To counter confusion about the term ‘mentor’, and address concerns about the scarcity of mentoring, I argue for an “honorific” definition, according to which a mentor is virtuous like a saint or hero. Given the unbounded commitment of mentors, mentoring relationships must be voluntary. In contrast, the role of advisor can be specified, mandated, and monitored. I argue that departments and research groups have a moral responsibility to devise a system of roles and structures to meet graduate students’ and postdoctoral fellows’ needs for information and advice.
Keywordsmentor advisor role model voluntary ethical duty collective responsibility department research group laxity scarcity transmission ethical standards
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