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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

  •  Ethical Hacking: A Panel Discussion

    Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 12:45 PM

    As more and more breaches occur, concern about cybersecurity keeps growing. Many companies now employ "ethical hackers," whose skills are in high and increasingly in demand. Yet many aren't sure what "ethical hacking" means. This panel of cybersecurity experts will address various topics related to the ethical hacking certification, security issue disclosures, and employment of ethical hackers--including some of the legal and ethical quandaries associated with this fascinating line of work.

    Marisa Fagan – Director of Crowd Ops at Bugcrowd
    Manju Mude – Chief Security Officer at Splunk
    Seth Schoen – Senior Staff Technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
    Alex Wheeler – Director, Accuvant R&D

    Co-sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the High Tech Law Institute, this event is part of the ongoing "IT, Ethics, and Law" lecture series.

    Tweet with us!
    Follow @scuethics
    event hashtag:#ethicalhacking

  •  Kirk O. Hanson Presents on Ethics and Legislation

    Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 11:15 AM

    The National Ethics and Leadership Summit was held October 9-11 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The event was co-presented by The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and The State Legislative Leaders Foundation, which educates political leaders on critical issues of the day through university-based educational programs. Ethics Center Executive Director Kirk Hanson presented on ethics and legislators as outlined below. We are pleased to share the summary points and highlights of his talk, which emphasize the need for core values, codes of conduct, commitment to ethical standards and assessments, recognition of conflicts of interest and ethical risks, and related ethical frameworks.

    The Role of the Legislative Leader in Shaping the Ethical Culture of the Legislative Body

    In addition to the unavoidable ethical challenges facing any member of a legislative body, we focused yesterday on several dilemmas which the leader would face.  Now it is time to focus on the responsibility of the legislative leader to create and sustain an ethical culture within the legislative body. When we discuss the obligation of chief executives in corporate or nonprofit organizations to create and sustain an ethical culture, we focus on nine key tasks.  These apply equally to the legislative leader who is trying to create an ethical culture in his or her chamber or caucus.

    1. The legislative leader must have and articulate a set of core values which inspire the whole organization.  For a Speaker or President-ProTem, these might include the value of serving the whole people of the State, of doing the public's business free of personal interest, and of creating a cooperative spirit rather than a highly partisan environment.

    2. Some fundamental obligations must be embodied in law or a code of conduct for the body.  Some may even be standards written for how the caucus will operate.  Obviously disclosure of economic interests and other possible conflicts of interest need to be addressed.  There may be bans on concurrent service on other commissions or corporate/nonprofit boards which create problematic conflicts of interest, or clear standards for recusal when conflicts are encountered.

    3. The most important task of the legislative leader is to demonstrate commitment to ethical standards by his or her own behavior.  Personal example is more powerful than any words or code in creating a real culture of ethics.

    4. The leader must create voluntary and even mandatory training in the ethical obligations of all members of the legislature.  The existence of training programs is itself a signal of the topic's importance, but the content of such training helps new and old members understand the complexities of the unavoidable dilemmas legislators face.

    5. The leader must establish systems which support the values and ethical norms of the body.  These may include a robust disclosure process, clear procedures for acknowledging a conflict of interest and recusing oneself, and specific triggers and procedures for ethics investigations.

    6. The leader must identify and alert others to "ethical risks" that arise due to changes in the environment, changes in the legislative process,  or changes in the topics addressed by the legislature.  Among these risks today are changes in campaign finance.

    7. The leader must assure that all members have a place to go to get good ethics advice.  Many situations are complex and require expert help.  This protects the individual member and the reputation of the whole body.

    8. The leader should create a method for addressing the toughest ethical dilemmas faced in the legislature.  There are going to be, both in the legislative body and in the caucus, difficult ethical choices that can harm the personal interests of individual members or parties.  The leader must have a method for dealing with such cases, to insure that they are addressed openly and not buried.

    9. The leader must insure that there is a vigorous compliance process.  Too often, leaders are seen as looking the other way when complaints are brought against old friends or members of the leader's party.  There must be both vigorous ongoing auditing of key ethical norms and quick resolution of ethics complaints.

  •  Of Apps and Heroes

    Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 12:57 PM
    Scott Labarge with Nicholas and Helen Bass

     A lively discussion about the need for modern day models of heroism marked "Ethics After Dark," a reception for Center alumni and friends that was part of SCU's recent Grand Reunion celebration.  Scott LaBarge, associate professor of classics and philosophy, engaged the audience in a consideration of heroes and whether they have to be perfect to be valid role models.

    The Center also introduced a group of alums to its Ethical Decision Making app, a step-by-step guide to considering a decision through lenses such as fairness, utility, and rights.

  •  How the Hobby Lobby Decision Undermines Women's Rights and Threatens Religious Freedom

    Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 9:00 AM

    Leslie Griffin, Boyd Professor of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Law, and a national expert on the intersection of religion, women’s rights, and law, leads this discussion. The “Hobby Lobby” decision by the United States Supreme Court is often referred to as a victory for religious freedom and a defeat for women’s rights. To Professor Griffin, this view is deeply wrong. The decision was certainly a defeat for women’s rights, but was also anything but a victory for religious freedom; instead, it poses a threat to religious freedom. Professor Griffin is a former faculty member of the SCU School of Law. Join us for this lively and informative discussion!

    Location: Lucas Hall, Forbes Room

    Live Tweet With Us!
    Follow @scuethics
    event hashtags:  #hobbylobby #ethicsatnoon

  •  Global Ethics and American Law

    Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 3:15 PM

    Professor David Sloss, Santa Clara Law, asks the question: Has American constitutional law been influenced by ideas of law and ethics coming to these shores, so to speak, from abroad? Should it be shaped by such ideas? Of course, many argue against such influence, thinking that the U.S. Constitution is exceptional and neither has nor should be changed to conform to such ideas. Professor Sloss, an expert on international law, will offer a contrary argument and discuss the ways in which international standards of human rights have influenced the constitutional practice of this country.

    Join us for this dynamic and informative Ethics At Noon session.
    Location: Learning Commons and Library Media Room A

    Live Tweet with us! Follow @scuethics on Twitter #globalethics

  •  Ethics After Dark for Markkula Center Friends and Alumni

    Monday, Sep. 22, 2014 3:54 PM

    Join the staff and alumni of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics for wine and hors d'oeuvres, and a chance to reconnect during Santa Clara University's Grand Reunion. Enjoy a mini-lecture on heroism by Scott LaBarge, associate professor of philosophy and classics, and a brief update on the Ethics Center's current work. Professor LaBarge received the Arnold L. and Lois S. Graves Award in 2004 in recognition of his accomplishments in the classroom, and was recognized with the Brutocao Award for Teaching Excellence at SCU in 2012.

    Tweet about this event before, during, and after, with your SCU friends and colleagues!

    Follow @scuethics   use #ethicsafterdark

  •  Trust Project Haiku Twitter Contest

    Monday, Sep. 22, 2014 3:18 PM

    Fake or fact...what makes news trustworthy? How do you tell journalism from promotional content and public relations? How do you decide you can act on what you’ve seen, heard or read -- because you know it’s accurate, independent, complete and fair? Journalism makes a basic pledge to society: to serve public debate and involvement with a truthful, intelligent and comprehensive account of ideas and events. With fresh, exciting news enterprises and technologies now in play, journalism has a powerful opportunity to engage anew with its foundational principles.

    What is The Trust Project?

    The Trust Project explores how journalism can stand out from the media crowd and inspire trustworthiness, and is an initiative of the Executive Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics at the Ethics Center. The news executives, entrepreneurs, technology and digital media leaders who make up the roundtable share ideas, network and brainstorm solutions to some of journalism’s most pressing problems. We are examining models that suggest how to earn trust, such as Wikipedia and academic publishing. And we’re taking advantage of our location at the heart of Silicon Valley to imagine technology that can bake the evidence of trustworthy reporting –such as accuracy, transparency and inclusion –plainly into news practices, tools and platforms.

    How Do I Enter?

    Follow @journethics. Tweet a haiku by October 10 explaining the factors in a news story or news site that tell you it’s worth your trust, and you may win a $50 prize. A jury of editors will choose the best one.

    What Is a Haiku?

    A haiku poem traditionally is 3 lines, with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third, adding up to no more than 17 syllables in all. Typically, the haiku starts with an observation or situation, then ends with a revelation or moment of awareness. For this contest, we will interpret the form loosely! To read some examples of haiku written by traditional masters, see

    Who Can Enter?

    All are welcome to enter. Use slashes to indicate the ends of lines (/) and include #trustworthynews and @journethics to make sure your entry is considered. Reminder: your tweet must be no longer than 140 characters. Multiple entries are fine, but must be posted on separate days. Please tweet from one account only.

    Contact Info and Join our Facebook Group

    For more information, contact Sally Lehrman, senior fellow for Journalism Ethics at the Ethics Center, Attention all those interested in journalism ethics, please join our Facebook Group, "Digital Journalism Ethics Roundtable."

  •  Ethical Dimensions of the Vatican Synod on the Family

    Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2014 3:00 PM

    Starting October 5, Catholic bishops from around the world will meet at the Vatican to scrutinize the Church’s pastoral approach to families. Pope Francis stirred up the Church when he called for the Synod to take place. Our panel will help us understand the energy behind what is happening in Rome and where this all might lead. Key ethical questions to be discussed include marriage, conscience, and natural law morality. Key theological issues will include God’s mercy; the relationship of pope and bishops; and the admittance to communion of divorced and remarried Catholics.

    A panel discussion by Santa Clara University faculty Paul Crowley, SJ, Lisa Fullam, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University,
    and Sally Vance-Trembath.

     Join us to Live Tweet this event! Follow @scuethics #synod

  •  Conscience in Catholicism Conference

    Friday, Sep. 12, 2014 9:13 AM
    James Keenan, S.J. and Osamu Takeuchi, S.J.
    Scholars from eight different countries gathered this week at the Ethics Center for a conference on “Conscience in Catholicism: Rights, Responsibilities, and Institutional Policies.”
    Those global perspectives informed the opening session, which focused on foundational questions of conscience.  James Keenan, S.J., Canisius Professor and director of the Jesuit Institute at Boston College, and Osamu Takeuchi, S.J., dean of the Graduate School of Theology and professor of theology at Sophia University in Tokyo, led off the discussion.
    Keenan argued that conscience is “hardwired” into humans, but “how that plays out” varies from culture to culture.  He compared the examination of conscience that followed World War II in Europe to the failure of American society to take responsibility for slavery, which he said has contributed to the continuing problem of race in the United States.  “We have never consciously taken responsibility as opposed to Germany, which has never forgotten its role in the Holocaust,” he said. 
    Takeuchi engaged Christian and Confucian ideas about conscience.  He looked at three essential human responsibilities—to ourselves, to the community, and to G-d—as modes of embodying conscience.  In that third responsibility, Takeuchi saw an encounter between ethics and spirituality.
    The group, most of whom were affiliated with Catholic institutions, explored the role of universities in the formation of conscience.  Keenan pointed out that there has been very little research on conscience as it relates to higher education and argued that moral theologians at universities must address such issues as race, gender, inequity, and the hegemony of American power.
    “There is no self-reflection at universities,” he said.  “If you go into a university library, you will find hundreds of books on business ethics, on medical ethics, on legal ethics—all written by faculty members.  You will not find one book on university ethics.  None will talk about the mission of a school and whether it's promoting equity, about athletics, about the way we hire adjuncts, the way we invest or admit students.  Conscience at universities is not even dormant; that would mean it was once awakened.”
    Linda Hogan, vice provost/chief academic officer and professor of ecumenics at Trinity College in Dublin, argued that universities don’t give much thought to their own institutional power.  “Generally, universities are broadly conformist and supportive of institutional biases about affluence or race,” she said.  “We need to be attentive to the fact that we inhabit and shape institutions which have enormous social power.  Instead we tend to focus on individual conscience formation.”
    Participants generally agreed that conscience is not only a matter of an individual’s principles; instead, it is informed by culture and community.  Bryan Massingale, S.T.D., professor of Theology at Marquette University, put it this way:  “The isolated conscience doesn’t really exist.  We have to pay attention to the cultural and social dimensions.”
    Papers from the conference will be published in 2015 by Orbis Books, edited by David DeCosse, director of campus ethics at the Markkula Ethics Center, and Kristin Heyer, professor of religious studies at SCU, the two conference organizers.  Other conference participants were:
    •  Carol Bayley, vice president for ethics and justice education, Dignity Health Care West
    • Julie Clague, lecturer of theology and religious studies, University of Glasgow, Scotland
    • Emilce Cuda, lecturer on the Faculty of Theology, Pontifical Catholic University, Argentina
    • Daniel Finn, Clemens Chair in Economics and the Liberal Arts, St. John’s University, Minnesota
    • Lisa Fullam, D.V.M., Th.D., associate professor of moral theology, Jesuit School of Theology, SCU
    • Eric Marcelo O. Genilo, S.J., S.T.D, associate professor of moral theology, Loyola School of Theology, Philippines
    • William O’Neill, S.J., associate professor of social ethics, Jesuit School of Theology, SCU
    • Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, S.J.,provincial of the Eastern African Province of the Society of Jesus and lecturer in theology and religious studies, Hekima College, Kenya
    • Stephen J. Pope, professor of theology, Boston College, Massachusetts
    • John Raphael Quinn, sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco
    • Eugine Sahana, religious sister belonging to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany, India


  •  What Is Compassion?

    Tuesday, Sep. 9, 2014 11:51 AM

    William Prior, professor emeritus, Santa Clara University Philosophy Department, explores Compassion. While many of us use the term "compassion," we often don't share an understanding of what it fully means. Prior will discuss the more precise meaning of "compassion" as it's understood in the Western philosophical tradition. His research and teaching interests include ancient philosophy, ethical theory, the history of skepticism, and the philosophy of Wittgenstein. His publications include Unity and Development in Plato's Metaphysics (Open Court, 1985), Virtue and Knowledge (Routledge, 1991) and numerous articles. He has edited Socrates: Critical Assessments (Routledge, 1996, 4 v.) He is working on a book on the problem of the historical Socrates.

    Event and Live tweeting on Twitter: #compassion