ETHICS FOR THE REAL WORLD Creating a personal code to guide decisions in work and life RONALD A. HOWARD & CLINTON D. KORVER Hanle Ying Special Topics in Accounting March. 16, 2011 Introduction Within the development of human culture, ethics has been more and more emphasized in human beings. Ethics is not only requested in the work place, but also it should be requested in individuals. Ethics is an extremely helpful in human daily life. For the work place, ethics can help people to trust each other, allow people to know clearly what they can do or not do, and assist their efforts with each other to create a true market in the world.
For the individuals, ethics can help to correct people’s attitude about life and to help them build a positive outlook. However, no matter whether in the work place or in an individual’s life, ethics can create a personal code to help people to make the right decision. Reading ETHICS FOR THE REAL WORLD-creating a personal code to guide decisions in work and life not only can help us know what ethics is and how we can draft a personal code to help us make the right decision, but it also lets us know how we can use ethics to transform our life and work.
It’s really a good book on ethics and very practical for human beings. This book represents the different thinking of ethics and provides a personal code for people who working; individuals can use the code of ethics to examine their own ethical problems so they can make the right decisions during work. In the real world, there are many behaviors that look ethical, but are not. Conversely, some behaviors look unethical, but are ethical. Since we cannot always discriminate what is really ethical, we sometimes have a dilemma in making a decision.
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However, the description in this book, expressed by the authors help us to know what ethics is and he helps us to build an ethical framework and draft a personal code in our mind. We can use the ethical framework and the personal code to help us make the right decision. The authors also demonstrate that people can use three steps to help them to clarify the ethical issue, evaluate the consequence of the behavior, and in the end, make the right decision. Moreover, ethics not only can help people make the right decision, but it also can help people to transform the work and life.
Author Biography The names of the authors are Ronald A. Howard and Clinton D. Korver. “Ronald A. Howard is one of the founders of DEF, who is the academic director of the Strategic Decision and Risk Management certificate program at Stanford University. He supervises teaching and research in the Decision Analysis Program of the Department of Management Science and Engineering and he also is the director of the department’s Decision and Ethics Center. Moreover, Mr. , Howard is a professor in the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
His experience covers many fields in decision analysis project, from investment planning to research strategy, and from hurricane seeding to nuclear waste isolation” (2011). Furthermore, “Mr. Howard has been a consultant to several companies and was a founding director and chairman of Strategic Decision Group” (2011). Clinton D. Korver not only is the co-author of Ethics for the Real World, but also “he is a partner and co-founder at Ulu Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm investing in early-stage information technology companies.
He is also a Kauffman Fellow, co-founder and co-president of Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs, and a venture partner at Crescendo Ventures” (2008). Moreover, “Mr. Korver is the founder and CEO of DecisionStreet, which provides Web-based tools to help consumers make information life decisions about health, wealth, housing, and family affairs” (2008). Mr. Howard and Mr. Korver wrote Ethics for the Real World-creating a personal code to guide decisions in work and life in 2008.
In order to create the habit of highly ethical behavior, Howard and Korver help us to know what ethics is and how we can discriminate ethical issues in our daily lives. In addition, they help us to use ethics to make the best decision in every situation. Summary of Book It’s a good book on ethics, and the authors use a practical approach to talk about what ethics is. The purpose of the authors in this book is not to stimulate people to get high ethics in their mind. Contrarily, they want people to know and study ethics through the tiny little things around us. People do some things or make some decision unethically because they think he decision seems unimportant; however, they still want others to respect and trust them. They even want to continue live in a harmonious environment. But their actions and thoughts are reversed. As a result, this is one of the reasons why people sink into the ethical dilemma. The book provided many theories to help people to understand and study ethics, such as some behavior seems ethical for one, but he still has to confirm if it’s ethical for another; one could look analyze another’s ethical behavior when one sinks into the ethical dilemma; and one could set up an ethical code to help him to correct his ethical problems.
But the one of reason why people do the unethical things are they often misunderstand the meaning of ethical, legal, and moral. Someone considered poor ethical as poor moral. Also the legal behavior is considered ethical, and illegal behavior is considered unethical. Actually, there is a total difference between ethical, legal, and moral. Something could be legal, but it’s unethical, such as lie, using profanity to someone. Something could be illegal, but it might be ethical, such as killing terrorists. Therefore, the most important issue for people when knowing ethics is to be able to discriminate the meaning of ethical, legal, and moral.
This topic was expounded clearly in the beginning of the book. This book combined four parts: Introduction, seven chapters, an epilogue, and two appendices. Furthermore, the authors combined these four parts very logically, especially in the seven chapters. The authors provided the almost ethical at first, and give a roughly ethical frame in people’s mind, through know and study the ethics to create the personal code. And then use the personal code to do the ethical behavior or make the ethical decision. In the end, the authors demonstrate that the ethics can help people transform their work and life.
This sequence is coincidence with people’s thinking and easier to be understood by people. The Introduction not only reflects the rough content of the rest of the book, but it also includes a short summary of each chapter, the engineering approach, and the clarification of the difference between ethical, legal, and moral. Moreover, it also includes the experience of both authors. This introduction is very helpful for people to know what the book is and how to use this book. In addition, the introduction also talks about the skill of making the right decision, it is a weakness we often have because we have little education in this area.
The seven chapters can be divided into four parts: the first three chapters, the fourth chapter, the fifth chapter, and the last two chapters. The first three chapters represent what ethics is and the problem of setting up an ethical bottom line. Actually, ethics is not very strange for each person; everyone has a rough framework about ethics, but most of us don’t know the real meaning of ethics. Everyone wants to be an ethical person, and most people have an ethical bottom line to contrast their ethical behavior. This bottom line is very important for each person.
But people always sink into the ethical trouble because the ethical bottom line. Certainly, someone utilize this bottom line and the loopholes in the law to build a gray area, doing something between right and wrong. Everybody knows that to tell a lie is unethical behavior, but some use white lies to prevent crime or war; why not? I think most of us would rather to tell this lie. Therefore, there are no fixed rules for people to study ethics. People should learn and analyze the ethics of other’s ethical behavior and set an own ethical bottom line to do the right things or decisions.
The fourth chapter is based on the first three chapters. After people know what ethics is and set up an ethical bottom line to distinguish what they can do or not do, they should create their own ethical code to complete their ethical framework. The main purpose of the fourth chapter is to show people how to draft someone’s own ethical code. The fifth chapter talks about how some people to do nothing when facing unethical issues. Although people can make the ethical code by themselves, it does not mean they will be ethical all the time. In this situation, people have to re-clarify the ethical issue and try to create alternatives.
Moreover, in order to ensure the feasibility of their alternatives, people have to evaluate the alternatives and then re-make the ethical decision. The last two chapters stated how people use their personal ethical codes to transform their personal life and work life. Having a good ethical code is very important to our daily lives. It not only helps us to distinguish what we can do or not do, but also it can make us face life and work peacefully. This has the most positive effect on our daily lives. The book is composed by the skill of ethical thinking and the ethical decision making.
The main purpose in the Epilogue stated how people developed the habit by this skill. However, the habit is developed through constant practice, and the practice is directed by thoughts. Therefore, having good ethical thinking skills not only can help people to make the ethical decision, but also can help develop the right habit in their life. The Appendix A is the flow chart of ethical decision making process which not only helps us know better what ethics is, but also we can use this flow chart to compare our ethical frame to correct and complete our weakness in ethics.
The Appendix B talks about the three people’s ethical code that has totally different backgrounds. And the Appendix B let us know no matter what background people have, as long as they are willing to understand and study ethics, they can possess the ethical code. Personal Reflection and Conclusion I always ask myself what does ethics mean? What kind of action belongs to ethical or unethical? Is any behavior within laws ethical issue? However, we have to face ethical decisions in our daily lives, and we always sink into the ethical dilemma because of these decisions.
For example, we will make some excuses to avoid trouble, and we will use some white lies to make others feel more acceptable. We always ignore ethics in some trivial things, and ethics becomes strangers around us. This book has very helpful to me. I know that I am not a real ethical man. For example, I used fake excuses to explain my absences; or a bad grade to my parents, as well as use profanity to someone. Now all these behaviors seem wrong. In the past time, I always use different excuses to avoid responsibility when I got into some troubles, and put all the blame upon someone or something else.
Now I think carefully; avoiding responsibility is unethical behavior. Individual development and social development should not lack communication and responsibility. If everyone is not sincere and they choose to avoid responsibility when faced the trouble, the individual and social development cannot be achieved, not mention to creating a real life environment. Therefore, building a good personal code is very important to everyone. We are always bothered by the issue that seems ethical, but indeed it’s not.
Different people have different values, so they have different ethical lines. Some consider that the white lie is moral; someone may consider that the rational avoidance tax also is moral. People always abandon their principle to do some things which they consider are ethical, but indeed they are not. Thus, people slowly lose their moral bottom line because of these tiny little issues, and then, make them into the gray areas to do something that seems legal, but indeed it’s unethical. If everyone stays in the gray area, nobody will be honest with each other anymore.
Therefore, in order to correct our values and life attitude, we should build a personal code which cannot be broken by any excuses. Before doing anything or making any decision, we should consider own personal code and use it to restrain our behaviors, which give us no excuse to do anything that violates ethics. The authors Ronald A. Howard and Clinton D. Korver together created Ethics for the Real World-creating a personal code to guide decisions in work and life, they clearly define what ethics is and use bright black and white contrast to make us know better the meaning of ethics.
Moreover, because of the sufficient experience, the essence of this book is easier to be accepted and studied and has a profound meaning in our daily work and life. The reason why I choose this book is I am always bothered by the ethics bottom line in the daily work and life. Sometimes ignore ethics because of the tiny little things. As a result, I slowly lose my ethics bottom line. Now think carefully; this is a wrong behavior and life attitude. This book opened my eyes; it teaches me that not only everyone should have their own ethical code and personal code, but also we should build our principle to do everything.
No matter when we do anything or make decisions, we should base them on this personal code. Let our life be surrounded by ethics. Reference Clinton D. Korver, Bloomberg Businessweek, 2008, Retrieved from: http://www. businessweek. com/bios/Clinton_D. _Korver. htm Clinton D. “Clint” Korver’89 2001, Grinnell College, 2008, Retrieve from: http://www. grinnell. edu/offices/president/trustee/memberintro/korver Ronald A. Howard, Decision Education Foundation, 2011, Retrieve from: http://www. decisioneducation. org/about-DEF/board-of-directors/ronald-howard
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