THERE have been no easy answers to the controversy around the leakage of questions in the recent nursing licensing examinations. Wouldn't a retake be better for all of the batch 2006 examinees, to remove the cloud of doubt around their competence? But wouldn't a retake mean more expenses, some families selling, literally, the last carabao? And after all's said and done, who should be punished for the leakage?
My sense is that we're having difficulties with these ethical issues because "ethics" is complicated. Moreover, ethics hasn't quite made it into our consciousness, at least not in a formal sense. Like when I tell people I don't eat meat as an "ethical" choice, I get confused looks. People think it has to be reasons of "health" or "religion" rather than, quite simply, "doing something that's the right thing to do."
Slowly though, we're bound to see more discussions of ethics. At the University of the Philippines, the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy has a joint bioethics program with the College of Medicine, with the bulk of students coming from the medical profession. These health professionals train in bioethics so they can help their institutions to confront ethical questions around medical research and clinical care. The bioethical issues can be quite complicated, spanning an entire lifetime from the "beginning" (is a fertilized ovum a human being?) to the "end" (when is a person dead?).
I've been handling one of the courses -- Culture and Ethics -- in the bioethics program and while the bulk of the class discussions deals with medical issues, we inevitably go into more personal issues. Each class I've been impressed with the way the students (physicians, dentists, anthropologists, psychologists) think the issues through, often expressing personal anxieties and turbulence.
Teaching the course has made me realize the importance of making ethics more relevant to our daily lives. We don't have a word for "ethics"...