Welcome to SEE's Reasoning with Ethics page. The following case and supporting resources (below) are provided to help facilitate class discussions or essay assignments with a focus on ethical reasoning. Ethical reasoning is one factor teachers can encourage for student character formation.
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SEE encourages the strategy described in our Reasoning with Ethics resources to be applied beyond current events cases and used to analyze relevant cases in history, literature and life.
Cases can be used as
• Class discussion starters
• Reading lessons
• Essay prompts
• Social studies, health or ethics class analysis
* See below for link to supporting resources and archived cases
Ethics Policies: To Waive or Not to Waive
May 17, 2021
This ethics blogger is old enough to remember the Enron business collapse in 2001 that included an infamous request to the Enron board of directors to waive their code of ethics. The exemption was sought from ethics rules to modify their accounting practices. This was one of the many questionable Enron activities that inflated income and hid debt. All this helped lead to the largest US business failure at that time. One of the lessons taken from that failure was to closely inspect any future requests to waive ethics rules.
News media are reporting that the Biden administration sought and gained waivers to their ethical hiring policies. Those policies sought to resist hiring employees who
Fox News- https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-waives-ethics-rules-for-former-union-bosses-who-now-work-in-white-house
Wikipedia, Enron Scandal-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enron_scandal
Future Learn, Why do we need ethics rules?-- https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/ethics-research/0/steps/45470#:~:text=A%20code%20of%20ethics%20sets,profession%20or%20community%20of%20practice.
would be regulating agencies or industries where they had previously been employed. In one example, the New York Post notes, “…the Office of Personnel Management waived ethics requirements for its new director of intergovernmental affairs, Alethea Predeoux, a former lobbyist for the American Federation of Government Employees…” Thus, a past lobbyist for the employees is now leading the office she lobbied for. What could possibly go wrong?
SEE suggests that students should learn about the ethics policies that are supposed to govern organizations from the private sector, government, and nonprofit sectors. What are these policies meant to accomplish?
Students are asked to consider if waiving ethics policies in any institution is an ethical issue at its core? If exceptions can be made, what core values should guide the practice of waiving ethical policies?