Book examines ethical decisions

Author: Scott Flegal

Are we as ethical as we think we are?

An important new book by Tufts University professor and Harvard Program on Negotiation mainstay Max H. Bazerman and Notre Dame professor Ann E. Tenbrunsel says probably not. In “Blind Spots – Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do About It,” Bazerman and Tenbrunsel make a convincing case that a significant gap exists between how ethical we think we are and how ethical we actually are. They label these gaps “ethical blind spots,” and for better or worse, we all have a bunch of them.

The authors’ mission is to help us make more ethical decisions by making us aware of our ethical blind spots so we can better manage them. The authors’ aim is high. Ultimately, they hope the book will “narrow the gap between the society we want to live in and the one in which we find ourselves.” The book is loaded with real life examples of ethical dilemmas familiar to most of us, some of which may ring bells with us personally, and others we read about in the newspaper every day.

One ethical area near and dear to the hearts of lawyers is conflict of interest, and conflict issues crop up repeatedly in the book. Lawyers, of course, are charged with fairly strict ethical duties when it comes to identifying and either disclosing or avoiding entirely conflicts of interest. Trust me, some lawyers are better at it than others.

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