This book brings together two closely related topics, the practice of ethics in the university (“academic ethics”) and the teaching of practical (or applied) ethics in the university. The topics are related in at least three ways. The first is historically: a discussion of academic ethics seems to belong to a wider “ethics boom” in teaching professional ethics, social ethics, and business ethics. The second is substantively: some fields of professional (or institutional) ethics, especially the ethics of scientific research, overlap substantially with academic ethics. Because about half of all scientists employed in research are employed by universities, many questions of research ethics are questions of academic ethics as well. The third is causally: teaching professional ethics, social ethics, or business ethics can itself generate questions of academic ethics (or, at least, of “professorial ethics”). For example, if teaching medical ethics is a kind of inculcation of proper values, how can an academic committed to freeing the mind of mere inculcation ethically teach medical ethics? Ethics and the University works at the intersection of these historical, substantive, and causal relations. Its purpose is both to clarify the field and extend discussion on certain central topics.
Part I provides a high-altitude survey of the field, marking distinctions important throughout the book. Chapter 1, “The ethics boom, philosophy, and the university, ” offers an explanation of the emergence of practical ethics as a university subject, putting that subject into a wider social and historical context. This chapter distinguishes several senses of ethics and explains the sense in which the ethics boom is new, generating new problems for the university that wishes to make room for it. Academic ethics is a special topic within the complex of topics now identifiable as “the ethics boom.”
Chapter 2 considers the relation between academic freedom,