Home > Article > Doing the Right Thing, Whatever That Is – Shortcuts – NYTimes.com

Doing the Right Thing, Whatever That Is – Shortcuts – NYTimes.com

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

I RECENTLY found myself in a position where I had some moral qualms about a writing assignment. No, it wasn’t for this publication, and no, I wasn’t being asked to make up quotes or leave out pertinent facts. But I was being asked to phrase things in a way I didn’t feel totally comfortable with.

I spoke to the editor without much luck. I debated what to do. Should I withdraw the article, though it would cause considerable problems to the editor at this late date? Should I ask for my byline to be removed?

In the end, I decided to let the story run. But I vowed I would never write for the publication again.

The incident made me reflect on how things can seem so black and white when you’re outside a situation, and yet so difficult when you’re entangled in it. How do we find a framework for addressing ethical issues in our everyday lives?

First, it’s important to know what ethics are not, said Judy Nadler, a senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

“They’re not, ‘Well everyone else is doing it, so it must be O.K.,’ ” she said. The Web site for her center lays out other things ethics are not: they aren’t the same as feelings, because many people feel good even though they are doing something wrong. And often our feelings will tell us it’s uncomfortable to do the right thing if it is hard.

via Doing the Right Thing, Whatever That Is – Shortcuts – NYTimes.com.

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