Ethics Professors No Ethically Better Than Other Professors

Being an ethics professor myself, I didn’t need a study to tell me this!

A fun experiment:

Oddly, however, we found no relationship whatsoever between professors’ expressed attitudes about the morality of consistently responding to undergraduate emails and their actual behavior. 83.0% of professors said it was morally bad not consistently to respond to undergraduate emails, but these professors were no more likely to respond to our emails than were the 17.0% who said it was morally okay not to respond. In fact, 65.5% of those who said it was okay not to respond consistently to undergraduate emails responded to our second email, compared to only 55.3% of those who said it was bad not to respond. (This was within the range of chance variation given the smallish numbers involved in this particular set of conditions, but the 95% confidence interval for the difference in response rates tops out at a 3.2% advantage for those who think it is morally bad not to respond — so at best they’re responding at practically the same rate.)

On none of these measures did ethicists appear to respond or behave any differently, or any more or less self-consistently, than the non-ethicist philosophers or the comparison group of non-philosophers.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.