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January 01, 1988 - Image 87

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


It's A Matter
Of Scruples

Dr. Howard Kamler
says values plays a
big role in relationships


Special to The Jewish News


he thousands who march-
ed in Washington this
month demanding free-
dom for Soviet Jews were
demonstrating their

So are the millions who buy
designer jeans.
Dr. Howard Kamler, professor of
philosophy at Eastern Michigan
University, who presents workshops
on values clarification. and scruples,
said values play an important role in
everyday life.
"Your relationships with' other
people are framed by the ordering of
your values:' Kamler said. "Yet, most
people aren't really clear about how
their values are related to each other
or what their values are.
"We all like to have a sense of
ourselves," he said, "but when it
comes down to looking at the fine
lines of what we stand for, people have
a tough time with that."
Through games, role playing and
conflict simulations, Kamler gets
workshop participants involved in
thinking about their own values and
learning how to handle conflicts with
the values of others. He has presented
this workshop at the Jewish Com-
munity Center and will offer it there
again this spring.
"It's an attempt to train people to
think about their values and the
hierarchy of their values and give pe-
ple practice in giving reasons for the
value decisions they make," Kamler
Kamler distinguishes between
two kinds of values. Personal values
give a person individual identity.
They are values a person holds
regardless of what others think,
Kamler said. For example, attitudes
about human rights, arms reduction,
abortion or euthanasia are examples
of personal values.

"They give people a sense of who
they are as unique individuals;'
Kamler said.
On the other hand, social identi-
ty values are ones we adopt as
members of groups. These give a
sense of social belonging.
"We seem to have fewer and fewer
personal values and more social iden-
tity values today;' Kamler said.
In his workshop, Kamler also
talks about scruples, which refers to
putting one's values into action. "It's
a matter of how committed a person
is to action on their values, do they
practice what they preach;' he said.
"Everybody has values but not
everybody has scruples," Kamler said.
But the decrease in personal
values does not mean our society is
becoming immoral. "I think late 20th

Century America is a time and place
where living by scruples is great," he
said. "We in this country have a lot
of scruples relative to other times in
The news media make us keenly
aware of our society's ills, Kamler
said. "We're more aware of the dirt
underneath the surface, but I don't
think that can be equated with hav-
ing less scruples!'
Kamler said he disagrees with the
popular view that politicians lead the
list of unscrupulous people, followed
closely by lawyers and business
"After teaching a course in
business ethics, I've been fascinated
with the shortcomings of business,
but with the power of the virtue:'
Kamler said. "One thing I've learn-

ed is that making a profit shouldn't
be equated with being immoral."
Speculating about the dating
world, Kamler said there may be
more people intent on showing social
identity values than personal values.
"Some people are determined to see
themselves as unique individuals.
But there are probably more people
who want to show how hip they are,
how much like the crowd they are!"
Kamler has been studying
philosophy of psychology and the no-
tion of the self for nearly 20 years. He
earned a doctorate in philosophy at
the University of Michigan in 1971,
and began teaching at Eastern while
a graduate student in 1968.
"My interest in values has evolv-
ed over the years;' Kamler said. "I
started thinking about value dif-
ferences, how we form our values,
what role values play in a person's
sense of self-identity.
"I'm interested in the role values
play in structuring personal identity.
That's what values clarification is all
about. It is central to a person form-
ing personal identity."
Kamler wrote the books Com-
munications: Sharing Our Stories of
Experience, published in 1983, and
Character and Personal Values,
published in 1984.
Interest in his values clarification
workshops has grown since he first of-
fered it two years ago at Eastern. This
spring, he will ofer the workshop
again at the Jewish Community
Kamler will offer a six-hour
workshop on business ethics to the
business community, using case
studies to raise questions of scruples.
"What I'm after in the business
course is creating sensitivity in
business people to the moral ques-
tions being raised, not in preaching
or moralizing;' he said.
"The one thing that comes out of
the workshop is that you have a bet-
ter sense of who you are regardless of
what other people expect!' 0



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