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Lecture 6

Week 6 - Michael Buckley.pdf

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Western University
Philosophy 2730F/G
Ryan Robb

Week 6 What the citizens of a democratic society should be doing about the Media, Politically and Ethically Today: A. Review B. Buckley C. Stoll A. Review Having completed our limited attempt to define the effect of the mass media on human nature and provide an account of the role of the media in a democratic society, we started a deeper investigation about the ethical principles we should use to evaluate the actions of the media. Souder argued that a system of media ethics could be modeled after Adam Smiths economic system, informed by his ethical focus on fellow-feeling as a basis for showing self-restraint. Meyers argued that an amended version of W.D. Rosss deontological pluralism, one that provided a more detailed account of how to identify actual duties, could serve as a plausible ethical model generally, and for the media in particular. Our two articles today continue our investigation of the principles that should be used to evaluate the media, though in both cases, the discussion is applied to specific examples. In the first article, Buckley tries to show we can develop principles that will help us determine how to choose when and whether a particular broadcast media outlet should be granted access to the broadcast media spectrum. In the second article, Stoll argues that three separate sets of ethical principles can be applied to a single ethical dilemma faced by the media and generate nearly identical results. B. Michael Buckley How to Select the 2 Principles that will Guide our Choices in determining who Should be Granted Access to the Broadcast Spectrum. The Point: It is possible to use a political constructivist methodology to specify which principles should be preferred to guide our decisions about distributing the broadcast media spectrum. Principles that regulate a free- market distribution in a manner sensitive to the requirements of democracy are preferable to those that do not. Sub-Point: A Political Constructivist model can be an effective method for addressing a wide variety of problems in applied ethics. Part I: The Approach of a Political Constructivist Part II: The Hypothetical Scenario and competing principles for determining the distribution of broadcast spectrum access Part III: The reasons (facts) that show we should accept the hypothetical scenario as outlined as a matter of political (democratic) significance Part IV: The criteria by which we will assess the relevance of the hypothetical and choose between the competing principles Part V: Why, in light of the criteria outlined, the principles that explicitly incorporate democratic ideals would be preferable to those that depend on market forces alone. Part VI: Limits to the analysis there could be other principles that would be equally acceptable in the context of this analysis, though such principles would also be preferable to one that appeals to market forces alone. I. Political Constructivism (pages 821 first column of 823) The need to present principles to guide decisions about the distribution of the broadcast spectrum is owing to the vague nature of the language currently used to make those decisions (in the US by the FCC). The means by which those principles will be presented and defended is with the creation of a hypothetical bargaining scenario, one which, when constructed properly, should help us to see why principles that structure a free-market are preferable to those that do not. In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls presents and defends two principles that are intended to regulate an ideal liberal, democratic society.The mechanism Rawls uses to defend his two principles involves the creation of a hypothetical bargaining scenario, known as the Original Position. Rawls argument goes something like this: In the original position, any rational being would choose these two principles as principles that should be used to regulate the basic institutions of society. Whats life like in the original position? All the (pretend) negotiators are behind the veil of ignorance, meaning they are all rationally self-interested and they all possess knowledge of the basic structure of our existent society The key is that none of them know where they fit in society, i.e., are they rich or poor, educated or uneducated, male or female, member of a majority or minority cultural group etc? Rawls believes that in this situation, any rational agent would choose principles that ensure, first an
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