We Know Enough about Ethics Already

If Shakespeare understood ethics so well, why are we still pretending to be ignorant about it?

I awoke to read about a breathlessly announced new work on ethics, a book called “Blind Spots: Why We Fail to do What’s Right and What to do About it.” Business Professor  Ann Tenbrunsel and co-author Max Bazerman write that we are unaware of the “ethical blind spots” that keep us from recognizing how we engage in unethical actions. The book cites tests and new research showing behavior that the authors call “ethical fading” and “motivated blindness.” They examine such case studies as Enron and the Madoff scam to show how people “believe they will behave ethically in a given situation, but they don’t. Then they believe they behaved ethically when they didn’t. It’s no surprise, then, that most individuals erroneously believe they are more ethical than the majority of their peers.”

Stop the presses! Conflicts of interest make us ignore core values and act in our own best interests, and we rationalize our actions to avoid confronting the true nature of our conduct!

Oops! I just stated the entire thesis of the book. I’m sorry, Ann! Apologies, Max! Continue reading

Glenn Beck vs. Teddy Roosevelt? No Contest!

Listening to Glenn Beck disparage Theodore Roosevelt is a little like listening to Ed Wood, auteur of the deathless classic, “Plan Nine From Outer Space,” condemning John Ford as an unimaginative hack.

At his uproariously received speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Beck, the libertarian talk-show host, flamboyant TV showman on Fox and current Tea Party hero effectively racked up cheap applause by pulling a quote out of Teddy’s “New Nationalism” speech and deriding it. Beck didn’t analyze and critique the speech, of course, because that would have required a discipline of scholarship and a rigor of intellect that he simply does not possess. He simply quoted this section… Continue reading