“Do As I Say.” Shouldn’t Ethics Professors Behave Ethically? They don’t


This article is interesting, disturbing, disappointing and a little humorous at the same time.

It is a fascinating look at how professional academics devoted to studying morality actually behave.  Wouldn’t you expect them to at least try to be good people? Beyond that, there is the question of whether we ought to expect them to behave better than people who are uninformed about the subject.

The author asked his 7 year old son, and he replied: ‘The kids who always talk about being fair and sharing,’ I recall him saying, ‘mostly just want you to be fair to them and share with them.’ Interesting.

The author says he is the only one that he knows that has looked into this question in this narrow sense. That in itself is pretty tragic. By the way, Paul Johnson’s book “Intellectuals” does something similar from the perspective of history.  A worthwhile book for sure.

It seems many professors are aiming at mediocrity, being just about as “good” as everyone else.  I guess that helps to fight off self-righteousness.  But they don’t mind telling the rest of us how we ought to live. This shouldn’t surprise us, because with few ideological exceptions, most modern ethical theories suggest that good and evil is merely a human social construction.

It seems that many pastors aren’t much better.

We should all remember that there is a very specific word in the English language for this whole phenomenon. It is called hypocrisy. And that label won’t fall off just because everyone’s doing it.

via How often do ethics professors call their mothers? – Eric Schwitzgebel – Aeon.

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