Sick of angry campaign ads invading your living room? Dismayed by the vulgarity and poisonous political messages of the primary season? Don’t change the channel quite yet. As USA head into the general election in 2016, there are things to learn from political communications, and it is our duty as voters to cut through the rhetoric in order to vet these applicants for the most important job in the country.
The American process for electing public officials is born out of the ethical ideal of creating an informed electorate. It is the campaign’s task to introduce the candidate and inform the voters about the candidate’s background, his or her positions on the issues, and how the candidate is different from the opponent. Political communications serve to inform the electorate, as long as the content of the communication is true, fair, and relevant. It is our task as voters to analyze all political communications to make sure that they meet this standard. It should be of no surprise to anyone that campaign communications often distort the truth. For example, who can forget Donald Trump’s television ad showing hundreds of immigrants streaming across the border. The only problem was that the video was taken in Morocco. Bernie Sanders came under fire when an ad about endorsements quoted favourable comments about him from a newspaper that had actually endorsed Clinton. Truth is the first task of campaign communications, but something true can still be unfair. We need to be wary of statements or facts which, while true, are being used out of context. Clinton was recently criticized for taking Sanders’ voting record out of context when she claimed in Michigan that he had voted against the auto bailout. Sanders had in fact supported a stand-alone bill bailing out the auto industry, but voted against the larger bill that not only included support for the auto industry but the banking and insurance industries as well. Whenever a candidate is criticized for casting a vote, we need to make sure we know the whole story. Not only should political communications be truthful, and fair, but they should also be relevant to the issues in the race. We have all seen political attacks that talk about a candidate’s youthful indiscretions, private marital troubles, or about problematic behavior on the part of a candidate’s family member or associate. The question of whether these types of attacks are relevant to the issues in the campaign can only be decided by the individual voter. For example, was the fact that Melania Trump posed for a risqué “British GQ” photo shoot 15 years ago, before she was married to Donald Trump, really relevant to the issues facing our country today? Is Bill Clinton’s past infidelity relevant to Hillary Clinton’s ability to govern? We must question whether a spot is designed purely to appeal to our base emotions (such as disgust at a family member’s behavior) or whether the content of the ad is pertinent to a legitimate interest in the race.
Answer the following question.
Q1. Give an overview of the case.
Q2. In your opinion, what are the unethical issues being used in election campaign? Discuss in detail.
Many public policy arguments focus on fairness. Is affirmative action fair? Are congressional districts drawn to be fair? Is our tax policy fair? Is our method for funding schools fair? Arguments about justice or fairness have a long tradition in Western civilization. In fact, no idea in Western civilization has been more consistently linked to ethics and morality than the idea of justice. From the Republic, written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, to A Theory of Justice, written by the late Harvard philosopher John Rawls, every major work on ethics has held that justice is part of the central core of morality. Justice means giving each person what he or she deserves or, in more traditional terms, giving each person his or her due. Justice and fairness are closely related terms that are often today used interchangeably. There have, however, also been more distinct understandings of the two terms. While justice usually has been used with reference to a standard of rightness, fairness often has been used with regard to an ability to judge without reference to one’s feelings or interests; fairness has also been used to refer to the ability to make judgments that are not overly general but that are concrete and specific to a particular case. In any case, a notion of desert is crucial to both justice and fairness. The Nortons and Ellisons of this world, for example, are asking for what they think they deserve when they are demanding that they be treated with justice and fairness. When people differ over what they believe should be given, or when decisions have to be made about how benefits and burdens should be distributed among a group of people, questions of justice or fairness inevitably arise. In fact, most ethicists today hold the view that there would be no point of talking about justice or fairness if it were not for the conflicts of interest that are created when goods and services are scarce and people differ over who should get what. When such conflicts arise in our society, we need principles of justice that we can all accept as reasonable and fair standards for determining what people deserve. But saying that justice is giving each person what he or she deserves does not take us very far. How do we determine what people deserve? What criteria and what principles should we use to determine what is due to this or that person? The most fundamental principle of justice—one that has been widely accepted since it was first defined by Aristotle more than two thousand years ago—is the principle that “equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” In its contemporary form, this principle is sometimes expressed as follows: “Individuals should be treated the same, unless they differ in ways that are relevant to the situation in which they are involved.” For example, if Jack and Jill both do the same work, and there are no relevant differences between them or the work they are doing, then in justice they should be paid the same wages. And if Jack is paid more than Jill simply because he is a man, or because he is white, then we have an injustice—a form of discrimination—because race and sex are not relevant to normal work situations. There are, however, many differences that we deem as justifiable criteria for treating people differently. For example, we think it is fair and just when a parent gives his own children more attention and care in his private affairs than he gives the children of others; we think it is fair when the person who is first in a line at a theater is given first choice of theater tickets; we think it is just when the government gives benefits to the needy that it does not provide to more affluent citizens; we think it is just when some who have done wrong are given punishments that are not meted out to others who have done nothing wrong; and we think it is fair when those who exert more efforts or who make a greater contribution to a project receive more benefits from the project than others. These criteria—need, desert, contribution, and effort—we acknowledge as justifying differential treatment, then, are numerous. On the other hand, there are also criteria that we believe are not justifiable grounds for giving people different treatment. In the world of work, for example, we generally hold that it is unjust to give individuals special treatment on the basis of age, sex, race, or their religious preferences. If the judge’s nephew receives a suspended sentence for armed robbery when another offender unrelated to the judge goes to jail for the same crime, or the brother of the Director of Public Works gets the million dollar contract to install sprinklers on the municipal golf course despite lower bids from other contractors, we say that it’s unfair. We also believe it isn’t fair when a person is punished for something over which he or she had no control, or isn’t compensated for a harm he or she suffered. And the people involved in the “brown lung hearings” felt that it wasn’t fair that some diseases were provided with disability compensation, while other similar diseases weren’t. There are different kinds of justice. Distributive justice refers to the extent to which society’s institutions ensure that benefits and burdens are distributed among society’s members in ways that are fair and just. When the institutions of a society distribute benefits or burdens in unjust ways, there is a strong presumption that those institutions should be changed. For example, the American institution of slavery in the pre-civil war South was condemned as unjust because it was a glaring case of treating people differently on the basis of race. A second important kind of justice is retributive or corrective justice. Retributive justice refers to the extent to which punishments are fair and just. In general, punishments are held to be just to the extent that they take into account relevant criteria such as the seriousness of the crime and the intent of the criminal, and discount irrelevant criteria such as race. It would be barbarously unjust, for example, to chop off a person’s hand for stealing a dime, or to impose the death penalty on a person who by accident and without negligence injured another party. Studies have frequently shown that when blacks murder whites, they are much more likely to receive death sentences than when whites murder whites or blacks murder blacks. These studies suggest that injustice still exists in the criminal justice system in the United States. Yet a third important kind of justice is compensatory justice. Compensatory justice refers to the extent to which people are fairly compensated for their injuries by those who have injured them; just compensation is proportional to the loss inflicted on a person. This is precisely the kind of justice that was at stake in the brown lung hearings. Those who testified at the hearings claimed that the owners of the cotton mills where workers had been injured should compensate the workers whose health had been ruined by conditions at the mills. The foundations of justice can be traced to the notions of social stability, interdependence, and equal dignity. As the ethicist John Rawls has pointed out, the stability of a society—or any group, for that matter—depends upon the extent to which the members of that society feel that they are being treated justly. When some of society’s members come to feel that they are subject to unequal treatment, the foundations have been laid for social unrest, disturbances, and strife. The members of a community, Rawls holds, depend on each other, and they will retain their social unity only to the extent that their institutions are just. Moreover, as the philosopher Immanuel Kant and others have pointed out, human beings are all equal in this respect: they all have the same dignity, and in virtue of this dignity they deserve to be treated as equals. Whenever individuals are treated unequally on the basis of characteristics that are arbitrary and irrelevant, their fundamental human dignity is violated. Justice, then, is a central part of ethics and should be given due consideration in our moral lives. In evaluating any moral decision, we must ask whether our actions treat all persons equally. If not, we must determine whether the difference in treatment is justified: are the criteria we are using relevant to the situation at hand? But justice is not the only principle to consider in making ethical decisions. Sometimes principles of justice may need to be overridden in favor of other kinds of moral claims such as rights or society’s welfare. Nevertheless, justice is an expression of our mutual recognition of each other’s basic dignity, and an acknowledgement that if we are to live together in an interdependent community we must treat each other as equals. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. We welcome your comments, suggestions, or alternative points of view.
Answer the following question.
Q1. Discuss, “Justice, then, is a central part of ethics.”
Q2. Give an overview of the case.
Annapolis, Sept. 9: Nudists not only get more complete sun tans but seem to have lower blood pressure than people who wear clothes, according to the Central Maryland Chapter of the American Heart Association. Mr. Morris Lieberman, a spokesman for the Association, said tests performed on members of the Pine Tree Associates Nudist Camp in Crowns Ville, Maryland, over the past two years showed that Nudists had fewer cases of high blood pressure than the national average. He said that while the average nationally is 17 percent, the 1977 sampling found seven percent of the 163 Nudists tested had high blood pressure. In 1976, he said, only two percent of 150 Nudists tested had high blood pressure. One member of the Association suggested that “the only reason we’ve come up with is because the members are less inhabited. They have a tendency to lower blood pressure because of a lack of inner pressures and a feeling of total freedom.”
Answer the following question.
Q1. Do you agree with the above case? What are your viewpoints for the same on the ethical issues?
Q2. Help to find out the facts of the above case and comment on the unethical issues
Most people want to be ethical — and consider themselves to be. But incidents ranging from stolen library books to rogue trading illustrate that many people do not act as ethically as they want to, or as they think they do. “With all the evidence to support rational, good choices in the workplace or the marketplace, why don’t we all behave that way?” said Ann Skeet, director of leadership ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Skeet gave an introduction to a May 11 forum called, “The Behavioral Movement: What Business Professionals Should Know About Human Nature,” sponsored by the Business Ethics Partnership of the Markkula Center. Two speakers addressed what we know about why people behave unethically – and how the conditions that contribute to this behavior may be particularly acute in high-pressure environments like Silicon Valley. “The culture of Silicon Valley is different than in most other places,” said Hersh Shefrin, the Mario L. Belotti Professor of Finance at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business and a pioneer in the field of behavioral finance. “This is a risk-taking culture and a culture where goals are set very high.” This can make Silicon Valley workers especially vulnerable to the pressures that can lead to unethical decisions. For example, the increasing use of global teams, which can require phone calls early in the morning and late at night as well as regular hours in the office, may contribute to fatigue – a risk factor for poor decision-making. Still, Shefrin said, “we’re not as unique as we think we are – just more so.” Workers in Silicon Valley are subject to the same psychological issues as workers anywhere else. For example, all workers have blind spots, said Ann E. Tenbrunsel, professor in the College of Business Administration at the University of Notre Dame and the Rex and Alice A. Martin Research Director of the Institute for Ethical Business Worldwide. She addressed the psychology of ethical decision making, or “why people behave unethically despite the best intentions.” There have been significant efforts to improve ethics: at the regulatory level; at the organizational level, with millions spent on training; and at the educational level, with ethics being infused into the curriculum at many universities, Tenbrunsel said. Still, the headlines announcing bad behavior keep coming. “We haven’t taken the psychology of the decision maker into account,” Tenbrunsel said. She listed four ethical blind spots that contribute to poor decision making — ethical illusions, ethical fading, dangerous reward systems and motivated blindness — and elaborated on the first two. Ethical illusions are based on “illusions of our own ethicality,” Tenbrunsel said. She cited studies showing that library books on ethics – presumably checked out by people who think about ethics – are stolen more often than non-ethics books. And when people are asked to rate how honest they are, a majority of people rate themselves above average, which is statistically not possible. “We really seem to engage in hyperinflation about things related to morality and ethicality,” Tenbrunsel said. “If everyone thinks their companies are ethical, we don’t do a good job of really trying to find the problems.” It helps to think of three stages of the decision-making process, Tenbrunsel said: prediction, action and recollection. Before making a decision, people generally predict that they will act in accordance with their values. When it comes to taking action, that is not always what happens. But after the fact, “we remember that we did better than we did,” Tenbrunsel said. Why don’t people behave as they predict they will? One reason, said Tenbrunsel, is that prediction involves high-level ideals, whereas the action phase is more about the details and what is feasible at that particular moment. Forces such as hunger, fatigue and fear come into play, for example, and may overwhelm idealistic plans. “The body and mind’s goal is to mitigate it,” Tenbrunsel said. Ethical fading, the second blind spot Tenbrunsel discussed, happens when a person making a decision doesn’t view the decision as one that involves ethics. People use financial criteria to make financial decisions and legal criteria to make legal decisions, for example. So if a decision can be categorized as something other than an ethical one, it makes it easy to not consider ethics. Language plays a role in this area, as well: For example, a decision about “runoff” may be viewed differently than one about “pollution.” Shefrin continued the conversation by examining rogue trading, an example of how “finance and psychology and ethics all interconnect.” Because trading involves taking risks, it is useful to understand the psychology behind risk-taking. For example, most people will choose a sure gain over a smaller chance to win a larger amount. But they will choose the risk of a large loss over a sure loss. “Three of the most important emotions associated with what happens when you face a risk are fear, hope and aspiration,” Shefrin said. “People who are excessively fearful tend not to take risks that are worth taking in an actuarial sense, and people who are excessively hopeful tend to shoot for the stars when it’s not appropriate. In a situation like the rogue trading cases, traders find themselves in a situation where the pressures to succeed are so great that they take imprudent risks.” In addition to the psychology of the individuals involved, the strength of corporate processes and the way corporate culture encourages or discourages risk-taking play a role. “Strong corporate cultures that include an ethical dimension can help deal with the vulnerabilities,” Shefrin said. “The tone always starts at the top.”
Answer the following question.
Q1. Why imprudent risks are to be taken for great success. Explain
Q2. Debate the three stages of the decision-making process.