This circle organization reflects a key discovery in my own teaching experience. After some years of the more usual “first, all the theories, then the applications” approach, my students made it clear that they were more likely to acquire facility with both central ethical theories and their application if we instead began with just a few theories and then applied these to specific cases. Whatever the disadvantages of initially confronting specific examples with a more limited set of theories, it also often happens that students will thereby discover precisely through these applications that their initial theories are somehow inadequate. Specifically, the first theories often do not allow them to resolve the problems in ways that closely fit their own ethical intuitions and sensibilities. This is pedagogical gold: students see on their own the need for further theory/theories, and so, as we return from specific cases to more theories (making the circle from praxis to theory), they are characteristically more interested in new theories than if we had simply worked through all of them from the outset.
By the same token, nothing prevents us from going back to reconsider earlier cases in light of more recently acquired theories – and thereby seeing these cases in a new light (making the circle from theory to praxis). Indeed, doing so often helps us discern new and more satisfying resolutions of the ethical problems involved. Such resolutions thereby enhance our appreciation not only for how a specific theory may offer distinctive advantages vis-à-vis a specific case, but also for how a now greater range of theories work in their application to real-world issues and problems.
Instructors and their students who want to follow this approach can begin with the opening sections of chapter 6 on utilitarianism, deontology, and ethical relativism, absolutism, and pluralism, and then move on to chapter 2 (privacy) and, perhaps, chapter 3 (copyright and intellectual property). Chapter 3 further explores virtue ethics, Confucian ethics, and the (Southern) African framework of ubuntu: again, taking up the relevant sections in chapter 6 along with these components of chapter 3 should be helpful. These elements, along with feminist ethics and ethics of care from chapter 6 should be completed prior to chapters 4 (friendship, death online, and democracy) and 5 (pornography, sexbots, and violence).