Ethical Guidebook

A discussion of the difference between our personal values and our public ethics, how mature citizens can support both, and why our love for public ethics must trump our love for personal and group values when they conflict in the public space. Ethics offers a guidebook for evaluating public issues and finding multilateral solutions to endless cycles of values centric conflicts and unilateral violence.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chicago Ethics

A national news commentator suggested Illinois governor Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat, erred primarily in his affrontry, not his action. It was suggested that trading favors is unavoidable among public officials, and his sin was lacking the good form to do it with a surreptitious wink and nod. This shocking statement reveals an inability on the part of the commentator to distinguish the ethics of the matter, from the values. Good public ethics demand (regardless of legal nuance) publicly coordinating a multilateral input process for allocation of scarce resources (in this case a Senate seat) to advance shared public goals. What the governor is accused of doing is privately imposing a unilateral process to advanced what were clearly personal goals and values, at the public expense or in disregard thereof. Neither a surreptitious wink nor a blatant solicitation of a bribe makes the latter values-based sows ear into the former ethics-based silk purse. Winking at putting personal values above public ethics, is the first form of evil because it is only a short path from publicly acceptance to major abuse.


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