Ethics competencies for
Individuals & Ethics students

Ethics is for doing, so what should I or my students be able to do?

To be ethically effective, a person should be able to:

Define What Ethics Is

Ethics is a system for guiding my behavior and my expectations for others' behavior so that we can live together in complex societies.

It has many features but understanding this central purpose allows me to do ethics with confidence that I understand what it is.

Ethics is a system for guiding my behavior, and my expectations for others' behavior, so that we can live together in complex societies.  It has many features but understanding this central purpose allows me to do ethics with confidence that I understand what it is.

Speak an Ethics Language

To think clearly about ethics and discuss it with others I need a language with ideas and terminology that recognize the multiple processes and criteria for judging what’s right or wrong and deciding how I will act.

This language should be easily remembered and fit comfortably into my thinking and into discussions in my work and personal life.

Recognize that Ethics Is Dynamic Process Open to Disagreement

 Given its purpose I should realize that the ethics processes and criteria I share with others allow for legitimate disagreement about what's ethical as individuals and cultures determine the specific content of how best to live together.  I should commit, therefore, to self-evaluation and dialogue as essential to ethics by continuing to ask "Is this really ethical?"

Identify Ethics Issues and Explain Why They are Issues

Identify ethics issues in my personal and work activities, and in the activities and structures of my society.  I should be able to understand and explain to others why these issues are ethics issues.

Understand Not Just What is Ethical but How and Why It Is Ethical

Understand not just what actions are ethical, but also how—the processes—and why—the criteria—people use to make ethics judgments.

Improve My Skills for Doing Each Ethics Process Effectively

My brain already recognizes ethics issues, makes judgments about what’s right or wrong, decides how to act, and modifies my processes and criteria based on experience.  Noggin offers specific skills for doing each of these processes and applying its criteria more effectively.

Evaluate my Judgments

After making an ethics judgment, I can practice the additional skills of comparing my Trust my Gut, Use my Head, and Engage the Crowd judgments to see if they agree or disagree on what is ethical.  I can check for extraneous influences that have no ethics significance but may have swayed my judgment, and I can consider each judgment process’ strengths and weaknesses to decide which to follow if they disagree

Decide How I Will Act

Having made my judgment about what is right or wrong in a situation, I should be able to understand and practice the processes for deciding whether I will do what is right given the difficulties that the situation may present.

Confirm or Revise My Ethics Processes

Understand and practice Looking Back, to confirm or revise my ethics processes and criteria based on the results of my action.

Resolve Disagreements about Ethics

Understand how to resolve disagreements by listening to what I and others are saying to identify how and why we have made conflicting judgments or decided to act in different ways so I can respond specifically to the process and criterion they have used

Identify the Most Useful Ethics Criteria

Identify the pattern/emotion triggers, ethics tests, virtues or character traits, and the makeup and ways of accessing my ethics exemplars, that would be most helpful in my personal life, work, and society so I can access these criteria when making important ethics judgments and decisions to act.

or an ethics instructor

Who wants to learn these competencies or strengthen them in my students so I or they can be confident when judging and acting ethically and discussing what’s right with others, I should sign up for Noggin – My Brain on Ethics. 

What's in Noggin's Lessons?

Lesson 1, the Introduction to Noggin, describes the learning environment that Noggin provides, explains Noggin’s approach to what ethics is, introduces Noggin’s three totem animals, and offers four graphic novel stories that present the easily understood and remembered core ideas and terminology that I can use to recognize and discuss how I make judgments about what’s right or wrong.  It also introduces Noggin’s authors, describes the path forward, and explains how I can contribute to improving Noggin by helping to “build the boat.” 

Lessons 2 and 3 show me how to recognize when and how I make quick/automatic Trust my Gut judgments, what the criteria for gut judgments are, and how I can verify that they are in fact trustworthy.














Lesson 4 shows me how I make slow/deliberate Use my Head judgments by applying generally accepted ethics tests and provides a list of traditional tests and a recipe for applying them using terminology that describes their central point and fits comfortably into the ethics thinking I do and kind of conversations I have in my work and personal life.













Lesson 5 shows how I Engage the Crowd of people I respect by discussing what’s right or wrong, or consciously or unconsciously imitating what they do or say.  It also gives suggestions for choosing my crowd and discusses the importance of distinguishing the Crowd I Choose from the Crowd Around Me.














Lesson 6 adds mastery level ideas and terminology that explain how I recognize that I am facing an ethics situation and how I decide how I will act once I have judged what’s right or wrong.   It links me to a well-developed body of material for Choosing Tactics to overcome situational or organizational barriers to doing what’s right.  It also discusses the conscious and unconscious retrospection that I engage in to confirm or revise the ethics processes or criteria I used, based on the results of how I made my judgment and acted.















Lesson 7 brings all the ideas and terminology together to explain how I can recognize how I, and others I disagree with, have made our ethics judgments and decided how to act so that we can resolve our ethical disagreements.















Each lesson that I successfully complete will provide me with a certificate testifying to my competency in one of the ethics processes my brain uses to judge what’s right or wrong, decide how to act, or resolve ethics disagreements with others.




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