Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

The Best Thinking on the Hardest Issues

The ethical tradition can be seen as the collected wisdom of the best thinkers throughout the ages on questions about how we ought to treat one another. In this Issues in Ethics, we are fortunate to feature some of the fine thinkers of our time commenting on these questions. Glenn Loury, an economist whose writing on race in the United States won the 1996 American Book Award, leads off with Why Should We Care About Racial Inequality Per Se? Business is the subject of Michael Hackworth's Only the Ethical Survive.The Chairman of Cirrus Logic Inc., Hackworth believes that ethical leadership develops the trusting relationships that are key to a company success. Complementing Hackworth's piece is When Good People Do Bad Things at Work, by the new acting executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Dennis Moberg.

The relationship between business and government is the issue in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington by former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. In a case study he presented to the Ethics Roundtable for Executives, Panetta explores the conflicts faced by a businessperson lobbying for a critical tax break for his company. Responding to the case is Santa Clara University President Paul Locatelli, S.J. In each of these articles, the authors reframe the public discussion on the issue. For example, asked to address affirmative action for last year's Markkula Seminar Series, Loury asks whether a better focus might be the place of race in any consideration of social justice in America. Moberg seeks to shift our focus in the realm of business ethics, arguing that some moral lapses may be less attributable to bad people than to structures that either bring out the best or the worst in employees.

These views do not necessarily represent the views of the Ethics Center. In our case, this is not a simple declaration of distance from any particular opinion we may not share. It reflects our desire to provide a space for public dialogue, where all sides who are willing to work within the confines of ethics and civil discourse can try to find common ground on the hardest issues.