About John Lilburne
Three articles on ethics
I am particularly impressed with the three articles I have
linked to about ethics and politics.
The Religion Report is a radio programme which I listened
to this morning. It interviewed two professors in the field of
ethics who I thought had some excellent things to say.
Damian Grace: Well look, regulation won't do the job
by itself. The fact of the matter is you do need regulation,
because you need some supporting structures for individuals to
be able to lean on. To load up individuals their sense
of virtue, their character and say "you're responsible
for this" is unfair. You have to go to structures which
will support them. That means legislation, and regulation, and
it means enforcement. If a corporation has a notion that what's
legal is ethical, it won't succeed, because it'll aim too low.
It's more or less like shooting an arrow over a distance
you have to aim high. So in order just to meet the minimal requirements
of regulation, you have to have an ethical culture. And so building
an ethical culture is an important consideration for every corporation.
Stephen Crittenden: And how do you build an ethical culture?
Damian Grace: Well, all the evidence suggests that you start
from the top and you work down. ...
Damian Grace: I think it's very unfortunate, having
seen my daughter go through the HSC, and deal with literary studies
as they're taught today, I think it can give the impression to
students that science is bogus and that crystals will do as well
as physics, religion has absolutely nothing to say to the present,
that history is bunk, and history's made up by whoever's the
victor in any kind of conflict. These are not the sorts of values
which build citizenship, they're not the values which build corporate
responsibility, and I don't think they're very useful for people
in building good families. ...
Stephen Cohen: I think the answer to the question is
yes, people do behave differently. It's important that notion
that Damian was talking about, at all levels, this idea of "tone
at the top" being very important. People do take more than
just a cue from the people they recognise as their leaders, sometimes
former leaders, they actually act according to the way these
folks behave. They get licence, or don't get licence from the
way these people behave. And answering the second part of the
question, I think the way that a number of people often cope
with this is they leave their private morality at the doorstep.
They believe that the way things are done in a business or wherever
there's leadership, is simply a matter of, and simply is maybe
the wrong word to put here, it's a matter of doing what the leaders
actually expect and give licence to, or more likely identify
themselves, that is what the leaders themselves identify as the
values around here. So if theirs don't coincide with the values
you've got, well just tough, leave yours at the door, this is
the way things are done around here. ...
Angela Shanahan's article appeared in The Australian newspaper
today. It also had part of Tony Abbott's speech earlier in the
Posted by J.R. Lilburne 7 August 2002. I give what I have
written on this page to the public domain.
sins of the CEOs" on Religion Report
life knows no church" by Angela Shanahan
spectator in the breast of man" by Tony Abbott, 3 August