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Ethical Considerations. Ethics. What do we mean by “ethics” or “unethical”? Motivations to behave unethically: Personal gain, especially power Competition Restoration of justice or fairness What is “fairness?”. Some Ways to Behave Unethically.

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Ethical Considerations

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Ethical Considerations


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Ethics

  • What do we mean by “ethics” or “unethical”?

  • Motivations to behave unethically:

    • Personal gain, especially power

    • Competition

    • Restoration of justice or fairness

  • What is “fairness?”


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Some Ways to Behave Unethically

  • Selective disclosure &/or misrepresentation to others

  • Deception

  • False threats or false promises

  • Provide false information (lie)

  • Inflict intentional harm on the other party

  • Selective disclosure or misrepresentation to constituencies


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Ethical Decisions Have Complexity

  • Multiple alternatives

  • Broad & long-range consequences

  • Uncertain consequences

  • Mixture of economic, legal, ethical, social, and personal benefits and costs


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Some Ethical Systems

  • Eternal law: "capital-T truth"

  • Ethical Egoism: seek self-interests & promote greatest balance of good over bad for self, with ethical constraints

  • Utilitarianism: greatest good for the greatest number, or maximize the social benefit function

  • Universalism (Categorical imperative): would I be willing to make the basis for my action a general law binding everyone, given similar circumstances?

  • Enlightened self-interest: self-interest rightly understood, with long-term perspective or judging from my deathbed

  • Ethics of interdependence: interdependence between individuals is fundamental; be willing to compromise to help the other side achieve goals


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Some Ethical Introspections

  • Is it right?

  • Is it fair?

  • How does it smell?

  • Who benefits and who gets hurt?

  • What if details were made public?

  • What would you tell your child to do?

  • What if everyone did this?


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Consider

  • Learning from your mistakes

  • Look in the mirror & see how you like what you see

  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see how they see you

  • However, don’t be naive


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Case: A Tragic Choice

  • Review silently the questions at end of the case

  • We discuss Q.1

  • Each group takes one of questions 2-5 plus the general question: If you were Jim, what would you do and why? - reports back

  • All join in discussion of each


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Tragic Choice Questions

  • It could be argued that, if Jim does shoot one of the hostages, he is not merely killing that hostage, he is murdering that person. What do you think about this? Can such a shooting be excused? ...justified?

  • What if Jim had arrived in the clearing with his young son and the captain had threatened Jim by saying, "Either shoot one of the hostages or we'll shoot your son." Would this change your reasoning and decision?

  • Suppose you were one of the twenty hostages; what alternative would you prefer?

  • Suppose that all of the hostages wanted Jim to kill one hostage so that the rest could go free. Does such "permission" justify such an action by Jim?

  • With any alternatives you consider or select, try to be aware of assumptions that may be implicit in your reasoning - try to make them explicit and examine them.


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Exercise

  • Individually, consider each of the Scenarios, one at a time:

    • Write your decision

    • Write your reasoning

  • In small groups, discuss reasoning for each Scenario, one at a time


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Scenario 1

  • A woman was near death from a unique kind of cancer. There is a new drug that might save her with a single dose, available only from the scientist who developed it. The drug costs $4,000 per dose, although it only costs the scientist $100 to make it. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money and tried every legal means, but he could only get together about $2,000. He asked the scientist who discovered the drug for a discount or to let him pay later, but the scientist refused.

  • Should Heinz break into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife? Why or why not?


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Scenario 2

  • Heinz broke into the laboratory and stole the drug. The next day, the newspapers reported the break-in and theft. Brown, a police officer and a friend of Heinz, remembered seeing Heinz near the laboratory last evening, behaving suspiciously. Later that night, he had seen Heinz running away from the laboratory.

  • Should Brown report what he saw? Why or why not?


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Scenario 3

  • Officer Brown reported what he saw. Heinz was arrested and brought to court. Heinz was found guilty and could be sentenced to as much as two years in prison.

  • Should the judge sentence Heinz to prison? Why or why not?


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The Insufficiency of Honesty*/honesty.doc

  • Honesty: refusal to steal, lie, or deceive in any way

  • Integrity: trustworthiness & incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust or responsibility


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Integrity

  • Honesty is necessary, but not sufficient

    The most important thing in acting is honesty; once you learn to fake that, you’re in.

    - Sam Goldwyn


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Integrity

  • Honesty

  • Discerning

    • Examining beliefs & assumptions

    • Searching for "truth," avoiding error

    • Allowing others the same

  • Acting on what you have discerned

    • Even at personal cost

  • Fulfilling moral obligations

    • Do no harm to others

    • Not just the minimum


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Star Trek Case“Measure of a Man”


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Star Trek Characters

  • Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (of Starship Enterprise)

  • Capt. Phillipa Louvois (Chief JAG officer for the sector)

  • Cmdr. Bruce Maddox (Starfleet Professor of Robotics)

  • Lt. Cmdr. Data (android science officer on Enterprise)

  • Guinan (bartender, wise old soul)

  • Cmdr. William Riker (2nd to Picard)


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Star Trek Case

  • Refer to the posted case material you were asked to bring

  • At two times in the video, you will need to respond to several questions in the case, writing individually & then discussing

  • Pay particular attention to how the characters, you, and others in the class think


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Questions at First Stop

  • Define the issue (or dilemma) faced by Captain Picard and Lt. Commander Data at this point in time.

  • Which of the six ethical frameworks* would each of the following characters (a) claim to be using in justifying his position? ...and (b) is actually using, in your opinion?

    • Lt. Commander Data

    • Commander Maddox

    • Captain Picard


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Questions at End

  • How was the issue in the case finally defined in the hearing for the purpose of making a ruling?

  • What was Guinan's contribution to Picard's thinking & approach to the hearing? Be specific in explaining how she contributed to clarifying the issue for him. What advantage did she have over the other characters in advising him?

  • What are the pros and cons of using an adversarial process in examining an ethical issue?


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  • What was Commander Data's position on the decision of his "disassembly?" Did it change during the course of the story? If you think his position did change, why do you think he changed it?

  • When Captain Picard said that the mission of the Starfleet was “to seek out new life,” how did this relate to the issue in the hearing? How do mission and values differ? How do values and ethics differ?

  • Is there a BEST framework for deciding ethical issues? What lessons does this case have that can be applied to your work or life situation?


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