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Morals Vs. Ethics. Morals Vs. Ethics. Morals are individual standards of right and wrong based on: Deep-seated personal values Accepted beliefs and modes of conduct by groups in which people choose to work and play

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morals vs ethics1
Morals Vs. Ethics
  • Morals are individual standards of right and wrong based on:
    • Deep-seated personal values
    • Accepted beliefs and modes of conduct by groups in which people choose to work and play
  • Ethics are clearly defined standards of right and wrong set out by written codes or standards determined by an organization or profession

Morals are related to personal character and belief as to what is right and wrong (internal).

  • Ethics are the proper behavior regarding the social system where morals are applied (external).
  • Legal is separate from what is moral or ethical. Legal is external and is defined by local, state, Federal laws or regulations created by government officials we elect.
media ethics lying

Media Ethics: Lying

Sissela Bok. 1999. Lying. New York: Vintage Books

  • Is lying escalating in our society?
    • President Clinton: (1) “I did not have sex with that woman,” (2) “I misled my family, colleagues, and public.”
    • Wall Street
    • Politicians, lawyers
  • Or are we just seeing it reported more often?
  • Is there more truth-telling in our society?
    • Reversal in practices of lying to the seriously ill.
    • Greater openness about adoption, out-of-wedlock births, religious persuasion, sexual orientation, spread of AIDS.
  • “The role one assigns to truthfulness will always remain central in considering what kind of person one wants to be – how one wishes to treat, not only other people, but oneself.”
  • Gradually we learn from childhood what a lie is and the awesome power of lies.
  • And how much easier it is to slip into a lie than to undo its effects.
  • “The most serious miscalculation people make when weighing lies is to evaluate the costs and benefits of a particular lie in an isolated case, and then to favor lies if the benefits seem to outweigh the costs.”
  • “In so doing, they risk blinding themselves to the effect that such lying can have on their integrity and self-respect, and to the jeopardy in which they place others.”
  • The engine of society and of relationships is greased by mutual trust.
  • “Trust and integrity are precious resources, easily squandered, hard to regain. [Societies]…can thrive only on a foundation for veracity.”
  • However, psychology research indicates you can’t tell if people are lying from their voice, facial expressions or body movements.
  • Hard to know when someone is trying to deceive us or whether to trust them.

The Schematic of a Relationship














  • Varying types of deception:
    • Confabulation
    • Compulsive or pathological lying
    • Duping delight
      • Excitement of risk taking
    • Truth dumping
      • May be telling the truth but violates fundamental standards of respect and concern.
  • Original definition: A lie is any “intentionally deceptive message which is stated.”
  • “It holds, for there to be a lie, a person must not only be making a statement intended to deceive listeners but must also believe that the statement is itself false.”
when is lying acceptable
When Is Lying Acceptable?
  • Should physicians lie to dying patients so as to delay the fear and anxiety which the truth might bring them?
    • Heart surgery
  • Should professors exaggerate the excellence of their students on letters of recommendation to help them get a job?
  • Should parents conceal from children that they are adopted?
    • Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos
  • Should social scientists send investigators masquerading as patients to learn about sexual or racial bias?
  • How can we assessthe bargaining in an Eastern bazaar, the white lies of everyday life, the lies for national defense/security and the lies to spare a dying child?
  • “The moral question of whether you are lying or not is not settled by establishing the truth or falsity of what you say. In order to settle this question, we must know whether you intend your statement to mislead.”
  • As with Piaget, intention is the key.
  • “Liars share with those they deceive the desire not to be deceived. As a result, their choice to lie is one which they would like to reserve for themselves while insisting that others be honest.”
  • “They would prefer, in other words a ‘free-rider’ status.”
the ring of gyges
The Ring of Gyges
  • Return to the ring of Gyges.
  • Lying gives the liar power, a “win” in a sense.
  • Paradoxically, once the liar’s word is no longer trusted, the liar will be left with greatly decreased power – even though a lie often does bring at least a short-term gain in power over those deceived.