Topic 1 ( 1 page)Applying Rand’s ObjectivismAyn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy has been touted by her detractors as the philosophy of self-interested selfishness. Her four epistemological principles are:Metaphysics: Objective reality of the world and the objects in it.Epistemology: Reason as the one and only key to understanding.Ethics: Self-interest in what behavior is but also what it should be.Politics: Capitalism through the performance of deeds by individuals who are self-interested.In the early 1960’s, a student asked a spokesman for Objectivism what would happen to the poor in an Objectivist’s free society.The spokesman answered, “If you want to help them, you will not be stopped.” If one reads Rand’s works, Atlas Shrugged, or The Fountainhead, one will conclude that this would be the answer Ayn would have given to that student as well.What do you conclude from the answer given by the Objectivist spokesperson?Is Objectivism, like Moral Relativism, the opposite of ethics?And what clue in what she taught leads to your conclusion?Topic 2 ( 1 page )Working Conflict Resolution MethodsReview the sample solution to the Laura Nash method. Do you agree with that analysis? If so, what parts do you think really helped you work through the dilemma? If not, which parts do you not agree with?Review the sample solution to the Front Page of the Newspaper method. Do you think this is one of those types of dilemmas for which this model works? If not, why not? If so, why? How did using this method help you work through the dilemma?Review the sample solution to the Blanchard and Peale method. Do you agree with the analysis? If not, why not? If so, in what way did this help you analyze this dilemma?Pick ONE of the above 3 questions and let’s get started. Please refer to the attached lessons before answering topic 2.
Ethics within Human Relationships
Our many relationships are where the applied ethics of our lives are acted out, and
conflict commonly occurs at every level of life. This week, we meet and practice using
three of the best models for resolving conflicts. Then we move on to revisit a concern
from earlier in our course in the concept of “The Whole World in Our Hands,” the
concern about the boundaries of our duties and obligations. With Ayn Rand’s
Objectivism comes the question of what, if any, ethical duties and obligations impact our
lives. Then we visit the professional and business relationships that will touch our lives
in days to come.
Ethical dilemma resolution models give us a “series of questions” to work through when
faced with an ethical dilemma. Some work better for select situations. We have covered
a few of these up to this point and discussed each week how some famous
philosophers solved ethical dilemmas. Many ethicists believe that a particular mindset is
the way to solve all ethical dilemmas. Others find that putting yourself in another
person’s shoes is a great strategy. Other resolution models ask you to think how you will
feel if others know what you have done. The best part of using any model is that it trains
a person to think through behaviors and consider consequences before acting.
Sometimes that “breather” time alone is enough to stop a bad action in its tracks. These
models can also help you stop others who may be contemplating an unethical action by
helping them work through a dilemma in a step-by-step, thoughtful way.
Following an explanation of these three methods, you will have the opportunity to
practice the first case study situation that we will discuss this week.
Laura Nash Method
Laura Nash is an ethics and divinity professor at Harvard. She created a series of 12
questions to ask oneself when confronted with an ethical dilemma:
Have you defined the problem accurately?
How would you define the problem if you stood on the other side of the fence?
How did this situation occur in the first place?
To whom and to what do you give your loyalty as a person and as a member of
5. What is your intention in making this decision?
6. How does this intention compare with the probable results?
7. Whom could your decision or action injure?
8. Can you discuss the problem with the affected parties before you make your
9. Are you confident that your position will be as valid over a long period of time as
it seems now?
10. Could you disclose without qualm your decision or action to your boss, your
CEO, the board of directors, your family, society as a whole?
11. What is the symbolic potential of your action if understood? Misunderstood?
12. Under what conditions would you allow exceptions to your stand?”
(adapted from: Nash, L. (1981). Ethics Without the Sermon. Harvard Business
Review, (59). Found at: https://hbr.org/1981/11/ethics-without-the-sermon (Links to an
external site.)Links to an external site..)
After answering the questions, a person then chooses an action, which will hopefully be
ethical and appropriate.
See the interactive in the box below, which allows you to practice using this
Blanchard and Peale Method
Management expert Kenneth Blanchard and the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale offer a
series of questions that people should ponder in resolving ethical dilemmas:
1. Is it legal?
2. Will I be violating a civil law or institutional policy?
3. Is it balanced?
4. Is it fair to all concerned?
5. Does it promote win/win situations?
6. How will it make me feel about myself?
7. Will I be proud?
8. Would I feel good if my hometown newspaper published my decision?
9. Would I feel good if my family knew about my choice?
(Blanchard, K., & Peale, N.V. (1988). The power of ethical management. New York:
William Morrow [p. 27] )
Using these questions and subsequent answers, it is the hope that the person in this
situation will think through and allow their conscience to control their behavior.
See the interactive in the blue box below, which allows you to practice using this
Front Page of the Newspaper
This very simple ethical resolution model requires only that a decision-maker envision
how a reporter would describe a decision on the front page of a local or national
newspaper. An example, provided by Marianne Jennings in her Business: Its Legal,
Ethical, and Judicial Environment (6th Ed.), states:
“When Salomon Brothers illegally cornered the U.S. government’s bond market, the
Business Week headline read: “How Bad Will It Get?;” nearly two years later, a followup story on Salomon’s crisis strategy was headlined “The Bomb Shelter That
Salomon Built.” During the aftermath of the bond market scandal, the interim
chairman of Salomon, Warren Buffett, told employees, “Contemplating any business
act, an employee should ask himself whether he would be willing to see it immediately
described by an informed and critical reporter on the front page of his local paper,
there to be read by his spouse, children, and friends. At Salomon we simply want no
part of any activities that pass legal tests but that we as citizens, would find offensive.”
(Jennings, M. M. (2003). Business: Its legal, ethical, and judicial environment . Mason,
OH: Thomson Southwest-West [p. 60])
With this strategy comes a way forward for those suffering the effects of conflict with
both benefits and costs.
Lets practice using the three ethical dilemma resolution models in this interactive
tutorial. The tutorial below will provide you with a dilemma scenario and then let you try
out the three models. Click the button for the model you want to use to see a “sample”
analysis using that model.
You have just graduated from Devry University Online and have landed your first job as
a contract consultant for a web development company. You will work as a consultant
through a temporary service for a period of six months and then if all goes well, you will
be offered a permanent position with benefits.
Your wife of two years is very excited as she is working in a dead end position for a man
who has been harassing her for the last four months. And furthermore as soon as you
get benefits, she would like to start having a family. You are a very motivated employee.
In month four of your six month probation you receive a new assignment from your
boss. The assignment is to set up a website which explains how to procure various
different chemicals and substances as well as linked to another site online where
individuals may legally purchase anhydrous ammonia. You realize within minutes that
you’ve been assigned to create a website to help people product crystallize
methamphetamines, a legal and illegal black market drug.
You’ve selected to approach your boss with the assignment and hesitantly ask for an
appointment to discuss it. Your boss, a rather distant and nasty man gives you a
thumbs down and says, “Oh, I’m busy, go get the assignment done. The client pre-paid
it and it’s a rush order.” You look down at the paper and see the gold star in the corner
which means it is to be done within 24 hours.
Transcript (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
As the employee, what do you do? Check the three sample solutions below.
Ethical Dilemma Resolution Models
Select a method below to see the recommendations for each model approach.
1. Laura Nash
2. Hide Answer
3. 1. Have you defined the problem accurately?
4. In this case, if you are certain that the website is in fact designed to help people
learn to make crystal meth, then in all likelihood, you have defined it accurately.
However, you also know that if you don’t do this, someone else will.
5. 2. How would you define the problem if you stood on the other side of the
6. This is always one of the hardest questions. What IS on the other side of the
7. A) Your boss’s fence: he took the money and offered a service.
8. B) The fence of the client. He paid for the service.
9. C) The fence of the people using the website: you would be an accomplice to
their crime, possibly.
10. D) The fence of the law: 1st Amendment rights of freedom of speech. What
exactly does this entail? Does that extend to providing people with the method
to make illegal drugs?
11. 3. How did this situation occur in the first place?
12. In an employment situation where you want to do really well, so that your wife
can get out of her situation and the two of you can start a family. You just
wanted to do your thing for 6 months until you got put on permanently. You
don’t want to rock the boat.
13. 4. To whom and to what do you give your loyalty as a person and as a member
of the corporation?
14. As a person: your loyalty obviously is to your wife and future family, and
yourself! (Think Ayn Rand here.) Duty (Kant) to society as well.
15. Member of the corporation: On one hand, doing what the boss says is your job.
But, if you put this together and then the company is later implicated in a legal
battle about it, have you really served the company? Since you didn’t get to talk
to your boss about WHY you are concerned, what if he gets mad later that you
didn’t insist? This is a tough one.
16. 5. What is your intention in making this decision?
17. This personal question is hard. You probably want to: a) keep your job b) pass
your probation period and c) not write this website.
18. Employer issues aside, you also don’t want your company to be implicated in a
scandal like this.
19. 6. How does this intention compare with the probable results?
20. It is likely that somehow this will turn out badly either way. This dilemma is one
of those no-win dilemmas.
21. 7. Whom could your decision or action injure?
22. Deciding to go forward with the page could injure someone who uses the site to
make meth, someone who ends up buying the meth, your personal integrity,
and also the company in the long term if it gets caught.
23. Deciding not to go forward with the page could get you fired and then your wife
will be stuck in her bad job and you have to delay having a family even longer.
24. 8. Can you discuss the problem with the affected parties before you make your
25. You tried and your boss said no. You need to either go up the chain of
command (over his head) or do the page.
26. 9. Are you confident that your position will be as valid over a long period of time
as it seem now?
27. Yes, very confident.
28. 10. Could you disclose without qualm your decision or action to your boss, your
CEO, the board of directors, your family, society as a whole?
29. You could only discuss this without qualms if you didn’t go forward with the
30. 11. What is the symbolic potential of your action if understood? Misunderstood?
31. Symbolically, you will have made a statement that your personal ethics are
more important than making money for your company if you don’t do it. If you do
it, you have made the statement that you believe you have the right to write
anything you want, and only the people who take the information are at fault.
Kind of like the “guns don’t kill people-people kill people” analogy. That way you
get to keep your job.
32. 12. Under what conditions would you allow exceptions to your stand?
33. This will be personal to each person. Possibly, you would make an exception if
you knew that this site was actually going to be used by law enforcement
personnel to track the people who use the site to try to create a sting operation
to catch the abusers.
34. Thus, this method helps you think deeply about the situation…but doesn’t make
the decision for you.
35. What is your decision?
37. Blanchard and Peale
39. Hide Answer
40. 1.Is it legal?
41. No, crystal meth is illegal. Not sure if writing the website is illegal.
42. 2.Will I be violating a civil law or institutional policy?
43. It is likely that some would say the 1st Amendment would protect me but not
sure on that.
44. 3.Is it balanced?
45. It is not balanced. This is weighed entirely on the side of
bad/criminal/dangerous. The only thing on the side of not rocking the boat is
that I might lose my job. I want my wife away from that boss and we want a
family. If I am out of work, we will never be able to get ahead.
46. 4.Is it fair to all concerned?
47. It is not fair.
48. 5.Does it promote win/win situations?
49. Not really applicable. The boss’s refusal to talk to me was not win/win. Me
getting fired is lose/lose.
50. 6.How will it make me feel about myself?
51. If I do this page, I will feel awful and guilty and scared. If I don’t, I may lose my
job and feel awful.
52. 7.Will I be proud?
53. Not if I write the website.
54. 8.Would I feel good if my hometown newspaper published my decision?
55. I would feel good if they published that I stood my ground and refused to write
56. 9.Would I feel good if my family know about my choice?
57. Only if I chose NOT to write the page.
58. In this case, I am clearly determined NOT to do this job. I will just have to get
my boss to talk to me. If he says I must do it, I’m taking it up the chain. I will call
the local authorities if I must, and try to get Whistleblower protections.
61. Front Page of the Newspaper
62. Hide Answer
63. Envisioning this on the front page of the paper:
64. “Web designer provides method to produce Crystal Meth—caught in Police
65. “12 youths killed when crystal meth lab explodes in apt building. ‘I learned it
from a website’ said one.”
66. “Crystal Meth responsible for school bus crash.”
67. Sensationalizing the way this could be depicted is one hard and fast way to
decide your actions.
68. What are some other headlines you can think of?
Do you agree with the sample solutions or do you disagree? Feel free to discuss the
differences and similarities or any questions you have about this in the discussions this
Talking Points about Ethical Resolution Models
The most difficult part about using ethical dilemma resolution models is knowing which
one to use in what situation. The ones listed in this lecture are mostly used in business
ethic situations. Oftentimes, one must stop and think, “Is this the kind of situation where
anyone would care enough to put my behavior on the front page?” If not, that doesn’t
necessarily mean the action is ethical, just not “newsworthy.” The fact that newspapers
focus on the strange and unusual is not a basis for declaring an unethical action to be
ethical. It just may mean that the front page of the newspaper test isn’t the best one for
Likewise, because a newspaper may report something as being unethical even when it
is not, a person needs to really think through his or her behavior. What if the news
reporter is unethical? What if his or her ethics are different from yours? What if you
know in your heart that an action is the right thing to do, but the newspapers will jump
on it with two feet and make you look bad? For example, Dr. Kevorkian, mentioned last
week, still feels he did the right thing in assisting sick people with dying. He was willing
to go to jail (suffer the consequences) for his behavior.
The easiest and most personally enlightening ethical resolution method is just that one:
1. What will be the consequences of this action if others learn of my action?
2. Are the consequences worth carrying through with the action?
If the answer to #2 is yes, then for that person, the action is the “right” one. Whether it is
the “ethical” action, however, is another story. Ethics really is a question of “right” and
“wrong.” Consequentialism is definitely an ethical theory, and one which many people
say is just like Utilitarianism. The ironic thing about this method, however, is that it only
works for people who have a base system of ethics or principles. Moral relativists, who
are inherently unethical, are able to use this 2-step method to justify to themselves
(quite often) their dangerous or unethical behavior. Thus, people with difficulty
understanding the difference between right and wrong should use a more detailed
method, such as Laura Nash’s, until a habit of ethical behavior becomes established.
If you still have questions about this, do not feel alone. Many of us do; truly ethical
people continue to question, grow, learn, and sometimes even change their mind about
right and wrong as a result of experiences, results, and learning throughout their lives.
As we also discussed last week, Norma McCorvey, the woman who was the Plaintiff in
Roe v. Wade, has changed her mind as an older adult, and regrets very much her role
in legalizing abortion.
If you want the best advice on ethical behavior, it would make sense to ask a wellrespected person in their 70s or 80s–by that age, these seniors have seen years of life,
made millions of decisions, and realized and lived with the results of those decisions.
Truly, humans have a unique ability to learn from older generations and should take
advantage of this whenever possible.
Ayn Rand’s Objectivism
Our ethicists to this point have come from long before we could ever sit at their feet for
direct teaching–some, such as Aristotle, from very long ago. In the case of Ayn Rand,
we have a teacher from the early age of television and can learn from her directly.
Ayn Rand in Person…
This is a television interview segment from 1959 of Ayn Rand by Mike Wallace. It was a
half-hour interview program, and here we meet her for just over nine minutes to get the
essence of what she was teaching. The whole interview in three segments is available
online for those who wish to hear it.
Interview video 1
Interviewee: Sense of the word. I’m not _________ emotional impression. Is that
your impression? Announcer: Mike Wallace Ayn Rand, 225-1 take two. Interviewer: I
have not. I’m curious. Better not talk ________. This is Mike Wallace with another
television portrait from our gallery of colorful people. Throughout the United States,
small pockets of intellectuals have been become involved in a new and unusual
philosophy which would seem to strike at the very roots of our society. The
fountainhead of this philosophy is a novelist, Ayn Rand whose two major works, The
Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged have been bestsellers. We’ll try to find out more
about her revolutionary creed and about Miss Rand herself in just a moment. And
now to our story. Down through history various political and philosophical
movements have sprung up but most of them died. Some of them however, like
democracy or communism take hold and affect the entire world. Here in the United
States perhaps the most challenging and unusual new philosophy has been forged
by a novelist, Ayn Rand. Miss Rand’s point of view is still comparatively unknown in
America but if it ever did take hold it would revolutionize our lives. Ayn, to begin with,
I wonder if I can ask you to capsulize; I know this is difficult. Can I ask you to
capsulize your philosophy? What is Randism? Interviewee: First of all I do not call it
Randism and I don’t like that name. Interviewer: All right. Interviewee: I call it
objectivism. Interviewer: All right. Interviewee: Meaning a philosophy based on
objective reality. Now let be explain it as briefly as I can. First, my philosophy is
based on the concept that reality exists as an objective absolute that man’s mind,
reason is his means of ________ and that man needs a rational morality. I am
primarily the creator of a new cult of morality which has so far been believed
impossible, namely a morality not based on faith – Interviewer: On faith.
Interviewee: Not on faith, not on arbitrarily whim, not on emotion, not on arbitrary
_____ mystical or social but on reason. A morality which can be proved by means of
logic which can be demonstrated to be true and necessary. Interviewer: All right, all
right. Interviewee: Now, may I define what …
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