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COM 468 Week 3 notes

by: Taylor McAvoy

COM 468 Week 3 notes Com 468

Taylor McAvoy
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These notes cover our discussion on ethical philosophers and application to modern media and journalism. These notes include descriptions on our hand outs and class survey results.
Media Ethics
Class Notes
ethics, religion, philosophy, ethics philosophy, Survey, Media
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This 12 page Class Notes was uploaded by Taylor McAvoy on Friday October 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Com 468 at University of Washington taught by UNDERWOOD,DOUGLAS M in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 38 views. For similar materials see Media Ethics in Journalism and Mass Communications at University of Washington.


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Date Created: 10/14/16
Week 3 Lecture 4 Tuesday, October 11, 2016 In history and even today we battle and ebb and flow between the desire for freedom and the need for security People who wrote the constitution wanted a reasonable amount of freedom and security Background philosophical framework (Key dichotomies) All these issues are present in our political discourse 1. Freedom versus Security 2. Individual liberty (Libertarianism) versus Social Responsibility (Communitarianism) 3. Democracy versus Authority 4. Optimism about (Trust in) Human Nature versus Pessimism (Cynicism) about Human Nature  See it through history with Hobbes who believed in authority to maintain security and Locke who believed in people working together to find peace 5. Absolute Truth versus Relative Truth  Example in class about the presidential debate when Hillary Clinton was asked about her relation to the truth and responded using Abraham Lincoln  Lincoln told certain groups of people one version of truth and other groups a different version in order to attain a higher moral goal of cooperation and agreement 6. Liberalism versus Conservatism  This may be a product of our education but that does not mean that any one person's view is more valuable than other's Philosophers tend to fall one way or another on each of these key dichotomies Journalists look for an ethical framework to frame the news, especially political news EX: During Trump's speeches, journalists are stuck in a certain area and not allowed to leave while they are jeered at by the crowd Very conservative or very liberal- yet both hate the press and think the media misrepresents them and/or bias against them The 10 commandments probably come from tribal codes and even before moses Most philosopher's ideas combined with their own philosophy that is packaged in a way that appeals to their society Most also didn't often line up with their own philosophy and ethical principles but the ideas they presented were powerful Women got the vote in 1920- writing pior used "he" and "man" as a general term to apply to everyone Major Philosophers and Their Key Philosophical Contributions to Journalism Ethics 1. Plato a. Know the Good is to Do the Good  People who knew and were educated about the good of society would be able to do good in their society Trust in people that if they know they will do the right thing- goes along with journalism that  public have the right to know and people will act if they know b. Philosopher King  Even though people modify themselves to societal values, it will not be enough  There has to be a perfect Greek citizen that will act as an ethical king and have an executive decision  EX: Abraham Lincoln told different things to different groups and we don't like to be reminded that he lied sometimes- repealed habeus corpus- bad for journalists at the time  The reason we have a president- what if the senate chose the president instead? c. Social Good Above Personal Freedom d. Knowledge is like Shadow on a Cave Wall  The real world is a shadow of a much more real and spiritual world beyond material values  Idealism- a world exists that we can't fully understand except by spirit- logos force e. Ideal Greek Citizen (Cardinal Virtues)  People will modify themselves to virtues of the society  We still live by these values  Need to sacrifice something for the greater good f. Importance of Idealism g. Importance of the State 2. Aristotle  Plato's student  Embraced many but not all of his values  Christianity absorbed a lot of Aristotle's values and ethics and infused it in Jesus's teachings a. The Golden Mean (Be moderate, search for the middle ground)  More individualistic and more faith in people's ability to be democratic  Still for educated, literate, and prepared wealthy citizens  Compromise b. Importance of Individual c. Importance of Achieving Self Fulfillment and Happiness  Self-fulfillment and happiness leads to a better citizen because they have responsibility and a reason to participate d. Danger of Collectivism  Danger of the government controlling people e. Use of Reason  Moderation and compromise  Importance to the whole society even at some sacrifice f. Use of the Scientific Method g. Ethics are More Situational than Absolute  The world teaches us about ethics and character that are always moving  The importance of moderation and compromise- finding a middle ground for both sides h. Importance of Developing Individual Character 3. Milton  Poet, Thinker, writer, wealthy and respected protestant  Wrote pamphlets anonymously because they were often against the higher power  Hypocritically, he persecuted Catholics who wrote about their views but was not ostracized for his own a. Self-Righting Principle (In an Equal Contest between Truth and Falsehood, Truth will Prevail)  Most people in arguments would be wealthy and educated protestants  Still, there was nothing to fear from entering a discussion because truth would prevail  Not only would it win, but disagreement would make truth stronger by reinforcement b. Seeking to do God’s will c. Marketplace of Ideas  Falsehood will make truth stronger because you have to wrestle with the conflict and prove the truth  Rigid objectivity- present both sides and argue for and against  Let people debate and discuss and don't censor 4. Hobbes  A product of the English civil war  Atheist  Very cynical about philosophy of human nature  Anxious person  Civil war would tear up conflicts and create despair of others a. Security is Better than Anarchy (Social Contract)  Contract with the government to keep security b. Humans are Selfish, Brutish, and Violent (Desire versus Aversion)  Not interested in what people say but what they do  People do not have a clear perception of who they are c. Importance of the Leviathan  Metaphor for the monarchy d. Truth cannot be fully Understood e. Importance of Facts (Inventor of Social Science) 5. Locke  Philosophical foundation for the US constitution  His peak of ideas were 100 years before the constitution a. Tabula Rasa  We are all born an empty slate and we fill it in life b. Importance of Individual (Social Contract) c. Science are God given Laws of Nature d. Reason is God given Path to Truth  God set the earth in motion and gave people the reason and mind to figure out how it works  The laws of science and nature guide us  Divine sanctioned scientific view e. Natural Rights  Fundamental rights as individuals form traditions and customs that cannot be violated by the government  Magna Carta  Common law  Defined broadly  Motivated colonial legislature and revolution f. Majority Rule g. Right of Revolution  If an unjust ruler is in power, the people have a right to revolt and leave  Social contract h. Ethics is Balancing Individual and Social Concerns i. Property is Good  Helped people build character and to be good citizens 6. Hume  Atheism/ agnostic  More skepticism as science became more popular a. Struggle of Custom versus Reason (or Impressions versus Ideas)  We live in a struggle because we are bread to accept customs but they don't tell us everything  We have stereotypes that don’t give us a full picture - in our nature b. Importance of Development of Character c. Selflessness is an Innate Trait  Empathy too d. Value of Skepticism (We can only draw Probable Conclusions)  Helps to dispel stereotypes and get a clear view of an issue Week 3 Lecture 5 Thursday, October 13, 2016 Ethics Survey results Where ethics come from (1-10, highest number is highest emphasis): 1. Family 7.95 2. Life Experience 7.75 3. Conscience 6.09 4. Peers 6.01 5. School 5.85 6. Church 4.59 7. Media 4.48 8. Bible 4.44 9. Other religious texts 2.98 Religion or Spirituality is important: Disagree or strongly disagree 18.5 percent (15) Indifferent 32 percent (26) Agree or strongly agree 49.5 percent (40) I definitely believe in God or Divine power: Yes 45.5 percent (37) No 35.5 percent (29) No opinion 19 percent (15) Ethics and Morals are based upon (1-5, highest is highest emphasis) 1. Personal conscience 4.64 2. Gut Feelings 4.62 3. Laws of nation 4.21 4. Universal Ethics 4.11 5. Golden rule 4.05 6. Ten commandments 3.29 7. Karma 3.29 8. Teachings of Jesus 2.80 9. Eye for an eye 2.55 10. Code from other faiths 2.48 11. Fear of God's punishment 2.25 Do you belong to a church or religious organization: Yes- 31 No- 50 Attend church: Yes (at least sometimes) - 57 Never - 23 Which church raised: None 29 Catholic 26 Christian 14 Presbyterian 14 Baptist 2 Islam 2 Unification 1 Church of Christ 1 Russian Orthodox 1 Buddhist 1 Assemblies of God 1 Religion in terms of values and ethics Where values and ethics come from for journalists 1. Personal conscience 89% 2. Golden rule 86% 3. Universal ethics 71% 4. Laws 68% 5. Gut feelings 64% 6. Teachings of Jesus 63% 7. 10 commandments 56% 8. Codes from other faiths 16% 9. Fear of punishment 10% 10. Eye for an eye 6% Journalists and the media have no hostility toward religion but the results are more secular- most think its fine as a part of modern society and fine in private life What's the stereotypical view of journalists and religion?  Journalists and the media are hostile to religion, secular and morally relativistic  Journalists are more secular but not more than any other professionalism Tribalized world EX: choosing college- higher education 7. Machiavelli- Italian advisor to Austrian prince a. Practical View of Ethics b. Ends Justify the Means c. Success if What Counts  Manipulative- changing values to obtain success  This was important to his culture when the Austrian prince was in power because he believed that it would be better for the country d. Bypass Ethics if Something Works 8. Rousseau- French Philosopher- radical especially in view from the British a. Faith in the People (Social Contract)  If the social contract is violated, the people have a right to revolution b. General Will (Seeking to Do What is in Good of Community) versus the Will of All (Aggregate of Selfish Interests)  Faith in people that they will understand the good of the community even if it limits their individual wishes sometimes c. Right of Populist Revolt d. Freedom Must be Tempered With Concern for Society e. Romantic Mysticism/Importance of Feeling and Passion  Mystic power of the people to change society if they were free to do so  Trust in the common people, not the elites  The idea that the child is father to the man  If you give a child the space to grow and develop on its own, that child will grow to be the best version of themselves f. Fault of the World Blamed on Society, Not the Individual (We are born Free but are everywhere in chains) g. Importance of Equality and Fraternity h. Property is Bad  Makes people selfish and tolerate inequality 9. Voltaire - French and English influence on American values a. "I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it"  Iconic axiom as inspiration for journalism b. Many think of him as one of the first "advocacy" journalists/ believed in the education function of journalism c. Foe of organized religion but believed in a reasonable, "deist" God  Science was developing and showed technology as sophisticated  God as the prime mover and started scientific law and that you followed God's path if you followed scientific reason d. Believed in toleration, rule of law, and freedom of opinion  But still a just law with expression tempered e. Not a communitarian like Rousseau  Yet still believed in the power of education and right to know f. Believed in general public was cruel and stupid  Wanted to see the history of regular people but did not trust general public g. Like Locke in his belief that God-given reason would lead people to empirical discoveries and recognition of the greatness of creation 10. Thomas Paine a. Seen as one of the first "investigative" journalists  Moralistic - wrote articles accusing officials of making profits off arms b. A prophet of democracy c. Englishman who came to America and then almost immediately too up the cause of the American revolutionary push to separate from England  Advocacy with George Washington  Propagandist for liberty d. Believed passionately in the "rights" of humankind e. Opposed aristocratic values and called for world uprising against aristocracy f. Believed that common people had natural wisdom to make democracy a success  Common sense- using Lockes values that became a foundation for the revolution g. Believed in passion and reason, but passion was his calling card h. Like Voltaire, a "deist" and vigorous foe of Christian orthodoxy i. "Prophetic" personality who was willing to suffer for his beliefs 11. John Stuart Mill- Raised by his father to be "engineered" - the perfect genius a. Utilitarianism (The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number of People)  Journalists are not afraid to call out the miscreant in order to do the most good for the most people  Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable b. Importance of Individual Liberty  Suffered a nervous breakdown and embraced the romantics with good in passion  Developed modified libertarianism view c. Danger of Pressure to Conform  Industrial period where mass society is moving away from traditional ways of life and working in factories  Advocated for expanding voting and democracy to include the mass society and working class d. Modified Libertarianism (Only Limit on My Rights Is What Encroaches on Rights of Others) e. Individual Happiness Flows to the Benefit of Society 12. Kant- German Philosopher Key thinker to this day- makes a case for modern physics a. Categorical Imperative (I Should Only Do What I Believe Should be a Binding Principle for All)  Any ethical action should be binding for all b. Importance of Principle (Absolute Rational Rules that Govern Ethical Activity without Exception) c. Importance of Duty d. Means are always Paramount over Ends  A journalist should never sacrifice means in order to get a good story (never lie or cheat or not reveal that you're a journalist)  Would not approve of setting up a sting operation even if the people you spy on are wrong and need to be exposed  No gossip  Absolutist 13. Nietzsche- German Philosopher a. Personal Creation of Values b. The Importance of the Morally Superior Person (Overman or Superman)  Some people are so specially gifted, talented, or intelligent that they should be the one's in power  Manic depression- starts to think of himself as grandiose in manic periods c. Beware of Taking Values from the Majority Be ready to adapt and take your own path  d. Importance of Passion and the Romantic Imagination 14. Confucius/Han Fei/Mo Tzu a. Emphasis on community and value of social unit  Communitarian- emphasis on respect for authority and family social unit b. Loyalty to leadership  Still gaging whether or not a leader was just c. Stress proper conduct d. Desire for social stability e. Too much freedom is dangerous  Positive faith in individual people- people are social and want to be social- human nature is social 15. Kierkegaard/Jaspars/Sartre/Camus (Existentialists)  Common with stoic in Greece- Not strong religious and construct of meaning  A philosophy for people without a philosophy a. Importance of individual authenticity  Go your own path even if it's difficult b. Don’t sacrifice self to the collective c. High respect for subjective orientation but respect for facts d. Value the rebel  Change yourself before you change society  Critical of the world  Willingness to go on even though you don't have a belief e. Maturity demands realism and moderation f. Change self as a way to change society 16. James/Dewey (Pragmatists) practicality Argued this is the best philosophy for America - not tied down a. Truth is never Absolute  Always changing within society b. Seeking truth (proper ethics) is a process never an end  Open to experimentation and teaches that we have to modify philosophy to adapt to a modern world c. Emphasis upon action (testing oneself in the world) d. Emphasis upon experimentation e. Ethics tend to be relative  When is it ok to do harm to a source or someone you are writing about  Ethical dilemmas are constantly changing f. Emphasis is upon what works (the pragmatic) 17. Hegel- German philosophy - core foundation that influenced Marx a. Dialectic process  History is working out of new problems  History contains the seeds of its own destruction- humans can't outfox history b. Romantic idealism c. Faith in the state as the ultimate authority d. Goal is the romantic blending of the individual with the spirit of the culture 18. Marx- Class conflict in the industrial age The elite oppressing the working class a. Ends justify the means b. Violence may be necessary to achieve a higher end c. From each according to ability, to each according to need d. Emphasis on the collective, the state e. Necessity of an elite to lead the masses to right decisions  Sometimes there needs to be an elite class to lead- paradox? f. Romantic faith in ultimate ability of masses to achieve an egalitarian utopia.  You can outfox history  Believed in a world where workers would overthrow the elite and create the ideal society 19. Sissela Bok a. Principal of Veracity b. Lying may benefit you but it undermines the trust that people need to have in each other to live together c. liar is a free rider who wants others to do their part to maintain the system while skipping his/her own part d. she does find narrow exceptions where lying is okay e. the test for this is if the person believes the lie would be accepted and forgiven by a “reasonable” public that would understand the context and circumstances


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