THE FUTURE OF HIGHER
(All chapters are intended for continuing revision)
Volume II - Chapter Fourteen
Last updated July 1, 2007
MORAL AND ETHICAL CRISIS RESEARCH?
Doesn't humanity need to
THINK BIG about the most difficult ethical issues in our time,
establishing just priorities, and in the 21st century some are going to be those associated with
bio-technology; for example those noted by Jonietz (2004) that are also related
to neurotechnology--manipulatng peoples' brains--that are neglected by
"policy makers, legal scholars, ethicist and the religious
community." Increasingly crucial also are the ethics involved in
neglect of the world's huge population of people who are unnecessarily hungry
and sick, issues that affect their job and learning possibilities. New thought
must be given to ethical and moral priorities. Note the UNESCO Global Ethics
Humanity is living in an age when terribly unethical and moral things are being done to children, and few people seem unprepared act when hundreds of thousands were butchered in Rwanda; when rebels deliberately cut off the arms of children, even babies in Sierra Leone; when millions of children each year die needlessly from hunger and easily preventable disease; when huge numbers of children are raped and killed in the Sudan; when children are drafted into armies where they are enslaved with drugs; when uncountable numbers are entrapped into prostitution; and millions into cruel child labor. Most immoral, therefore, may be the public's lack of interest in global governance adequate to prevent such child abuse and the non-caring of major corporations who spend huge sums promoting unhealthful food for children.
Is abortion really a higher pro-life priority issue than the billion of children who starve, and who even in industrial nations are abused by a lack health insurance, by poverty and inadequate schools and by drug dealers? A courageous nun points out that anti-abortionists really do not have a pro-life policy, only a pro-birth policy; because a really ethical pro-life policy would give a high priority also to babies after they are born, whose brains do not develop adequately from a lack of the right food and who as young children suffer the abuses listed in the previous paragraph. So how is more effective moral and ethical education to be accomplished?
Information technology alone is not going to bring effective ethical` education to all.' It may not even help unless more and ways to empower ethical action are also researched and resolved. Hitler and the Nazi war machine illustrated the trouble humanity often gets into when its moral and ethical development lag behind its development of empowering technologies. And that problem lies behind the education-limiting global crises that are discussed here in Volume II. Is humanity doomed to continue the same low-level of ethical behavior now seen in callous bribery and graft in business and government, genocide, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, and corruption in education such as bureaucracies that divert and rob school funds, and other careless characteristics of a morally immature global society?
Saloman (2002) saw that expertise in the field of learning is limited mainly to `the scholarly,' particularly "to the acquisition of facts, concepts, formulae and organized bodies of knowledge. So despite all the `intellectual stuff' people know, humans fail so often to do what we know we ought to do and "we know far less about acquiring human values and learning to live by them." This is painfully illustrated in human failures in accomplishing peace and peaceful ways of resolving conflicts. Meyer (2003) points out that in the coming global economy, the key issues will be ethical; for example Miller (2003) has asserted ecological issues are moral and ethical. Jackson (2004) pointed out that scholarship and research are moving into a world that is global and multidisciplinary, involving philosophies, values, governments and `virtually all entities.'
Ridder (1995) suggested that it is getting much harder to be ethical because humanity faces entirely new issues and much tougher choices. This is one reason, he said, why so many people--even heads of corporations--are "dropping out" and are not making responsible decisions. Then there is sloth! Many people say: "Won't we always have war, immoral political leaders, poverty and famine?" Must we also accept as inevitable the alliances between organized crime, political leaders and `global terrorist civil war that limit possibilities of providing education for all?' (2.13) (2.15.1) At the time of the bloody French and Russian revolutions the majority of miserable people rebelled against the small majority that owned all the wealth. Is humanity moving towards a similar situation as a small percent of the world's people, and a few rich nations, own most of the world's wealth and "the disenfranchised see no chance?" This is not just a moral and ethical issue, it is a moral crisis.
So, in a holistic transdisciplinary research environment, ethics must be seriously included. For example, Twiss (1998) reported on a symposium that discussed trends towards a global ethics in international business (exploitation of women and children, graft), environment, human rights and genocide, distributive justice. Lombardi (2002) of the International Council for Economic Development proposed that conflicts can be eased by finding common values, using the `Binary Values Matrix,' "a new holistic way of organizing values that could provide "a new social operating system." What next? One illustration of new technology to involve great numbers of students in larger-scale ethical research is through `electronic teaching games.' (3.2 Prensky proposed in Foreman (2004) that many in education can still be astonished at the way a team of business school students, experienced in computer and video gaming could be challenged to `put together the best ethics game in the world using Flash or C++'...because "they are dying to transform their own learning in this way." Steinkuehler In Morrison 2004) has proposed a multiplayer online learning game in which young learners can encounter ethical dilemmas that increase in complexity through a MUVE.
Moral priorities? Isn't it immoral for colleges and universities to pay athletic coaches multi-million dollar salaries when their sports lose money and there must be tuition increases that limit access to the poorest?
"What happened atEnron, in Rwanda, Chernobyl, etc., was not a failure of technology" but was ethical failure. Governments are everywhere failing morally and ethically and this cynical failure is hidden behind a screen that focuses largely on sexual and personal morality while ignoring the larger crises that endanger humanity. Sensationalism in the press, that focuses on one celebrity murder for a whole year while saying little about the million of dying children, leads many people into a sense of emptiness, helplessness, disillusionment, confusion, cynicism and bitterness that can lead to corruption, fanaticism, totalitarianisms and the danger of violent explosions such as terrorism. The consequences of a decline in social ethics may be far more serious than those left behind by the fascist and failed socialist experiments and current terrorism. Rose (2004) questioned whether robots can ever have the morality that Asimov proposed. Like the commercial media, does that depend on who programs them and to what ends?
"Only seven to eight percent of people are truly ethical."( Huddleston 1996) That Institute for Global Ethics report found that each of humanity's fundamental moral values--compassion, truth and honesty, responsibility, respect for life--are being undermined today. Journalists and the media, among others, increasingly refuse to take a moral stance, in part because sensationalism wins a larger market share. (Holland 2000) . Humanity's moral imagination is being paralyzed, ethical decision-making is eroding and societies are falling apart into special interest groups--many of them `greed groups--and tribes. Moral/ethical problems get more complicated as the world's many cultures collide in the information age. Who knows if some kind of moral and ethical guidelines can be effective in cyberspace?
UNESCO in the late 1990's called for a `culture of peace.' Was Eisenhower pointing to humanity's greatest immorality when he said that the arms race robs the world's children? UNESCO asked African nations to reduce their arms expenditures by 4 percent, that money to be spent on education and health. If implementation of such proposals require the development of a "culture of morality," how is it to be accomplished? We were taught that to raise ethical standards we just needed to educate people, Huddleston points out.. It is not the ignorant street thug who is letting millions children die unnecessarily of treatable diseases. Most ethical and moral teaching is directly largely at individuals in a culture where many unethical practices--profit above people and racism for example--are embodied in institutions. In theory, it is said, if every individual is raised to be ethical then we will have an ethical society. In fact, even those who try to be ethical (such as `whistle-blowers' who try to expose evil practices) are limited by the structure of many human institutions.
The Huddleston report argued that "we cannot survive the 21st century with the ethics of the 20th century." What kind of morality, for example, currently allows so many millions of children to die unnecessarily of hunger when there is plenty of food? If such a percentage of youngsters were suffering in our town there would be a local moral outcry. Where is a global ethics going to come from? A more crucial question: is: how can it become persuasive enough for everyone to act morally and ethically?
Some people, perhaps most, scorn the idea that anything like a massive research project--even with fantastic new mind-empowering tools that researchers will have in a decade or two--could find ways to help make human society be more ethical. Marxists have experimented with secular morality--which they often called scientific--but have not been more successful than religionists in enforcing it. We do not here suppose that research could develop a scientific ethics and morality (although Wilson 1998 proposed it) or that everyone would follow it, --if it could be accomplished.
Perhaps, however, the time has come to ask some new questions. Cameron (2003) and members of the University of Michigan business school faculty asked if business ethics could focus on on what is best for global human rights and the highest human good? They asked if we would imagine a world where fundamental decisions could be based upon trust, humility, wisdom and where interactions focused on what is best for all human beings; and in which interactions are characterized by compassion, loyalty, honesty, respect and forgiveness
Is any ethics truly ethical until it moves beyond theory and instruction to action? Isn't that the laboratory for ethics? Could research of a new kind or scope find ways to empower the common ethics of humanity, at least those embodied in the charter and conventions of the United Nations? In this online book we ask such controversial questions on the assumption that converging technologies and cyberspace now open new possibilities for discussion, debate, experimentation and research. It has been suggested that some new possibilities for ethical empowerment may be seen in the efforts of professions and organizations to define ethical guidelines and find ways to enforce them. Physicians can discipline doctors who cheat and defraud their patients. Organizations like accountants for social responsibility and business ethics groups are modestly successful in exposing cheaters and grafters in their midst. So could researchers simulate an Internet system to link all such professional and labor groups worldwide to support and help each other? Not just national officers of professional and labor groups, but locals as well, to support and empower each other. What about research for a contract system in which people agree to do business only with those who support organizations that enforce ethical standards? A physician or school teacher in most parts of the USA can be arrested for failing to report signs of child abuse. Perhaps any professional (or especially political leaders?) worldwide should be arrested for failing to report signs of `human race abuse:' racism, fraud, hate movements, terrorism, abusive use of children in armies and...?
Some ask, however, how new technologies could be used to help humanity develop a stronger `global ethical and moral motivation' when technology is part of the problem? For example: the media and entertainment technology increasingly shape our culture, create compassion-fatigue and enlarge moral complexity. How can all businesses be persuaded to accept larger ethical responsibilities?
Economist Robert Theobald and others have been trying to identify values shared by all cultures worldwide, including those in the United Nations Charter. <http://www.uia.org/values/valcont.htm> Philosophers have sought to enlarge ethical vision through discourse and study, at least since the days of Socrates and Plato. Religionists have tried to organize to enforce a moral system and now begin seriously to explore comparative religious ethics. (King 1998). Perhaps philosophy, religion and the quest for values have produced some constructive effect in our time. (i.e., the human rights struggle in the American South.) Student protests, for example, forced research universities to examine the morality of their investment portfolios and much more. A small bit of moral growth may be seen in trials for war crimes and in requirements that police--even when they kill in self-defense must afterwards justify the action in a public hearing. Should political leaders be required to defend--before a global court--their budgets that take money from schools and hospitals to build pork barrel palaces? The fact that such ideas seem `ridiculously impossible' exposes humanity's moral hypocrisy and weakness as we confront new ethical issues posed in and by cyberspace. Perhaps humanity can there develop a new architecture there for ethical decisions and enforcement? Scholars can use computer simulations to explore new possibilities, playing out the consequences of alternative actions.
Now we ask if global-scale action/research could undertake truly transdisciplinary efforts to establish and enlarge human morality and ethics, beginning with the proposition that moral policing is most effective when huge numbers of the public get aroused.. Glenn (2002) pointed to the failure of economists , sociologists, political scientists and others as sharing some of the blame for Enron-style business corporation ethics at the turn of the century. Transdisciplinary ethical research is not likely to get funding on the scale of military budgets; nor get support of university trustees (lest they be asked about the morality of their own priorities.) See John R. Campbell's Dry Rot In The Ivory Tower and James Duderstadt's 2001 book) asking why universities are spending so much money on the sports/entertainment business.) Are glamorous football stadiums, used only a few times a year, a higher priority than feeding hungry children?
Do mega-style, transdisciplinary research possibilities offer a challenge to move beyond the exclusivity of philosophical study of ethics and the religious approaches to morality? No blame on ethicists/philosophers is intended here. They have not been given large-scale resources for research and experimental action. Yet there is significant research on ethics, such as that of the Center for Applied Ethics at Carnegie Mellon University. How can it impact global political leaders? Ethics research seems "like a few drops of rain in an ocean of immoral behavior." (Mayor 1997) Therefore, the head of UNESCO said, no nation is entirely exempt from a moral crisis. He asks if it is possible to "find the will power and the strength to take vigorous collective action only when treading on the brink of an abyss?"
Frase (1996) pointed to French philosopher Michel Serres as "wresting philosophy away from the specialists" who break it up into little pieces. Serres called for "a total philosophy, one that makes law, science, history, mythology, mathematics, ethics and the humanities think in concert...especially about evil." Of course it is not just philosophers who have been "carving up the disciplines of knowledge into "fiefdoms of power." Serres himself moved into philosophy and the humanities after the burning alive of little children in Hiroshima. He wanted "perspectives on the relationship between science and violence" and evil. Ethics research must deal with more than individual acts to confront political decision-makers who "never think their way past short-term intentions. . . to drastic consequences." But, Frase has asked, how do you get to where you need to go? Short-term thinking is local, Serres said, where long term thinking is global. "Local thinking is parochial, selfish." Global morality and ethics requires "large-scale, big picture, long range thinking. . . as metaphoric, sensuous, dense, pliant, attentive and detailed as the small, loving thoughts we extend to objects and people we most dearly love."
Would that suggest a larger research strategy for empowering moral development and ethical action? It might draw upon every culture and every area of scientific discovery. A transdisciplinary moral quest may not happen in research contexts which now exist but it may become possible to create `consilience' (Wilson 1998) research coalitions to bring together the humanities and sciences, social and physical and arts. "The "academy is now structured in a way that is outmoded...If you look at the social sciences, half of them don't talk to the other half. (Sahlins in Glenn 2002)..
Can art incite, motivate, insprire and empower ethical action? Computer interactive and multimedia art forms can be powerful new tools for developing moral and ethical sensitivity (McLaughlin 1995). The emotional and motivating power of art is dramatically seen, for example, in television images of spider-legged hungry children in Africa, of Kurdish babies tortured by chemical weapons in Iraq and of thousands of children burned alive in the fire bombing of Dresden. Television has brought such powerful art into living rooms, a foretaste of what more will soon be possible.
Information technology also empowers a greater capacity to use high technology destructively (Huddleston 1996). Values and "wisdom are factored out in science as we know it." If ethics is about doing good, apathy is an indifference to good. Cynicism is a contempt for good; hypocrisy--the real danger--is the pretense of good. So Huddleston has reported on two proposals for larger moral research: the World 2020 Project and the United Nations University's Millennium Project. Scholars in both--from many disciplines and universities--have been networking on how to strengthen ethics and morality. (Ethics of technology terms: <http://web.comlab.ox.ac.uk/oucl/research/areas/ieg/tools/glossary.pdf>
However, Charles Ess, who has become a leading expert in ethical issues in Internet research, has pointed out that philosophers--crucial for such an endeavor--do not have the time "for research and reflection on large moral crises." There are now fewer philosophers, they have less money for research--on possibilities for larger funding see 2.16.4)--and their jobs keep them too busy. (Well, the university faculty must deal with crucial parking lot issues and the fact that their students listgen more to entertainment culture than to the faculty.) Yet if funding on the scale of that for space exploration became available, many in the humanities might quickly find time for some comprehensive transdisciplinary research. Many would see how their personal research projects could be interconnected and enlarged as part of a transdisciplinary action/research, involving religion, (2.16) the media and many disciplines.
Maybe many humanities scholars do not see it yet, but scholars will soon have more powerful tools to use for projects that never before have been possible. Only small changes have been possible so far. But `permanent tectonic shifts,' transformations and a `tidal wave of possibility' are predicted. Many humanities scholars see information technology as merely enabling them to do differently what they have been doing anyway, as if adding more power to a railroad locomotive could make it blast off into space. They miss grander goals, according to the director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland, College Park. For example, cross-indexed digital data bases in areas like morals and ethics could be linked to contemporary crises. In that way, tradition in morals and ethics can become more useful and helpful if study is enlarged to be a comprehensive global human tradition of all enlarging wisdom. Perhaps a growing, flexible, enlarging tradition in law and ethics could become more powerful when presented artistically and graphically.
Wagner (2005) has warned that "the risks and dangers in our failure to grip the (moral?) imagination of our young citizens are familiar' and the consequences of of failing to awaken them intellectually have profound implications for our social political processes. See: <http://www.changemakers.net/journal/300506/>.
2.14.3 GLOBAL-SCALE HUMANITIES DATA BASES
It has been pointed out that "the new technologies and their ability to open undreamed of opportunities for extending the humanities knowledge base" is a most exciting gift. Humanists build their work on material that transcends the boundaries of culture and language as they seek collaboratively "to understand the whole human condition." Humanists overwhelmingly recognize the need for access to and use of high quality images and for tools designed for use in archival image annotations. Images can now be created in a digital environment and the digitalization makes available what otherwise can be seen only in museums or in private holdings. Thus some possibilities for large-scale new research can be seen in the re-creation of historic battlefields, for example, as is now possible in "collaborative space." Wars of aggression and other uses of violence to solve human problems are among humanity's major moral problems. Public attitudes toward nonviolent alternatives and motivation have made a sharp turn as a result of images which television brings into living rooms. Levy (1997) coined the phrase `cinemaps' as he discussed our strange new cyberspace. Digitalization makes it possible for artists and motivators to store experience graphically and to recreate it imaginatively in powerfully emotional and motivating ways.
Grand opera involves a convergence of drama, orchestra, singers, artists who designed scenery and more. Now all such arts converge on TV and film. They come together online in powerful ways with virtual reality, satellites, the Internet and more to come. It is now possible to create and portray visions and to present moral and ethical issues graphically and effectively. Illustrations are seen in Hollywood productions, however without the challenge to pursue moral and ethical issues in depth. (Suppose the academy awards ruled out any film that used violence to solve a problem.) And can researchers find better way to get the world's religions to cooperate on ethical crises, at least for the welfare of all children even when theologically they disagree? Wagner (2005) has experimented with using `rock and roll' music with the current multiliterate young generation because it reaches the poor and middle class in ways that can seize the imagination..
Philosophers and other humanities scholars, or anyone who seeks to cope with moral, ethical and motivational questions, can no longer limit research to printed textsand case studies. The scholar is confronted with ideas and problems that are dancing around as images in our new knowledge space. Can what now appears as confusion become a new and more manageable way to cope with complexity? All knowledge, wisdom, tradition, data and experience can come together in a digital electronic cosmopedia (2.1). Powerful images, graphics, and `knowledge maps' can link every human problem and issue with moral questions and sources. <http://www.uia.be> What research is required to create such a global empowerment system?
It has been the job of Hiroshi Ishi (1991), a "computer-supported cooperative work" researcher at the Human Interface Laboratories in Japanand at MIT in America, "to help people think together, across boundaries of time, space and culture." His experience in academic groups such as the Association for Computing Machinery led him to be aware of "the importance of culture in the design of computer-supported communication tools." If researchers in many disciplines are to communicate effectively online, and to do new and larger thinking together, there must be an adequate understanding of the nature of cross-cultural (and cross-religious) communication. Persistent dialog is proposed by J. F. Rischard in High Noon: 20 Global Problems and 20 years to solve them. (2002)
The telecommunications infrastructure for delivering powerful information tools to researchers is being built. So, Ishihas said, "it is time to devote more effort to the human side of the system." Scholars should interact through computers, not with them. Emerging high speed networks and other communications technologies "have created the foundation for doing things with groups of people that haven't been possible before." So "we must design systems that will help people overcome the cultural barriers to communication." However, Sherry Turkle (2004) worried that technology is leading to more shallow thinking because it is easier to glide over ethical and political issues. It is easier not to probe deeper below the surface. One college faculty has been debating whether every student should be required to take a course in ethics, because of ethical crises in human social systems, or should ethics be taught in every course? Or can ethics only best be learned through active involvement in real social issues?
What resistance would be encountered in online planning possible research in cyberspace to empower ethics and morals, involving departments of the humanities, arts and social sciences? For example, students required to dramatize, film and prepare computer games on crucial moral and ethnical issues. Wilson (1998) pointed out that scholars in various disciplines use different language, research methods, and different ways of thinking. It would be hard for many of them to find common interests, even perhaps to work together on ethical questions. This could be true with scholars whose offices are in the same university building as well as in efforts to connect electronically with those in the developing world. It may seem impossible to bring together artists, individualist philosophers, anthropologists who are working in distant lands and historians who want to be alone in the eighth century. Yet it begins to happen online. One possible research method to overcome such barriers might be experimentation with creating computer models of how people think, work and make moral and ethical decisions. "perhaps this should begin with computer science itself if research is to motivate action. <http://seeri.etsu.edu/TheSECode.htm#task force> .
Scholars in one discipline often fail to take account of complex data from other areas of research until moral and ethical issues arise. A moral crisis on campus is often the only time when heated discussion crosses disciplinary lines. We even find physicists online to ask how they can collaborate with humanities researchers on how to raise enough moral heat to get the hungry children of the world fed. Could ethics and morality be encouraged by an annual check-up on how each facuy member and course is helping get the world's hungry children fed?
A third resistance, seen in all of the crises discussed in various chapters here, is caused by impatience with ineffective, unproductive online discussions. However, (2.4.1) research is finding ways for scholars to navigate the `molasses sea' of cyberspace. One proposal was to use Q-Methodology, a systematic way to model the opinions of people who disagree. Humanists take note! It draws upon literary theory to examine the narratives of experts and politicians who propose solutions. Q-methodology would use the World Wide Web to present policy options for larger discussion, with links to supportive data and with sub links to comprehensive electronic maps of ideas and historical (maps across time, past and future) and contemporary information. Next can they be also linked to ethical and moral action maps?
Why are we discussing resistance to collaboration in a chapter on ethics and morals rather than in a chapter on health or environmental issues? The discussion is here as a reminder of the need for a `larger picture' and context for ethical and moral research, a holistic approach involving all disciplines even if it seems overwhelming. The "Virtual Policy and Administrative Community," based at Carleton University in Canada has been examining research on "policy networks as a methodology for the analysis of public policies." This partnership of scholars in France, Great Britain and North America pointed out that effective action requires two-way--not just top-down--links and relationships with local officials and lawmakers. Does this suggest an approach to moral research that might help the public and political leaders overcome the feeling that "I cannot do anything about anything?" Perhaps this sloth be shaken up by international issue networks that bring together a worldwide support system. Such uses of information-age technology were being discussed in 1997 by European Computer Users in Political Science, a group that has been examining the development of hypertext structures on the Internet and other efforts to foster collaboration and research. Such efforts to under gird research, policy discussion and moral concerns in decision-making are, however, only a beginning.
Jones (1997) askedwhere is "the humanistic equivalent of a Cancer Research Center, a Human Genome Research Group, or of an MIT Media Lab. Now emerging, however, are "shared work and conferencing environments." They can "overcome the limits of the humanistic Diaspora caused by limited budgets. Humanities co-labs can now involve "3-D worlds with avatars (visual representations of distant participants)" and immersive technologies with very large screens. A preliminary example: The CAVE Automatic Visual Environment was a `virtual reality theater' in which many researchers can simultaneously inhabit the same virtual world. CAVEs could be linked together for real time work together or for conferencing among people separated at a great distance.
Networked research environments suggest "possible solutions to ongoing problems in the humanities," Jones said, They represent exciting possibilities for international transdisciplinary collaboration. They pose "an opportunity heretofore unseen since the invention of the printing press (and) are waiting for intelligent, imaginative and exciting new uses." A Hungarian philosopher (Nyiri 1997) foresaw a "tremendously powerful instrument" for linking scattered texts, films, art and music and people from different arts and sciences. The process "creates new edifices of knowledge" and enables interdisciplinary collaboration in research on a depth and scale never before possible. Would gifted scholars in the humanities and arts give some research time across many years to a global-scale morals/ethics project? Perhaps not. In a modest way, however, the effort is underway in limited projects here and there. Michel van Eeten at the Delft School of Systems Engineering and Policy Analysis pointed out that some major social issues are intractable and "hard to tackle" because of the involvement of multiple actors; because of "a conflictual and often polarized discourse;" and because the research foundation of scientific fact is ambiguous and uncertain. This is seen in research on the effect on children of the use of violence in films and on TV as a way to solve problems.
The policy sciences havehad a great difficulty in developing methods to deal with such problems, Van Eeten said. Moral and ethical issues are stubbornly resistant to appeals to reason and fact. The Delft Policy analysis faculty has pursued an "interdisciplinary approach from a viewpoint of both technological opportunities and societal dynamics." This requires (a) the design of complex systems, (b) the assessment of multimedia and computer-supported cooperative work, and (c) electronic communications.
Efforts to solve intractable issues by dialog alone, van Eeten said, often result in a "dialog of the deaf." He illustrated with moral issues related to unemployment in Europe. There have been fundamental policy disagreement among governments, employers and trade unions. Politicians want a simple `miracle cure.' It has been exceedingly difficult to sort out the complexity of various kinds of unemployment, technological, cyclical and structural; the lack of training, high labor costs, retaining jobs that damage the environment or moving jobs to other continents.However, with the availability of modern communications there is no excuse for everyone society not knowing about huge numbers of hungry children and what coudl be done about it..
Some global co-labs exist--on a small scale andhardly yet linked--dealing with problem such as whether a certain kind of research--such as human cloning--should be allowed to continue. This has suggested a procedure similar to an experiment in medical research. One university conducts an online symposium for several years, inviting searchers worldwide to participate on the Internet. Continuing online conferences on moral issues might each pursue one issue, much like the interdisciplinary ethics committees that hospitals and medical research institutions use when facing a difficult decision like whether to let a patient die. Even if interconnected and properly constituted, these could not function as a sort of ethical supreme court as the Vatican is for Roman Catholics. They could, however, provide a much stronger research basis and guidance, defining alternatives for those who have difficult moral and ethical decisions to make. Then could a process begin to draw up the blueprints for the architecture for a better-researched ethical support systems in cyberspace to deal with major moral issues?
Nancy Etcoff (2003) of MIT has called for "a new National Institute for Humanism" that would encourage collaborations across the arts, humanities and sciences in tackling important questions," the "intellectual equivalent of globalization.".
No one knows what the natural and physical sciences may yet contribute to morality research, what they may learn about the human brain, the biology of emotions or whatever. However, society's global moral crisis may justify an effort to bring together all research related to ethics. Human society knows what it ought to do about food and health care for all, but does not do it! Should scholars in the humanities, artists, and social scientists reach out to researchers in other disciplines to deal with moral pollution and stagnation? Kidder (1995) pointed out that the 21st century will pose entirely new moral and ethical problems. It is likely to be a time of moral fatigue and of unprecedented pressures `to drop out' ethically. Perhaps, he said, we are--in the global arena of cyberspace--entering a `frontier time' of global gamblers, gunslingers and grubstakers comparable to some towns on the American frontier where moral issues were sometimes resolved in shoot-outs. Can we anticipate the possibility--in global-scale art and creative imagination--of a global ethical culture in cyberspace, fed by electronic arts and media? What did enable the emergence of a law-abiding culture on the American frontier?
Top-down Ideologiesand political systems--like fascism--that used police power to enforce their kind of morality--have come and gone. Can information-age technology bring with it possibilities for new kinds of bottom-up empowerment for moral action? "Business people, engineers, doctors, regulatory agencies, and the larger public (seek) ethical guidance on a vast range of issues." (Gibbons 1994). And film makers? The United Nations University Millennium Project listed effective moral guidance as one of the fifteen most crucial issues facing humanity today. That project's research, involving hundreds of experts in many countries, has recommended establishing "global dialogues on human values and morals. That effort should, they said, continue over several decades via television, Internet, short-wave radio, interactive games, etc., to identify and acknowledge global ethics, encompassing responsible behavior and caring for others." The recommendation is that this be done by non-government organizations (NGO's) but with encouragement and leadership from governments and the United Nations. Anderson (2003) suggested that humanity now has technology to make possible serious `conversation on our own evolutionary future,'' and to enlarge and make more adequate our understanding of human nature.
Global society is now so complex--and is going to be even more so in cyberspace--that more than preaching, laws and regulations are required for moraland ethical empowerment. Perhaps a morality research strategy in and for cyberspace should involve general systems analysis, a `global brain' matrix of data bases and computer modeling on the scale of world medical and weather systems. A great physicist pointed out that even tiny gaps in our knowledge are amplified by complex systems until they become large-scale problems. Computer models need to be as large and complex as the reality they seek to represent, for example, in confronting forthcoming issues in bioethics. Any effort to model existing or potential moral or ethical systems must also deal with large-scale hypocrisy and illusion, as seen in the quest for simple solutions. Perhaps computer modeling can help ethics researchers see the `big picture' and not just our part of the moral crisis as most of us now do. The impact of environmental issues begin to provide powerful motivation. (Hawken 1993)
The holistic ethics/morals picturealso includes the symbolic, the emotional and the artistic, each a universe in itself. It includes unconscious needs and prejudices. Although strength to cope with complexity is desperately needed, someone has said, humanity's moral sense is but a "flickering flame, sputtering in the strong winds of power, passion, greed, waste and ideology. A research strategy to bring all of the humanities, arts and sciences together to enlarge that flame is not high on anyone's agenda. Yet it is now technologically possible to design tools for transdisciplinary research on a scale of breadth and depth that might empower new efforts as effective as the antislavery movement two centuries ago? That cause seemed as impossible then as it now does to end poverty, hunger or war. The unexpected happened because antislavery forces began to network together, and now we have powerful global-scale networking and co-laboratories. On environmental ethics see: Elliott (2002)
If the population of the developing world doubles, and if present trends continue, there is likely to be a ruthless competition for oil, food and water (see Yes magazine, Winter 2004), making a meaner and more terrorist, murderous world all but inevitable. It is tragic to foresee moral chaos at a time when democracy has been advancing and when technology brings such promise of better alternatives. Perhaps we could even have peace and plenty for all and a more beautiful planet, cities and culture if artists in a morality research strategy would dramatize the crisis. That awareness might provide the incentive for linked research collaboration. Rheingold has reminded us that we now only have glimpses and primitive experiments, such as Alan Kay's "fantasy amplifier" or the imaginative "vivarium," a virtual reality interdisciplinary environment developed at MIT What we see today, he says, is like trying early in the 20th century to understand the future possibilities of movies by watching some of the first silent films. Yet there is the Global Visions Project, funded by Malaysia, and the Vision 2020 project that aims to bring together "anthropologists, cultural historians, comparative mythologists, psychiatrists, neurobiologists, epistemologists, strategic planners, indigenous people and futurists." <http://www.igc.apc.org>.
Didsbury (2003) proposes that human society is in such turmoil that the 21st century needs a common global ethical consciousness. Can a "Universal Declaration of a Global Ethic" be circulated to the forums of all religious (see chapter 2.16 here) and ethical groups, "with a view towards eventual adoption?" (See Swidler 2000 and Mayor 2001.) Hopkins (2003) proposed a `a planetary bargain or compact. Can such efforts in time bring moral and ethical questions into the center of all research projects? Perhaps it is not just hospitals that should have ethics committees to give advice on controversial issues. In the next chapter we ask whether government is a solution or the problem. In chapter sixteen we discuss who is going to do research on how on how to motivate caring and compassion in the human community, so we will do the moral things we now has the means to accomplish? See <http://www.globalknowledge.org> sessions on Building Better Communities; see moral issues raised by Federico Mayor of UNESCO; also the "Human Values Project: New Global Organizational Order?" <http://uia.org> and <http://www.ethics.ubc.ca> . And will suggest new and better hyperlinks?
In chapter 16 we will examine the role of research in all religions and its potential for empowering more caring and compassion, empowered by digital technology and visual literacy, completing a circle from the stone age..
The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View