Short answer: no. Not according to self-report, at least.
These results come from Josh Rust's and my survey of several hundred ethicists, non-ethicist philosophers, and professors in other departments. (Other survey results, and more about the methods, are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
Before asking for any self-reports of behavior, we asked survey respondents to rate various behaviors on a nine-point scale from "very morally bad" through "morally neutral" to "very morally good". Among the behaviors were:
Not having on one’s driver’s license a statement or symbol indicating willingness to be an organ donor in the event of death,and
Regularly donating blood.In both cases, ethicists were the group most likely to praise or condemn the behavior (though the differences between ethicists and other philosophers were within statistical chance). 60% of ethicists rated not being an organ donor on the "morally bad" side of the scale, compared to 56% of non-ethicist philosophers and 42% of non-philosophers (chi-square, p = .001). And 84% of ethicists rated regularly donating blood on the "morally good" side of the scale, compared to 80% of non-ethicist philosophers and 72% of non-philosophers (chi-square, p = .01).
In the second part of the questionnaire, we asked for self-report of various behaviors, including:
Please look at your driver’s license and indicate whether there is a statement or symbol indicating your willingness to be an organ donor in the event of death,and
When was the last time you donated blood?The groups' responses to these two questions were not statistically significantly different: 67% of ethicists, 64% of non-ethicist philosophers, and 69% of philosophers reported having an organ donor symbol or statement on their driver's license (chi-square, p = .75); and 13% of ethicists, 14% of non-ethicist philosophers, and 10% of non-philosophers reported donating blood in 2008 or 2009 (the survey was conducted in spring 2009; chi-square, p = .67). A related question asking how frequently respondents donate blood also found no detectable difference among the groups.
These results fit into an overall pattern that Josh Rust and I have found: Professional ethicists appear to behave no better than do other professors. Among our findings so far:
- Arbitrarily selected ethicists are rated as overall no morally better behaved by members of their own departments than are arbitrarily selected specialists in metaphysics and epistemology (Schwitzgebel and Rust, 2009).
- Ethicists, including specialists in political philosophy, are no more likely to vote than are other professors (though Political Science professors are more likely to vote than are other professors; Schwitzgebel and Rust, 2010).
- Ethics books, including relatively obscure books likely to be borrowed mostly by professors and advanced students in philosophy, are more likely to be missing from academic libraries than are other philosophy books (Schwitzgebel, 2009).
- Although ethics professors are much more likely than are other professors to say that eating the meat of mammals is morally bad, they are just about as likely to report having eaten the meat of a mammal at their previous evening meal (Splintered Mind post, May 22, 2009).
- Ethics professors appear to be no more likely to respond to undergraduate emails than are other professors (Splintered Mind post, June 16, 2009).
- Ethics professors were statistically marginally less likely to report staying in regular contact with their mothers (Splintered Mind post, August 31, 2010).
- Ethics professors did not appear to be any more honest, overall, in their questionnaire responses, to the extent that we were able to determine patterns of inaccurate or suspicious responding (Splintered Mind post, June 4, 2010).
All this evidence, considered together, creates, I think, a substantial explanatory challenge for the approximately one-third of non-ethicist philosophers and approximately one-half of professional ethicists who -- in another of Josh's and my surveys -- expressed the view that on average ethicists behave a little morally better than do others from socially comparable groups.
We do have preliminary evidence, however, that environmental ethicists litter less. Hopefully we can present that evidence soon. (First, we have to be sure that we are done with data collection.)