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.Aspart of the Enlightenment focus on reason, objectivity became a sort of anassumed tool in the conduct of moral decision making.This traditional useof objectivity has received a good deal of criticism recently.There arethose today who have suggested that there might be an alternative view ofmoral decision making by which affected “others” are treated not objec-tively, but subjectively.TLFeBOOKAVOIDING HARM159CARING AND HARMEarlier, we introduced the concept of due care, in terms of which a mediaprofessional must discharge some discretion in his actions affecting otherpeople.A total lack of regard, or even a lack of recognition of the obligationof due care, can result in charges of professional negligence.For consultingprofessionals, such as those in advertising and public relations, due carecan mean their paying close attention to their clients’ needs and performingonly work they are competent to perform.It can also mean taking care notto unduly harm third parties affected by the client’s (and the representingprofessional’s) actions.For journalists, due care most often refers to theweighing of harm against benefits prior to running a story.Failure to con-sider harm to third parties can result in libel suits at worst or in unneces-sary injury to an innocent party at the very least.We have seen that respect for other people is at the heart of a number ofphilosophies—most notably, Immanuel Kant’s.In this sense, respect refers to a feeling of deference toward someone and a willingness to show consideration or appreciation to them.Respect itself is related to a number of otherconcepts, including sympathy, the ability to empathize with others, com-passion, and caring for others.These words are all closely related and ofteninterchangeable.“Sympathy,” for example, refers to the act or power ofsharing the feelings of another; “empathy” means to identify with and un-derstand another’s situation, feelings, and motives.Compassion and caringare likewise closely related.“Compassion” refers to a deep awareness ofthe suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.“Caring” meansto feel and exhibit concern for others, and can include empathy.No onewould disagree that these are major determinants of moral action; how-ever, to what degree they can or should be incorporated into a system ofmedia ethics is debatable.We have seen that professional obligations to truth telling, dissemina-tion of important information to the public, loyalty to legitimate client inter-ests, and other such duties often clash with personal convictions of com-passion and care for others.We have also considered whether personalethics can or should override professional ethics in circumstances in whichthe role of a professional is operational.To some extent, these consider-ations and assumptions are based on the degree of importance attached tocertain professional undertakings.We assume that some harm is a neces-sary by-product of many media activities, and that our primary responsibil-ity is to do our jobs while mitigating as much harm as we can.However, is itpossible, or even conceivable, that we could carry out our functions as me-dia practitioners while working in a situation in which the default would be“no harm to anyone”?TLFeBOOK160CHAPTER 6In her seminal work, In a Different Voice, developmental psychologistCarol Gilligan proposes what she calls an “ethic of care.” According toGilligan, most of our moral concepts have developed from a particularlymale perspective.The major approach to moral philosophy over the pastseveral hundred years has been what might be called an “ethic of justice,”which is deeply rooted in a desire for individual autonomy and independ-ence.The focus of this ethic is the balancing of competing interests amongindividuals.It is easy to see this model at work in the philosophies ofHobbes, Locke, Kant, and scores of other Enlightenment thinkers.In fact, in-dividualism and sanctioned competition are at the heart of the Americansystem of government and economics.And although Gilligan doesn’t neces-sarily take umbrage with this result, she does point out the troubling conse-quences of an ethic of justice untempered by an ethic of care.16 The formal-ity of such concepts as duty and justice often results in objectification ofhuman beings, or, at least, a distancing of the parties involved in and af-fected by moral decision making.Caring, on the other hand, requires acloser relationship between parties and recognition of the other as a sub-jective being.Gilligan proposes that the female moral voice is characterized by caring.It considers the needs of both the self and of others, and is not just inter-ested in the survival of the self [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]