Lindstrom: A question of ethics
I find it somewhat ironic that this semester, during the presidential election campaign, I am teaching both political science and ethics. Is it a contradiction of terms? Is it a classic oxymoron? Actually I am having a lot of fun teaching both.
The general area that I teach in is called social and behavioral science. Within that field I teach sociology, American history, American government, political science, social psychology and ethics.
Sociology is defined as the systematic study of human society and social interaction. I like to paraphrase that into the study of society and cultures with some license.
Ethics is defined as moral philosophy. Both ethics and sociology find their roots in the ancient philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and the modern philosophers Immanuel Kant and Rene Descartes. Political science is founded in the teachings of Locke and Hobbs, both considered modern philosophers.
Unfortunately, I think that is where the relationship ends. What we are seeing and hearing in the election and the alleged bailout is neither ethical, moral nor philosophically connected.
I have always loved the comment from the movie “Network” where Peter Finch screams, “I am mad as hell and I’m not gonna to take it anymore!”
The other great line that comes to mind during this campaign is Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men” saying, “The truth? You can’t handle the truth.”
Last but not least was Jack Webb on the old television crime drama, “Dragnet” where he would say, “All I want are the facts maam. Just the facts.”
Well I can’t take it anymore because I am not hearing the truth, and no one is telling us the facts.
I am hearing Republicans now saying that we needed more regulation after they have spent years deregulating government. I can see Ronald Reagan spinning in his grave.
The FBI is now conducting an investigation of lenders and mortgage brokers to find out if they were getting incentives to give people sub-prime loans.
Karl Rove on the right and George Lakoff on the left will both tell us that people do not consider facts when they vote. They vote emotionally and from how they feel rather than what they think about an issue.
There is no clear definition of ethics especially as it relates to politics. We can find medical ethics and we can find legal ethics but ethics as it relates to the common man is not that easily defined. It is not a standard based on your religion. It is not a standard based on statutory law. Both religion and law can be very unethical at times.
The large fund managers got their jobs because they were willing to take risks. It is a common adage that there is no success without risk. If you want to be successful in life you must take risks. Now they have taken risks with our investments and they might go to prison.
I spend some time in all of my classes going over the news of the day off the Internet. My students are all very intelligent and wonderful judges of character, but many have fallen for the lies on the Internet about candidates. I think that the best judge is to not believe anything until you can verify it. Both Obama and McCain have been caught not telling the truth in the past few weeks.
I would like to believe that the solution is very simple. Just tell the truth. Stop lying about the other candidate and start telling the truth about yourself and your motives. Let the people know who you are and what you stand for if you were to be elected.
Yes. Sometimes the truth does hurt but it can also be very refreshing and cathartic.
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