Week 2: Reflection


After reading the various blog posts and comments from my fellow course participants, I felt the need to reflect and acknowledge the opinions expressed regarding this complex moral landscape and what influences it. I wanted to write and post my reflection earlier, but as it’s the month end, I’ve been a little preoccupied this week with patient accounts and administration of my practice.  So, albeit a little later than planned for this week, I would like to end the week’s topic of morality off by reflecting on and summarising my thoughts, before moving onto the next chapter, equality.

moral brain

During my research on this topic/theme, I found a very interesting link… Harvard University’s Cognitive Evolution Laboratory has an online Moral Sense Test. This forms part of a research project on “characterisation of the nature of our moral psychology, how it evolved, and how it develops in our species, creating individuals with moral responsibilities”. Reading the ethical and moral dilemmas given in this test/survey, made me realise even more how complex human behaviour, human connection and human cognition is…. Is there a “universal moral behaviour or code”?  Most of the questions dealt with sacrificing someone else’s comfort, health, freedom or life to save others, change a scenario or have a supposed-positive effect on the outcome.  It is also very interesting that in this test they ask you random questions about your personality, general opinions and likes/dislikes… all to profile your moral character.  Wendy and Charde also discussed the various contexts and experiences that influence our individual moral development.

To be a little philosophical, as a spiritual human being and a moral relativist, I argue against a single true morality…I believe to never do any harm or treat others unkindly.  I don’t believe that it is possible to have a universal moral code in this complex world we live in.  I believe in natural rights and moral relativism, as briefly discussed in my “Original blog post on Morality (Week 2)“. Natural rights are rights people have simply by virtue of being a human being, for example the right not to be harmed by others, and vice versa. I found an academic published paper on moral relativism by Gilbert Harman that really explains this theory well, including the typical criticisms from other cultural/religious moralists.  “The moral relativist supposes that different people accept different moralities which can give them different moral reasons.”  Religious dogmatism, personal experiences, freedom of choice/expression and cultural beliefs influence one’s moral character, exception and perception, as so eloquently described and referenced by Noam and Jackie.  I also found the article linked to Tony’s blog post, “Moral Courage in Health Care” such and inspiring and relevant read.  

I really appreciated the personal experiences shared by many physiotherapists and physiotherapy-students in their blog posts, referring to challenging clinical dilemmas with various ethical and moral questions.  Being compassionate and empathetic with a patient that is the cause of all her pain and disability, as Theo shared in his post, is difficult, but you must remember your place in this clinical setting.  Possibly in another setting, you might choose to act or interact differently with this person, again, then it all depends on your moral character and personality.  Ellen’s mind map summarised, in such a comprehensive and concise manner, what morality can be defined as, what influences it  (multi-factorial) and what impact it has on our lives and decision-making process.   To borrow from Carmin’s post, the quote by Laurence Sterne really sums it up:

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners”

Laurence Sterne


For PHT402 Online Professional Ethics Couse:  Week 2 (Morality)

3 responses »

  1. Hi Chantelle. What a great overview. You really highlight some of the major concepts covered during the week and in the process have made an awesome “learning object” and resource for anyone interested in the topic.

    By the way, I found out yesterday from Magda that this course has been accredited by the HPCSA and SASP. I’m going to be sending out an email with a formal invitation for 50 South African physios to take the course (for free) and get 6 Level 2 Ethics CPD points. If you could pass it on to anyone who you think might be interested, I’d really appreciate it. I’ve extended the dates for all late SA registrations (details on the invite).

    Also, Magda is going to raise the topic of this course at the next Accreditors meeting, to discuss the potential of this format as a channel of physiotherapy education in the country. Judging from how enthusiastically you’ve embraced participation in this course, would you be interested in being part of that discussion?

    • Hi Michael, thank you for taking the time to read my reflection and the feedback regarding accreditation. If you can email me the invite (chantellevdb@yahoo.com), then I can post the invite to this course on the SASP Members facebook page and will send out invites to those in my WC branch paeds group.

      I will definately be willing to participate in such a discussion or give my 10 cents regarding a motivation or recommendation. The only issue is that I’m in down in the Western Cape and most of their meetings happen up in Johannesburg where Head office is located, during weekdays. My practice is my first priority and it is quite difficult to close it for a day or so to fly up for a meeting as I’m the sole owner and only physiotherapist. So let me know what I can do to assist.

      Great that it has been accredited! 🙂

      • Hi Chantelle. No problem with regards traveling. Magda will present the course and ask about it’s merits for other subjects and physiotherapy education in general. I’m not going anywhere either.

        I just thought it’d be really great to have a core group of people who would be able to drive the process if it became something more than the isolated course that it currently is.

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