed that every one owed these actions to society. Duty proper is the result of deliberation and the prima facie duties conflicting with one another.

Sorry for the late post. Didn't realize this was up here.

Jelena said...

There are two types of utilitarianism ,act and rule. The act utilitarian is the one that is concerned only about the results or consequences of a single act, whereas the rule utilitarian is concerned about the consequences that result of following a rule of certain behavior. Act utilitarianism is defined by Jeremy Bentham and rule utilitarianism is defined by J.S Mill.
Prima facie is what we believe are our moral obligations, for example duty to keep promises. Duty proper is the actual moral obligation we have. The philosopher who came up with these ideas is W.D. Ross.

Is Media Ethics Education DOA?

It sounds like a joke Jay Leno would tell during his opening monologue on The Tonight Show. Hear about the graduate students at the prestigious journalism school? They got caught cheating on an ethics exam. Ha ha ha. Except that’s actually what happened at Columbia University in late 2006.

Students had been given 48 hours to sign onto a Columbia Web site to take the final exam in a required course called “Critical Issues in Journalism.” They then had 90 minutes to answer two essay questions.

The students were warned to not discuss the questions with each other, but apparently they did. As the headline over a story reporting the scandal put it, “Ivy J-Schoolers Fail Ethics, Ace Irony.”

No one admitted cheating despite pressure from the school’s administrators and pleas from classmates, who feared the scandal would damage the market value of their degrees. Meanwhile, the teacher of the course, New York Times columnist Samuel G. Freedman, refused to comment. But if the disgruntled posts on RateMyProfessors.com are any indication, his students hadn’t exactly been soaking up knowledge. “Maybe he could e-mail his ‘speeches’ to the students instead of making everyone suffer through the most wasted class in j-school. . . ,” one read.

There’s an old cowboy saying that goes, “When your horse dies, get off.” Journalism ethics education is a dead horse. Or else those aren’t vultures circling in the sky.

A Question for Socrates


The question of how ethics is learned, or even if it can be, is as old as Western philosophy. In Plato’s dialog Meno the title character asks, “Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by practice; or if neither by teaching nor practice, then whether it comes to man by nature, or in what other way?” Of course, Socrates, being Socrates, resists giving a definite answer. But we can’t. The sad fact is, students had better get an effective ethics education now or they may never.


Last summer I conducted an ethics workshop for some reporters and editors at the Poughkeepsie Journal, a small daily in upstate
New York owned by Gannett Co., Inc. The woman in charge of organizing the workshop had supplied us with several case studies to examine. I remember one dealt with a classic conflict of interest, a copy editor who moonlighted at a local radio station.

But what I remember most is the air of defeat that clung to the staff as we sat on hard plastic chairs in the break room discussing the cases. I could hear in their voices the bitterness and cynicism of employees forced to follow corporate policies they despised. Recently, for example, the paper had started running display ads on the front page and section fronts, a much more grievous ethical lapse, their mumbled asides suggested, than anything the case studies might have to offer.

I don’t want my students to ever wear the gray, defeated expression I saw that day on the faces at the Journal. But given the downward direction in which the media are moving, and fast, how in the world can I prevent it from happening?

Teaching Media Ethics by Telling Stories

A friend of mine who teaches at a big Midwestern university recounts in class the events of her first week as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune. She was sent to Duluth to cover Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey on the campaign trail. When they were introduced, Humphrey vigorously shook her hand. “Oh yes, Susan,” he said, “I read your stuff all the time.” He couldn’t have read her stuff, though; she hadn’t written anything yet. “Just a few words,” she explains to her students, “but words that taught this fledging reporter a great lesson about pols and the little lies they tell.”

I usually find occasion during the semester to quote I. F. Stone’s dictum, “Every government is run by liars and thieves, and nothing they say should be believed,” to make the same point. But Susan’s story makes the point better. That’s because it has existential force. Her story vividly captures in a way a secondhand quote can’t the realities of a reporter’s life.

Some might think telling “war stories” is a waste of precious class time. I’ve a colleague who didn’t want to fall into the “trap” of regaling students with stories ad nauseam (“which, let’s face it, is easier than teaching or grading,” he said). So one semester he kept track. When he toted it all up at the end, he was surprised that he’d used less than an hour - out of 45 – talking about his newspaper experiences. And yet, he admitted, it was his stories that students seemed to remember most.

“Stories teach us how to live,” Daniel Taylor said in his essay, “The Ethical Implications of Storytelling.” What he meant was that stories preserve our experience for contemplation and evaluation. Although not all stories carry a heavy message, there’s an entire category of stories, so-called “exemplary tales,” that are told to convey a moral.

Our war stories are potentially just such tales. They can provide evidence, in ethicist John Barton’s words, of “how real human beings live through various crises and trials and remain human.” My colleague who kept tabs on his storytelling has described his stories as cautionary. Most, he said, deal with “screwups I learned from.”

But sometimes the storyteller and the audience can’t agree on what exactly the moral of a story is.

When Susan was a cub reporter on the Tribune, she interviewed the Beatles, who were on their second tour of the States. She got into their hotel room by dressing up as a waitress in an ugly, mustard-colored uniform and accompanying an actual room service waiter upstairs. Ringo took one look at her little plastic name tag – it read “Donna Brown” – and snorted, “What kind of name is that?” The waiter nudged her in the side. “Tell them what you real name is,” he urged. She did, as well as her reason for being there. Rather than throw her out, the Beatles politely answered her questions. They even let her phone for a photographer. The next day her story ran on the front page, with a photo of John sitting at a table and looking up at her and laughing as she poured coffee in his cup. She still has a glossy print of that photo somewhere.

Many of Susan’s students think she’s nuts for not having the photo hanging up in her office. They also think she’s nuts for saying she’d never participate in the same kind of stunt today. To her celebrity-struck students, disguising herself as a hotel waitress to get an interview with the Beatles seems soooo cool. They lose all sight of the fact that it wasn’t a story of vital public interest that demanded undercover methods.

Susan intends one lesson when she talks about her hard day’s night, but her students, living in a paparazzi-saturated culture, draw another. “It may be a lost cause,” she remarked to me.

Or maybe not. Negotiations over what the point of a story is can be part of the point of the story. In the process of negotiating, we test different interpretations, try out different themes. This is helpful. This is educational. Lawrence Kohlberg, the Harvard psychologist famous for his research on the stages of moral development, contended that “the teaching of virtue is the asking of questions. . . not the giving of answers.” Stories don’t necessarily have to yield clear moral rules to be of value. It’s enough sometimes if they just give us something to think about.