Doing the right thing (or not) topic of WMU panel discussion

Contact: Mark Schwerin

KALAMAZOO--A team of panelists will tackle the thorny ethical issue of doing the right thing next month at Western Michigan University by focusing on the new book "Blind Spots."

Part of the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society's spring season, the discussion starts at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, in the President's Dining Room of the Bernhard Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Serving as panelists will be:

  • Dr. Elaine Englehardt, professor of ethics and philosophy at Utah Valley University
  • Dr. Norman W. Hawker, WMU professor of finance and commercial law
  • Dr. Ronald Kramer, WMU professor of sociology
  • Dr. Michael Pritchard, WMU professor of philosophy and the center's co-director and founder

Panelists will discuss "Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What's Right and What to Do about It" by Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel. What is needed, the book argues, is a deeper and more thorough understanding of the psychological, institutional and social barriers to responsible behavior.

According to Bazerman and Tenbrunsel, there are serious gaps between our self-assessment of how ethical we are and how we fare ethically in our actual behavior. It is not that we are inherently bad; rather, it is that, in many respects, we are morally blind. Roughly speaking, we are deceived about ourselves--why we do what we do, what causes us to do what we do and how good we actually are.

Drawing on empirical evidence gleaned from "experimental ethics," such as Stanley Milgram's obedience experiments, Bazerman and Tenbrunsel list a variety of ways in which people miss the mark on these matters and make suggestions about what can be done about it.

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