Ethics in Public Sector

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Ethical Concepts
You need to know

Everyday Ethics…
Have you ever thought…
◦ My small effort won't really make a difference. ◦ No one would ever know. ◦ I don’t know what is the right thing to do.

◦ I’ve seen others doing it.
◦ It will really help my career prospects. ◦ Because of the tight time constraints, I just had to make a quick decision. ◦ Doing the “right” thing costs too much in this particular situation.

How would you respond if your kids were making these same excuses for their behavior? ◦ Oh, Mom, what I do won't really make a difference. ◦ I just didn't know what to do, Dad.

◦ I didn’t think I’d get caught.
◦ If I don’t do it, my friends won't talk to me anymore.

From this perspective, the right answers seem clearer to distinguish.

But somehow it just isn’t that easy.

This week, the lecture will address some concepts that relate to our study of ethics by offering different lenses through which you can view ethically-charged situations.

The topics presented have particular implications for our study of ethics and public responsibility: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ The Common Good Conflicts of Interest Cognitive Dissonance Non-monetary Currencies

The Common Good
Something to keep in mind…

What is a Common Good?
A common good is some “thing” that everyone can access and enjoy. No one can be easily excluded. For example, everyone enjoys the benefits of clean air.

In fact, something is considered to be a common good only to the degree that all people have access to it.

Common Good
The common good is an idea that originated in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. Ethicist John Rawls defined the common good as

“certain general conditions that are...equally to everyone's advantage.” In many ways, the public sector is the trustee of the common good.

The common good consists of having things we depend on (such as social systems, institutions, and the environment) function in a way that benefits everyone.

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