February 28, 2006

Calling all Bloggers

Chris MacDonald, who writes the business ethics blog, is also President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Practical Ethics. In his President's Message [PDF link] he proclaims that reports of the death of the blog as an academic resource have been greatly exaggerated, and in fact calls for more, better blogs in ethics:
I think thoughtful ethics blogs by people with training in ethics have the potential to be incredibly useful. First, of course, a good blog is a great way for readers “in the business” to keep up with current events and current controversies. Reading the AJOB blog is my primary means of keeping in touch with events in the world of bioethics, now that I’ve shifted most of my research to the world of business ethics.

Secondly, blogs can be useful teaching tools. One friend tells me he’s using my business ethics blog as a source of up-to-the-minute case-studies for discussion in one of his classes. Of course, a blog will never provide the kind of in-depth analysis and historical perspective that a good case book does; but then again, case books tend to be full of examples – the Ford Pinto, the Exxon Valdez – that happened before the current crop of undergrads was even born.

Finally, I think high-quality ethics blogs make a serious contribution to public discourse. A good ethics blog doesn’t just alert people to stories; a good ethics blog should provide at least a little educated insight. So, when a story pops up about the “dangers” of videogames? Here are the basics – a few sentences – of the ethics of product safety. A story about accusations of conflict of interest? Here’s at least a definition of the concept. I find I use my blog the way I use media interviews: not as a chance to give indepth analysis, but as an opportunity to give just enough insight to raise the average educated person’s understanding of a given story one notch, to show that there can be more than knee-jerk moralizing when it comes to ethically contentious issues.

Well no surprise that we agree, but this essay is not only worth reading, it is worth printing and giving to your luddite colleagues who still cannot figure out how an academic could possibly make responsible use of something that is also used by Wonkette.

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