Moral and Civic Chapter 1 Note

Chapter One: Understanding Civics and Ethics

Defining Civics, Ethics, Morality

Civic Education
  • human being have to respect certain fundamental principles and values to live together
  • Johan Stuart Mill: progressive and peaceful setting subsists in a given society as far as that society develops the qualities of its members and generates good citizens
  • Aristotle: citizens of a State should always be educated to suit the constitution of a State
  • different terms used to describe the educational experiences that deal with the task of developing democratic minded citizens
    • Right Education – in South Africa
    • Citizenship Education – in USA and Germany
    • Citizenship and Character Education – in Singapore
    • Civics and Ethical Education – in Ethiopia
  • most cited definition of civic education
    • an education that studies about the rights and responsibilities of citizens of a politically organized group of people
    • the knowledge, means, and activities designed to encourage students to participate actively in democratic life, accepting and exercising their rights and responsibilities
  • maximal and a minimal civic education
    • minimal concept of civic education
      • content-led
      • teacher-based
      • whole-class teaching
      • examination-based assessment 
    • maximal concept of civic education
      • comprised of knowledge, values and skills
      • prepare students for active, responsible participation
      • extends learning beyond the curriculum and classroom
      • highly dependent on interactive teaching, which requires discussion, debate
Definition and Nature of Ethics and Morality
  • ethics is used interchangeably with morals precise usage would apply
    • term‘s morals and moral – to the conduct itself
    • terms ethics and ethical  – refer to the study of moral conduct
  • morality is related to praxis, but ethics is related to theory
    • Ethics:
      • branch of philosophy
      • explores the meaning and the ranking of different ethical values: honesty, autonomy
      • establish the standards, norms, or codes to be followed by human beings
      • set of normative rules of conduct
      • may share common ground with: law, religious belief, popular opinion, professional codes BUT broader than all of these and offers a set of tools and values against which their appropriateness can be evaluated
      • Ethical questions are not concerned with what one would do (an essentially psychological concern) but what one ought to do
      • specific set of principles, values and guidelines for a particular group or organization
      • usually associated with a certain conduct within a profession
      • critical examination and evaluation of what is good, evil, right and wrong in human conduct
      • Judgments about such decisions are generally expressed with words like
        • right and wrong
        • should and ought
        • obligation and duty
      • ethics as divided into two fields; normative ethics and non-normative ethics
    • morality:
      • dictionary definition: Latinmoralitas” – manner, character, proper behavior
      • the degree to which an action conforms to a standard or norm of human
      • code of conduct one follows accepted in a society, or within a subgroup of society
      • more general term: character of individuals and community
      • it becomes ambiguous when defined by different ethnic groups, especially in the multicultural society
      • Morality is, at the very least, the effort to guide one‘s conduct by reason to do what there are the best reasons for doing while giving equal weight to the interest of each individual who will be affected by one‘s conduct
Ethics and Law
  • Laws
    • norms, formally approved by state, power or national or international political bodies
    • to promote well-being, resolve conflicts of interest, and promote social harmony
    • reasons why ethics is not law:
      • some actions that are illegal may not be unethical
        • E.g ethical obligation to break the speed limit in order to transport someone to a hospital
      • some actions that are unethical may not be illegal
        • E.g lying is unethical but lying is only illegal under certain conditions 
      • laws can be unethical or immoral
        • E.g United States had laws permitting slavery in the 1800s
      • we use the coercive power of government to enforce laws like imprisoned, BUT not for who violate ethical or moral standards
Importance/Goal of Moral and Civic Education
  • make individuals responsible and efficient member of their community
  • teaches the values and sense of commitment that define an active and principled citizen
  • producing self-confident citizens who decides on issues based on reason
  • creating a generation who has the capability to shoulder family and national responsibility
  • Generally, the necessity of delivering the course emanates from:
1) The need to instill citizens about their rights and duties
  • rights and duties co-exist
  • what the ideal society needs and wants to be cannot be secured by coercion, but only through its members (citizens) who have a balanced understanding of rights and duties
  • four issues to look into the interplay between rights and duties:
    • one’s right implies the other’s duty
    • one’s right implies one’s duty to recognize similar rights of others
      • every exercise of right is subject to restrictions. E.g one has the freedom of speech and expression, but in no way affects the rights of others
    • one should exercise his rights for the promotion of social good
    • the State being a nucleus organ needs to take care of the social and legal interests of all its individuals
      • State has the obligation to discharge duties towards its citizens
      • As the State guarantees and protects the rights of everybody, one has a duty to support the State in its legal endeavors
      • there must be a balance between citizenship rights and obligations
2) The Need for Participant Political Culture
  • Generally, political culture defines the roles which an individual may play in the political process
    three political cultures:

    • parochial cultures
      • citizens have low cognitive, affective, and evaluative orientation regarding the political systems
      • role of citizens in the political sphere of their countries is insignificant
    • subject cultures
      • high cognitive, affective, and evaluative orientation towards the political system and policy output
      • BUT orientations towards input objects (like political parties) and the self as active participants are minimal
      • relatively detached, passive relationship on the part of the citizen
      • most compatible with centralized, authoritarian political structures
    • participant cultures
      • high cognitive, affective, and evaluative orientation to the political system, the input objects, the policy outputs, and
      • recognize the self as an active participant in the polity
      • compatible with democratic political structures
  • qualities and attitudes of citizens determine the health and stability of a country‘s democracy
  • challenges the democracy and democratization process of countries including Ethiopia
    • many citizens lack the competences and knowledge to deal with the tensions between individually and socially centered norms and obligations
    • small parts of the population support the norm that a citizen should be politically active
    • most citizens still rely on voting only
  • people in a democratic country are supposed to have
    • in-depth understanding on democratic behavior and able to behave democratically
    • ability to tolerate and work together with others who are different from themselves
    • desire to participate in the political process in order to promote the public good and hold political authorities accountable

3) The Need for Relevant Knowledge, Skills and Positive Attitudes

  • Relevant knowledge is a type of knowledge which is useful in dealing with a particular problem at a period of time
  • knowledge would remain inert unless:
    • it is functional or put into practice
    • the person equipped with right attitudes and requisite skills
  • skillful manpower is a pre-requisite for every nation that wishes to develop but a skillful manpower without positive attitudes to work is likely to result in counter production like; corruption, bribery
  • civics and ethics can be a useful cure for the “social ills” often associated with young people: that is, tendencies for anti-social behavior and political apathy among young people, or, what describe “youth deficit
    4) The issue of fostering intercultural societies
  • subject helps overcome discrimination and to nurture genuine, inclusive dialogue among cultural groups
  • tolerating or celebrating each other
  • nurturing dynamic exchanges based on interaction, openness and effective solidarity
    The issue of inclusiveness
  • Civics and ethics as a subject nurture new and inclusive relations and practices in both public and private spaces that recognize gender differences while ensuring inclusiveness and equity
    5) The issue of peace-building
  • it can make a valuable contribution to create the subjective conditions for more peaceful situations
  • includes the development of competencies for peacemaking, conflict resolution, healing, reconciliation and reconstruction
  • understanding of nonviolent civil disobedience philosophies, strategies and skills
  • Moral and Civics Education is based on and seeks to promote in students core moral, ethical, democratic, and educational values, such as:
    • Respect for life
    • Respect for reasoning
    • Fairness
    • Concern for the welfare of others
    • Respect for diversity
    • Peaceful resolution of conflict
  • citizens need to have a combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values at their disposal enabling them to become an active citizen
  • In sum the goals of teaching civics and ethics at any level of educational institutions is to produce competent, high moral standard society and responsible citizens

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