Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rushworth M. Kidder (1944-2012)

Rushworth M. Kidder, long-time reporter and columnist for the Christian Science Monitor and founder of the Institute for Global Ethics (IGE), died on Monday.  He devoted much of his life to ethics education.

My primary connection to his work came through a slender volume he published in 1995 called How Good People Make Tough Choices.  Even though it was not geared toward foreign policy debates, its simple framework for working through ethical dilemmas provided a solid introduction to ethical decisionmaking for my Ethics and International Politics course.  Kidder argued that an ethical dilemma involves a "right vs. right" choice, in contrast to what he called moral temptations that involve choices between right and wrong.  Ethical dilemmas, he believed, tend to fit one of four paradigms:  truth vs. loyalty, individual vs. community, short-term vs. long-term, or justice vs. mercy.  He classified the options for resolving ethical dilemmas using three categories:  rules-based ethics, ends-based ethics, and care-based ethics.  Simple, certainly, but helpful for that very reason.

For a more complete obituary, see the Bangor Daily News article here.