Approaches to Ethics

What is the basis for statements about the ethics of learning analytics? In this module we look at differnet approaches to ethics, ranging from ethical character, appeal to consequences, moral imperatives, and ethical duties. We also loso look at concepts such as justice, fainess and equity.


Module 5 - Introduction, Nov 08, 2021

Approaches to Ethics, Nov 08, 2021

Virtue and Character, Nov 09, 2021

Duty, Nov 11, 2021

Module 5 - Discussion, Nov 12, 2021

Consequentialism, Nov 15, 2021

Module 5 Part 2 - Introduction, Nov 15, 2021

Social Contracts, Nov 17, 2021

Metaethics, Nov 18, 2021

The End of Ethics, Nov 19, 2021

Module 5 - Part 2 - Discussion, Nov 19, 2021

Live Events

2021/11/08 12:00 Module 5 - Introduction

2021/11/12 12:00 Module 5 - Discussion

Your Posts

AI and education: Guidance for policy-makers
UNESCO, 2021/11/08

This report (50 page PDF) begins by outlining AI essentials and then takes a risk-benefit approach to assessing the impact of AI on education. It then looks at the linkage between AI and the UN's strategic development goal on education (SDG4), surveys a range of policy approaches, and makes key recommendations, none of which will strike anyone as particularly surprising, flowing as they do from a fairly orthodox management strategy of defining an overall vision, interdisciplinary planning and inter-sectoral governance. The report recommends steering " AI-and-education policy development and practices towards protecting human rights and equipping people with the values and skills needed for sustainable development  and effective human-machine collaboration in life, learning and work."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

What Should we do with the Art of Moral Monsters?
John Danaher, Philosophical Disquisitions, 2021/11/18

This is one of those questions that perplex philosophers: how to think about the art produced by morally repugnant people. The harm has already been done and the people have either been punished or passed on. But is the art somehow tainted by the deeps of its creator? This article looks at the issues surrounding the question.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Individualism-Collectivism: A Study of Cross-Cultural Researchers
C. Harry Hui, Harry Triandis, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2021/11/17

"Collectivism can be defined as (1) concern by a person about the effects of actions or decisions on others, (2) sharing of material benefits, (3) sharing of nonmaterial resources, (4) willingness of the person to accept the opinions and views of others, (5) concern about self-presentation and loss of face, (6) belief in the correspondence of own outcomes with the outcomes of others, and (7) feeling of involvement in and contribution to the lives of others."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

A Theory of Justice: An Introduction to John Rawls
Link Daniel, Medium, 2021/11/17

This article describes John Rawls's A Theory of Justice and contains "an outline of justice as fairness, utilitarianism and intuitionism, reflective equilibrium and method, the two principles of justice, the original position, the presentation of alternatives, the argument for justice as fairness, the institutions of a just society, and intergenerational justice."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]


Maybe ethics is relative, and if it's relative by profession, maybe it's relative by culture. For example, different societies view the role of God in ethics differently. Does that mean then that different societies can have consistently different sets of ethics, or does it mean that some societies are basically unethical and other societies are ethical? And if so, how do you judge? These are tough questions, but these are the sorts of questions that we need to wrestle with.

The reason for this course, I could say, is that people haven't learned about ethics, haven't learned about analytics and haven't learned about education. And yet they still make pronouncements on these things. But I don't mean that people haven't been schooled by someone who will tell them about all these things. What I mean by that is that people haven't asked the questions.

For example, some discussions of ethics in artificial intelligence and analytics simply assumes that privacy is a right and must be respected. But when we push against that, and we must push against that, then we have to ask, what is the basis for such a statement? After all privacy protects criminals as well as the innocent.

And maybe it will seem like we should just balance between the two options, but what makes such a consequentialist approach, a technical approach, of balancing it the right approach? You wouldn't balance killing and not killing. Would you? Or would you? Sometimes it seems that our society would.

So those are the kinds of questions that need to be asked. They need to be asked, and we need to think about some of the answers that are possible before coming up with pronouncements on what the ethics of analytics and AI in learning and teaching looks like. If you haven't asked the question, you're not in a position to provide the answer. I think that's obvious, but but maybe it's not.

So our study of ethical approaches in this module, isn't about learning the different ethical approaches. It doesn't matter whether people know and can recite the different ethical approaches. Rather, what's important is that the different ethical approaches give us possible answers to some of these questions. And at some point in the process of reasoning about AI analytics and ethics, we should consider these possible answers. We don't have to remember them all, but we should consider them.

So that's what we're up to, in this module, is to look at the answers to some of these questions, both in terms of the ethical approaches, and in terms of meta-ethics that people have come up with over the years, and to think about  and where it will lead, how it may change our point of view. Certainly in my case, it did.

And toward the end of this module we will ask, basically, what is the end of ethics. What are we up to here? And does this discussion ever end?