Leadership Education

Philosophy 118

Moral Problems: a LAS required Course

When you think about Philosophy many people think about wisdom and beliefs. When I think about it… I think of a semester with Gary Fuller and a semester of discussing how to decide if something is moral or not. The phrase “we are going to slow down our thinking” echos throughout Anspach every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 AM. This class has been very interesting to take compared to many of my other classes. I mean this in a good way because most of my class is based on discussion and I have learned so much about various issues in today’s society.

So what have I learned while taking Moral Problems? Somewhat building off of the Debate class we took as a cohort in the Fall of 2016, I learned more about how to create an argument and back it up with logic and reason. During the class we discussed many “hot” topics in society today. This included abortion, euthanasia, terrorism, war, and other issues in the news today. With each topic, we broke it down into smaller sections and talked about whether it was morally right, morally wrong, or situational based. When deciding whether an issue is morally right or wrong, we employed the idea of a teeter-totter. Picture the issue in the middle of the teeter-totter and one side being right and the other side wrong. As we added reasons for each, on the appropriate side, the teeter totter would metaphorically go back and forth until the class had decided. Additionally, during class it was okay to have opposing ideas to one another as long as we could back up our ideas with well thought out reasons. Mornings spent hashing through opposing views sure got our brains working at 8:00 AM! ¬†One example of opposing views was that physician assisted suicide is wrong because it allows man to play God. While the opposing view was that physician assisted suicide is right because it acknowledges someone’s human right to die with dignity. Whatever side of the teeter-totter our personal beliefs stacked up on, we had to explain or defend with solid reasons and a strong argument. Finally, Moral Problems provided an opportunity for me to deepen my understanding about so many current topics or issues that I knew about and thought I understood. This class opened my eyes up to more aspects of euthanasia and terrorism and I now know more and can much more skillfully engage in discussion with others.

How does this pertain to Leadership? Overall, philosophy and learning a little bit about it can help a leader greatly. Specifically, I think it has helped me with understand how to decide if an issue is morally right. This is not a decision that a leader can determine simply from their own perception or beliefs. As leaders, we must carefully consider both sides of the teeter-totter and have substantial reasons to back up any moral determination. As leaders, it benefits us to deepen knowledge and understanding on both sides of an issue. Without deep understanding and the ability to engage in moral discussions, how can leaders truly influence others?

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