Institution of ethics |Faculty
truth in the academy .
The TCU Daily Skiff
By Kip Brown ’04
am at that point in my university education where rational thought is
a struggle, and sometimes all I want to do is sit around my apartment
and watch soccer on Fox Sports World. Some would call me lazy, yet I am
successfully navigating 21 hours of course work and two part-time jobs.
Thus, I think my ambivalence toward school comes from a different source.
I think a major part of my ambivalence
toward school right now is that there is no truth to be found in the university.
Well, there might be some truth, but no one can agree on what it is. At
the most basic level, as articulated in the mission statement, TCU is
supposed to train me to be an “ethical leader.” Yet there is no one, objective
“ethical” way to live that is commonly shared by humankind, let alone
Americans. Even my professors cannot agree on what is ethical or unethical.
For instance, I go to economics class three
times a week and learn that property rights, individual freedom and near-pure
capitalism are among the most veritable truths one can depend on. The
next day I go to a sociology class and learn that in a nearly pure capitalistic
system, wealth will always tend to funnel toward a small number of owners,
and individual freedom is not possible without community concern. The
economist counters with the idea that most efforts to make society less
disparate cause more harm than good because they mess with the free market.
The sociologist responds by arguing that government must counteract the
wealth-stratifying effects of the free market; it is not a choice, it
is a matter of life and death for many people. And so on, and so on.
As you can see, what constitutes an ethical
opinion would vary widely between these two disciplines. Individualism
and social justice perspectives tend to render completely different ideas
of what is ethical. Yet which one, if any, does TCU promote in its mission
I tend to agree with the sociologist in
this argument, while acknowledging many of the very important points the
economist is making. Perhaps this kind of thought process is truly what
the school means by ethical, the ability to formulate an opinion while
not dismissing the other side as evil, wrong or stupid. Whatever the case,
it seems like it is up to us to decide what the TCU mission statement
implies when it advocates ethical behavior.
In my case, my mission statement would
read: “To train people to decide for themselves what constitutes an ethical
leader while being mindful of their own presuppositions and biases, taking
other perspectives into account and then using this same discerning process
in the global marketplace.”
Something tells me the people in charge
would never pick my mission statement; it would never fit on a coffee
Kip Brown is a senior religion major
from Enid, Okla.
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