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Case Method

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Online Course – Broaden your perspective through discussion

Professor Satoshi Yoshii’s “Ethics in economic society” course tackles specific moral dilemmas occurring in our society. In Week 3, the Professor engaged all participants of today’s class in a discussion on three cases which everybody can encounter in their daily life.
Read the report on Professor’s previous class here.

The topics of today’s class

  • Case 1 “Can public servant smoke cigarettes during work? - Waste of taxpayer’s money?”
  • Case 2 “Should companies be permissive about smoking?: The right to damage your own health”
  • Case 3 “Flaming on the internet – Why do we not forgive people who did something wrong? The society where “being right” is used as a weapon to admonish others”

Discussion on Cases 1 and 2
Smoking cigarettes seems to do more harm (high medical expenses) than good (substantial revenue from excise taxes), and it is estimated that smoke breaks taken by public servants may cost Japan even 92 billion yen (861 million dollars) per year. On the other hand, many say that imposing overly restrictive tobacco bans, sometimes called even “health fascism”, could make the society more intolerant. Moreover, can we really say that criticism towards smoking scenes in movies or advertisements is necessary?
Discussion on Case 3
Flaming on social media is everywhere. Why would people so viciously attack others (e.g. artists, celebrities) whom they have absolutely no contact or business with? Why would they agonize so much over just one mistake? Additionally, there has been a topic of “a right to be forgotten”, where in a few years records of one’s activities would be erased from the Internet. Is it more important than the universal “right to be informed”?

The students

During the class, the students were taking sides on the Case 1 (on cigarettes) and justifying their opinions. The case sparked a heated discussion, where some of the participants claimed that smoking is an addiction, and addiction is an incurable illness, so we shouldn’t ban actions based on it - to which others replied with “The smokers get sick because they like it, and we should not accept it”. There were so many people eager to share their opinions that the class almost had to be extended, which really gives us hope that the students broadened their perspectives on certain things today by clashing their opinions with different viewpoints.