Moral agency in media: Toward a model to explore key components of ethical practice

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Recent advances in moral psychology and applications of virtue science have created promising opportunities to refine theories of media practice and ethical principles. This article sets forth the theoretical foundation for a model of virtuous action among media exemplars that is multidimensional, inductive, and informed by these developments. The model draws on a range of psycho-social assessment tools to explore five key dimensions of virtuous behavior: story of the self, personality, integration of morality into the self, moral ecology, and moral skills and knowledge. The model's structure is designed to strengthen the empirical basis used to make normative and predictive claims about media practice. I assume that it is impossible to understand the moral quality-positive or negative-of an action without resorting to the agent's judgment, that moral judgments reflect the individual's general understanding of himself or herself, other people, social relations, and situations, and that this understanding can and does change as a result of the development of one's intelligence and of richer and more complex experience with the social world. (Blasi, 1994, p. 169).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-113
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Mass Media Ethics: Exploring Questions of Media Morality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Philosophy


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