Unethical Decision.1

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  Video 1 Welcome to our course on unethical decision making. >> We are happy that you decided to participate in our expedition to the dark side of the force. >> My name is Guido Palazzo. I am Professor of Business Ethics. >> And I'm Ulrich Hoffrage, the Professor of Decision Theory. >> We both teach at the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. >> We have been teaching a course titled unethical decision making at the masters level, and we are very excited that we can now teach it to you on the Coursera platform. You probably have seen the description and the teaser of this course already, and so you know that it's built upon a very simple assumption. Context can be stronger than reason and bad things are not only done by bad people, but very often, by good people. This sounds quite scary because it implies that all of us including the two of us and you we are potential criminals. >> Why do good people do bad things? They might have a inappropriate perception of reality. Our decisions result from how we interpret reality. If this interpretation becomes too narrow, we might not see the obvious, for instance, the ethical aspects of a decision. We can become ethically blind. >> How exactly does this happen? And what can be done about it? How can we protect ourselves and our organization against the risk of ethical blindness? These are guiding questions of our course. >> Over the next seven weeks, we will look at unethical decisions from various perspectives. >> In the first week, we will consider what philosophers thought about the issue, and how ideas about good and evil changed over the last centuries. In the second week we will introduce the concept of ethical blindness and discuss some case studies to illustrate it. >> In the third week, we will again look at some cases and zoom into one of the key elements of ethical blindness. The idea that we develop our understanding of reality through framing. Our frames can be too narrow to see the ethical dimension of a decision. >> Another key element is the power of strong contexts. It is important to understand how predators imposed by these context can remove ethical aspects from our radar screen. >> With different shape between three types of context, the immediate situation, the organizational context and the overarching institutional context, and we will devote the weeks four, five, and six to look at these three types in more detail.  >> Finally, the last week, week seven, we'll focus on solutions. What can be done, both in the individual level but also on the organizational level, to reduce the risk of ethical blindness. >> Regarding work load, you decide how much you want to invest in this course. The light version is that you  just follow our video lectures. But you may also want to go beyond and look at various materials we propose on our website. In addition, we invite you to participate in our discussion forums in which you can share your own thoughts and your own stories or react to the stories of other participants. >> You will also have the opportunity to participate in different quizzes. Each will have 10 to 15 questions based on the content provided in the videos. >> We will also have some live sessions, where you will pick issues that you raised in the forums, or address questions that you have sent us beforehand. >> We will ask you to describe in a final essay your own defense strategies against ethical blindness in your organization. Or alternatively, to synthesize the lessons learned from the course for your decision making in the future. Please respect the deadlines in order to pass the course. You will find all the details of the grading policies on the Coursera platform. >> Our core statistics tell us that you come from all over the world. We have participants from over 180 countries. This cultural diversity is very important for us. Most of the time, as you will learn in this first week already , there is no clear right and wrong answer to ethical questions . Your answers will depend on who you are, where you come from, which values you hold, and which philosophical tools you use to find a eaningful answer to pressing dilemmas. Listening to each other's perspective is hence a key element of widening people's perspectives on ethical issues. >> This course is open to everybody. You do not need to have a specific skill or some specific knowledge to follow it. We would also like to create a community. You can use the forums to discuss between yourselves. You can share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag. We will also use this hashtag for our live webcast sessions. >> You can also inscribe to our Facebook site on ethical decision making. Ethical decisions have a lot to do with what the philosopher Hannah Arendt called moral imagination . The ability to have a very broad understanding of a decision at stake. The diversity you'll represent with your cultural and professional backgrounds will be very helpful in developing such moral imagination. >> Maybe with this course we can help each other to make this world a better place, to be more mindful in the world that is increasingly pushing us to the borders that separate right from wrong. We are looking forward to working with you towards this goal. May the force be with us.  Video 2 Welcome to the second video of the first week of our course on unethical decision making. We would like to start our course on unethical decision making by sharing some reflections on the history of evil with you. In this session, you will learn how philosophers explained evil throughout history and you will see how our current understanding of evil developed over time. This is a course on unethical decision making. It is based on one central argument. When making decisions, we are embedded in contexts. These contexts can be so strong  that you might move to the dark side of the force despite our good intentions and values. We might do the wrong thing without even realizing that what we do is wrong . We become blinded for the ethical dimension of our decisions. How does this dark side of the force look like? What is evil? Where does it come from? Here, we can deliver only a rough sketch of this very big debate that is lasting since at least 2,000 years. Let me take a look at these questions from my own cultural perspective, the context of Europe and its history. If we start with the premodern perspective, we will see that the world-view of the Middle Ages was a combination of Christianity and ancient Greek philosophy . Human beings were perceived as being born into a world with two distinct orders, the order of nature called cosmos, the order of society called polis.   Cosmos and polis were perceived as being in harmony . Simply spoken, polis followed cosmos.  The structure of nature reinforced a rational social order. So the premodern perception of evil discussed by the philosopher Augustine, for instance, followed this logic. His argument can be summarized as follows. God created the world and it was good. Man lived in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and had to leave the paradise because of this, and evil is the consequence of the fall of man . Two forms of evil exist, natural evil, understood as God's punishment . God might send an earthquake or a tsunami to punish us for our sinful lives. And moral evil, which results from our decisions  led by our weak character and caused by our alienation from God. Within this worldview, however, very soon a logical problem appeared. The problem that is called a theodicy problem  because there are three claims that are very difficult to, to bring together. Evil exists, God is benevolent, and God is omnipotent. Questions that drove philosophers crazy in the Middle Ages and beyond were the following. God could have created the world with fewer crimes and misfortune . Why does crime exist ? God created eternal suffering in hell for limited bad action. Why does suffering exist? Is God superior or inferior to reason?  If reason is superior, God is weak. If God is superior, the link between guilt and punishment, good and evil, is just random. The philosopher Leibniz  came with a solution to this theodicy problem. According to him, God's action happen for the best of us. There must be a link between sin and suffering because God has created the best of all possible worlds . Sin, in the sense of moral evil, is linked to suffering in the sense of natural evil even if we cannot understand and see the causality.  This was a dominating worldview that was shaken at latest in 1755 when an earthquake happened at Lisbon. Lisbon at the time was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It was the cosmopolitan harbor for the exploration and colonization of the world.  On November 1, 1755, Lisbon was shaken by an earthquake. This earthquake shocked the Western civilization more than any event since the fall of Rome. If cosmos and polis are connected, why do earthquakes happen? Why did this horrible earthquake happen in Lisbon? Was it a punishment of god? The earthquake occurred in the morning of November 1 and lasted for about ten minutes. Many houses got destroyed. The sky turned dark with dust. After the earthquake, terrible fires rage over the city. People desperately tried to flee to the harbor. However, the earthquake triggered a tsunami and huge waves smashed the port. Those who were looking for shelter at the waterfront died. All this looked like a destruction orchestrated by God. But how could God do this on All Saints Day? In particular, people were puzzled by the fact that most churches got destroyed while the quarter with the whore houses remained more or less intact. The earthquake of Lisbon sent intellectual shock waves through Europe and since Lisbon, the belief that natural evil is connected to social evil was dropped more or less . Society focused on the evil it an reach, moral evil, evil done by human beings. And the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau  delivered a highly influential new idea on evil. According to him, God created the free will and we abuse it . Evil develops over time. It has a history and we can influence it. Evil is an alienation from human nature and counter forces against evil are first, a better self knowledge. And second, better institutions of politics and education. In other words, in order to fight evil, we need pedagogy, and psychology, and politics . With the philosopher Immanuel Kant , the clear separation between metaphysical arguments about God and reason-based arguments got reinforced. A basic human challenge, according to Kant, is the gap that exists between what s the case and what should be the case. But despite all the horrible things that happen in the world, we have to be convinced that the world, in principle, should work. So, for Kant, evil means not to follow the moral law within me. Evil means to act against reason, to abuse reason. Since then, we have developed a clear understanding of good and evil, moral and immoral, as connected to reason. Modernity is the result of the rise of reason with all its good and bad consequences. We have modeled human behavior on the basis of our belief in reason as an ideal . In social sciences, what dominates today is the concept of rational choice and the idea of the homo economicus, the calculating individual decision maker who is maximizing his or her own utility .  Evil is the result of conscious decisions. It is the result of intentions . It is driven by doubtful motivations . Reason is, at the same time, the driver and the cure of evil.  So reason drives us towards the dark side, but it helps us to cure ourselves and protect ourselves against it. Let us jump to the 20th century. What response was for the belief and the link between cosmos and polis, it got destroyed. Auschwitz was for our belief in the power of reason. Up to 3 million people died in Auschwitz. And Auschwitz raised doubts about the sense we apply moral categories to human decisions, explaining it as a deviation from reason. Auschwitz was not an event where reason was absent. It was, in effect, the result of a careful application of reason and science. Evil is closer to good application of reason in the sense of Kant than we want to believe. Individual intentions and the magnitude of evil do no longer connect after Auschwitz.  The philosopher Hannah Arendt's  conclusion thus is that evil is banal and normal . It does not need bad intentions, as in Kant's view. It does not need a demonic dimension . It spreads, as she says, like a fungus on the surface. The 20th century saw two immense wars fought with the best scientific knowledge available. It saw two repressive political systems, fascism and communism, responsible for millions of death. It comes as no surprise that the postwar intellectual debates show a deep skepticism regarding the role of reason in human decision making.
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