Ethics Unwrapped Blog


A Whistleblower Faces Down Facebook

Whistleblower Frances Haugen’s October 5, 2021 testimony before Congress regarding her former employer Facebook’s practices was simultaneously riveting and deeply unsettling. Her overarching point was that Facebook consistently prioritizes profits over users’ safety, refusing to make product reforms that would protect users from the company’s products’ biggest harms. Facebook has, of course, faced several scandals […]

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Dirty Work and Moral Inequality

Eyal Press’s 2012 book, Beautiful Souls, contained a fair amount of behavioral ethics material of the type that we emphasize here at Ethics Unwrapped. His new book, Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America, doesn’t emphasize behavioral ethics, but is very thought-provoking. Inequality of income and wealth in America is […]

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We Are Killing Ourselves with Cognitive Dissonance

We just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new best-seller, The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, A Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War. It’s a wild ride with surprising implications for one of today’s most significant problems. The “Bomber Mafia” was a group of U.S. airmen, led by General Haywood Hansell, who believed in […]

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The Astros Scandal Revisited

We wish it weren’t so, but cheating and sports seem to go hand-in-hand. In a time (summer 2021) when Olympic hopefuls are being disqualified after failing drug tests and baseball is coping with a major scandal involving foreign substances and pitch spin rates, we return to a subject we have blogged about before—the Houston Astros […]

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Game Over for Activision Blizzard’s Toxic Culture

The evidence is clear that the #MeToo movement has much work left to do. Although as we write this blog entry the headlines are filled with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment woes, with this post we focus on the video gaming firm Activision Blizzard, Inc. (ABI) (a group of companies responsible for “Call […]

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The Ethics of Falsehoods

One of America’s foremost legal scholars, Harvard Law School’s Cass Sunstein, has written a small, provocative book titled Liars: Falsehoods and Free Speech in an Age of Deception (2021). Because Sunstein is founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at the Harvard Law School, currently serves as Chair of the […]

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Lies and the Lying Entrepreneurs Who Tell Them

As we prepared a recent blog post about the fintech start-up Robin Hood, we noticed that a worrisome number of articles have been published in recent years about lying by entrepreneurs. Many of them recount stories of entrepreneurs’ telling brazen lies to save their companies. Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farm) told the SBA that he had […]

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Deliberate Ignorance and Moral Wiggle Room

You would think that rational human beings would gather all easily-acquired information that is relevant to a decision before they make that decision. Not so. Rather, people often prefer deliberate ignorance, defined by scholars Brown and Walasek as “the conscious individual or collective choice not to seek or use information in a situation where the […]

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Robinhood: A Case Study in Entrepreneurial Ethics

Over the years, ethicists have paid particular attention to entrepreneurs, partly because there is some evidence that entrepreneurs may be special folks with unusual appetites for risk, significant overconfidence, and optimism untethered to reality. And partly because the competitive pressures faced by entrepreneurs often create special incentives to commit unethical actions. One of the more […]

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Being True to your “True Self”

Whether it’s Donald Trump believing that he is a “stable genius” or Charles Barkley saying “I believe I’m the best-looking guy in the world and I might be right,” people (especially men) tend toward overconfidence. This overconfidence often manifests itself in the moral realm. As Bazerman and Tenbrunsel note: “It’s likely that most of us […]

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You Should Look at “Made You Look”

“Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art” is an engaging crime documentary directed, co-written and co-produced by filmmaker Barry Avrich. It is the story of an $80 million art fraud in New York City. In rough outline, around 1995 a woman named Glafira Rosales appeared out of the blue and told Ann Freedman, […]

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Anti-Asian Violence and the Bystander Effect

Violence against Asian-Americans continues to occur in unprecedented and unacceptable numbers. The New York Times recently reported on a “rising tide” of incidents where people of Asian descent were “pushed, beaten, kicked, spit on and called slurs,” (Cai et al.) typically accompanied by a reference to the coronavirus, as if the victim had any more […]

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«The Banality of Evil, MBA Edition”

Last month, legendary management consultant and McKinsey alumnus Tom Peters said he was “angry, disgusted and sickened” by McKinsey’s role in the opioid crisis that has killed roughly half a million people by overdose in the past 21 years. McKinsey may well be chastened by this strong criticism from an august former employee, but it’s […]

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Seeking Virtue in Finance: A Futile Search?

At the McCombs School of Business, we train thousands of undergraduate and MBA students to pursue careers in finance. For the most part, these are nice, honest, well-meaning youngsters who wish to lead honorable lives but face great trepidation as they prepare to enter the finance profession, which is often a moral cesspool. We don’t […]

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What’s up With White Collar Crime?

We started reading Jennifer Taub’s book on white collar crime–Big Dirty Money: The Shocking Injustice and Unseen Cost of White Collar Crime–on the December 2020 day that President Trump announced pardons for Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Charles Kushner and 26 other mostly white collar criminals. Coincidentally, Taub begins her book noting that: Just after Valentine’s […]

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What Didn’t Work for ‘WeWork’

In earlier blog posts, we have repeatedly told tales of grandiloquent young entrepreneurs and their downfall — Elizabeth Holmes at Theranos (“Elizabeth Holmes: Scamming Silicon Valley), Billy McFarland of Fyre Festival infamy (“Under Fyre”), and Ross Ulbricht, creator of Silk Road (“Silk Road: Paved by Grandiosity”). Reeves Wiedeman’s book the Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic […]

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Sexual Harassment, Networks of Complicity, and Newsrooms

We at Ethics Unwrapped are pleased to be associated with the Press Forward movement (, which aims to change the culture in newsrooms in order to create safe, civil, and diverse workplaces for women.  We are pleased to have made a minor contribution by creating our own Me Too video. After scandals involving Harvey Weinstein, […]

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Coding Honor into Virtual Classrooms

It’s that time of year when here at UT (and at colleges all across the country), we are concerned about academic dishonesty in a time of online (or mostly online) education. All teachers fear that despite their own best efforts and the utilization of some technological surveillance devices, it is virtually impossible to prevent cheating […]

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The Overconfidence Bias Comes Home to Roost

Columnist David Brooks reviewed the scientific literature and concluded that “the human mind is an overconfidence machine.” As our videos indicate, the overconfidence bias often disrupts ethical thinking. Not one of us is immune from the impact of this bias. Consider the fact that Ethics Unwrapped creator Cara Biasucci and Ethics Unwrapped faculty director Robert […]

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Cyberstalking, Cockroaches, and eBay

Being a young employee, a new employee, a low-level employee in an organization that wants to do evil can be a terrible situation to be in. As the New York Times reports it, Ina and David Steiner, an innocuous couple living in Natick, Massachusetts, ran a sort of trade publication called EcommerceBytes read by those […]

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Confronting the Causes of Racial Discrimination

Some claim that the United States is not a racist nation, and that may be true in an important, but very narrow sense. The presence of conscious, intentional racial prejudice has subsided. And only a small percentage of Americans view expressed racially biased views as acceptable in open society. This trend is a welcome development, […]

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The Silk Road: Paved by Grandiosity

All of us are prone to overconfidence regarding all manner of skills and characteristics, including ethicality. (See our video:  When that overconfidence approaches grandiosity, danger lurks. We just read Nick Bilton’s engaging and moderately terrifying American Kingpin — the story of  «Silk Road” founder Ross Ulbricht, who’s website became the Amazon for drugs, guns, […]

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Stopping COVID-19: A Behavioral Ethics Guide

We act immorally when we do unjustified harm to objects of moral worth, such as other people. In the midst of a pandemic, when we ignore the best scientific guidance and refuse to wear masks, physically distance, or avoid crowds, we act immorally unless the view “I’m going to do what I want to do […]

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Do You Walk the Talk? The Impact of Moral Credentialing

Moral equilibrium is an interesting concept. The idea is that people tend to keep a running scoreboard in their heads that compares their image of themselves—usually as “good folks”—with their actions. If people do something that doesn’t live up to their normal moral standards, their mental scoreboard goes into deficit and they may actually look […]

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Jack Abramoff’s Fall from Disgrace

In 2005, Jack Abramoff was the most influential lobbyist in our nation’s capital. He then suffered a fall from grace and today, with an amazing trifecta, may have cemented his reputation as the most infamous lobbyist of all time. First, Abramoff’s corrupt actions as the most powerful lobbyist in America in the late 1990s and […]

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A Failure of Moral Imagination

Thousands of Americans have been shocked over the past few days as they watched a video of a white woman near Torrance, California as she targeted a racist rant at a young woman of Filipino ancestry: Get the f*** out of this world, get the f*** out of this state and go back to whatever […]

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Can COVID-19 Help Us Be More Ethical?

There is so much bad news caused by the pandemic these days—infections, deaths, depression (mental and economic)—that many of us find ourselves hunting for every little bit of good news.  In a recent blog post, attorney Jeffrey Kaplan found a silver lining in all our quarantining and social distancing by suggesting that working from home […]

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COVID-19’s Moral Harm

On April 27, 2020, we learned that Dr. Lorna Breen, head of the ER at a New York City hospital, committed suicide after fighting on the front lines in the coronavirus battle. Just two days earlier, John Mondello, a Bronx EMT, also took his own life after witnessing the human tragedies that seem ubiquitous on […]

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The Dangerous Moral Superiority of Physical Distancers

Many people spent Easter weekend worshiping in the Church of Anthony Fauci. These «Faucians» did not attend any actual services at physical places of worship, because their sacraments include self-quarantine and physical distancing rather than communion, wearing face masks and gloves rather than hijabs or yarmulkes, and baptizing delivered packages in disinfectant rather than new […]

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Moral Injury

As with so many of our blog posts, this one is prompted by a recent book, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe. This highly-regarded book is about the troubles (and more) in Northern Ireland.  The detailed descriptions of the violent struggles and political battles between […]

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Astros: Sign-stealing Is Still Stealing

In 2017, the Houston Astros brought great pride to the State of Texas by winning the World Series.   It was especially satisfying, as a rags-to-riches tale.  In 2011, 2012, and 2013, the Astros were the worst team in baseball.  By 2015, however, the ‘Stros were in the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs, and won it […]

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Naked and Ashamed

We ordered Krista K. Thomason’s book, Naked.  You can imagine our disappointment when it arrived and was not the coffee table book we’d envisioned. OK, that was the lame joke we were thinking about beginning this blog with until we realized that some people might take offense and we would be ashamed that we had […]

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Dueling Bible Classes

People often puzzle over the question of whether religious people act more ethically than not-so-religious people.  The scientific evidence is certainly mixed.  There is strong evidence that religious people self-report being more ethical than non-religious people, but less evidence that their actions actually match their reports (Xygalatas, 2017).  For example, some studies indicate that “religiosity […]

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Oil, Indians, and Obedience to Authority

Christopher Leonard’s new book Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America tells the story—the good, the bad, and the ugly—of one of the world’s most successful and most controversial companies.  Koch Industries, like all large companies, has both ethical bright spots and low lights on its resume.  Think of Johnson […]

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Debating Debate

In an October 12, 2019 New York Times op-ed, philosophy professor Jonathan Ellis and law student Francesca Hovagimian lodged a one-sided critique of competitive high school and college debate on grounds that it teaches students to make one-sided arguments, which, they assert, helps create our current, unproductive political discourse where the goal is to win […]

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Garden of Leaders

Not long ago, we blogged about a book on the philosophy of philanthropy edited by our friend, prominent philosopher and classicist Paul Woodruff: Paul has just published another book that caught our attention—The Garden of Leaders: Revolutionizing Higher Education (Oxford University Press 2019). The book emphasizes the importance of leadership and chastises modern universities […]

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New College Scam: Giving Up Custody for Cash

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse!  Recently we wrote about the Rick Singer college admissions scandal where parents bribed college coaches to pretend to give their children athletic scholarships so they could be admitted to colleges that, absent the artifice, they likely would not be admitted to.  [See “Admissions Scandal: When Entitlement […]

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Purdue Pharma and the Met, Opioids and Art

You would think that the matter of philanthropy would be relative free of controversy ethics-wise.  Giving to others is good.  Case closed.  But it turns out, as most of life does, to be more complicated than that. Ethics Unwrapped’s good friend, Prof. Paul Woodruff, a philosopher and classicist who has taught here at the University […]

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Lost Wallet, Found Honesty

The New York Times recently reported the results of a worldwide study of human honesty.  Across forty countries and six continents, researchers set up a “lost wallet” experiment.  To ensure the wallet didn’t truly get lost, an experimenter would go up to someone and hand over a wallet and say:  “Somebody must have lost it. […]

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None of the Above

A few years ago in this space we posted an entry entitled “The Atlanta School District Scandal.”  In it, we explored the reasons why well-meaning public school teachers might get caught up in cheating scandals, focusing on the then-unfolding indictments and arrests in Atlanta. This post revisits this scandal in light of the recent publication […]

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Tone(deaf) at the Top

PwC just studied the world’s top 2,500 corporations and reported that in 2018 a record percentage of CEOs left their positions, either voluntarily or having been forced out.  And for the first time in the 15-or-so years of this study, more left because of moral failures than any other reason.  In the past, poor financial […]

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Business Partnerships: For Donations or Profit?

Dr. Otis Brawley is one of the good guys.  He is a distinguished oncologist with all the professional awards and certificates that a physician could possibly want.  He has written more than 200 scientific articles and his brave and insightful book How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America led […]

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Under Fyre

One of the few truthful things that Billy McFarland says in either of two recent documentaries on his disastrous Fyre music festival—Fyre Fraud (Hulu) and Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Netflix)—is something along the lines of: “If we hadn’t succeeded so big at the beginning, we wouldn’t have failed so spectacularly at the […]

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The Perfect (Mis)Match: Algorithms and Intentions

This post is prompted by a forthcoming article in the American Criminal Law Review by Melissa Hamilton, entitled “The Biased Algorithm: Evidence of DisparateImpact on Hispanics.”  Hamilton makes the point that because judges tend to be human beings and therefore subject to all the decision making foibles uncovered by behavioral psychology and related fields in […]

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Temple University: The New Enron?

As a university professor, I like to think that higher education can serve as a beacon of good behavior in a troubled world, but that’s optimistic.  I’ve recently blogged about a university staff employee who went on trips while pretending to be working (“Doing the Crime, Not the Time”), about unethical research practices (“Systematically Analyzing […]

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Houston Astros' Jose Altuve (27) connects for a single off a pitch from Texas Rangers' Nick Martinez in the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. The hit was Altuve's 200th of the season. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The MLB Scandal from Left Field

The World Series is just around the corner, so it seems an apt time to revisit, as Sports Illustrated just did, one of baseball’s most intriguing recent scandals. Here are the facts.  Chris Correa was a computer whiz who loved sports and worked in the scouting department of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Two of his […]

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State Farm’s Judge

State Farm just spent a quarter of a billion dollars to settle allegations that seem like a plot straight out of a John Grisham novel.  You may remember that in The Pelican Brief, a wealthy and very shady character with a case heading to the Supreme Court paid for the murder of two Supreme Court […]

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The Linebacker and the Congressman

It is not often that football players and Congressmen are indicted for the same wrongdoing, but last month NFL linebacker Mychal Kendricks and Representative Chris Collins from New York were both indicted for insider trading.  Kendricks has pled guilty; Collins denies the charges.  Both also face civil charges. The federal government alleges that Representative Collins […]

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Systematically Analyzing Three Identical Strangers

STOP READING! STOP RIGHT NOW! DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER! Unless you have already seen Tim Wardle’s new documentary “Three Identical Strangers.” In that event, you have my permission to read on. Otherwise, stop and go see the movie. This post contains spoilers and this movie should not be spoiled. Assuming that you have already […]

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God, Trump, My In-Group and Your Out-Group

I seldom have an original idea, but from time to time I read things that prompt me to write a blog post nonetheless.  Recently I read an article in The Washington Post that explored how the members of a Southern Baptist church in Luverne, Alabama reconciled their religious beliefs with the words and deeds of […]

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Elizabeth Holmes: Scamming Silicon Valley

In 1996, I published an article in the Ohio State Law Library on “vaporware” in Silicon Valley.  Vaporware is the marketing ploy of preannouncing products that do not yet exist and may never come into existence in their described form.  This was a common marketing practice in Silicon Valley at the time, but it carried […]

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Doing the Crime, Not the Time

Recently a fired employee at my university, UT-Austin, was arrested and charged with six counts of tampering with government records (his time sheets) as law enforcement officials investigated him for fraud.  It appears that Jason Shoumaker often claimed pay for hours worked in his job as a facilities director at the University of Texas School […]

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Sinking in the Swamp

There’s been a lot of talk about draining the swamp recently, but not a lot of swamp is getting drained.  According to our Ethics Defined video, “[c]orruption is the abuse of power or position for personal gain.”  In behavior that could not be swampier, Steve Cohen, the president’s “personal attorney,” has, according to Fox News […]

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The Cost of the Libor Lies

I just finished reading The Spider Network by David Enrich.  It’s the story of the Libor-rigging scandal, by some people’s lights the biggest financial fraud in history.  Just to remind you, Libor is the London Interbank Offered Rate. Libor was supposedly being set by many participant banks sending to a central authority their cost of […]

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Business Ethics Makes the Business

I recently finished reading Professor Francis J. Schweigert’s Business Ethics Education and the Pragmatic Pursuit of the Good (2016).  I commend this book to your attention. The book is an argument “that business schools should incorporate education for justice into their business and management curriculum as the pragmatic pursuit of the good.  This argument is […]

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Political Party Foul: Trump & Mueller Affiliates

The New York Times reported on Friday (1/26/18) that last June President Trump wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller but was thwarted when his attorney Don McGahn threatened to resign rather than carry out such an order.  Although the newspaper’s reporting on the so-called Russia investigation has generally been proved accurate, I do not […]

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Adding Meaning Equals Happiness

Recently I have used this space to report on new and interesting books I had read and I do so again.  Although most of my blog posts are behavioral ethics-themed, because that is my key interest and most of our Ethics Unwrapped videos are related to behavioral ethics, I am ranging farther afield today to […]

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Lessons from Wakey-Leaks

My wife often tells people that there is nothing that I enjoy more than watching men argue with other men about sports. Therefore, I greatly enjoy ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” (PTI) with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. Both men are funny, passionate, and knowledgeable, though Kornheiser has the great misfortune of resembling me physically. On […]

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Let’s Stop the Self-Inflicted Moral Wounds

The front page of the New York Times (Austin edition) on Wednesday, October 11 was particularly depressing. The stories on California’s fires and Puerto Rico’s post-Maria suffering were brutal enough. Depending on your views regarding climate change, you may or may not believe that humans played a role in the severity of those events. But […]

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A Cautionary Tale

The commonly-held belief that ethical scandals are caused most frequently by “bad eggs” or “rogue actors” continues to take a beating as more and more literature supports the behavioral ethics research, featured in many of our Ethics Unwrapped videos.  This behavioral research shows that most ethical lapses feature good people doing bad things because they […]

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Why They Do It

I shared a list of books for budding behavioral ethicists a few weeks ago. Now I want to recommend to everyone that they read Harvard Law School professor Eugene Soltes’s new book: Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal (Public Affairs, 2016). Several years ago, Professor Soltes began studying many of […]

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Teaching with Ethics Unwrapped

For the Budding Behavioral Ethicist…

I am occasionally asked for additional resources (beyond our free videos, cases, and other materials) for those trying to learn about behavioral ethics.  Toward that end, I include below a list of 25 books that I think would be very helpful to anyone wishing to learn more about the topic of behavioral ethics.  The most […]

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Seeking Adam Smith

My friend and former colleague, Eli Cox, a distinguished professor of marketing at UT-Austin for more than 40 years, has made a wonderful contribution to business ethics education by writing Seeking Adam Smith: Finding the Shadow Curriculum of Business. His book diagnoses perhaps the major shortcoming in ethics education across business schools today and nicely […]

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Book Recommendation: “The Undoing Project”

Michael Lewis is the talented nonfiction author whose books “Moneyball,” “The Blind Side,” and “The Big Short” have been made into excellent and popular movies. His latest work, “The Undoing Project,” has an odd title, but is very much worth a read. It would take a creative genius to turn it into a movie, but […]

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Terrorism. Security. Facts.

“Educate yourself!”   That’s the tag line of our latest Ethics Unwrapped video – Propaganda: Ethics & the Media. In these divisive times, it is our responsibility as citizens to do so. American values are clashing and we all have a moral obligation as citizens of a democracy to protect our values and to ensure that […]

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The Swamp: To Drain or Not To Drain

I don’t always agree with President-elect Donald Trump, but I concurred when he tweeted, in the wake of House Republicans’ secretive January 2, 2017 vote to gut the Independent Ethics Office: “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as […]

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Propaganda: Ethics & the Media

At an ethics conference in Virginia this year, Cara Biasucci and I met some of the people involved in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibit, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, which focuses on propaganda in Germany before and during WWII. Anyone who visits this exhibit, currently on display at the Bullock Texas State […]

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Wells Fargo Goes Far to Cheat Customers

At the McCombs School of Business I teach an MBA course entitled “The Legal and Ethical Environment of Finance.” I fear that I may have to retitle it “The Illegal and Unethical Environment of Finance.” The finance sector seems to be a cesspool in so many ways, unfortunately.Yesterday I had no sooner finished reading a […]

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Kaepernick, Trump, and Clinton

Many people are rightly concerned with the polarization evident in our political discourse. Most supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would likely admit that their candidate is flawed, but cannot imagine why anyone would vote for the other candidate. People who are considering voting for the other candidate must be stupid or venal. Or […]

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Hey Ryan Lochte: Own It!

To be Olympic-caliber swimmers, no matter how great their natural talent, young men and women must hit the pool early in the morning day after day, week after week, and month after month for years, swimming miles and miles and miles in the process. The character that it takes to make these sacrifices and to […]

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Quid Pro Quo, Oh No! Abramoff on McDonnell

When corrupt people who want something from the government come together in common cause with corrupt government officials, the results are not pretty. Thus Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams, who wanted Virginia’s public universities to study a nutritional supplement that his company made, came together with Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife. Soon $170,000 in […]

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Baylor Football: A Brief Behavioral Autopsy

The darkest days in college athletics since the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal brought down the sainted Joe Paterno and permanently sullied Penn State University’s reputation are playing out in Waco at the nation’s largest Baptist university. The Baylor sexual assault scandal raises the question: How can values become so skewed when leadership is […]

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Our Cheating Culture

There has been a lot of news about cheating lately. It turns out that as long ago as 2006, a top technology executive (not a rogue underling) at Volkswagen made a Power point presentation detailing how to cheat on diesel emissions tests. Perhaps the company felt it needed to cheat to keep up with the […]

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Biases of a Supreme Court Justice

Justice Antonin Scalia will likely go down as one of the brightest minds, most forceful writers, and most colorful characters ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. In many ways, he was a “giant” of the Court, as many of his obituary writers are stressing. But Justice Scalia was also a poster child for […]

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The Good, the Bad, and the Future

In a recent op-ed piece, I decried the state of ethics in today’s business community. The Volkswagen emissions fraud, the Peanut Corporation of American contamination cover-up, and Turing Pharmaceuticals’ 5,000% price increase for a particular drug all happened virtually simultaneously and threw me into a bit of a funk. Every day on Wall Street, it […]

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No More Teachable Moments, Please!

As a business professor, I’m always looking for teachable moments, in which a very relevant, very vivid event can make an impression upon my students and point them in the right direction. But today I say: Enough already. No more teachable moments, please. Volkswagen, my students already know that it’s wrong to put software in […]

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Do Bad, Feel Good: The Peril of Rationalization

Dinesh D’Souza is a public intellectual with a strong conservative Christian bent. He is also a convicted criminal, an admitted adulterer, and a raging hypocrite. A recent interview printed in the New York Times Magazine on July 5, 2015 illustrates very clearly how, as behavioral ethics teaches, people can do very bad things yet continue […]

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A Better Game Plan for Student Athletes

The University of Texas at Austin announced the creation of a Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation this year. Part of the Center’s mission, as currently envisioned, is to teach high school athletics coaches how to deal with various behavioral and other off-field matters involving their student athletes. Helping coaches “develop their students as people,” […]

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Moral Lessons from an OU Frat House

The headlines from the SAE house at the University of Oklahoma and from the Department of Justice’s report on policing in Ferguson, MO., remind us that open racism continues to plague America and we must never stop fighting it. Just watching the movie “Selma” is not enough. It is heartening, of course, to see whites […]

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Deciding to Dope

Recently three things came across my desk nearly simultaneously. One was a report that Lance Armstrong had told a BBC interviewer: “If you take me back to 1995, when [doping] was completely and totally pervasive, I’d probably do it again. People don’t like to hear that.” (Rapp, 2015) Second, was a report that two MMA […]

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DeflateGate and the FAE

At this writing I do not know whether the New England Patriots are guilty or innocent of the charge that they cheated in the AFC Championship game by playing with improperly deflated footballs. Soon, I hope, the truth will come out. The Pats may be completely innocent. What I do know is that there is […]

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America is Awesome… Right?!

As Senator Ted Cruz recognized this week, “Every civilized nation agrees that torture is wrong.” I take it as a given that many of the actions spelled out in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s majority report constitute torture by any reasonable definition. Americans certainly would have defined them as such had they been done to Americans […]

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Ethics in the Field

Many of our Ethics Unwrapped videos present ideas produced by the new research field of behavioral ethics, which studies why people make the ethical (and unethical) decisions that they do. Much of the research comes from behavioral psychology and the “heuristics and biases” research stream created by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman and his late […]

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Rethinking Ethics Education

In a recent Business Week column, Deborrah Himsel of the Thunderbird School noted, accurately, that business schools are trying harder than ever to teach their students lessons in ethics. She was equally on target in pointing out that there is a lot of room left for improvement. She cited several recent FCPA violations by Wal-Mart, […]

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Abuse for All to See

The firestorm over domestic abuse ignited by the staggered public release of two videos of Ray Rice and his then-girlfriend and now wife Janay Palmer illustrates one important finding of the behavioral ethics research that underlies many of our Ethics Unwrapped educational videos:  many moral judgments are emotion-driven. It seems to most people that their […]

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Why Good Teachers Do Bad Things

Rachel Aviv’s article “Wrong Answer” in a recent New Yorker issue presents a textbook case of why good people do bad things.  The article tells the story of the recent cheating scandal in the Atlanta School District, which was one of the worst of a string of school cheating scandals across the U.S.  Forty-four of […]

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Say What?! Arational Persuasion

There is considerable evidence that how a question is framed can greatly affect how people answer it.  Framing effects can cause well-intentioned people to make unethical decisions, as you can see by watching our Concepts Unwrapped video Framing, or our Cases Unwrapped video Jack & Framing. A commonly cited example of how framing can affect […]

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