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Teaching Ethics


published on November 23, 2014

Alan Tomhave

Advocacy, Autonomy, and Citizenship in the Classroom

Should professors engage in classroom advocacy? One argument against such advocacy is the autonomy argument offered by Joel Kupperman. Advocacy, in the sense that Kupperman is concerned with, undermines a student’s making informed decisions about important issues. This paper seeks to do three things. First, it seeks to clarify Kupperman’s autonomy argument. Second, this paper extends the argument against advocacy by buttressing the autonomy argument with an argument from citizenship. This will strengthen Kupperman’s general rule against advocacy by expanding beyond concerns merely with individuals to cases where the concern is with groups, at least where the groups are composed of citizens. Last, while the autonomy argument provides a general prohibition against advocacy, it might permit exceptions, as does the citizenship argument. Thus, final part of this paper considers business ethics courses as a possible example for where exceptions might take place.

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