- "As far as I can see, business ethics taught by business faculty, ethics programs run by managers, and so on – any applied ethics taught by non-philosophers – is superficial at best. First, following a code is just an appeal to custom, an appeal to tradition, which philosophers consider a weak basis, an error in reasoning..."
- "legal moralism is prevalent: if it’s legal, it’s right, and if it’s not illegal, it’s not wrong. Few philosophers (and I daresay few intelligent people) accept this equivalence of moral rightness and legality."
- "the so-called ‘media test’ and ‘gut test’ are essentially nothing but appeals to intuition, which is nothing more than childhood conditioning that makes us say X ‘feels wrong’"
- "ethics as done by non-philosophers is that what takes place is usually preaching not teaching. That is, course material consists of ‘This is the right thing’ and ‘Do this in this situation’ – professors simply convey simply the current conventions and standard practices and legal obligations. The underlying principles and values are unexamined, and likely to be inadequate or contradictory in any case. "
- "The human resources director or management executive is simply not equipped to examine the principles and values enshrined in the code she or he advocates nor to approach an ethical issue with any rigor (for example, to figure out whether affirmative action programs are really fair, to determine if a proposed advertising campaign is really coercive, or to decide if anticipated environmental destruction is ethically justifiable), let alone teach various ways of making decisions about right and wrong. Philosophers are. "
In short, ethics as taught by non-philosophers is uncritical, unduly conservative, skin deep — and taught by incompetents at that.
Tittle places part of the responsibility for this sad state of affirs on the business community's opportunistic exploitation of 'ethics':
I can’t help wondering if it hasn’t just been a case of blatant appropriation. Business has hijacked ethics as a marketing tool, just as it did with environmentalism, and turned it into something superficial and useless. Managers aren’t really not interested in the substantial, fundamental matters. They just want a new way to attract customers and clients and so increase profits.
But philosophers aren't spared blame either:
However, I don’t want to put the blame solely on business. If philosophy faculty didn’t have such disdain for business, and if they took a little responsibility for their discipline, there would be more preparation for philosophy majors to be ethics practitioners. Philosophy departments should advise their students of careers as ethics officers and consultants; they should encourage their students to, therefore, take courses in business (if they want to be come a business ethics officer) or science (if they want to become ethics consultants in bioethics or environmental ethics), because without a background in business or science, philosophers won’t know which questions to ask, what difficulties to anticipate (for example, ethical belief in intercultural business is a real thorny issue – philosophy students will have to grapple with moral relativism in a big way…). Philosophy departments could even arrange to have their applied ethics courses team-taught; this would require business, similarly, to dampen their disdain for philosophy.I don't have much firsthand knowledge of ethics instruction as done by non-philosophers. I have to say that knowing faculty in other departments at my institution, I wouldn't entrust them with the teaching of ethics. That's OK — I wouldn't want them to entrust me to teach history, accounting, or engineering. But is the state of affairs as Tittle describes? And should it bother philosophical ethicists if that's the case?