Tag Archives: competence

Comment of the Day: Tesla’s Seat Belt Recall, Moral Luck, and Ethics Chess


Rich in CT delivers a Comment of the Day amplifying the issues in the post, Tesla’s Seat Belt Recall, Moral Luck, and Ethics Chess. Here it is:

I owned a Honda up until last year, until a deer took a gamble that it could get across the same stretch of faster than my car could. Mr. Deer ended up taking a short flight further down the road, and my car ended up taking a short tow to the junk yard.

No one (human) was hurt in this instance, and for that I am grateful.

Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Marketing and Advertising

Tesla’s Seat Belt Recall, Moral Luck, and Ethics Chess

Jaws victim

Ethics Alarms Chief Ethics Scout Fred found this one. Tesla was alerted to one seat belt failure in its Model S, and  recalled them all. This involved a huge cost, of course, and that cost will be eventually passed on to consumers and investors. Fred asks,

“Abundance of caution” is the phrase they used, one I gather is familiar to lawyers. Could they have justified some other response that was less catastrophically expensive? Would they have had a fiduciary duty to do so? Or would that duty lie in maintaining the brand image of meticulous quality at almost any short-term cost, building a reputation that could command premium prices for decades to come?
The issue was simply this: how much did the company want to bet on moral luck? Tesla was aware of a possible design or manufacturing flaw that could kill passengers. It could have been a fluke, and it could have been widespread. If the cars were not recalled—and I don’t know enough about Teslas to presume that there would be any other way to check every single car or replace the seat belts without the expense of a recall, so I will assume for this discussion that there is not—and one or more passenger was killed, then Tesla management would have suddenly become Sheriff Brodie and Mayor Vaughn in “Jaws,” as articulated, with a slap, by the mother of a little boy who became shark bait while playing on his yellow raft. They knew there was a possible danger, and decided that chancing it was a better call than risking the summer tourist business. They balanced the risks, and did nothing.


Filed under Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture

John Kasich Flunks A Competence Requirement: If You Can’t Think And Communicate Clearly, You Shouldn’t Be President

“We must be more forceful in the battle of ideas. U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting have lost their focus on the case for Western values and ideals and effectively countering our opponents’ propaganda and disinformation. I will consolidate
them into a new agency that has a clear mandate to promote the core Judeo-Christian Western values that we and our friends and allies share: the values of human rights, the values of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association. And it should focus on four critical targets: the Middle East, China, Iran, and Russia.”

Poor John Kasich. The Ohio governor is by experience, practical political views and demonstrated executive skills among the most qualified and able of all the Presidential candidates. Nonetheless, he is a lazy communicator and a clumsy one, and in a job where words and persuasion matter as much as any other tool of leadership, he repeatedly reveals himself to be untrustworthy. The above passage, from Kasich’s foreign policy speech this week, exemplifies this.

A President cannot say that he wants an agency that will promote Judeo-Christian values, because it will be heard, and fairly so, as an effort to promote some religions over others, something the United States government may not do, and may not even appear to want to do. Worse, Kasich chose the exact moment when his words were guaranteed to be interpreted in the worst light possible by Democrats and the news media, as the nation was immersed in an a debate about screening Syrian refugees that was being elevated to dueling hysterias by both the left and the right. Sure enough, I just heard CNN’s Michael Smerconish compare Kasich’s proposal to ISIS-style forced conversion.

Nice job, John. Continue reading


Filed under Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

My Bi-Annual Typo Apology


I just decided to go over recent posts to catch typos until I hit one of them that had none. That took six typo-riddled posts, so now I’m taking a break and beating my head against the wall.

Typos here have been more quickly addressed this year than before, because kind and sharp-eyed reader SamePenn has been checking for them with his proof-reading super-power and quickly alerting me. Unfortunately, I’m about 20 posts behind in fixing the typos he flagged. That’s all my fault: this is the ProEthics crunch time, I’m traveling or speaking a lot, there are a lot of important ethics issues to cover, both of my computers are having issues, and most of all, I am handicapped by a lifetime inability to type or spell. When I’m juggling too many things at once, it gets worse

Believe me, I know: this is publishing, the issues are important, and typos are unprofessional, undermining the credibility and persuasiveness of everything I write. One reason I enjoy Prof. Jonathan Turley’s blog is that he has almost as many typos as I do.  It makes me feel a little better.

I apologize to all of you. It will continue to be a struggle, but I promise that I  am not unaware of the problem, or minimizing its importance.


Filed under Journalism & Media, Professions

Assessing The Clinton Testimony On Benghazi

Hillary testifies

In the end, we either learned something worth learning, or we didn’t. It comes down to how important one thinks it is to know that your government lies to you, and to know that a party’s Presidential candidate is a liar as well.

Early in the questioning yesterday, Hillary Clinton was confronted with previously unrevealed e-mails showing that within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, she emailed her daughter, Chelsea, and said that Americans had died at the hands of “an al-Qaeda like group.”   Clinton also informed Egypt’s prime minister and Libya’s president that the attacks were “preplanned” and “had nothing to do with” an anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube.

Days later, Clinton told the American public and families of the Benghazi victims that a YouTube video incited protesters in Benghazi and spontaneously launched assaults.

Why had the e-mails not been unavailable earlier? Well, they were sent via that private server that Clinton set up and used for official government business when she was Secretary of State. They were not originally turned over in response to public records requests and subpoenas, because that’s what the private server was designed for in the first place: to provide protection for Clinton and e-mails that might cause political embarrassment or worse.

Am I being unfair so far? If you think so, wait for the next post. You’re hopeless. The Benghazi committee discovered the existence of Clinton’s private server last year. Was that important information worth knowing? Again, if you don’t think so, do not pass GO. You are corrupted by bias.

The e-mails showed… Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, War and the Military

Joe Biden, The Republicans, And The Lawn Chair Test

lawn chairs

I’m not exactly disappointed that Biden passed on challenging Clinton and Sanders for the Democratic nomination, in part because if I ended up having to vote for him next November, I might have gone directly from the voting booth to the bridge. Still, ol’ Lunchbucket Joe would have offered some hope that a presidential candidate would emerge in this election cycle that it wouldn’t be historically irresponsible to vote for.

Conservative pundits keep writing that Biden would be identical to Obama, his third term. In our history, do you know how often that assumption has proven accurate.? Never. Van Buren was supposed to be Andy Jackson’s third term; Taft was Teddy’s, Bush was Reagan’s. The only difference now, and it is significant, is that in those three instances, the previous POTUS was strong and effective. Obama, on the other hand, has been weak, ineffective, destructive and incompetent. It is difficult to imagine how Biden could be worse.

Forget about Obama, though: why would Biden have been preferable to the Democrats who are serious candidates? Chafee and O’Malley aren’t worth discussing; they aren’t going to be on the ballot. As for the rest… Continue reading


Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Leadership

Worst Ethics Quiz Ever

 lifeboat test

A teacher in the Hillsborough County School District gave students a “Lifeboat Quiz” asking students to choose who lives and dies during a hypothetical sea disaster.

They were told 15 people need to be saved but there was only room for nine people on the boat. They then had to choose among options including “the black guy,” “the Hispanic woman,” “the pregnant woman, ” and also Barack Obama , Donald Trump, and, uh, Justin Bieber.

The students were 11; this was the 6th grade in the Giunta Middle School in Riverview, Florida . A mother of one of the students turned this into news by claiming the test was racist—she knew the magic word, all right. It’s not racist at all. What it is is incompetent and inappropriate. Naturally, the debate has been immediately detoured into issues like diversity, which have nothing to do with what’s wrong with the test. I could imagine an excellent teacher steering the discussion of a lifeboat dilemma into a useful general discussion of bias and ethics. I cannot imagine anyone who would think this quiz could support such a discussion being skilled enough to teach such a lesson.  If the teacher told students that their choices should consider diversity quotas, she should be fired. What are the odds, do you think? Continue reading


Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights