Moral Decision Making: How to Approach Everyday Ethics

Course No. 4222
Professor Clancy Martin, Ph.D.
University of Missouri, Kansas City
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Course No. 4222
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Course Overview

What does it mean to live a good life? If we want to live ethically, it stands to reason that our daily habits and overall goals must align themselves with a certain moral code. Is it ethical to pursue money, property, and social status? Do we have a moral obligation to give to charity, take care of our aging parents, or shop locally? Where is the line between personal freedom and societal good?

These questions and more are at the heart of what it means to be a human being in our world today. We are constantly faced with ethical challenges, whether or not we’re aware of them. As such, we make important ethical decisions all the time—as professionals, consumers, citizens, parents, sons and daughters, and friends. Yet as we go through our daily lives, we seldom take the time to consider the wide-ranging implications of our actions. What’s more, many of us have never had any formal training in ethics, which means we may not have the right philosophical framework to think through some of our most complex decisions.

Moral Decision Making: How to Approach Everyday Ethics offers you the chance to reflect on some of the most powerful moral issues we face—as well as providing a framework for making the best decisions that will lead to a happier, more fulfilling life. Over the course of 24 thought-provoking lectures, Professor Clancy Martin of the University of Missouri–Kansas City introduces us to a variety of ethical “case studies”—the kind of difficult situations we have all faced at some point—and he shows us how great thinkers, from Socrates to Nietzsche to Bonhoeffer, approached similar problems.

Are profits and property the highest moral ends? When is it OK to lie? How should we handle heartbreak? There are no easy answers, but with an engaging blend of philosophical history and theory as well as real-world applications, Moral Decision Making: How to Approach Everyday Ethics provides an ideal framework for living the good life—for ourselves, for our family and friends, and for society at large.

Ancient Roots, Contemporary Applications

Philosophers have been wrestling with morality for at least 5,000 years, and Professor Martin clearly disseminates the wisdom of the world’s great thinkers from across the ages and around the world. In this course, you will

  • apply Aristotle’s range of thought to questions of individualism, social status, and generosity;
  • learn what Kant’s “categorical imperative” means for personal relationships and the contract of marriage;
  • see how Locke’s theory of property paved the way for a revolutionary new system of government;
  • contrast John Rawls’s and Robert Nozick’s theories of liberty and social justice;
  • find out why Andrew Carnegie said it was immoral to give money to panhandlers;
  • study the teachings of Eastern thinkers, including Confucius, Xunzi, Mencius, and the Buddha;
  • consider what a utilitarian calculus implies about genetic enhancements and torture.

In addition to examining the views of historically great philosophers, Professor Martin draws from 20th-and 21st-century thinkers from other fields, including economics, theology, business, psychology, and evolutionary biology. You’ll meet such figures as these:

  • John Maynard Keynes
  • Friedrich Hayek
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Lawrence Kohlberg
  • Carol Gilligan
  • Kenneth Arrow
  • Peter Singer
  • Martha Nussbaum

By introducing such a diverse array of thinkers, Professor Martin provides a complete picture of various ethical schools and approaches. But the real beauty of this course is in the way he applies this rich philosophical overview to our contemporary lives.

To take one example, Professor Martin notes in a discussion on gossip that “almost every conversation is a moral act.” Every time we have a discussion with someone, we are choosing, consciously or otherwise, whether to lie, or to gossip, or simply to engage in idle chatter when we could be doing some other, more enriching task.

With the right philosophical background, we can learn to recognize these moments, which will lead us closer to living the “good” life.

Keep an Open Mind in Everyday Dilemmas

According to Professor Martin, the trick is to understand that the mind is like a parachute; it only works when it’s open. Rather than take a side in any particular debate, this course provides a framework for thinking through a host of debates and dilemmas from all sides. You’ll explore all the ins and outs of issues such as these:

  • Business ethics
  • Property
  • Love and marriage
  • Privacy
  • Genetic engineering
  • Capital punishment
  • Animal rights
  • Recycling

The rapid advances in technology, from the medical world to social media, have created new ethical situations to navigate. Where is the line between privacy and security in a state where snooping is so easy? What obligations do we owe our aging parents, who might be reliant on our help? Do people have the right to die a “good death”? If so, what is the best way to make that happen? What are the ethical guidelines for genetic engineering?

These challenges are part of our modern world, and simply by living in our society, we all will confront some of these questions. It might seem that historical thinkers like Plato, Rousseau, and John Stuart Mill would have little to say about such contemporary dilemmas, but Professor Martin extrapolates from their ideas and shows how old methods can be used to solve new problems.

Rich Storytelling Brings These Case Studies to Life

Professor Martin’s approach in this course is to present an ethical question—for instance, is it acceptable for a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription for the morning-after pill on conscientious objection grounds?—and then to step back and interrogate the issue, bringing in ideas from different philosophers to highlight arguments on all sides of the debate.

Engaging stories and thought experiments put you in the shoes of someone facing a real-life dilemma, showing how different theories play such an important role on the stage of our everyday lives. The philosophers he references may have been speaking abstractly about liberty, property, conscience, and more, but the narratives in this course make complex philosophy easy to understand.

Professor Martin is a wonderful storyteller, and he himself has had a colorful and exciting life, particularly in business. He recounts stories of his travels and business ventures, making himself both a character in the thought experiment and a sympathetic guide. Without judgment, he helps you open the parachute of your mind and shows you how to navigate the age-old question of how you should live.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Why Be Good?
    Begin your survey of morality by asking some of the fundamental questions that philosophers have been grappling with for thousands of years. What is the source of morality? Is it culturally relative? Are humans innately good or evil? What role does society play in civilizing—or corrupting—us? x
  • 2
    Is It Ever Permissible to Lie?
    We’ve all told lies and can think of reasons to justify them, but philosophers are surprisingly divided on whether deceit is ever ethical. See what Plato, Kant, Machiavelli, Bonhoeffer, and others have said on the subject of why we lie, the relationship between truth and freedom, trust and intimacy, and more. x
  • 3
    Aren’t Whistle-Blowers Being Disloyal?
    Put yourself in the shoes of a company employee who knows his friend is doing something unethical. Would you rat out your friend for the sake of the business? Should you? Explore the mechanism of dissent, the nature of loyalty, and the courage it takes to stand up for one’s principles. x
  • 4
    What’s Wrong with Gossip?
    Humans are hardwired to enjoy talking about other people. Harmless chatter can be entertaining and establishes intimacy within social circles, whereas malicious gossip provides a feeling of superiority. Consider the ethical pitfalls of gossip before turning to the various types of criticism we can direct toward others—as well as the ethical nuances of criticism’s counterparts, flattery and praise. x
  • 5
    Do I Have an Obligation to Be Healthy?
    Shift your attention to the ethics of liberty, one of the most important moral values in Western society and a key value of American society. Is it ethical to eat, drink, and smoke whatever we want, wherever we want, and as much as we want? This lecture pits the views of Aristotle and John Rawls against those of Robert Nozick on individualism and self-determination. x
  • 6
    Can I Sneak a Grape or Two While Shopping?
    Examine the philosophical history of how and why property has become so closely tied to morality in our culture. From John Locke to Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman, you’ll find out how the pursuit of property ties in with the moral pillars of freedom and happiness in Western society. Then turn to Kenneth Arrow’s arguments in favor of regulating this pursuit. x
  • 7
    Is It Wrong to Make as Much Money as I Can?
    Continue your examination of wealth and society by looking at what several great thinkers have had to say about the role of money and work in the pursuit of the good life. You’ll unpack Aristotle’s philosophy of moderation, study the surprising origins of the Protestant work ethic, and reflect on the dangers of pursuing money at the expense of society at large. x
  • 8
    What Are My Obligations to the Poor?
    We know that most of the world’s religious traditions advocate giving money to the poor, but what do other, nonreligious thinkers have to say about charity? This lecture returns to Aristotle before introducing you to the worldviews of Andrew Carnegie and Peter Singer, both of whom will challenge what you think you know about charity and the poor. x
  • 9
    Can We Do Better Than the Golden Rule?
    This first in a series of lectures on interpersonal relationships examines what ethical obligations we have to others. How should we treat those around us? How can we resolve the tension between moral obligations to others with our personal freedom? Take an in-depth look at Kant’s categorical imperative, the idea that all humans are “ends in themselves.” x
  • 10
    Why Can’t I Just Live for Pleasure?
    Consider hedonism: one-night stands, flashy cars, exotic vacations. What could be wrong with such a life? Survey the philosophy of “utilitarianism,” the philosophy that morality is a matter of seeking the greatest happiness for the greatest number. After exploring the distinction between “pleasure” and “happiness,” you’ll take a look at key objections to utilitarian ethics. x
  • 11
    Why Can’t I Date a Married Person?
    Dive into the stormy, unpredictable world of love and marriage. To begin with, consider what romantic love is. After surveying four distinct types of love, this lecture helps you navigate the moral norms that govern marriage with a look at the philosophies of the ancient Greeks, Kant, and Nietzsche. x
  • 12
    Are Jealousy and Resentment Always Wrong?
    Continue your study of moral psychology with an exploration of heartbreak, jealousy, and resentment. After tracing the relationship between emotion and reason, and the voluntary and involuntary components of emotions, you’ll analyze Nietzsche and Hume’s arguments that emotional responses can generate entire moral systems. x
  • 13
    What Are the Rules for Respecting Privacy?
    In today’s world, technology has complicated the ethics of interpersonal relationships—especially in the realm of privacy. How much privacy are we entitled to? How do intrusions into our privacy affect our freedom and autonomy? Reflect on the arguments for giving up some privacy for security, as well as the dangers of giving up too much. x
  • 14
    What Do I Owe My Aging Parents?
    Many of us will one day find ourselves in the position of caring for an aging parent. What ethical obligations do we have? What is the best way to take care of the elderly in our society? Travel the world to see what philosophers ranging from Confucius to Plato to William James have to say about filial piety and the ethics of care. x
  • 15
    Should I Help a Suffering Loved One Die?
    Medical technology is prolonging our lives, for better and for worse. In this lecture, you’ll explore the myriad complexities around euthanasia. Is there such a thing as a “good death”? What counts as “natural causes”? Is there a moral distinction between “pulling the plug” and assisted suicide? Consider the ethical pros and cons. x
  • 16
    Is Genetic Enhancement “Playing God”?
    What if you had the opportunity to choose your child’s hair color? Or edit her DNA to protect against disease? Or determine your child’s intelligence and athletic ability? This kind of genetic programming is not as far-fetched as it sounds—and it raises a host of questions about human agency and social fairness. x
  • 17
    Is Conscientious Objection a Moral Right?
    Investigate the origins of “conscience.” Start with the ancient Greek view of “conscience” as an “inner demon.” Then turn to the social contract theory espoused by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, and the relationship between our individual consciences and society, law, and our obligations to each other. x
  • 18
    Is It Always Wrong to Fight Back?
    Return to the realm of emotions and consider three closely related phenomena: anger, revenge, and forgiveness. First, you’ll consider the moral utility of anger; then, you’ll explore the dictum of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” and see how vengeance, punishment, justice, and forgiveness are all more complicated than you might think. x
  • 19
    Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished?
    The United States is one of the few Western nations that still have the death penalty. In this lecture, you’ll examine several arguments for and against the death penalty—and you’ll survey the larger system of punishment and justice in terms of vengeance, retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence. x
  • 20
    Is Torture Ever Acceptable?
    The Geneva Conventions of 1949 clearly laid out an international prohibition against torture, but is there a philosophical case for torture? After exploring myriad objections to torture, this lecture unpacks a utilitarian argument for why torture may be necessary under certain conditions. x
  • 21
    Do Animals Have Rights?
    Why do we think it’s all right to eat certain animals but not others? Do nonhuman animals have some quality that suggests they have rights? Do the consequences of society’s “social contract” extend to animals? See what Kant, Peter Singer, and other moral philosophers say about rationality, sentience, and the ethics and economics of animal rights. x
  • 22
    Why Should I Recycle?
    What matters more, people or penguins? Because so much of our impact on the environment flies beneath our radar, the answer to this question is complex and has changed in recent years. In this lecture, you’ll examine Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development and apply them to pollution, waste, and the environment. Then consider the tension between corporate interests and environmental protection. x
  • 23
    Does It Matter Where I Shop?
    What kind of responsibilities do we have as citizens and consumers in terms of business, economic policy, and how we spend our dollars? Do we have an obligation to buy locally? To buy “free trade” products? After reviewing the economic theories of Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes, you’ll examine the contemporary force of globalization and the idea of a “global village.” x
  • 24
    What Would Socrates Do?
    Conclude your study of ethical decision making with a look at the difference between belief and knowledge. Socratic wisdom comes from a stance of skepticism, a willingness to ask questions to free ourselves from the danger of moral hypocrisy. Take this sense of curiosity and open-mindedness into the world after the end of the course. x

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Your professor

Clancy Martin

About Your Professor

Clancy Martin, Ph.D.
University of Missouri, Kansas City
Dr. Clancy Martin is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) and Professor of Business Ethics at UMKC's Henry W. Bloch School of Management. A specialist in moral psychology and existentialism, he earned his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin. A 2011-2012 Guggenheim Fellow, Professor Martin has authored, coauthored, and edited a variety of books in philosophy, including Love, Lies,...
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Moral Decision Making: How to Approach Everyday Ethics is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 35.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good introduction to the field of ethics I appreciated the application of philosophical principles of "greats", like Kant, to everyday dilemmas. Like many teachers who are detail-oriented, his manner and voice at first seemed rather dull, but as I listened, I really began to enjoy them.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intersting and easy to follow I really enjoyed this course. I have taken most of the Teaching Company's philosophy courses and this was relatively light and easy to follow. The professor is well-versed in the topic and draws from multiple sources to make his points. He is also very entertaining and has a led a rich life which makes his discussions that much more interesting. Although this course is unlikely to change anyone's mind, it is worthwhile listening to what major philosophers like Kant or Nietzsche have to say about taking care of one's parents, death penalty, stealing, etc. It is fascinating to see how they go about tackling these questions. The course is also valuable in that one is very unlikely to look up any given philosopher for their thoughts on such eclectic topics. The professor has done all the research for you. In short, I think the course is worth the listen and I recommend to everyone, perhaps especially to parents who want a deeper knowledge base to talk with their children.
Date published: 2016-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another excellent philosophy course I think this course was excellent. I chose it because I wanted to feed my Great Courses addiction on a long plane ride. I thought that an audio format course would be a good way to go. Each chapter was excellent and I like the way the professor presented the material (a good balance of ancient and modern philosophy). I absolutely did not find fault in the professor for using personal experience as examples. The professor never used an off-topic personal example. On the contrary, his experiences were relevant to the topics being discussed. I had some very good conversations with my wife and 2 teenage children about these issues as I moved through the course. That experience alone was worth 10 times what I paid for the course. If you are not a philosophy expert, but a person like me who studies philosophy as a hobby, I think you will enjoy this course.
Date published: 2015-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Contemporary, Practical and Personal Dr. Martin poses a series of twenty-three contemporary, ethical/moral issues from which he discusses how one can evaluate taking a moral position. Examples include: white-lying, petty stealing, taking a position on corruption in the workplace, working with aging, dying parents or family, obligations to those less fortunate, marital infidelity, and others. He spices these dilemmas with some of his personal experiences that challenged his thinking and ultimate decision-making. (Dr. Martin has been criticized by some reviewers for giving personal examples as irrelevant to a Great Course, but I found his personal experiences candid and refreshing.) Dr. Martin always quotes ancient and contemporary philosophers as how their writings would weigh on the issues he raises. Thus, this in not only a contemporary course, but relies on established philosophical writings as a reference point. As I went through each lecture, I did not always agree with the concluding position that Dr. Martin took on an issue. However, despite my occasional disagreement, I was forced to think about my position vis-à-vis Dr. Martin. I highly recommend this course to challenge one's thinking about contemporary moral and ethical issues
Date published: 2015-08-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Nothing New and disappointing I was excited to start listening to this course but was soon disappointed. The topics sounded interesting and fresh but the content was stale and offered nothing new. For me there was too much emphasis on ancient philosophers and not enough on modern day thought. I agree with another reviewer who was bothered by the way Mr. Clancy shared openly about what he saw as his brothers character flaws. Disclosing things about oneself can be a way to engage the listener, but publicly shaming a friend or colleague seems unnecessary, distracting, and well, morally offensive.
Date published: 2015-08-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good material, but flawed presentation I was very interested in these topics, but I thought Prof. Martin could have done a better job. Just a couple of examples. He often says things like "We all know ..... " and "We all agree ..." In fact, that's not true, as I didn't know in some cases what he was talking about. And it's presuming a great deal to think that everybody agrees with a certain value. I also think he is sloppy in his presentation to the point where his credibility is flawed. When he talks about the ethics of requiring pharmacists to dispense Plan B prescriptions, it's a good topic. But a couple of times he refers to pharmacists "prescribing" this drug. If a pharmacist did prescribe a drug, that pharmacist should lose his or her license. Yes, I knew what he was talking about. But Prof. Martin didn't make this crucial distinction. I think he also put too much emphasis on ancient examples from Plato and Aristotle and not enough on issues we face today. For example, what are the ethics of a convenience store clerk whose conscience says she should not sell cigarettes? Or a grocery clerk who doesn't believe in selling liquor?
Date published: 2015-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Energetic presentation of real life moral choices Very interesting presentation. The guide book was great, and the recommended readings were great. I enjoyed throughout, event though there are certainly points with which I disagree (but since he presented multiple sides of issues, one would probably have to disagree). There are some excellent lessons in this; I have already started going through it a second time.
Date published: 2015-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What makes us tick The psychological explanations for how we make ethical and moral decisions is a very wise way to approach this subject. Our personalities are entwined with our ethics; and the contributions of our most inner selves to these decisions are well explored in a very helpful and connected manner.
Date published: 2015-01-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Have lunch and conversation with a friend instead This course was incorrectly represented. This was not about moral decision-making, but a rendition of the lecturer's own misfortune and the unfortunate events in his family. Most of us buy a Great Course to "get away" and want to be on another level than ordinary daily life. This course provided none of that escape. Having listened to other courses on philosophers and philosophy, another recounting of what we already know caused me to shut off the course many times or fast forward to another lecture. The "dilemmas" presented were so basic that a two-year old would know the answer. This course lacked stimulation. Have lunch and conversation with a friend instead of spending your valuable time listening to Professor Martin.
Date published: 2014-10-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing This course is well-structured, well-presented, and easy to follow. The question that Professor Martin addresses is: What does philosophy have to say about some of the moral dilemmas of everyday life? This is certainly an interesting topic. However, the answer that emerges is rather disappointing: It seems that philosophy has little to add to the conclusions that might be reached by anyone with a little life-experience. Perhaps the material is drawn from freshman-level undergraduate courses where the audience may not have previously encountered or thought about the dilemmas presented; it is not so well suited to a Great Courses audience. Professor Martin’s treatment of his chosen topics is frustratingly superficial and he tends to quote from his favorite philosophers without critical analyses of their views or even acknowledging the obvious questions that they raise. Consequently, the course consists of lists of philosophical opinions accompanied by only very weak analysis and conclusions. In some lectures, Professor Martin does not discuss potentially illuminating generalizations of the examples he has chosen. For example, the lecture entitled “Do I have an obligation to be healthy?” is a special case of issues that often arise from conflicts between rights of individual freedom and consequential harmful impacts to society. Similarly, when discussing our moral obligations towards the environment, he does not even mention the underlying issue of overpopulation. More fundamentally, any serious discussion of morality requires some discussion of where moral authority comes from - why do we have any moral obligations? Is the origin to be found in religious injunctions, in social norms, in philosophy, in our laws, or in our evolutionary origins as a social species? Dr. Martin does not consider these questions until the last minutes of the course when, without explanation, he puts the burden for morality onto the “Still, small voice of conscience”. Personal choice (which is what this amounts to) is hardly an adequate basis for morality in a complex society like ours or even in the smaller groups of our hunter-gatherer ancestors! Finally, in two places, Professor Martin uses living people as examples in stating his dilemmas, one is a friend and colleague, the other is his older brother. In both cases, the individuals will be easily identifiable by their acquaintances. The Professor’s treatment of them is not flattering. I question the morality of using, and potentially harming, these two people. Professor Martin does not appear to notice this moral issue: His failure to do so undermines the credibility of his lectures. Altogether, this course falls short of the standards I have come to expect of The Great Courses series.
Date published: 2014-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Practical introduction to a part of philosophy Audio download. THE PROBLEM Have you ever overheard arguments between pro-life and pro-choice people? Or pro-gun and gun-control? The list could go on. Of course they talk past each other. But pay attention and you quickly notice that each side uses a of list of morally-loaded expressions designed to settle the issue in one fell swoop, and place the user on a moral high ground. Except that they don't. The other side refuses to accept that vocabulary. Why? Because these "magical" expressions determine the conclusion in advance. Words like "fetus", "it", "fertilized egg", "unwanted pregnancy", "my body" etc. slant the abortion issue one way; "baby", "human being", "God" etc. pull the issue in another direction. And if you question an activist on either side with a series of "why" questions, just as a child would, you eventually end up with an expletive or an "It's a fact because it is" statement. In other words, moral arguments tend to be circular. My belief is good because it's good. Some thinkers believe that there is no logical way to leap from an "is" statement — a factual proposition — to an "ought" statement — a normative belief. Or is there? Are ethical values ultimately non-rational conventions that hold societies together? Languages too bind societies, but no one claims that English is nobler than Italian or Chinese. Are moral values similarly arbitrary? ___________________ INCLUDED Dr Martin's MORAL DECISION MAKING: HOW TO APPROACH EVERYDAY ETHICS is an introduction to Western ethical philosophy from a practical angle. A series of moral conundrums are introduced as portals to certain schools of ethical decision-making. 3 schools stand out: — THE GREEKS: Aristotle in particular. Actions when repeated become habits. Clusters of good habits become virtues, and virtues when lived in moderation add up to a good life. There is an aristocratic flavor to Greek ethics: the ethical unit is the whole person, the noble life. — KANT: Want to know whether an action is good? Ask yourself whether a society could thrive if everyone did it. If not, it cannot be a universal norm. It is irrational and immoral. The ethical unit is now the individual action, and less the whole person. — UTILITARIANISM: The standard shifts to society as a whole and verifiable outcomes. Does the norm in question maximize the happiness and health of the greatest number? Society and economic growth are a "flow". Does my behavior respect that reality? _________________ NOT INCLUDED Remember that Martin's ethical conundrums — infidelity, shoplifting, lying, parental support, for example — are used to introduce moral schools of thought, not offer "solutions". EVERYDAY ETHICS is about mastering Western moral discourse. It is an open-ended skill and a tradition, not a pat answer. Finally, the focus is the micro level — our individual choices. This being philosophy, it assumes every rule we follow should flow from carefully-articulated universal beliefs. Torture and environmental regulation are mentioned too, but overall, macro-level policy issues such as war, wealth redistribution, healthcare, and so on are left out. Politics and religion, though important factors in ethical debates, are also ignored. Think of this course as an introduction to a branch of philosophy, not a full-blown presentation of ethical debates as they are experienced at every level of society. ___________________ CONCLUSION All in all, PRESENTATION was fine. If you have children or train others, this course is particularly useful in fields where values are frequently discussed: law, journalism, PR, medicine, psychotherapy, advertising, education, policing, penal reform, HR management and so on. Yes, even politics occasionally. For the philosophically minded... P.S. Lecture 16 has a reference to the film "Gattaca" where Martin distorts the plot. An unintentional mistake, no doubt. It does not hurt the overall value of the course. Still, a simple check to the many reviews and summaries in IMDB by TTC should have corrected this.
Date published: 2014-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from thoroughly enjoyable I found Professor Clancy Martin to be an excellent communicator. I was somewhat surprised at how much of his own life he revealed, but in the long run I came to feel that that is the sort of transparency we are all asking for these days. I felt that he had had to face many moral dilemmas himself, and that is probably what led him finally into studying the history of ethics. Although I already held personal views on many of the questions he discussed, I had never delved into the historical thinking on these matters. I have already lent the course to one friend and plan to share it with several others. I would definitely consider ordering another course by Professor Martin.
Date published: 2014-06-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very Disappointing! In this series of lectures, Professor Clancy Martin promisingly sets out to apply ethical principles to everyday situations. Sadly, the result is anything but original with quotations from the usual philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hume, Sartre, etc.) with little original input in terms of contents or links. Thus, ethical positioning is exactly what one expects it to be. Is it right to gossip? No. Is it right to sneak a grape at the grocery store? No. Is it right to date a married person? No. The listener is left to ponder on the added-value of these lectures, despite the mantra like assertions from lecture to lecture by Professor Martin that ‘we have covered much ground’. Strangely for a philosopher, Professor Martin often fails to display curiosity and provide questioning. To him, the purpose of work is to make money in order to do other things. What about working to contribute to the welfare and improvement of fellow citizens? To him, the purpose of justice is retribution. What about preventing new crimes and reinserting criminals into society? Repetitions over the course of the series are bothersome to the listener. So are ridiculous generalizations such as ‘All Canadians are thrifty’. Much worse is the astounding exhibitionistic emphasis on Professor Martin’s personal life, which some may consider bordering on narcissism or vulgarity. Thus, in addition to hints about past alcoholism, we learn about: • his bankrupcy; • his divorce; • his sybaritic brother; • his suicide attempt; • his stepfather’s leukemia and death; • his murdered sister; • his daughter with Down Syndrome. Professor Martin explains that, originally from Alberta, Canada, he moved to Florida in the 1980’s when he was 18 to attend university. Clearly, as he is entitled, he is now completely integrated into US culture and refers to ‘Our founding Fathers' and ‘Us Americans’. He also mentions that he recently spent many weeks in Cuba. Are US citizens now legally entitled to travel extensively to Cuba? Would it be moral for a proud US citizen to use his Canadian passport in order to do so?
Date published: 2014-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Is this course right for you? (CD review) Half way in to the first lecture (I was listening in my car) I grabbed the case to check the topic category for this course. As I correctly recalled it is in the "Better Living" category, but based on the material I was thinking it might have been more appropriately placed in the "Philosophy" category. On reflection I realized that philosophy is the primary field that considers moral issues. Additionally I noticed that professor Martin is a philosophy professor. I personally enjoy philosophy, and I imagine that the issues that are addressed in this course were the reason company chose to list it as such. Gossip, shopping, money, health and recycling, for example, are things that most of us deal with on a daily basis. As with most philosophical concerns, there are more observations and questions than definitive answers. With moral issues, for those of us who live in a "free" country, these usually come down to personal decisions and choices. I found this an interesting and engaging introduction to ethics in modern society.
Date published: 2014-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tough on preconceived notions Being in my 70's, and only slightly opinionated...I was surprised to find myself responding very positively to the lecturer's even-handed treatment on most of the issues he addressed. I came away with a clearer understanding of why we behave the way we do in compromising situations, and perhaps with some validation of the painful and costly decisions I have had to make in my own life. If I could...without seeming patronizing (fat chance)...I would love to send this one to my 40-something sons. It might have even helped me sail through the 4 or 5 mid-life crisis of my 40s and 50s. But, then, I would have had to find time to listen to it...a luxury I now enjoy.
Date published: 2014-05-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, however... This course covers a wide range of different philosophies, both eastern and western, and their application to everyday ethical situations. However, it was disconcerting in lecture 16 to hear the professor's description of the plot for the movie Gattaca. Having watched the movie myself I had to conclude that the professor hadn't actually seen the movie as some of his comments were clearly incorrect. This unfortunately cast doubt in my mind as to the accuracy of other references used throughout the course.
Date published: 2014-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Series, Important for Today I give this course an easy 5 stars on all counts. It's a perfect delivery of a very important subject. I wish all businesses would add this set to their library. The course covers very important moral and ethical issues in a very even handed fashion. The lectures never turn preachy. In fact, after presenting various points of view on a given ethical topic, listeners are free, and largely guilt-free, to draw their own conclusions. This course has two notable features. First, it's not a shallow discussion of obvious choices. I think most of us know that stealing is wrong. The discussions are far deeper and more interesting than I anticipated. Second, professor Martin discusses many of his own, very personal moral decisions. He makes the issues real. This course is a steal---a moral steal. So steal it. It will serve you, your business and your family well.
Date published: 2014-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Applied ethics Overall pleasant and instructive. The professor presents the topics in a lively and humorous way. Of course, no big surprises, it's wrong to cheat on one's partner or not to care for one's elderlies. The Professor makes the subject matter interesting and concrete. My only reproach is that he sometime attempts to cover too much material, (Lecture 12 for instance mentions : Proust, Solomon, Sartre, Nietzsche and Hume!#. which may lead #seldom) to the loss of a clear focus and some vagueness with respect to the claims made. But on the whole I would unreservedly recommend it, especially if you are new to ethics, although while being a philosophy major myself I did learn quite a few things.
Date published: 2014-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply the Best The moral questions presented in this course will not only cause you to think, but will force you to face your own morality. This is an excellent course, one of the best I have ever purchased.
Date published: 2014-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of My Favorite Courses So Far! I very much enjoyed this course and found myself anxious to listen to each new chapter at the earliest moment feasible. The topics were very relevant and well-presented. He definitely provided food for thought, comparing how various philosophers might view these topics. I would highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2014-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ethics of the banal Moral decisions of great consequence seem easy for us to reflect on in terms of what we would, or, at least, should, do. Most of us will never find ourselves facing such extreme moral dilemmas as those which confronted individuals in the regimes of Nazi Germany or in the Soviet Russia under Stalin. Minor breaches of ethics, on the other hand, seem easy for us to rationalize away. Accordingly, this course treats of morality whittled down to the scale of everyday human conduct, providing the basic grist to obey the Socratic injunction of living an examined life. Don't expect an epiphany here. Anyone reasonably conversant in modern day social and political issues will find little in these lectures not covered in political blogs and discussion boards. The value of this course, therefore, lies not in mapping out previously unconsidered moral territory, but rather in reminding us that moral considerations, in fact, do attach to actions of every size, large, medium and small. What I found to be an interesting subtext was how, given the proper conditions of a society, the right soil, as it were, a veil may be lifted on how best to interpret and apply the injunctions of morality. This does not so much suggest moral relativism as a gradual awakening and greater inclusivity as to what our moral duties really consist of.
Date published: 2014-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Something special Inciteful, well presented, thought provoking. Reminds me of the Michael Sandel audiobook "Justice".
Date published: 2014-01-12
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