Media Ethics (Winter 2017, section 3)

About this class

Studies suggest that the average Canadian spends 19 hours online and 28 hours watching TV every week.  Many of us also listen to the radio while driving, read the newspaper in the metro, and are bombarded with advertising everywhere we go. It is therefore hard to deny that the media plays a major role in our lives. But the media is hardly ethically neutral and it presents us with moral conundrums on a daily basis. Journalists struggle to balance the need for privacy with the public interest when reporting a story; Hollywood Blockbusters have raised questions about the place of sexism and consumerism in popular culture; and communities struggle with the issue of universalism versus particularism in an increasingly global era.

Media Ethics does not aim to provide simple answers to difficult ethical questions. Instead, it is designed to introduce you to ethical questions surrounding the media and to provide you with the skills necessary to begin to find your own answers. Although the teacher will not attempt to hide her perpective, no particular position will be deemed “correct” in this class, and students are encouraged to put forward any opinion that is backed by evidence and critical thought.

 

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by Gordon Ramsay on February 9, 2017
      The issue of abortion has long been a major moral dilemma. Do the needs of the parent justify the killing of an unborn being? Although abortion should not be encouraged or abused, women should have the choice to an abortion as there are cases where it is morally acceptable. Some say you are committing murder which is wrong no matter what the context is. Others don’t consider unborn fetus as living beings, therefore believing it isn’t murder. What is often overlooked is the needs of the mother whose life is drastically altered by the decision to have an abortion or not.

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by Ziwei Qu on February 9, 2017
War has always caused destruction, war has always took away loved ones and ripped families apart. This seems to be happening more and more in the last decade and half. The recent internal and international conflicts in the Middle East have pushed the number refugees to an all time high, men, women, children of different ages and nationalists are all trying to flee their home countries to avoid prosecution or being hit by a drone strike.

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by John Dough on February 9, 2017
                  One of the biggest dilemmas that is facing current society is abortion. Many wonder whether if it is morally right to kill an unborn fetus as some view equally to killing a person. In general, the public’s response is either for it or against it with a small portion undecided (BBC News). The debate over the ethical viability of abortion has been complicated but from a utilitarianism ethical framework, the outcomes and the overall health of the birth mother is what matters.

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by whareisshe on February 9, 2017
Like many things out in the world, outsourcing has its disadvantages. Before getting into what those cons are, a definition of outsourcing must be discussed to further understand the dilemma within this business concept. “Outsourcing is a practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally (Investopedia, 2017).

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by Iphone_user7 on February 9, 2017
            Jehovah’s Witnesses is a sect that branches from Christianity, which has strict views regarding certain medical advances: they only accept hospital treatments that do not involve the use of blood. As a result, there have been many cases where doctors were conflicted when Jehovah’s Witnesses refused blood transfusions, with probable fatal consequences. This bears the ethical issue concerning the doctor’s response in this situation.

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by JohnD333 on February 9, 2017
Stop stealing my ideas

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by bradythegoat on February 9, 2017
It’s Just a Plant

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by plantain1998 on February 9, 2017
In 2003, economist Richard H. Thaler and lawyer Cass R. Sunstein co-wrote a seminal paper called Libertarian Paternalism Is Not an Oxymoron. It was this paper that led to the creation of the very first Behavioural Insights Team in the United Kingdom, or what they would later call the ‘nudge unit’. This team utilizes behavioural science to maximize public programs cost-efficiency and enrolment, and hope to help people make better and healthier choices. An example of this would be in taking advantage of social norms to get people to pay their taxes.

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by Dog With A Blog on February 9, 2017
Isaac Asimov is a science fiction author who devised three laws of robotics in his short story “Runaround” (1942), the first law being: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm”. This story was written before any form of intelligent technology existed, but as old science fiction becomes current reality, Asimov’s first law of robotics is increasingly relevant.

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by anoifdk on February 9, 2017
Dead children. A malnourished population. Those widespread images are disseminated by the media to such an extent that most people can clearly picture the horrific deformities and protruding bones of the people in question. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, approximately 1 in 9 people do not have access to enough food to maintain a healthy lifestyle (“Hunger Statistics”). This is a pressing issue since millions are currently deprived of basic human rights.

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by Clark Kent on February 9, 2017
 In a theoretical terrorist attack in a city, doctors are flooded with patients with varying severity in injuries, and are seriously understaffed, when two 30 year old male patients come in. They were in a car accident. The driver is accused of driving recklessly. The paramedics inform the attending physician that the passenger suffers from primary biliary cirrhosis giving him four years to live. The driver has a wife and three young children, while the passenger has no wife, no siblings and both parents are deceased.

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by J2r0c on February 9, 2017
We live in a day and age where identity plays an incredibly vital role in our conception of the self. With the ever-rapid expansion of the digital world, we are pressed to consider the nature of our identities in a time where mediums like the Internet allow us to exist through identity alone. This evolution in our view of the self has led to dilemmas such as the ethical use of hormone blocking, in which prepubescent minors are given chemical treatment to prevent the onset of puberty, raising many questions about the moral implications of transgender treatment on children.

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by Chinchilla on February 9, 2017
Euthanasia is one of the most controversial moral dilemmas in medical science. It is the act of deliberately ending someone’s life, who is severely ill and in great suffering, with their consent. Other terms used to describe this act are assisted suicide or mercy killing. There is a lot of debate surrounding this issue, some argue that no individual should help another to commit suicide under any circumstance and that this act devalues human life.

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by Piano on February 8, 2017
 Euthanasia also known as assisted suicide is known for being a very controversial topic. Some may argue that putting an end to one's life is unethical and wrong which, is the ethical framework of deontology. However, others see euthanasia as a way to free someone from their pain and suffering, which is the ethical framework of utilitarianism.  

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3 years 1 month ago

You’ve brought up a crucial issue that has plagued the sex industry: the prohibition of such services in most countries has resulted in the extended exploitation and mistreatment of sex workers. I was not aware that such an explicit example of violence towards workers trended online in China and garnered as many as 2 billion views, demonstrating that the general population is starting to become more conscious of the problem of criminalizing prostitution. The lack of response from the police and bystanders witnessing the attack raises a clear ethical issue as it suggests that sex workers are denied the same rights given to most members of society. You seem to be adopting a deontological approach to this issue, stating that you want to help them “stand up for their right[s]” by emphasizing the importance of legalizing prostitution. Your desire to help these workers, including those from your hometown, demonstrates that your point of view is intuitively influenced by your sense of duty: as an individual possessing a better socio-economic standing than these people, you wish to contribute to their wellbeing. In order to argue for legalization, you can present utilitarian arguments. Indeed, legalizing prostitution is in line with the core concept of utilitarianism which states that decisions should be taken based on the most favorable outcome for the greatest amount of people. Legalization will benefit the workers by increasing their wellbeing and happiness, allow the government to collect taxes on such services, and won’t impact the consumers. Although some individuals might not be pleased with this decision, stating arguments such as the immorality of prostitution, the benefits and number of people affected by legalization outweigh the consequences of such a decision.

3 years 1 month ago

You’ve brought up a crucial issue that has plagued the sex industry: the prohibition of such services in most countries has resulted in the extended exploitation and mistreatment of sex workers. I was not aware that such an explicit example of violence towards workers trended online in China and garnered as many as 2 billion views, demonstrating that the general population is starting to become more conscious of the problem of criminalizing prostitution. The lack of response from the police and bystanders witnessing the attack raises a clear ethical issue as it suggests that sex workers are denied the same rights given to most members of society. You seem to be adopting a deontological approach to this issue, stating that you want to help them “stand up for their right[s]” by emphasizing the importance of legalizing prostitution. Your desire to help these workers, including those from your hometown, demonstrates that your point of view is intuitively influenced by your sense of duty: as an individual possessing a better socio-economic standing than these people, you wish to contribute to their wellbeing. In order to argue for legalization, you can present utilitarian arguments. Indeed, legalizing prostitution is in line with the core concept of utilitarianism which states that decisions should be taken based on the most favorable outcome for the greatest amount of people. Legalization will benefit the workers by increasing their wellbeing and happiness, allow the government to collect taxes on such services, and won’t impact the consumers. Although some individuals might not be pleased with this decision, stating arguments such as the immorality of prostitution, the benefits and number of people affected by legalization outweigh the consequences of such a decision.

3 years 1 month ago

It never crossed my mind that an entire police corp would enter into a working strike. Your article brings to light a situation that could never arise in our first world culture, which makes it an interesting read. The dilemma you describe is a serious and difficult one. It is especially interesting to me, because I am currently taking a course on ethics. We have studied and scrutinized a few different ethical frameworks, that I think could help find a solution
Strikes are a necessary form of protest, that enable a group of workers to confront their employer. The problem here is that police officers are a necessary public service that keep people safe. So the dilemma that has arisen is, how can police officers effectively negotiate in an ethical manner.
Utilitarianism dictates that the desirable outcome is to optimize welfare for the greatest number of people. Looking at this dilemma from a utilitarian perspective is simple. The population of Espirito Santo is 3.9 million people while the police force only employs 3000 officers (if my wikipedia reference is correct). It is evident that from this viewpoint, optimization of welfare should lie with the general population and not the police force.
Another common ethical framework people use to evaluate a problem in another culture is relativism. Relativism states that only a person within the culture that the problem pertains to, can judge or intervene. This outlook declares that we, in the first world, can not evaluate the conflict because we can not understand the intricate circumstances.
A relativist perspective would recommend that the indigenous population work it out among themselves. However it is hard to imagine that their conclusions based on their local perspective and experiences would differ significantly from the teleological solution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Military_Police_of_Esp%C3%ADrito_Sant...

3 years 1 month ago

Alexandra, this is a very well structured article. The topic is properly introduced, and the different points of views are clearly presented. You also give your opinion and offer a personal connection to the issue, making your analysis more authentic. I found your article particularly interesting because the content overlaps with what I’ve been learning in an ethics class that I am currently taking.

In this case, there are conflicting ethical perspectives that are important to note. For instance, you briefly mention the idea that this abusive behavior is normalized by Russian culture. This pertains to the framework of ethical relativism, which states that we can’t judge the actions or behaviors of people from other cultures because morality is relative and subjective. It suggests that we can’t label this law as unethical, regardless of our own moral reservations about domestic violence. It is also interesting that you talk about your family background when stating your opinion against this, as it refutes this framework to a certain extent. It is important to consider under this viewpoint that your opinion was likely influenced by the culture where you now live.

My classmates and I also responded with skepticism to this ethical framework as our teacher discussed it, since it ultimately undermined our notion of morality. I believe in punishing any degree of domestic violence and don’t agree with the relativist perspective in this situation. However, I think it is important to consider the duality of this dilemma, rather than quickly dismissing the counter argument to what you believe in, in order to better understand and analyze the situation.

3 years 1 month ago

This was a very earnest and thoughtful essay I really enjoyed reading. I realized share a lot of ideas with you. Although I do believe there could a a better use of ethical analysis to this issue. What exactly makes it bad that we have fake news? Some may debate that it isn's so much of an issue that we live in a western society bubble where everything is well and real world crisis are not shown at their real magnitude of the country's or population in danger's struggle. I know I may act as a devil's advocate at the moment but those are thoughts you should always have in mind while writing a controversial essay. It frustrated me to read this I can tell you but the lack of proof made me feel like this may not be that big of an issue since you only had one proof of it, where as you mentioned the apology for the mistake was made right away from El Nacional. I have to admit I personally always debate about this when I hear different news from different people but that may be just a side effect of at least 4 billion people navigating the web all at once. That's where the question of freedom of speech may also come in, without disregarding the issues of free use of photoshop!

3 years 1 month ago

I found your topic really interesting, and I totally agree with you. I think that the problem of languages is extremely important, especially in a bilingual country like Canada. You mentioned a co-existence of French and English and I, also, believe that it is the best choice that can be offered. I think, is this case, using an utilitarianism point of view is the best way to solve the situation. As Lisée said, if we want people to understand what we say, we should use English, because in Canada, not everyone only speaks French. The most important is to make as many people happy as possible, by allowing them to understand what we say. The best way to be understood would be to use both French and English, this way, not only people in Quebec would be able to understand, but Anglophones as well. In order to respect the utilitarianism idea of making as many people happy, French and English must co-exist. Not to mention that languages are an intellect pleasure, therefore, according to utilitarians, it should be prioritized because it gives people a sense of accomplishment to be able to understand both languages. Not only will the co-existence of English and French make many people happy, but it will help people learn the two most important languages of the country.

3 years 1 month ago

This reading was incredibly enlightening on desertification, I had no idea that the threat level was so high. I believe that all humans should feel responsible for the desertification of the earth. We contributed to this horrible fact directly or indirectly and should come together to solve this issue.

I would even say that it is our ethical duty to help reverse the process of desertification as our current actions greatly expedite the process. I am also willing to go as far as to say that people who are not trying to help this issue are acting in an unethical way, making them unethical individuals.

I really think that showing the ethical side of this issue is the best way because it can greatly affect the outcome of desertification and hopefully help reverse it. If enough people would understand that we are all contributing to desertification, something can be done to stop it completely. Awareness for this matter can touch upon a lot of people worldwide if we label it as an ethical issue that must be handled.

3 years 1 month ago

To begin, I would like to say that I very much enjoyed reading your paper on Euthanasia; I thought it was very well written and well structured. Looking at it from a Utilitarianism perspective, this principle focuses on the outcome and benefits of the group. I agree that euthanasia is meant to be a painless and gentle death however; the importance of human life is the greatest priority. Even though the act of euthanasia is meant to be a painless death without any suffering there is suffering, for the loved ones of that individual who decide to complete the act of euthanasia. From utilitarianism perspective the act of euthanasia does not benefiting the group. It will increase more suffering for the loved ones of that individual and the decision of death should never be allowed to end by choice under any circumstances. The ethical dilemma of euthanasia has no clear answer however, looking at it from a utilitarianism perspective death is not the best outcome as it does not benefit the whole group and does result in suffering for the loved ones of that individual. I really enjoyed reading your paper and I liked how you included the example of the woman who decided to end her life with assisted suicide.

3 years 1 month ago

I would like to start by saying that I think your paper was very well written and I enjoyed reading it. I like the point you brought up about how women should have the freedom to do what they want with their body and not be forced to do anything. I would like to expand on this dilemma by taking it from a utilitarianism point of view. Utilitarianism focuses only on the outcome of the act and if it benefits the group. The cost of having a baby is extremely expensive and can be challenging for many people to handle. In many cases, women get abortions because they know that they will not be able to properly provide financially for the baby. In this case, the abortion would be justified because the outcome would be a very positive one for the mother. The overall outcome of the abortion would immediately benefit not only the mother but also the father of the child. Having a baby is a huge commitment and the couple may not have been prepared for such a task. The moral dilemma of abortion has no correct objective answer but from a utilitarianism point of view, the act would be justified because an abortion provides an immediate positive outcome. Overall I enjoyed reading your paper and I liked how integrated the story of the woman who had gotten an abortion.

3 years 1 month ago

A gift to humanity

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