Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Center Introduces Newsletter

Welcome to Issues in Ethics, the newsletter of the Center for Applied Ethics. The Center was recently established at Santa Clara University by a gift from Mr. A. C. Markkula, Jr., to support projects designed to enhance our ability to deal with the ethical issues that we encounter in our daily lives. Moral controversies have multiplied in virtually every corner of our society. Medicine grapples with the morality of terminating the life support systems of brain-damaged patients who will never recover consciousness. Business people wonder about the ethics of layoffs, of drug-testing, of advertising, and of affirmative-action programs. Lawyers struggle with the problems of trying to balance the rights of their accused clients against the rights of society. The Center is dedicated to the idea that our human capacity to deal with these sorts of moral issues can develop and improve through study and through learning.

Issues in Ethics is one means by which the Center hopes to facilitate thoughtful reflection on moral questions. The newsletter is not aimed at experts in ethics, but is intended for a more general audience. Through Issues in Ethics, the Center hopes to make the insights of specialists more accessible to an audience informed about the issues of the day but not accustomed to viewing them from an ethical perspective. Each issue of this newsletter will carry several "Ethics Briefs" highlighting the ethical principles and values that lie behind the moral controversies that swirl around our society. Although these Briefs are short, each one tries to provide a balanced summary of the positions taken on each side of the issue. The Briefs are not meant to tell the reader what he or she is supposed to think about morality. Instead, their purpose is to identify some of the moral values at stake in these debates. The Center hopes the Ethics Briefs will enable readers to understand the issues more clearly and begin to make up their own minds about their personal positions.

In addition, the newsletter will include short articles on various ethical concepts and on current research in ethics. In this issue the reader will find a short article addressing the question, "What is Ethics?" A second article, "Can Ethics be Taught?" summarizes some of the work psychologists have done on the topic of moral development.

If you enjoy Issues in Ethics and would like to be placed on our mailing list to receive the next edition, please complete and return the form on the back page of this newsletter. The Center also welcomes your letters containing comments, suggestions, or alternative points of view on any of the topics in this newsletter.