I am not an ethicist. Thus, unlike the New York Times column, I do not purport to know the answers. I will post my own as well as those submitted. From time to time I may say what I think but this Blog is primarily for the contributions of others.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Which is the Dark Side Mr. Smarty Pants?

Dear Law School Ethicist:

Which person is less ethical? I can only give you examples of what I mean.

1. In the midst of considering a new course that is proposed to be a 3 credit course, a faculty member proposes labeling it a 4 credit course so it would fill an entire  semester of teaching obligations. He does it without any sense that this would not be a logical thing to do because, after all, we would all work less. He has so thoroughly absorbed the view that we should always cut the best deal possible that he is not being evasive, sneaky, or, from his perspective, dishonest.

2. In the midst of a discussion about hiring a new faculty member in a fully staffed area, someone asks the person most familiar with enrollments in the area what the enrollments are. The answer: "Oh, I'd have to look into that." Possible the person did not know but the person not knowing is intimately familiar with enrollments and pushing the new hire very hard. If this example does not convey the message,  I could supply an infinite number of examples of "not techically a lie" or other examples of knowing evasiveness.

I guess the first person is like a big dog who sees an unguarded piece of meat in the butcher shop and gobbles it down. The second is someone who notices it unguarded and figures no one is looking so what's to lose.

Which type is more worrisome. Can the first one be unethical at all.

Thank you so much for sharing your views.

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