Thinking Ethics was a project launched in Geneva to foster the debate about ethics. A few friends, fed up with only reading about abuses in the media, decided to hold a forward-looking seminar on five subjects: ethics and performance, ethics and knowledge, ethics and consciousness, ethics and disobedience and ethics in real time. If moral has to do with right and wrong, then ethics is its application in society. We believe that people need to talk about the subject to determine the level of ethics they want. The book Thinking Ethics, a result of the seminar, is to start the discussion. This blog is a contribution to the conversation. :
Samantha Powers resigned as an advisor to Obama's campaign after calling Hillary Clinton a "monster". If you missed the beginning, here is a description of the affair on www.timesonline.co.uk.
Saying you do not want to trash the opposition is not just a PR exercise, your behaviour needs to reflect your opinions, otherwise you lose all credibitliy. Obama is trying to stand for a different kind of politics, and he has more credibility amongst a certain segment of the US population than more seasoned politicians. He cannot afford to lose the higher moral ground, because that is what he is campaigning on (check out the videos "yes we can" etc...). And in this sense I find it normal that Samantha resigned, as this is a values issue. Integrity comes at a price.
At what point does a Government minister's religious faith become an obstacle to their career? The UN Declaration on Human Rights and the European Convention both stress the right of an individual to hold and to practice their religious beliefs. And yet, as an Italian nominee for the European Commission found last year, the fact of his Catholicism and specifically his belief that homosexuality was a sin meant that he did not get the job. A British minister, Ruth Kelly, is under similar scrutiny at the moment. She, too, is a practicing Roman Catholic and reporters have noticed her absence at various parliamentary votes on gay rights issues over the past few years. She is seeking to avoid their questions by taking refuge in the private nature of her beliefs.
Fair enough. But when those beliefs are in conflict with government policy on equal rights the tension between private and public becomes an uncomfortable one. It is an interesting ethical dilemma to which there is no clear answer. We need people of faith in government. We also need a fair and just society. It would be as odd to discriminate against someone for their religious belief as their sexual orientation. Does the test become public actions?
Entertaining article from Rushworth M. Kidder of the Institute for Global Ethics entitled "My next invention: the Ethimeter". It is sort of a radar gun to measure a person's integrity - very useful before voting. In the absence of said Ethimeter - he gives 6 standards to look for in a candidate: selflessness, shared values, transparency, trustfulness, honest reasoning and moral courage. It would be rather cool if some body would published a ranking of candidates or elected officials based on these criteria.