Ethics as Experience: Hope, Revelation and Angst


  • Paul M. Klein University of Pittsburgh


As an AACSB accredited institution, we are required to demonstrate how learning occurs, what steps we might take to assure learning. With respect to the subject of ethics the focus is on student mastery of concepts. Not that such an understanding is without merit, and is in fact essential as it is intended to inform choices that we make, but it reflects a de-minimis approach to the subject. If we can agree that ethics must be more than a spectator sport, a passive endeavor that invites observers to offer critical insights and see it instead as a “contact sport”, in an intellectually challenging and controlled setting, then we might agree that the best way to test what has been learned, must be in the arena, a place of action. This may be akin to the clinical education used to educate healthcare professionals, but more broadly understood as supervised practical experience in any relevant discipline. This paper examines a specific discipline, the study of ethics in the context of business, and how we might close the divide between the conceptual understanding of the subject and how we might test that understanding under conditions where participants must actualize that learning.