The elements of moral literacy


DR. Tiongco continues with his elaboration on “moral literacy” and brings out three elements associated with it. Let us follow what he teaches us:

“This definition suggests that, as a set of competencies, moral literacy has three key elements (here I use Nancy Tuana’s framework): Ethics sensitivity, ethical reasoning skills, and moral imagination.

“Ethics sensitivity includes all of the following: The ability to determine whether or not a situation involves ethical issues; the awareness of the seriousness of the harm and/or urgency of a given ethical situation (or of a possible response to it); and the ability to identify the moral virtues or values at play in a specific case or situation.

“Ethical reasoning skills include the ability to identify and weigh the facts (as well as the inferences from such facts) relevant to the ethical decision or choice that one has to make and the ability to engage in critical thinking and reasoning.

“Moral imagination refers to the blend of affective and rational processes involved in the use of the imagination. It includes abilities such as empathy for the feelings and desires of others, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to come up with creative but morally acceptable alternative ways of acting in a given situation, and envisioning the potential help or harm that one’s decision or action can bring about.

“Someone without ethics sensitivity may not be able to act or react responsibly in a given case or situation that has clear ethical or moral aspects.

“Someone who lacks ethical reasoning skills can easily fall prey to fallacious reasoning or faulty judgment about the ethical decision or choice that he has to make. He may end up adopting a morally questionable attitude; or making not only unwise but unethical or even grossly immoral judgments, decisions, or choices; or taking irresponsible action.

“Someone bereft of moral imagination may not be able to put himself in the shoes of others and empathize with how they feel or what they legitimately desire. He may not be able to think of morally acceptable options for solving a given problem. He may not be able to discern or foresee the physical or moral harm that his decisions and actions can inflict on other people or the possible help he can give others if he decides or acts in a morally upright way in a given situation.”

With these three key elements of “moral literacy” presented, it may be time for us to see how they actually work out in practice. It would be helpful if we can see how these elements play out in such practical circumstances associated with corruption that we have been seeing as widespread in our society.
To this practical illustration we now turn.