Unit 5 The Virtue Of Virtue



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  • Unit 5 The Virtue Of Virtue


Are human beings by nature virtuous? If we are born virtuous, why do some people stray from what we commonly expect as a virtue norm? We expect virtue (commonly defined as a particular moral excellence above and beyond the expectations of others) from both our public officials and anyone responsible for protecting the public in private enterprise as well. Foundational philosophers such as Hobbes, Hume, and Darwin were joined by psychologists such as Freud, Piaget, and Kohlberg in developing our thinking about virtue—particularly the level of virtue we expect from anyone who has a responsibility to protect others in any way.


For the public administrator, evidence of this expectation of virtue can take many forms. We expect a public servant to come forward if they see fraud, waste, or abuse occurring in a government agency or department. We expect our military to report violations of power such as torture. We expect that when ethical dilemmas arise in public service, our public servants will do the right thing and come forward to expose the wrongdoing. And yet there are consequences for these actions as well, including organizational and individual retaliations, loss of job advantages, and risks to future advancements. In this unit, you will explore the concept of virtue ethics and how it applies in the public sector.


To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:

  1. Analyze the ancient theory bases that have evolved to the understanding of virtue ethics today.
  2. Examine the theory bases of virtue as they apply to public administrators professional ethics and integrity.
  3. Assess the support that basic theories provide for public sector ethical dilemmas and the public good that can arise from them.

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[u05s1] Unit 5 Study 1


Whistle-Blowing: Public Benefits and Personal Risks

Launch Presentation | Transcript


Use the reserved library readings and the Thiroux and Krasemann text to complete the following:


Our society needs whistle-blowers. In fact we often admire them for their courage to live out their personal ethics publicly. The true story of many whistle-blowers, though, is that their virtuous behavior results in personal losses. Click Launch Presentation to view “Whistle-Blowing: Public Benefits and Personal Risks.” You will use this presentation in a discussion later in this unit.

Discussion Preparation

Locate examples of virtue in the public sector in preparation for a discussion later in this unit. This can come from peer-reviewed or popular press sources.


Add to your ethics mindmap based on the theories and practices that you learn about this week. As a reminder, you will add to this mindmap in each unit and submit it to your instructor in Unit 8.

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