Philosophy has had a lasting influence on learning institutions and society since time immemorial. The discipline has been shaped by a historical and scholastic tradition that started in the Greek culture over 2000 years ago (Audi, 2007, p.76).
Socrates, a famous ancient Greek philosopher once stated that the unexplored life is unworthy of living. Philosophy thus offers learners with the instruments they require to critically assess their lifestyles and the society they live in as well. Philosophers are described as lovers of wisdom. Philosophy is a phrase derived from the Greek language. Philo means love while Sophia means wisdom (Philosophy, n.d., p.1).
There are several examples in the recent past that demonstrate lack of ethics. For example, the impact of slips on ethical judgement is well illustrated by the demise of companies such as Arthur Andersen, LLP. Arthur Andersen, LLP was among the largest accounting firms in the world. However, the firm faced criminal charges because it attempted to block investigation by the federal government on Enron’s accounting practises. Arthur Andersen, LLP was closed down as a result of its unethical behaviours (Johnson, 2007, p.1).
This paper will thus discuss why Philosophy major is needed in curriculum to teach students- who will later assume important roles in the social and business sectors- on the value of ethics in the society. There are two main points presented in this paper. The first point will stress on the importance of adding Philosophy in curriculum. The second part will describe several examples to show the consequence of unethical practise at workplace.
The reason why Philosophy should be included in the curriculum
To gain analytical capabilities
Philosophy moulds the way people think, what they perceive to be true, what they value, and more importantly, the manner in which they relate with other people around them. It demands that people assess their beliefs, assumptions and the basis for holding them. Given its significant impact on ethical behaviours, philosophy must be included in the curriculum (Johnson, 2007, p.3).
Granted, everyone faces ethical issues on daily basis. By introducing Philosophy in curriculum, students will learn how to reflect on and effectively grasp complex ethical issues.
For example, a school can introduce a Philosophical Community of Inquiry- which is a cooperative and collaborative pedagogical program- where students can learn from others on how to take part in Philosophical discussions. Such a forum will help students to study, assess and describe issues and concepts so that they grasp and deal with difficult ethical issues present in the society.
Students will thus benefit from this forum because they will use critical skills to appraise both historical and contemporary events related to ethics and thus be able to manage future challenges (Johnson, 2007, p. 3). A Philosophical Community of Inquiry thus offers students opportunities to learn the outcome of unethical behaviours. There are other reasons why philosophy is needed in a curriculum.
To gain scholastic capabilities
Philosophy should be made an integral component of the curriculum because it enables students to develop scholastic abilities vital for life in general. When pursued properly, students are able to enhance their critical, analytical and communicative skills that are essential to any subject and human circumstance.
It promotes the craving and capacity for self-reflection and expression; for long-term learning; for debate and exchange of ideas; and for solving complex problems. In this regard, philosophy major is needed in curriculum because it enhances the ability of students to contribute intelligently and responsibly in public life and the roles of citizenship (Audi, 2007, p.77). There are several documented cases of unethical behaviours by senior employees working at influential companies.
Examples of the outcomes of unethical behaviours
Examples abound on the outcome of unethical behaviours at workplaces. For example, the demise of ethical decision making has severely affected companies such as Arthur Andersen, LLP, Tyson Foods, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Tyson Foods, Inc.
For example, Dennis Kozlowski and other senior managers at Tyco International Ltd swindled the firm when they awarded themselves loans in millions of dollars at low interest rates. They later defaulted on their loans and wrote them off. Meanwhile, they did not disclose these records to the directors and shareholders of the company although the law required them to do so.
In another example, Donald Tyson, former CEO of Tyson Foods, Inc sabotaged internal controls and refused to reveal over $1 million in gratuities, hence infringing on federal securities law (Johnson, 2007, p. 2). Such cases can be avoided in the future if schools incorporate Philosophy in their curricula to teach students good ethical behaviours since they will soon assume important positions in similar companies.
As the discussion above has shown,Philosophy has had a lasting influence on learning institutions and society since time immemorial. Philosophy moulds the way people think, what they perceive to be true, what they value, and more importantly, the manner in which they relate with other people. It is thus important that Philosophy integrated in the curriculum because it enables students develop scholastic abilities vital for life in general.
As stated above one way to achieve this is through the introduction of a Philosophical Community of Inquiry, a discussion forum where students can share their knowledge and improve their analytical capabilities by studying both the historical and current events related to the outcomes of unethical behaviours. Incidences of unethical practises in companies such as Arthur Andersen, LLP and Tyson Foods, Inc should serve as fitting examples to encourage students to learn and adhere to ethical practises both now and in their future roles in the society.
Audi, R. (2007). American Philosophical Association Statement on the Philosophy Major. Proceedings and Addresses of the APA, 80 (5), 76-89.
Johnson, D. (2007). Teaching ethics. Retrieved from: drdragon000.entryhost.com/msub3/jenny/papers/TeachingEthics.pdf
Philosophy. (n.d.). Why Study Philosophy? Retrieved from: www.ius.edu/philosophy/pdf/whystudyphilosophy.pdf