For the exam, offer a critique of the essay following the instructions below.
Your critique should focus on course concepts, moral reasoning and ethics. Assume that this essay was constructed using the same instructions you have for your final paper.
Note: your critique should be as thorough and comprehensive as possible in the time provided for this examination.
In the event you find that a concept covered during the course has been mis-represented or misused in the essay, clearly identify the theory and explain how it has been mis-represented or misused. If theessay illustrates faulty reasoning, clearly illustrate this in your critique.
Do not offer your own rebuttal argument focused on a moral conclusion differing from the one in the essay. While doing so is a worthwhile endeavor, my interest in this exercise is for you to offer a critique of the essay as it is presented to you – using the instructions above. In other words, offering a critique of my argument is different from you rejecting the moral conclusion in the essay, presenting a different conclusion and then offering your reasons for that conclusion. This incorrect alternative is a rebuttal (and that is not what you should do the for final exam).
THE INFO ABOUT THE COURSE
An ethics for Transformative Leadership must, as is the case for all ethics, be based on a moral framework (i.e., if ethics is about the 'rules of the game,' the moral framework defines what the game is!)
We saw different moral frameworks in the course. The first was utilitarianism, a kind of consequentialism or teleological ethics where the ends justify the means. Clearly, there is something to be said about this as a framework for TL. After all, leaders must weigh consequences as they make decisions toward an organization's ends. But what about problems in a utilitarian approach? Does utilitarianism lead to abuses? Who decides how well-being is to be understood? Might this get too relative? Did we not agree early on that extreme forms of relativism are out of bounds? Might a person compromise their principles following a utilitarian ethics? Yes! Can this work in harmony with TL, when TL itself is based on principled actions (like respect and focusing on emancipation as a matter of respect?) No.
Clearly the problems in utilitarianism disqualify it as a foundation for an ethics of TL. So, what about a moral framework that is based on moral principles? In this regard we considered deontological approaches to ethics. But deontological ethics does not include an assessment of consequences! Deontological ethics has other problems too, like instances when more than one moral principle applies. What is a person to do then? In class, we tended to weigh consequences (but doing so is out of bounds if we are using deontological ethics).
We rejected Divine Command theory (another form of deontological ethics) because it is both absolute in some ways and extremely relative in others. (Again, did we not say early on that both absolutism and relativism — at least in its extreme forms — are to be avoided?)
Natural Law was promising as a teleological or consequential approach to ethics, but this moral framework does not necessarily include emancipation or collaboration, although it could. In the Western tradition, Natural Law is about using reason to determine what ultimate moral truths are, and what those truths require of us. Unlike Divine Command Theory, we have to think it through and participate in our own moral discernment. But what about emotions? Is not TL an approach that insists on head and heart together, and should this not be emphasized more than might be the case in Natural Law theory (even though Natural Law incorporates a sense of our becoming increasingly excellent moral agents through practice, experience and the guidance of conscience?
That left us with a relationality-responsibility model for ethics. A relationality-responsibility model says that our sense of moral responsibility comes from our experiences in the many relationships of which we are a part. This framework sees us as involved in multiple relationships (with others, ourselves, if you will, and with God is a person if a faith-based person). A relationality-responsibility model does not lead to a rejection of acting in principled ways as utilitarianism does (particularly “act-utilitarianism” more than “rule-utilitarianism”), but it does at the same time emphasize that the way we apply those same principles is informed by our experiences in these multiple relationships. A relationality-responsibity model also makes room in a person's deliberations for an assessment of consequences and a corresponding emphasis on working toward the greatest good for those with whom we share a sense of relationality. Instead of grounding one's ethics purely on principles (like deontological ethics) or on consequences (like utilitarianism), a relationality-responsibility model bases a person's ethics on conscience. (Instead of looking outwardly for moral truth, a person looks inwardly). Conscience is a holistic understanding of “human person” and does not TL emphasize both reason and affectivity, head and heart? An emphasis on “head and heart” is a holistic anthropological claim, or sense of self.
Conscience is in part subjective (it is a matter of experience) but also points toward truths that transcend each of us, truths greater than ourselves, as elaborated by Richard Gula and others. Thus, conscience means we avoid absolutism (because it is in part subjective) and also extreme forms of relativism (because it is not only subjective but instead leads to truths that transcend our subjectivity).
Therefore, based on the above, the moral framework that fits TL well (far better than the other approaches) is the relationality-responsibility model, the approach grounded in conscience.
Transformative Leaders also must take risks. That is where an ethics of risk comes in. It sees responsibility in ways that do not presume we are in control (and the emancipatory and collaborative character of TL insists that the leader work with others, share power with them, and not try to control them or hold power over them). An ethics of risk involves taking concrete and strategic steps that make for a “matrix of possibilities” (a sense that anything might happen) instead of taking unilateral and decisive actions where power is exerted over others and control is assumed. An ethics of risk is therefore part of an ethics for TL. An ethics of risk is about power “with” others, as is TL.
Some suggest that an ethics of risk is like taking a leap of faith.
An ethics of TL also involves affirming the relationships we are involved in, and that means that a sense of community must be fostered or maintained. That is, interestingly enough, the third element in an ethics of risk. Those same concrete and strategic steps must always bring community together.
But can there be an appropriate sense of community, or a deeply held experience of community, without justice? No.
What ways of understanding justice seem to fit TL? This is where the five systematic injustices we studied, following from Young's work, became important. In short, a TL must always work to lessen or eliminate these five injustices in the work place or leadership context. How can we collaborate, feel emancipated or maintain a sense of community (where power is shared) if some are marginalized, some experience exploitation or systematic violence, cultural imperialism or powerlessness? Clearly these five injustices work against TL.
So, bringing this all together, here is a statement that describes an ethics for Transformative Leadership:
An ethics of Transformative Leadership follows a relationality-responsibility model for ethics as developed by H. Richard Niebuhr and later Charles Curran. It is rooted in conscience as a matter of one's head and heart. The experiences we have with others inform our conscience. Following from the work of Richard Gula and others in the larger Natural Law tradition, conscience is well understood as matter of our own subjectivity but also directs us to understanding truths greater than ourselves, i.e., truths that transcend each of us.
To affect change, an ethics for TL incorporates an “Ethics of Risk.” Following from the work of Sharon Welch, an ethics of risk entails (a) the assumption that we are not in control, (b) the admission that concrete and strategically well considered actions create a “matrix of possibilities” (Welch), i.e., being responsible admits that anything might happen (but actions are performed as a leap of faith if you will), and (c) a preference for actions that build or hold community together.
To maintain those relationships it incorporates solidarity (i.e., the exercise of power with others and not power over others, combined with intentionally taking seriously the realities understood by those who are marginalized).
Finally, an ethics for TL is a matter of working to lessen marginalization, cultural imperialism, systematic violence, exploitation and powerlessness where justice (emancipation) for Transformative Leaders is defined as the absence of these injustices.
LeadershipLeadership Paper details For the exam, offer a critique of the essay following the instructions below. Your critique should focus on course concepts, moral […]