Teaching Virtue: Theoretical and Empirical Reflections
What effect, if any, can we expect undergraduate ethics courses to have on students’ ethical beliefs, self-concept, and behavior? After a brief discussion of apparent theoretical and practical obstacles to moral education in ethics courses, we explain and discuss our effort to provide preliminary answers to that question via an empirical study of students enrolled in several sections of our university’s Introductory Ethics course. We found modest but statistically significant effects in many areas, which seem to indicate that those who would like to see their ethics courses have a positive impact on students’ moral lives have reason for optimism. We conclude with a discussion of pedagogical implications of our study, along with its limitations and directions for future research.