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Friday, November 2, 2007

General Principles in Ethical Reasoning

The following I found at a friends blog and I liked it. I will add some info at the end of their original and here is a link to their post - Click Here

To think reasonably, people must learn general problem solving skills and develop a usable knowledge base. What specific general problem solving skills constitute Ethical Reasoning? The Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, a commonly-used assessment instrument, defines five key skills: drawing inferences, recognizing assumptions, drawing conclusions, interpreting data, and evaluating arguments. Developing these problem solving skills promote an "I can do this" upbeat attitude.

Learning the basics of Ethical Reasoning means developing a use able knowledge base.  A person must know how to:

  • learn to be meaningful; they must attain fluency in a broad class of related subjects.  A person must seek general knowledge and not just be spoon fed trivial statistics. A person must be able to express themselves in the languages of words, pictures, and mathematics.  "Meaningful" as in the ability to accurately explain complex concepts in Ono's own words and symbols.
  • economize and generalize knowledge. Create diverse frames of mental perspectives, this helps to economize knowledge. An effective set of differing perspectives succinctly represents knowledge in a way similar to one picture representing 1,000 words.
  • generalize knowledge. Many people are concrete learners; learning just what they are told. We must teach ourselves to go beyond the concrete, tangible, and visual. We must teach ourselves to think abstractly, and extract the most useful characteristics to better benefit all that we touch, perceive, and just as importantly  ...  consider beyond our immediate senses.
  • find underlying principles in what we learn. Discover the relationships among the facts that can be applied to other unrelated situations; then help others to generalize their knowledge.

    Ian Bach's addition
    Here is my add  on, for help on using the skills identified in the "Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal"

  • Drawing influences: For this I want to talk about a favorite quote "you are a product of your environment". This is one way I look at how I get my information and decide which information to believe and which to discount. I think we can all agree that people who are working in the media today exist in an environment that is flooded with bad influences and paranoia. So to draw influences from a group of paranoid influenced reporters may not be a good bet. Perhaps the best bet is on the horses mouth. Get the info from the sources. Also there is so many so called experts but in science there has been a public deafening of truth from so many armchair theorists and unproven science.

  • Recognizing assumptions: Look for words that indicate that the speaker/writer is is making assumptions. Or if they are comparing a topic to some other event.

  • Drawing conclusions: Be careful when drawing conclusions. It may be better to just submit the data and its context, In fact I wish news orgs would get into sources and their context.

  • Interpreting data: Try and draw from as many sources as possible and to evaluate their relevance and ability or lack of to be unbiased.

  • Evaluating arguments: For this item I recommend looking at your sources motives. What I mean by that is this. Is it a large media organization? if so maybe they are writing to the fear factor audience or are using speech which pulls viewers or readers in, yet then it may debunk the very title that was used to draw you in. Does the writer have any political agendas? Also look at your writers and their editor or producers body of work.