Political Science: Another Perspective
Abraham H. Miller
University of Cincinnati
It is appropriate that a political scientist should initiate our discussion on the ethics of teaching and research. Political scientists have experienced much conflict and critical self-examination in recent years over the values and ethics of teaching and research. Whether anything can be learned from our internal and often internecine conflict is, of course, another matter entirely. Perhaps reflection on and assessment of our experiences will simply illustrate the futility of using one's intellectual resources in the quest for solutions to unresolvable problems. For, in the final analysis, values are some of the most immutable of man's creations. Values tend to be far more reflective of basic psychological needs and predispositions than of conclusions based on rational assessment. They are part of the infrastructure of one's presentation of self and, as such, remain generally unresponsive to reasonable, dispassionate argument. This is not to say that raising poignant and important value questions serves no useful function.
Recent confrontations with basic value questions that affect teachers' and researchers' conduct have caused reexamination of professional behavior and even the objectivity of some of the most cherished theories. Some intellectual catharsis has resulted from this experience. Certain people who were intimidated by the weight of conventional, professional wisdom have felt less constrained to speak out, and graduate students have been exposed to issues that a few short years ago were nonexistent. Yet, none of the value problems have been re