April 22, 2021

Ethics for 'postmillenials' and educational responsibility | Society

Ethics for 'postmillenials' and educational responsibility | Society

Ethics is the most appropriate area in which to address the current challenges that impact on life of adolescents. Not only does it make essential its classic baggage of reflection on human life as examined life, but also its dialogical tradition and its tools for deliberation. In what follows, we present four lines of proposals, supported by applied ethics – media ethics, digital ethics, bioethics and ecoethics – at the service of the challenges facing the so-called postmillenials: a few generations in which the media and technological impacts have already been "naturalized" and that face the convulsive reality of the 21st century. They are concrete proposals for a future Ethics curriculum in 4th of ESO.

We live in a paradoxical world in which information has become, first, saturated and then transformed into disinformation. The emission centers that manufacture false news and the proposals of "alternative facts", the so-called post-truth, have multiplied in the new media ecosystems. The hyperconnected life of teenagers makes them especially vulnerable to the siren songs of the new charlatans and gurus who populate the Internet. To prevent them we must return to the classic philosophical distinction between Appearance and Reality -which arose in Plato's polemic against the Sophists- and bring it up to date by confronting the media cavern.

To date, information is a "job" and covers the forms of research, sometimes, detective, sometimes academic, in which you have to validate the sources and determine if your interests are spurious. The capacities and the training to attribute to the sources credibility and the knowledge to contrast information is a work of reasoning and critical filter that supposes undermining the natural credulity that we all harbor. We need adequate doses of skepticism. Those who call Javier Echeverría "gentlemen of the air", and who are behind the search engines and social networks -Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.-, have given advertising and, on certain occasions, manipulating political interests their environments and tools It is not only necessary to explain how the techno-informational ecosystem complex works, but also to practice an applied ethic in which the students reflect on the ethical limits and deontological codes that guide and limit the work of journalism. The ethics of the media is a basic tool because, today, we all give testimony, upload photographs or videos and viralize content. We must deliberate about where the limits are because not everything is worth it. Defamation, slander, contributing to unjustified "moral panics", spreading hoaxes, tabloid sensationalism are, among many other issues, fundamental in the education of adolescents in order to prevent and protect them.

A new and decisive issue is the responsible management of virtual identity and social interaction in the digital age. From the anonymity that serves to bypass the minimum standards of courtesy when communicating to the erosion and almost elimination of privacy – now we speak of "extimacy" -, passing through the reflection of what it means to display images and contents that can being used against yourself or against others and others – cyberbullying and cyber-violence – are hot topics that have to be addressed from the framework of interpersonal ethics in the new means of interaction, from whatsapp chats to YouTube channels . The old Aristotle reflected on the philia, about friendship and links with other citizens. Moral education was exercised in the relationship of coexistence and in the same city, the polis, looking for the common good. Today it is undoubted that we must update the classic heritage and reflect on the personal, social and political risks of the new technological environments. Digital ethics is recent, but it is essential for educators today. We have to consider whether the moral principle of not harming others or oneself is compatible with the spontaneous impulse of immediacy that networks foster.

If we find out, click likes it is an almost automatic act in which space and time of thought, of dialogue with oneself, do not fit. Stopping the impulse of the automatic response and start thinking is today a triumph, even for adults. We must, finally, reflect on the convenience of promoting the daily ritual of the disconnection of life "online", because if we live always connected and receiving content at the end our stream of consciousness can be colonized by the flow of news and messages. Hyperconnectivity can leave us without time for the relationship with oneself, which is the nucleus of ethical life, of a life examined from the inner dialogue between reasons and passions. Taking things with philosophy is, in our dizzying world, more necessary than ever to be able to preserve personal autonomy.

Another of the most important aspects of the current ethical debate is that which has to do with the evolution of medicine and biotechnologies. The controversy about the possibility of genetically editing embryos is on the table and the principles of bioethics – non-maleficence (not harming), beneficence, autonomy and justice – face the utopias or dystopias of transhumanist positions that They seek not only to extend human life but to "improve" it with the help of various technologies. From techno-reproduction to bioengineering and monitoring via app of one's own health, the biotechnological revolution advances and needs to be confronted with philosophical reflection. Adolescents, due to our Law of Patient Autonomy, from sixteen years can make decisions about medical and surgical procedures, so it is very important that they know what implies the translation of freedom, of autonomy, in an Informed Consent after the debate with the health professionals. Health in adolescence is, unfortunately, a subject cornered by both our health system -from the mental to the sexual and reproductive through the problem of addictions-, but also by the educational system that does not face thinking responsibility that we all have by our own bodies. Bioethics provides us with practical tools to address, adjusting to the age of adolescents and in a deliberative and non-doctrinaire way, a range of problems that is essential to warn about the dangers of eating disorders, addictions and physical and mental risks to those who are exposed in a society that seduces them with deceptive advertising to encourage improper consumption. Think of the extreme vulnerability of adolescents, as an important and very profitable segment of consumers that is, to advertising strategies around food (junk food), fashion (and their beauty standards) or gambling (see below). the recent proliferation of sports betting venues full of young people). The critical scrutiny of everyday habits has always been the task of ethics.

Finally, contemporary ethics has had to face the global and local ecological crisis that we have been suffering for decades. The sensitivities in relation to nature, mobility or animals are being reconfigured in leaps and bounds and often the younger generations give lessons to the older ones. We face the uncertainties of energy transitions and the need to reconsider many of our patterns of daily, collective and individual behavior, because our habits suppose a footprint, a harmful burden for the planet. The necessary reflection on the "precautionary principle", respect for nature and the concept of "sustainability" requires that students can analyze new moral proposals in the classrooms, such as the "ethic of care" of the world in which we live and on which we depend. Faced with the denial of climate change and other ecosocial risks, science provides us with facts and foresight, but the actions to be taken are an ethical and political issue that confronts us with responsibility for our earthly home.

All the aspects that we have indicated need scholé, of space and shared time for learning and reflection in adolescence, and for that reason we believe that Ethics in compulsory education is essential.

María José Guerra. Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the University of La Laguna. President of the Spanish Philosophy Network; Esperanza Rodríguez Guillén. IES Margarita Salas, Majadahonda, Madrid. President of the REF Education Commission; Carme Adam. Polytechnic Institute of Vigo; Antonio Campillo. Professor of Philosophy at the University of Murcia; Víctor Bermúdez IES Santa Eulalia, Mérida, and Angel Vallejo. IES Alfàbegues, Bétera, Valencia.


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