If not at a Center for Ethics, then where?

An item from Daily Nous:

Wednesday afternoon, Gordon Hull, associate professor of philosophy at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and director of the school’s Center for Professional and Applied Ethics, put up a post on the Center’s webpage about the recent police shooting of an unarmed black man, Keith L. Scott (see the bottom of this post for that text).

The central message of the post was summed up in its conclusion:

I do not know exactly what happened last night, but even more than I hope that the CMPD will conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, I hope that something triggers white America to care about the deep structural racism that permeates so much of our society, and about the incalculable damage that racism does to real people, real families and real communities, every day.

The next morning Hull received an email from his dean, Nancy A. Gutierrez, ordering him to take the post off the site.

He did, and then he wrote about it at NewAPPS:

We live in a world where University Ethics Center directors are not allowed to attempt to exercise moral leadership in the communities they serve, even as those universities claim to commit and recommit to their communities. And where Ethics Centers are forced to be strangely silent on moral issues like HB2 and police violence.

Gutierrez told him he’s free to say whatever he wants elsewhere, but not at the university’s Center for Professional and Applied Ethics.

So he can profess and apply ethics any way he likes outside the university, but inside the university, where he directs a center for doing just that, he can’t. That seems perverse. It’s not the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics Within Certain Limits to be Determined by the Administration, at least not in the title. Surely professing and applying ethics as he thinks right is what he was hired for.

Back to Jason at Daily Nous:

It is not unreasonable to think that it’s well within the responsibilities of the director of a university ethics center to comment publicly, in that professional capacity, on ethical matters of current concern. To speak in that professional capacity is not to speak on behalf of the university. Rather, it is to make use of the expertise for which one was hired to express one’s professional opinion on a subject well within the scope of concern of the institution. If a school is going to bother having an ethics center, ought it not respect the academic freedom of its employees to speak to the public about ethics?

It certainly seems so to me. In fact it seems just a tad fraudulent to have a university ethics center if you’re not going to allow its staff to apply ethics without your oversight and control. UNC isn’t a “university” like Trump “University,” that’s just a fancy name for fleecing naïve customers – it’s a real university, which should act according to the ethics of academia.

H/t David Koepsell

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