Every discipline has periodic meetings where faculty and students assemble and exchange information for a common purpose.
The annual SUNY Broome Ethics Conference was developed in 2009 with the purpose of bringing together faculty and students from SUNY Broome and surrounding institutions to discuss topics related to the field of applied ethics.
Applied ethics is the philosophical examination of private and public issues which are a matter of moral judgment. This examination is useful to help people to determine morally correct courses of actions and decisions regarding issues related to various fields.
Morals are standards of behaviors or beliefs, or what we personally or professionally consider acceptable to do or not to do. Morals are instilled upon us by our families, peers, cultural beliefs, and professional standards. Morals govern our personal and professional behaviors. As morals are a reflection of our value system, we may be emotionally influenced by them, which could potentially affect our ability to be objective when making ethical decisions. Our morals influence ethical decisions we make in the various fields of applied ethics.
An example of applied ethics is bioethics. Bioethics is the discussion about legal and ethical issues related to biology and medicine. These topics are often controversial, such as gene therapy, organ donation, or euthanasia. Other examples of applied ethics include professional ethics, which is the discussion of how to improve the ethics related to a profession, and business ethics, which is the discussion about ethics related to business and business decisions.
Applied ethics often involve ethical dilemmas. Ethical dilemmas are those which involve complex decisions that may not necessarily align with one’s personal and professional beliefs and morals, or even what is legal. Conflict often exists between various moral imperatives. Moral imperatives are mental conflicts between the principles (standards) which we use to guide our behaviors. Making one decision may violate another belief we hold, or even the law.
Legal issues are those which involve whether or not a decision or action is lawful (allowed by the rules determined by society). Morals and law may not always be the same. Making an ethical decision which upholds one’s personal or professional beliefs may violate the law or socially acceptable rules. It is in this intersection that ethical dilemmas may occur.
The annual Ethics Conference provides an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students from SUNY Broome and surrounding colleges, universities, and institutions to gather together and exchange ideas about issues related to applied ethics. The opportunity for faculty and students from all disciplines to engage in discussions about ethics provides for a rich and diverse conversation about important issues of our time.
Since the Ethics Conference began at SUNY Broome Community College, we have had a variety of interesting topics. Annual topics often reflect current events and issues of the time. Our first Ethics Conference was related to the ethics of human rights. Since then, other conference themes have included: environmental ethics; religion and ethics; ethics and democracy; bioethics; technology and ethics; ethics of addiction; and most recently, the ethics of communication.
It is our hope and intention that by offering an annual interdisciplinary conference on ethics that we will have conversations among our faculty, staff, and students from all disciplines about the ethical dilemmas which we face and how to best resolve them.