UNIT 7 Summary and readings
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Unit 7 Determinism
The old saying everything happens for a reason is at the heart of the theory of determinism. So, if everything happens for a reason, should we not be able to analyze a situation and determine the cause or causes for that event?
In this unit, you will revisit the Columbia disaster, a case that you explored earlier in your DPA program. While there are issues of power, organization, and administration in this case, there are also issues of determinism. You may find that small actions taken together created a perfect storm of causes that cascaded into the tragedy. You then have to ask yourself, if you believe in determinism: is anything truly an accident?
Some theorists have argued that the term ethics implies conscious thought and action, while the term morals represents unconscious and intuitive action. Furthermore, the concept of consciousness implies planning. We can plan an approach for ethical decision making in our public administrator roles. This plan may be different from what we adopt for our private lives. Decision making and planning were certainly part of the Columbia case, and a review of the factors in that case, along with study on the topic of determinism, will prepare you to create your own ethical decision making plan to deal with the ethical dilemmas you will face in your professional future.
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
- Develop a plan for ethical decision making to assist in finding solutions for ethical dilemmas.
- Analyze the theory base of determinism as it applies to public sector ethical dilemmas and public administrators.
- Examine issues of power, ethics, and professional integrity as applied in the public sector.
- LEARNING ACTIVITIES
[u07s1] Unit 7 Study 1
Case Study: The Columbia Accident
Launch Presentation | Transcript
Use your textbooks to complete the following:
- In Thiroux and Krasemann, read Chapter 6, "Freedom Versus Determinism," pages 91–105.
- In Stillman, read Chapter 4, Reading 4 and Case 4 on the Columbia disaster, pages 105–116. Pay particular attention to issues of power and ethics.
Power can be handled with grace or without honor, and the results can be equally varied. Accidents happen—or do they?
Click Launch Presentation to explore "The Columbia Accident," paying particular attention to the issues it raises about power and ethics. You will use the contents of this scatterdesk and the case readings from Stillman to inform a discussion in this unit.
To prepare for this unit's first discussion, Nature versus Nurture, identify two public figures who are examples of ethics in practice—one an example of good and one an example of bad.
Add to your ethics mindmap based on the theories and practices that you learn about this week. You will be using this mindmap as the basis for the assignment in Unit 8. Prepare now for that assignment, an analysis of which theory bases will be most useful to you in your ethical dilemma project.
Make sure you add this week concepts to the mind map............
Unit 7 Discussion Question 1:
Nature versus Nurture
As public figures, public administrators in many roles are constantly scrutinized. Their actions, words, and deeds are seen as either evidence of greatness or examples of poor judgment.
For this discussion, select two well-known public figures who have worked in the public sector in the past 20 years. One should be generally deemed to be a good person in public opinion, and the other a bad person. In this discussion, you are allowed to use sources that are not peer-reviewed to describe the circumstances of their triumphs or failures. Discuss the extent to which their goodness or badness was determined by forces over which they had no control, such as genetics, childhood circumstances, or socio-demographics. After you have explained their cases, examine your own viewpoint on determinism and its influence on public administrators.
Unit 7 Discussion Question 2
Columbia Disaster, Power, and Ethics
Responsible or irresponsible use of administrative power is a cornerstone of the Columbia disaster case discussion. Based on your examination of Long's essay, the case itself, the scatterdesk sources, and the ethics theories raised in the Thiroux and Krasemann text, analyze the most significant problems facing public administrators today at the intersection of power, politics, administration, and ethics. Describe possible solutions or recommendations for public administrators and the systems of ethics established for the field. Remember to cite all sources appropriately.