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Reflections on Ethics Education and Crisis Response

Penn State Rock Ethics Institute Director Nancy Tuana offers the following reflections on Teaching 'The Kite Runner' at Penn State, an article recently published in The Chronicle Review by our colleague Sophia A. McClennen about her classroom experience in the first days of the current crisis:

Penn State Rock Ethics Institute Director Nancy Tuana offers the following reflections on Teaching 'The Kite Runner' at Penn Statean article recently published in The Chronicle Review by our colleague Sophia A. McClennen about her classroom experience in the first days of the current crisis:

 

One theme of The Kite Runner is moral failure. It includes the story of Amir who witnesses the rape of Hassan, his friend, but fails to intervene and later to even acknowledge the rape or apologize for his inaction. 

 
People do sometimes fail to act morally. While the ethical violations are often less egregious than Amir's, moral failures--to act with integrity, to tell the truth, etc.--do happen. McClennen asks: "Is the moral failure connected solely to the event, or is the continuing inability to correct it even worse?" 
 
What do you think? What are some of the impacts of a failure to take responsibility for an ethical wrongdoing: On those who were harmed by the wrongdoing? On the individual who acted unethically? 
 
McClennen's sincere hope is that her class has offered students "a chance to engage ethically and philosophically with the issues we are facing now at Penn State" and that "it has given them a moral vocabulary with which to think about these events by applying what they were learning in our readings." 
 
How have your classes helped prepare you to think about difficult and complex ethical issues like those we are currently facing at Penn State? What changes would you suggest we make to classes to improve them in this regard?