Ethics - Moral law vs. Criminal law

Jim Wynne

Super Moderator
#61
In short, a rebel (who was a genius) was in love with a girl...
I thought you said he was a genius. :tg:

While research ethics has significantly limited the scope of study in human behavior...
How so?

Observing the tremendously powerfuly effect obedience and the need to be accepted can play on an individual.[/quote]

See also the Wikipedia reference-linkAbilene Paradox.

Group A: They should have known there was an issue, but did not.
Ignorance is not an ethics issue; willful ignorance might be.
Group B: They thought there was an issue, but played blissful ignorance.
Sometimes necessary in the interest of self-preservation; there are sometimes practical limits to altruism, I think.
Group C: They knew there was a problem, but somehow rationalized it.
Knowing the result without knowing anything about motivation isn't very helpful in a case like this.
Group D: Those that just left.
Just leaving knowing there's a bomb that's about to go off and not telling anyone is different from just leaving and allowing stupid people to mess up their own businesses.

One can study Ethics all day at a college/university, and not too surprising, many of those textbooks seem to have all the answers. But when we talk reality, YOU, your job, your livelihood, in the here-and-now: Which of the four above is really the most/least unethical? Kinda scary, to me. What would you do, in the chair in Milgram's lab?
The study of ethics in business is the study of leadership. We all know that in any given flock there are sheep that will always follow the shepherd over a cliff, sheep that will wander off aimlessly, and sheep that will try to guide the flock in some other direction. We can only hope that the shepherd knows where he's going, and how to get there so that everyone can still sleep at night.
 

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#62
Good points, Jim. Let's assume that we agreed on the four categories, there is still a fairly wide set of alternatives under each, as you pointed out.


How so?

Observing the tremendously powerfuly effect obedience and the need to be accepted can play on an individual.
I should clarify this point. What I was alluding to is due to ethics issues now in conducting research (Institutional Review Boards), it limits how a researcher conducts an experiment. In my example, it would be impossible to replicate Milgram's work. The researcher would have to reveal to the subject there would be deception and such, they could potentially inflict pain, etc. etc. Then there would have to be a massive post evaluations, follow-up, etc. The subject would be on to something before even beginning.

Little Albert would be another story. For that matter, you probably could not get the interviews for a Case Study like Kitty Genovese.

I digress. There are enough studies in different categories to replicate many of the things we already know. Interesting though in the Milgram study, is how far people really will go in obedience.

Did not mean to stray too much there. I do think it is a relevant point when discussing ethics and the like about obedience. Jim's point is salient also about leaders and sheep.

Ohh... I did leave off. The guy in the movie? He quit the job, after hearing the managers story. He valued his ethics more than keeping the job for the girl. But again.... that is the movies.:D
 

Jim Wynne

Super Moderator
#63
Thanks for the example Paul. Too, I would submit to you that he had someone very influential in his life:notme:, providing a positive example of how to be ethical, even when it's not easy or cheap.:yes::agree1:

Now, how as a society, do we deal with those that... for whatever reason, has not had such basic morals drilled into them? Or at one time may have had the morals drilled to them, but sold/traded/ buried, etc. for whatever reason in Corporate America (or insert your desired country)?
It's difficult to fully engage this subject without overstepping a boundary that will make the discussion perhaps inappropriately controversial. For example, many children have "morals drilled to them" from a religious perspective, a view point wherein moral relativism is considered anathema. I, on the other hand, see a subtle but significant difference between the ideas of religious morals and cultural mores (pronounced morays). In other words, the idea that what might be considered moral in one environment might be considered immoral in another, without any overarching definitions. In order to answer the question, "Is x moral?" I personally first have to know something about the standard. Yours might be different from mine.
 
#64
It's difficult to fully engage this subject without overstepping a boundary that will make the discussion perhaps inappropriately controversial. For example, many children have "morals drilled to them" from a religious perspective, a view point wherein moral relativism is considered anathema. I, on the other hand, see a subtle but significant difference between the ideas of religious morals and cultural mores (pronounced morays). In other words, the idea that what might be considered moral in one environment might be considered immoral in another, without any overarching definitions. In order to answer the question, "Is x moral?" I personally first have to know something about the standard. Yours might be different from mine.
I would guess "moral" IS different from "ethical." How would you differentiate?

Is the distinction one of religious slant versus "humanist" slant? If so, followers in the Thuggee cult in 19th and 20th century, who joined caravans of travelers and then strangled them to rob them were "moral" to their religious teaching, but not "ethical" in a humanistic sense, since the technique was to lull the victims with a false sense of security against thieves by traveling in a large group, only for the victims to be betrayed by the very folks who offered "security."

Ethical questions can be extremely "muddy." Frequently, both sides to an ethics question get smeared when their views are dissected.
 
#66
I think that in general, the latter is based on the former. What one might consider ethical is based on some set of moral precepts, in other words.
Kind of a circular argument. If we accept the premise you offer, then "ethics is ONLY in the eye of the beholder?"

I don't feel comfortable with that definition, do you? What was the Disney line for the Lewis Carroll character? - something to the effect "words mean exactly what I intend them to mean."
 
#67
Here's a news item that purports to be about ethics. Would anyone care to comment for or against Google in this instance? I've highlighted a few items which caught my eye in the article. Care to comment on any of those?
Ethics Group Rips Google on Copyrights
Email this Story

Sep 27, 11:53 AM (ET)

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An ethics group is urging Congress to scrutinize Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG)'s copyright controls after finding hundreds of apparently pirated movies available on the Internet search leader's Web site.

In letters sent to several lawmakers Wednesday, the National Legal and Policy Center excoriated Google for allowing its video-hosting service to become an online theater for showing and promoting illegally copied movies.

The nonprofit group, which says it has no financial ties to the movie industry, is best known for helping to expose a 2003 corruption scandal involving the Air Force and Boeing Co. (BA) that landed two executives in jail.

The grievances made to Congress focused exclusively on content found on Google's Web site rather than the company's more popular YouTube subsidiary that is being sued by Viacom Inc. (VIAB) for alleged copyright infringement.

The harsh critique echoes similar complaints that have asserted Google is more interested in boosting its audience - and potential profit - than protecting the intellectual property of Hollywood studios, record labels, authors and publishers.

Google says it adheres to federal law by removing unauthorized content whenever asked by copyright owners.

But that method has proven to be woefully inadequate, said Ken Boehm, chairman of the nonprofit National Legal and Policy Center.

"They clearly have the technological and economic wherewithal to do something more about it," Boehm said. "Instead, they are making money off other people's intellectual property. That's wrong."

Google probably remains on solid legal ground, said Bruce Sunstein, a Boston lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights. "The law will favor Google as long as they are diligent in taking down videos, but they could be in trouble if they have a cavalier attitude."

In a statement, Google said it is working on new technology that will be introduced in the "not-too-distant" future to help copyright owners block unauthorized material from being posted on the site. Earlier in the year, the Mountain View-based company indicated the filtering tools would be introduced as early as September.

Other sites, including News Corp. (NWS)'s MySpace.com and Microsoft's MSN.com, already have copyright filters set up.

"As a company that respects the rights of copyright holders, we work every day to help them manage their content, and we are developing state-of-the-art tools to let them do that even better," Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker said.

The National Legal and Policy Group found plenty of room for improvement after poring through Google's video site from Sept. 10 through Sept. 18.

That review uncovered 300 apparently pirated movies that that had been viewed a combined 22 million times. About 60 of the movies were recent theatrical releases, including popular films like "Shrek The Third,""Oceans Thirteen" and "The Bourne Ultimatum" that aren't even available on DVD yet.

In some instances, the movie titles were misspelled in apparent attempt to skirt detection. Some of the copyright violations were egregious, Boehm said, because it was obvious the movies had been taped in a theater with a video camera. Some of the movies also included Web links to sites specializing in pirated video, Boehm said.

To help hunt for apparent copyright violations, Boehm said he hired his 18-year-old nephew for $10 per hour. He suggested Google might be able to afford to hire more copyright cops, given the company earned nearly $2 billion on $7.5 billion in revenue during the first half of the year.

Boehm thinks Google's ineffectual policing efforts raise serious questions about the company's motto, "Don't Be Evil."

"We are hoping to shame Google into doing something," Boehm said. "What they are doing is inexcusable corporate behavior. When big companies do something unethical, it sends a message to everyone else that it's OK."
My comment is aimed at the ease (or lack of ease) Google provides for copyright holders to discover and report violations of copyright and how rapidly Google will investigate and act on a claim of infringement. (Some folks have been known to raise a stink with false claims or to make claims when they lack the legal standing of a copyright holder or authorized agent to request relief by having Google remove the pirated material. - for instance I could not request pirated copies of Shrek be removed simply because I lack legal standing to act on behalf of the copyright holder.) Perhaps copyright holders need an organization similar to the one which collects royalties on music to maintain a system where it has such legal standing to act on behalf of copyright holders.

Which is more ethical?
The pirate who uploads pirated material?
or
the companies who turn a blind eye to whether they are providing a platform for pirates?
 

Jim Wynne

Super Moderator
#68
Kind of a circular argument. If we accept the premise you offer, then "ethics is ONLY in the eye of the beholder?"
Not circular at all, but the regression has to stop somewhere, which was my original point. We can say that ethics is based on morality, but in order to avoid moral relativism morality must be based on a consistent standard. In my own view, there is no such consistent standard, thus moral relativism.

I don't feel comfortable with that definition, do you?
Do you have a better one? What's your standard? What makes it better than mine? I think you can see what I meant when I said that it's difficult to discuss this without dragging religion into it.
What was the Disney line for the Lewis Carroll character? - something to the effect "words mean exactly what I intend them to mean."
It wasn't a Disney line, it was in the original:
'When [SIZE=+1]I[/SIZE] use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'
 
#69
My recollection of the Disney movie was the same line delivered by a hookah*-smoking caterpillar.

*"What was in that hookah?" Awful lot of mind-altering substances in that movie as I recall more and more of it.

Back on track:
Ethical behavior is determined by the largest encompassing culture.
Therefore, in some subcultures, bribery is an accepted way of doing business. When the activity intersects with a larger culture (a world market for example), the ethical "standards " of the larger culture take precedence. When a company from the larger world market enters the subculture where bribery is accepted, the world culture expects that company to continue to adhere to the ethical standards of the larger culture and not sink to the lower (subjective to the larger culture, I agree) standard of the subculture.

Thus, Thugees were unethical once they ventured outside their own cult.
Multinationals are unethical when they enter a subculture rife with corruption and wallow in the same corruption. (In some cases, "unethical" and "illegal" can be the same thing, depending on how strongly a culture values presence or absence of an activity.)

In practical terms: a person may practice poor hygiene in preparing meals for his family, but if he intends to prepare meals for sale in a larger community, the consumers (and regulators) in that community will expect the food preparer to adhere to the hygiene standards of the larger community. As the community grows larger, the standards may become more numerous and strenuous, with consequent inspections and sanctions for failing to pass inspections.

In the same way some OEMs demand suppliers be registered and pass independent audit for adherence to an international quality management system standard as a condition of remaining in the supply chain, so, too, may some OEMs (or even individual consumers acting in concert) demand registration and adherence to some international ethical standard as a condition of remaining in the supply chain.

I have sometimes used the term "enlightened self interest" when describing the MOTIVE for either an OEM demanding supply chain adherence to a Standard or for members of a supply chain to agree to adhere to such Standard. Briefly, for some it's about profit, for others it's genuine concern for the plight of others. However, it is usually only economic "clout" which stirs non-altruists to join the parade.
 


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