Carnegie Mellon University
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PROJECT THEORIA -- Interactive Video Media for Ethical Reasoning

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journal contribution
posted on 1986-05-01, 00:00 authored by Preston K. Covey

Learning the art of ethical reasoning, like the art of surgery, requires at the very least an operating theater; like the art of scientific inquiry, a laboratory. Our project is to develop interactive video media to provide analogues of these facilities and 'hands on' experience in the relevant skills.

Our focus will not be on theory, but on its crux: hypothesis testing — and all that this down-to-earth activity ordinarily entails: acute, analytical observation; attention to reality; a good dose of imaginative experimentation; and a respect for the human sensorium, its rich and problematic data (which, in ethics, includes the perplexing deliverances of our feelings).

We will develop an interactive videodisc on the topic of euthanasia

  1. To simulate the multiple perspectives, sensations, perceptions, and feelings that must inform our reflective moral experience (whatever the topic) and
  2. To stimulate the cognitive and affective skills required for reflective reasoning, weighing and balancing evidence, principled decision-making, and competent moral judgment in realistic problem settings, under realistic duress.

Students using our videodisc will be cast in the role of a hospital ethics committee member who must deliberate whether to allow a severe burn victim to die, as he wishes. The Level III program will allow Socratically guided exploratory tours of rich case material, both documentary and dramatized. A Notebook facillity will allow the student to make notes or draft material for associated paper assignments.

For classroom use, the videodisc will include a Level O linear presentation of "Dax's Case," the case upon which our simulated material will be based, and a Level I program allowing selected tours through the case material from the perspectives of different principals (on the Roshomon model).

We will also produce a textbook. Values, Facts, and Feelings: A Pragmatic Guide to Ethical Inquiry, a companion Study Guide, and an Instructor's Manual.


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