Where do I stand in line?

Confucius reminds us that education is not teaching students what to think, but how to think.  The following exercise challenges students of ethics to think logically while working together in groups of 7.

Each student  is given one of the following  stages below for developing his or her ethical character; by means of group discussion, the students are to rank these  stages in a logical, progressive order by standing in line giving evidence of  what is the logical, progressive development of one’s ethical character.

Developing your ethical character – rank the following 7 stages according to the development of and logical progression of becoming more ethically virtuous – that is, making a formal commitment to demonstrate ethics, integrity and responsible personal conduct in all that you do.

A note for the instructor: Make sure you eliminate the number before each stage, and each one is given one of these 7 stages to be ranked according to the logical progression of becoming more ethically virtuous. When the students have completed the exercise, have each group explain its logical order to the class;  and then share the responses below for a further discussion.

  1. Becoming self-aware means engaging in a process of self-assessment that leads to self-knowledge; Socrates – “Know thyself.”
  2. Seeking ethical knowledge involves searching for, studying, and acquiring a better understanding of ethics.
  3. Developing an ethical belief system includes a personal mission statement; a compilation of your core ethical values; how you view ethics, integrity, and your character.
  4. Practicing emotional discipline requires mastering and controlling your emotions, impulses, feelings, drives, and weaknesses.
  5. Consciously exercise free will towards a noble and virtuous end; this means your ability to know, understand, and appreciate that you actually have a free will.
  6. Demonstrating moral courage and personal accountability require you to cultivate and personally demonstrate attitudes of moral courage and personal accountability in your daily conduct and during times of moral crisis.
  7. Acting on your personal commitment to become ethically virtuous which involves developing and following an individual plan of action.


(an adaptation from Ethical Virtuosity by Louie V. Larimer, J.D., pp. 99-151)

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