Каваляускас Томас


Mezzo/organizational level

Tomas Kavaliauskas


A professor of ethics was expelled from a philosophy department due to his constant attempts to influence the decisions of the head of the philosophy department at the university X. The decisive decision of this happened when the department began its new program of cultural studies and the professor showed no interest in the program aside the fact that according to him the program was wrong in itself as it had only one course on ethics – Business Ethics. The head of the department was also dissatisfied with the very attitude of the ethicist towards ethics teaching, since this professor wanted to be in a position of deciding which member of the department can teach ethics and which cannot. Thus, the conflict was solved by expelling the ethicist from the department by not giving to this scholar any teaching hours for the next school year.
However, the professor of ethics was obliged by the university to teach a course of ethics, because he had a full time position of a scientific employee and all such scholars, according to the rules of the university X, have to teach a few courses as a part of the policy. This course had to be taught to the students of other departments, not to those of the philosophy department that provided cultural studies program for its own students only. The professor wanted to teach the course on Business Ethics, not the course of general ethics. Moreover, this ethicist inquired who is going to teach the course on business ethics, since his qualifications are the best in the university. The course on Business Ethics was given to a lecturer, who had expertise in this area, but did not match the qualifications of the professor in question. However, the former was a part of the philosophy department, whereas the latter no longer was.
Both ethicists new each other and met in an office to discuss the situation. They both agreed that the course on Business Ethics should be taught by a more skilled professor. They also agreed that it is good that at least the course of Business Ethics was not given to teach to a professor, who was ready to accept it, if offered, albeit all academic career was spent doing research in aesthetics not ethics, not to mention business ethics research area. Even though the latter option was considered, it was not selected by the head of the philosophy department. The chairman chose the golden average – neither he gave Business Ethics course to the most skilled professor in this area, nor to the most unskilled one, but gave it to a lecturer who was competent enough and belonged to the department.
Thus, when these two ethicists met for a conversation, after they both had agreed that at least lesser evil was given preference, the professor of ethics declared that he does not want to teach this general course on ethics that the university obliged. The argument was the following: the university has no right to require teaching hours from him, because he had already taught those hours. The problem was that according to the university, the professor, as a full time scientific researcher, had not fulfilled the requirements for the school year yet and some hours for teaching still were left. But the professor argued that the criteria of the university were wrong. Then, after sharing the arguments with the colleague, he asked the lecturer of ethics to take his course on general ethics as well. The latter asked about payment, because if he agrees to do so, the university will not pay him, since it is not his course by definition. The professor said that he would exhaust all legal channels to prove that he deserves payment for the work and that this course was unjustly prescribed to him as a scientific employee, and, therefore, had to be substituted during the semester.
The lecturer asked the professor the following: "Would you agree to formulate a reason why I should teach this course for you without a guarantee that I'll ever be paid for it? Do you need time for writing a book? Is there another reason why you're asking me for this favor?"
The professor replied: "I will not formulate you the reason. I'm just asking you, whether you would do it." Then, he explained that he will not teach this course because the university is being unfair, but it could be good that the students would study with a competent lecturer, not with someone, who would be ready to accept the offer, albeit the research area is aesthetics, not ethics. It is all about the quality of ethics course, – finally it was added. Since the most skilled professor refuses to take the course, he would like to recommend someone else, who is trustworthy.
Feeling moral authority of the professor as well as respect for his expertise, the lecturer agreed, but did not forget to add that it is the first and the last time when he agrees to do such a thing under such morally ambiguous conditions.
When the semester started, the lecturer of ethics taught his business ethics course to the students of cultural studies and general course on ethics to the students of other departments. He got paid for one course. The university did not pay for the second course. The professor of ethics kept the promise, complained to the rector, but the situation in terms of payment did not change. When the professor started thinking about whistle blowing outside the university, the semester was over and the lecturer asked him not to use his name anymore in any other future complaints, because he himself has become morally convinced that the university does not owe him any money, since he voluntarily accepted the course that did not belong to him.


This case shows us that both the professor and the lecturer were unprofessional. Both being ethicists and experts of business ethics should have known that private agreements cannot be confused with organizational ones when an entire administration is involved in decision making. The professor's complaints post factum only prove the incompetence in practice. He was supposed to either to accept the requirement to teach extra time or reject it complaining about it and leaving the students without a teacher. It would have been a professional disobedience. Instead, he succeeded in involving another employee into the case, thus creating a case for himself, for the university and for a colleague. What was between the professor and the university soon also became a part of the lecturer of ethics.
The lecturer demonstrated his unprofessional attitude too, since he accepted a course that did not belong to him. Agreement to work without payment for another professor, tell us that he agreed to be exploited. Albeit he had said that he agrees to do such a thing for the first and the last time, he still gave a consent to be exploited in case of not being paid and became a volunteer for the case that was initiated by the professor.
Here it is to difficult to decide whether the case was inspired by a professional envy that a less competent, lecturer will give lectures on Business Ethics. The correlation between the two could be evident having more information, however, insufficient to suggest such a cause in this case.
One argument is clear, though. It is the professor's belief that the lecturer had to substitute him for the Ethics course in order to avoid the one who has expertise in aesthetics, not in ethics, but ready to fill in whatever gaps due to academic conflicts. If the argument implies that Ethics is one of the most important disciplines as it forms students as moral subjects and, therefore, all ethicists are on a moral mission, then, the professor wanted no more no less as to kill to rabbits at once – to show disobedience to the university and to avoid the scandal of leaving the students without a teacher. But this version is worth consideration only if we dismiss the possibility of the professor's intention to involve the lecturer into the case due to professional envy that was initially caused by the decision of the head of the philosophy department regarding Business Ethics course. If the latter cannot be dismissed, then this case is very primitive, though peculiar – an ethicist envies another ethicist, therefore, making ethics discipline as a worthy object of subtle unethical revenge via exploitation. But if this version is to be dismissed, if the birth of the case is nothing else but the importance of ethics teaching quality, then the case is very moral for ethicistS themselves – another employee is purposefully involved into a controversy for the sake of ethics course quality. Having in mind that the professor had promised to fight for the colleague's legal salary (not promising successful outcome), all this can easily be interpreted as the professor's honest endeavor to pay a price for moral convictions.
The latter brings us back to a pedagogical question of how ethics should be taught: (1) as music and literature, when a teacher does not expect his students to become composers or writers, but only those who acquire knowledge about musical compositions and literary writing skills (see professor Werner's arguments of the first Summer school in Galicina), or (2) as a discipline that forms students as moral agents, thus, turning the very teacher into a man of a moral mission on an academic campus.


Rule test – Was there violated any rule?
According to the professor, the rule was violated by the university, since it gave too many teaching hours and that meant its intention for exploitation.
According to the lecturer, he does not know who is the violator in this case, since he has no information on criteria of teaching hours distribution. But what he claimed to be sure was that he himself agreed to work the work that did not belong to him, thus, violating the rule of the university that requires every lecturer to teach his own course under his own name.

Day light test – Would the people involved in the case want their behavior become known in a day light for others?
The professor made the case public. He told the Dean and wrote a complaint to the Rector telling all about the situation disclosing reasoning why it is morally wrong. He wanted day light. This ethicist did not hide the fact from other employees of the university that another person took the course.
The lecturer also did not hide from the day light. He openly questioned the moral status of the course, openly answered to the questions of the philosophy department members when he was asked, whether it is true that he agreed to do the work for free. As a matter of fact, the employees of the university considered him as a victim of his naivety as well as a victim of the shrewdness of the professor who, according to others, managed to avoid the work and provide another lecturer. This case was very much of a day light for both of them.

Utilitarian test – Were there more efficiency than damage?
According to the professor, the most important efficiency target should be the students. They should get the largest amount of "happiness". But then there is a question: would not it be the most efficient, if the professor himself – as he is the best expertise in the university – taught the course?
The lecturer avoided a utilitarian approach as he felt being a part of a morally controversial case where utilitarian benefit calculations are only calculations of a lesser evil not of a higher good.

Perfection test – Was it a perfect behavior or a perfect solution?
It is clear that a perfect solution is in the eye of the beholder. From a professional management point of view the professor had no right to offer a course to someone else. The lecturer, on the other hand, was not supposed to accept it either. If it was true that the teaching hours were unfair, then a fair disobedience could have been expressed by leaving the students without a teacher, what would not have lasted long as the Dean would have issued an order to provide another lecturer. In any case, a solution to involve another employee into a controversial situation cannot be called a perfect solution by definition.

Double effect test – Was there a double effect of the behavior or the decisions that were made?
Double effect followed because the lecturer no longer trusts the professor. It appeared to him that the professor is the cause of this controversial case. When a normal routine of academic work suddenly became a question of moral status, when the same regular ethics course that was taught in earlier semesters without any ambiguity suddenly became a target of complains for supposedly unjust treatment of the lecturer, the latter felt uneasy about the situation and realized that was involved into an intrigue that initially was between the university administration and the professor. Thus, the latter in his eyes no longer was a person of moral respect, since an expert of ethics should not involve colleagues into such situations. The professor, on the other hand, also became disappointed in the lecturer as in an ethicist, since according to his reasoning, the lecturer lacked idealism, otherwise he would not have asked the professor not to mention his name in any complaints once the semester was over. Suddenly the lecturer withdrew from the "project" of getting a legal salary. Namely this withdrawal was interpreted as betrayal of teamwork forcing the university to admit its exploitation methods. It was even more disappointing for the professor to hear from the lecturer that in his opinion the university is being absolutely fair not paying to him for one of the courses of ethics, because the course in question did not belong to him to begin with. As a matter of fact, it was formulated by the lecturer that the money owes the professor himself. At first an implication, later a clear statement of this moral conviction, affected the relationship.


This case illustrates an old issue of professional ought and practical is. An ethicist just like a priest ought to be morally perfect. We know that in practice neither priests, nor other agents, who claim their moral authority, are imperfect. It is the idea of the ideal that guides us in moral aspirations. Socrates believed that, if a philosopher knows the truth, he will not behave contrary to his wisdom. Knowledge should make a person an ethical human. It follows that ethicists are supposed to be those types of humans, who have more knowledge in ethics than others. But as we have seen, in practice, when there is a controversial situation, they cannot avoid double effects, be more ethical than others.
This case also warns us about the danger to make the discipline of ethics as an absolute value in itself. When the quality of ethics becomes an apriori ought for the sake of which one justifies another ethicist's involvement into a professional controversy, raises a question of sectarian methods. A sectarian always believes that he acts in the name of the truth. He preaches what is ought according his denomination. Ethicists also can become like sectarians. If the professor honestly believed that ethics should be taught by a particular faculty staff member regardless the controversy of the situation, it implies a fanatic attitude towards the profession of the ethicist. The discipline of ethics here becomes a value in itself; the stage of the auditorium becomes an altar; the texts of the classics – the Bible; an ethicist himself – a priest or the messenger.
Such a sectarian attitude is possible only when ethics is perceived as a mission to form others as moral subjects. Then, an ethicist is a missioner himself. He has to help the world to become a more ethical place for whatever practice. It is an endless task as there always be unethical cases.
The case that is being analyzed in this case study would not have happened if the two ethicists had behaved more maturely, less idealistically, more professionally, i.e., if one of them showed professional disobedience to the university by refusing to teach those hours which according to him were unfair, and, if the other rejected the offer for a controversial substitution by saying, "Thank you for the offer, Sir, but I have my own duties."

Прокофьев Андрей

Томас, спасибо за кейс.
В твоем описании просвечивает очень знакомое по российскому опыту явление – апелляция к профессиональному (академическому, врачебному и т.д.) долгу для того, чтобы блокировать возражения против фактически осуществляющейся эксплуатации. Правда, у нас это свойственно в основном не коллегам, пытающимся ускользнуть от дополнительной нагрузки, а неэффективному управленческому персоналу в некоммерческом секторе экономики. При этом такие апелляции, конечно, не служат основным средством воздействия. Они носят дополнительный характер, лишая работников «морального права» на возмущение и недовольство.

Оставляя пока в стороне вопрос о «преподавании этики как призвании и профессии», я хотел бы обратиться к некоторым отдельным сторонам ситуации и аналитического инструментария.

Во-первых, по поводу интерпретации мотивов действующих лиц и ее роли для исследования кейса. В разделе «Анализ» вытраивается следующая альтернатива мотиваций профессора: зависть или особая ценность курса этики, который нельзя доверять непрофессионалу. Лишь во втором случае ситуация превращается в интересную для исследователя. Мне же кажется, что описание не оставляет сомнений в том, что второй мотив вряд ли вообще руководил профессором. Если курс этики обладает, с его точки зрения, самоценностью, то ради продолжения его преподавания, профессор мог бы изначально не идти на конфликт с руководством. Значит, реальные мотивы профессора: стремление решить проблему с курсами, которые нет желания вести, или (а, может быть, и) профессиональная зависть. Однако это совсем не делает случай тривиальным, поскольку основной интерес представляет реакция другого преподавателя на аргументы от особой ценности этики (что бы за ними ни стояло со стороны профессора). Тривиальным случай стал бы тогда, когда неожиданно выяснилось бы, что преподаватель дал свое согласие только из-за профессорского moral authority. А в это верится слабо, поскольку тот не требовал бы тогда от собеседника внятно сформулировать причины, по которым часы должны перейти именно к нему.

Во-вторых, по поводу аналитических рубрик в номинации «Testing». Рубрика «было ли нарушено какое-то правило» построена так, что основным вопросом оказывается мнение действующих лиц о своем поступке: полагают ли они, что нарушили какое-то правило.Однако является ли он существенным вопросом? И не дублирует ли он в этом случае тест «дневного света»? Ведь если человек считает, что не нарушил никаких правил, то он, конечно, не будет против публичной огласки свих действий. В рубрике «тест полезности» я не совсем понял, почему расчет «меньшего зла» характеризует только позицию преподавателя, а не профессора? Наконец, тест «двойного эффекта». Обычно под принципом «двойного эффекта» понимается принцип, который позволяет считать действие, причинившее ущерб, морально допустимым, если ущерб не был прямой целью действия и был пропорционален хорошим последствиям. Но тогда в проблему превращаются не сами побочные следствия (они перечислены в данной рубрике), а их баланс с тем благом, которое было прямой целью действующих лиц (такая калькуляция в ней отсутствует).

Tomas Kavaliauskas

Thank you for such an extensive comment. I do admit that my "testing" was not well done and left many answered questions. I must say that this part of the genre is the most difficult to me. Actually I have doubts to what extent it can be done really well. First of all, there is an author, who is I, Tomas. I inevitably have my own perspective of the case. If the author was somenone else, needless to say, the case would have been written differently. (let's recall the issue of the death of the author in Roland Brthes and Michel Foucault). And this is the problem in terms of objectivity. "Testing" headline implies objectivity, but "objectivity" is so subjective and it depends on the author's education, experience, interest to the case, etc. Phenomenological approach as well as hermeneutic one could be useful here in terms of methodological improvement or revelation of its flaws. Secondly, there could be other tests too. The conclusions would differ according to the number of tests as well as to the number of different authors writting on it from different points of view.
Nevetherless, I don't want it to be my justification for failing to be clear on the testing part. The utilitariant test is indeed too short. A much deeper utilitarian calculation could have been done.
When it comes to your remark on professional envy, which could have been analysed deeper, I also admit that this aspect was overlooked by me too hastily. I simply chose one of the lines for this case narrative instead of exhausting both lines – professional envy and professional duty, a sense of moral obligation.

I think that this case could also consider the lecturer as a sectarian, not just the professor. If the lecturer agreed to volunteer, perhaps he viewed ethics teaching as a moral mission too. Here are a few lines, which could be added to the conclusion part of the case that I wrote:
"The main questions for the rhetoric conclusion may remain open: What was the true reason for the lecturer to volunteer for the professor's substitution under such conditions? Is it possible that the true reason was that he himself is of a sectarian type who believes in the mission of ethicists? Does not the key moment here lies in the very fact that the lecturer felt his own moral obligation to agree to substitute the professor, albeit the latter failed to formulate the reason for a favor in question? Perhaps the formulation was implied between the lines all the time – ethicists are on a mission formatting students as moral subjects. ...and they both believed in that all the time not even noticing how this belief little by little was creating a case for themselves."

Tomas Kavaliauskas


Micro-family level (continuing the theme of envy)

Family X had a tradition of meeting all together in a grandparents house for Christmas Eve dinner. The members of the family who gather for the traditional dinner consists of 9 persons:
1. Grandmother and 2. grandfather – the hosts of the house
3. Grandparents' daughter of 55 years age (divorced)
4. Grandparents' son of 43 years age
5. A wife of the grandparents' son
6. A boy of 18 years age who is the son of grandparents' son and his wife
7. A girl of 16 years age who is the daughter of grandparents' son and his wife
8. A son of 30 years age who is the son of grandparent's daughter
9. A wife of the son of grandparents' daughter.

Last Christmas for the first time all family did not meet all together. They all came for Christmas Eve dinner, but not at the same time in order to avoid one another. At first grandparents were visited by their daughter and the grandparents's two grandchildren who are the children of their son. Since the son of theirs had moved to a foreign country and lives and works there, he could not be present for the dinner. His wife was not invited because she had insulted the daughter of the grandparents. Thus, only their children (18 year old young man and his 16 year old sister) came. They came without their parents. But came not when they were invited to come, but a couple of hours later when their cousin (a 30 year old man) had already left the house of grandchildren, since he and his wife live in a different city. Cousins did not communicate among one another. The older married cousin felt that the younger ones should contact him first, but the younger ones felt that they should be contacted by the older one. The younger cousins, as a brother and a sister, were influenced by their mother, as she, being not invited for the dinner because of an insult, developed a secret family policy – if she is no longer a part of the family, then the older cousin should not see his younger cousins – her children. It was suppose to be a subtle revenge to the grandparents' daughter via her son's feelings who has always been eager to see his cousins.


The key moment in this case is the insult fact. This insult was as follows: when the grandmother celebrated her birthday before Christmas every single member of the family was invited. Her daughter prepared wonderful party despite she was struggling financially. She made an effort in order to create a good mood. Her son and his wife came from another city to congratulate the grandma. The son of grandma did not come as he already was in another country. He called on the phone and congratulated her this way. He asked whether they got the money he had sent to them in order to install new doors. He was pleased to find out that the grandparents had already installed new doors and felt safe and secure.

The wife of the grandparents' son came with her children – the younger cousins – for the party right after the call. They did not have any presents aside a flower of questionable beauty and freshness... The wife of the grandparents' son did not know that the first thing she will see will be the new doors. As a matter of fact she was used to seeing those grandparents living if not in poverty, then under such financial conditions, which do not allow to install new doors, especially steel ones with fancy locks.

Suddenly the wife of grandparent's son had a nervous breakdown – she started to scream and yell shouting that she herself does not have a door of this type and that her lock is on a verge to be broken. She had a question where did the money come from. Was it from her husband who lives and works in another country? Did he send the money for the doors to the grandparents instead of sending the money to his wife? She expressed hatred towards the daughter of the grandparents, because she admitted that it was her idea to install new doors. It was recalled that namely the daughter of the grandparents had been expressing the idea of security...

Yelling and shouting and the degree of hysteria ruined the mood of the birthday party. This was not forgiven. As time went by and there was time for Christmas, the lady of hysteria was not invited. The grandparents would have invited, but their daughter advised not to.

Ethical dilema lies in the following: the gandparents feel that at their old age their family disintegrated. Being old people, they suffer emotionally. They aked everyone to forgive one another and gather all together for the Easter celebration. It is supposed to be the day of spiritual resurection. However, the daughter of grandparents believes that the wife of her brother should apologize at first and promise to behave. The latter does not believe she should apologize for anything. She often yells and looses her temper. But then she relaxes. According to her, family on her side knows it and does not have a problem with that. She argues that the daughter of the grandparents is too influential in family desicion maiking, not forgiving, not Christian, inclined to dramatizations.