Ethics are about ought

Ethics are about the ought, not the is. Ethics are not about the way things are, but about the way they should be. – Michael Josephson.  – Ethics are

We’re all ethical in our own eyes

-When it comes to our self-perception of our ethics, most of us have delusions of grandeur. – Think of the most ethical person you know. Do a lot of people come to mind or only a few? Are you having trouble thinking of anyone? If I asked that question of the people who know you well, how many would name …

COMMENTARY: The Peculiar Concept of “Ethics Laws”

Cynicism about the ethics of elected officials may be at an all-time high, continually fueled by new stories of outright corruption or bad judgment. At every level of government there are politicians who can’t seem to recognize or resist conflicts of interest, inappropriate gifts, improper use of the power or property entrusted to them, or the discrediting impact of shameful …

COMMENTARY: “You’re Only Cheating Yourself”

It’s in the news all the time – kids are cheating in school in new ways and at unprecedented rates. One of the reasons is the way schools and parents deal with or ignore the underlying issues of integrity and character. For instance, to discourage kids from cheating, adults commonly say, “You’re only cheating yourself.”

COMMENTARY: Everyday Ethics: What You Do in the Grocery Store

You can tell a lot about people’s character by how they act at the grocery store. I remember being in a crowded store when there was a shortage of shopping carts. A prosperous-looking fellow was pushing a cart when another man stopped him. “Excuse me,” the second man said, “but this is my cart.” The first guy looked really annoyed. …

ETHICS IN THE NEWS: Cheating at Harvard

A survey of the 2016 graduating class at Harvard revealed that 21 percent of seniors admitted to cheating during their time at Harvard. More than 90 percent said they did so on a problem set or regular homework assignment, while 23 percent said they did so during an in-class exam.

Why Ethics is More and Better Than Compliance by Michael Josephson

Most corporate compliance programs consist of cursory, general and uninspiring training, a place to ask questions and a staff to monitor adherence to laws. These programs are important to assure that employees have knowledge of the laws so they don’t carelessly or inadvertently break them, but they almost never deal effectively with intentional violations committed either for what is thought …

Bonus Commentary: THE SUPREME COURT CONTROVERSY: Hiding Our Own Hypocrisy by Pretending That Politics is All About Principle.

Has the political divide become so wide that it is an unbreakable chasm? If we do not re-learn the art of accommodation and compromise all we think we are preserving by our passion will be lost — all in the name of passionately held principles. Whether a President in his last year should nominate a replacement Supreme Court Justice and …

COMMENTARY: Good Ethics is More Than Good Business 759.2

Ethics is a popular topic at corporate meetings today because managers correctly see the benefits. Good things tend to happen to companies that consistently do the right thing, and bad things tend to happen to those that even occasionally do the wrong thing. Being ethical is playing the odds. Ethical companies have a competitive edge because people prefer to deal …

OBSERVATION: “Our moral obligations and the expectations people have of us do not go away just because we ignore them.” – Michael Josephson

I once saw a cartoon depicting a CEO speaking to assembled management team at a conference table: “We have some difficult issues to resolve today. Before we begin, Ms. Gladstone, will you please hand out the moral blinders?” It may make the decision easier but it doesn’t make it better. We can’t escape moral responsibility  through legal loopholes — our conduct will …

COMMENTARY: Good Ethics Really Is Good Business 749.4

  A challenge I frequently face while consulting with senior executives and boards of directors of public companies is a belief that their primary mandate is to make profits and enhance shareholder value. Thus, ethical principles like honesty, fairness, and caring are proper guides to decision making only to the extent that they can demonstrably improve profitability or incorporated into …

COMMENTARY: Changing Lives 747.1

Long ago when I was a law professor, I was at a conference and a man I didn’t recognize greeted me warmly. He said he wanted to thank me for changing his life. I was embarrassed as I listened to him tell me that he had met me after a speech I had given at his law school. He said …

COMMENTARY: Permitting Cheating Promotes Cheating 731.5

Reports of widespread cheating by schools in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and other districts – highlighted by the huge scandal in Atlanta involving 178 teachers and principals – should be alarming. If our educators don’t have the moral courage and integrity to resist pressures to cheat, what hope do we have that they will successfully instill these virtues in their students? …