The Big Q
A dialogue on the big questions college students face.
Like The Big Q now on Facebook to stay updated on the latest post and winners.
The following postings have been filtered by tag David DeCosse
. clear filter
Monday, Mar. 3, 2014
The first 20 student comments on “Lying to be Nice” win a $5 Yiftee gift to a local business. Use your gift to try out that new flavor of ice cream or spend it on two slices of your favorite pizza. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, March 16th, 2014. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.
**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
Mark is an upper classman college student at a large university. He is a double major in Psychology and Political Science, is involved with on-campus Associated Student Government, and works two jobs in order to pay for college and essentials like food.
Mark is very focused on his education and career growth at this stage in his life and in the rare free moments he has, he enjoys spending time with his housemates who are his best friends. He isn’t against dating, but he knows that relationships take time and money and is not sure he has the availability or funds for a girlfriend. That being said, he has told his roommates several times that if he finds the right girl, he will make time for her and will budget his earnings accordingly.
Joe, Mark’s roommate, has been trying to set up his friend with a girl for a long time. Joe is under the impression that Mark needs someone to help him enjoy the moment and not just focus on the future. Joe sets Mark up with his girlfriend’s best friend, Laura. He tells Mark to just go to coffee with the girl and see if they mesh. Mark agrees to go to coffee with Laura.
At coffee, Mark struggles to find anything in common with Laura. He thinks she is a nice girl, but he also doesn’t feel that she is someone he wants to date. Her interests and hobbies are very different from Mark, and it even seems like her values are different at times during his talk. Mark enjoys the conversation with her, but he decides he doesn’t want to pursue anything after the coffee.
When leaving the coffee shop, Laura tells Mark she had a good time and would like to get to know him even better. She gives Mark her phone number and asks him if he will call her later. Mark knows he isn’t going to call Laura. He has no interest pursuing her for a relationship and is already so strapped for time. However, he tells her he will call her because he thinks it is better to be nice than to tell her the truth.
Did Mark do the right thing? Was lying to Laura that he’d call her the nice thing to do? Is it just to withhold the truth from someone, even if you think it’s for his or her betterment?
A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making
Truth in Thomas Aquinas
Is Lying Ever Right?
Lying and Truth-Telling
Photo by Kris Krug available under a Creative Commons license.
Monday, Jun. 20, 2011
$50 Amazon gift certificate to the best student response on this case received by midnight, June 5.
Kayla is going to be a freshman at a prestigious university, which was her first choice for college. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the more expensive institutions of higher learning in the country.
When Kayla was making her applications, her family was in good shape financially, but just before she was accepted, she learned her father had been laid off from his job as a software engineer. In order to send Kayla to her first-choice school, her parents intend to dip into their retirement accounts.
Should Kayla allow them to do this, or should she go to the less expensive state university, where she was also accepted?
Here are some resources that might be useful:
Balancing kids' college and retirement saving
A Framework for Ethical Decision Making
Pay for College (CollegeBoard)
Photo by Daniel Moyle available under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.
Posted by Rebecca Bivona-Guttadauro
Friday, Apr. 1, 2011
Mary puts up a poster on her dorm room door opposing gay marriage. James, a floormate, finds it offensive. What should happen?
Read the full case
The other responders to this case have covered several of the ethical issues, especially how to balance the right of free speech with the harm that may come from attacking someone else’s identity.
Identity has become an increasingly important part of ethics. For a long time, ethics was much more concerned with whether some isolated action was right or wrong, and not as concerned with who was doing the action—with the person’s history, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, core values, context, and all the other things that make us who we really are and that profoundly affect what we do.
While this new dimension of identity has been a boon for ethics in many ways, there are times when it has stopped ethical reflection dead in its tracks. This happens when identity becomes something unchanging, beyond challenge, unable to be discussed, and easily offended: I am who I am, and you have no right to infringe on my sense of who I am. When I speak, I am asserting who I am in a way that you may not question.
But identity can’t be locked down, definitely not in life and rightfully not in the swirl of conversation that is college life. We may affirm something constant about who we are, but we have to acknowledge that we are always changing, too. And speech—whether it’s a poster on a dorm room door or a discussion in class—is the great engine of this change. Could the poster on Mary’s door initiate a conversation in the dorm that changes the way that Mary and James see themselves? Perhaps that conversation leads them to change their opinions of Prop 8. Perhaps it leads them to re-affirm those opinions. Perhaps what emerges is an unforeseen, diverse community on a dorm hallway previously inhabited by separate, fixed identities of the too-rigidly assertive and the too-easily offended.
Who is David DeCosse?
Agree with David? Have another perspective? Leave us your feedback? Today is the last day for a chance to win $50 for the best comment on Poster Wars.
Monday, Mar. 21, 2011
David DeCosse is director of campus ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. His Ph.D. in theological ethics is from Boston College, and he teaches classes such as "The Ethics of War and Peace."
It's true--I like reading and writing about abstract theories of freedom in social and political life. But all that work and study is the top of the building. The foundation of the structure is attention to real life, where ethics is played out, surprising, shaded with doubt, or lit up like the sun on a green California hill. Blogs fit into that foundation. They inhabit that space of real life where what happens hits us hard, evokes a bunch of opinions, then evokes a bunch more. Space is opened up in all this churn: Space to see things more clearly, live life more rightly.