CMN 3105:Lecture #1 Sept 10 2013
Media Ethics philosophical Ethics and Media Bias
Political pundits, columnists, tv shows what founds their discussions? Their ideas do not come out of a
vacuum, it comes from somewhere.
Philosophers and ethicists try to answer questions concerning the “good life” normative positions that are
felt to enhance a particular version of the good. This is why philosophical ethics is referred to as “ought talk”
Other positions may appear equally attractive or valuable this is the foundation of ethics competing
Ethics beging when elements of a moral system collide, or when two or more parties lay claim to the truth
about what constitutes the good. Ethics does not involve commands or duties in the way that moral systems
Finding the higher truth.
Ethical solution is found that balances competing interests such as those pertaining to the
Janice Kennedy argument columnists are not about dictating or finding the truth, or being objective and
scientific it encourages debates.
journalists, political pundits, or personalitiesplay a crucial role in ethical deliberation
First approach: normative positions that reinforce a specific foundational premise, and their arguments
conflict with other voices within their genre.
Definition: protecting the social good
deontological approach (deontology comes from the Greek deon , meaning duty, and one’s duty is to obey
media spokespeople are no different than philosophers. What is considered ‘right’ is not to be defined in terms of the ‘good’ produced by a given behaviour, and
deontologists reject the idea that the ‘good’ is given priority over the ‘right.’
No matter what the outcome is it is intrinsically wrong feminists will agree on one issue feminists on
deontologists, certain behaviours are considered "intrinsically wrong" no matter what good results from a
particular behaviour, act, or arrangement.
specific actions are wrong because of the sorts of things they are.
assigns more weight to our avoidance of wrongdoing violation of the rules wrong in and of itself
the ‘right’ is, in actuality, prior to the gooddeontological constraints
Clear Example: One can never intentionally hasten death, and the columnist would justify intractable
suffering by explaining that, from a communitarian or utilitarian perspective, prolonged suffering serves the
"greater good." The duty to obey the constraint is what matters
Reading: David Warren= deontologist in his article gay marriage is wrong based on two influences
Anglican and orthodox roman Catholicism. Gay marriage cannot be right.
Deontology: “what is natural: and it is a question deeper than law. It may be argued for instance that
homosexual unions are natural among the apes. It is natural for lower species but higher and superior
species do not engage in this behaviour, if you do you must be apart of the lower and inferior class.
heavily influenced by deontology, which is essentially a principlebased ethical approach, certain acts,
behaviours, or family arrangements (i.e., assisted suicide, euthanasia, prostitution, polygamy) are wrong in
principle no matter what the consequences or outcome.
deontologists are referred to as absolutists because they do not compromise on specific duties
deontologists not want a debate concerning an interpretation on matters of duty.
2. Sanctity of life Ethos: Second Approach: would base their position on the sanctity of life ethos.
posit specific normative assumptions, such as stewardship (one's life is a "loan from God"), the
transcendent meaning of suffering (higher purpose to suffering), and the "slippery slope" (a danger to the
community is inevitable is euthanasia were decriminalized) as the basis of supporting the social, as
opposed to the individual, good.
main foundational principle (the sanctity doctrine)
identifying foundational principles and their complementary normative positions is the basis of media
**One's philosophicoethical foundations dictate one's normative assumptions and together they dictate
one's ethical position▯normative assumptions shape ones reality
more convincing the rhetoric, the more likely the public is to believe that a moral stance is equivalent to a
considered and justified ethical position when, in fact, the two are not the same. IMPORTANT: Rhetoric
may sound eloquent without possessing much substance.
teleologists (or consequentialists) reject the idea that there are special kinds of acts or behaviours that are
right or wrong in and of themselves. Teleologists (from telos , Greek for ‘goal’) and consequentialists
believe that 'r