Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Scruples Question

Suppose you're a school principal looking to hire a new Judaic studies teacher. There's a certain fellow, X, you'd like to hire, who you think is well qualified and well suited for the job - in fact, you consider him the best person available. However, X subscribes to beliefs p and q, and the majority of the school board - the people who hired you - mistakenly believe p and q to be heretical. They therefore would feel that X was unsuitable for the job. (We will leave aside whether they actually consider him to be a heretic.) Should you hire X, because your mandate is (let's assume) to ensure your students get as good an education as possible, and your job is to pursue that goal to the best of your ability, or should you hire someone else, because your employer won't like the particular decision to hire X?

(Assume that (a) you cannot disabuse the board of their incorrect opinion regarding p and q; and (b) if you get fired, you're confident of landing on your feet without trauma to yourself or your family.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Probably no. The turmoil it will cause is likely not worth the point you are trying to make. Then again, I'm assuming there will be a strong sense of divisiveness (d) (you didnt mention anything about this so I am just assuming what, to me, appears most plausible).

(looking forward to commenting on your blog now that i know about it. glad you enjoyed your stay here ;) ).

He Who Must Not Be Named said...

Ah! Hi, Anonymous. It took me a minute to figure out who you were.

He Who Must Not Be Named said...

Gaby 'n Fish said...
I'll go for p.

7:56 AM EDT


Anonymous said...
This question is purely theoretical, of course.

3:33 PM EDT


He Who Must Not Be Named said...
This question is purely theoretical, of course.

It is indeed. I can think of no person who I know has been in the situation I describe.

3:51 PM EDT


Maxiebaby & Wife said...
Your mandate is not to ensure that your students get as good an education as possible, rather your mandate is to ensure that your students get what the board considers to be as good an education as possible. Presumably they would say that having a heretical teacher would detract from the quality of the education.

3:56 PM EDT


He Who Must Not Be Named said...
That's the question: is your mandate (a) to ensure that your students get what the board considers to be as good an education as possible, or (b) to ensure that your students get as good an education as possible, which the board leaves up to you, the expert, to define?

Consider the following analogy: You've been elected Prime Minister. You think, based on the expert briefings you've been given, the inside information you have, and your own education and experience, that your country should provide free post-secondary education in order to further its own interests. The majority of the populace disagrees. You believe they disagree because they are misinformed, insufficiently knowledgeable, uneducated or just plain stupid. You know, however, that you will be unable to convince them that you are right. Should you institute free post-secondary education despite the populace's objections? You can look at it in two ways: (1) You're the agent of the people, and the people don't want free university, so your job is not to institute it; or (2) you were chosen by the people to pursue the national interest as best you can, and the best you can do is to provide free university. Which one is correct? I don't think the answer is obvious (though populists do, I guess).

5:25 PM EDT


Maxiebaby & Wife said...
I don't think that's a good analogy. The people obviously know that they do not have direct control of their elected representative; he is not their employee in the same sense that the principal is employed by the school board.

6:23 PM EDT


Gaby 'n Fish said...
I'm switching to q.

7:00 PM EDT