Tesla Corporation deals with first death involving Autopilot system as Ethical distinction comes into play: Prospective Litigation (liability) versus Moral Culpability (murder indictment))

driverless carThe Tesla Corporation had its first death recently, putting a dark blemish on the nascent driverless car technology, and its vision of an accident–free society. It is indeed interesting to note that the issues holding these driverless cars from the market are NOT primarily technological NOR pragmatic–but ethical.  In  other words, if the Tesla automobile is forced to “choose” to hit someone, whom shall it collide with? It is simple to program the Tesla to slam into a tree versus Tammy Tatreau; but what if the “choice” were between an acquaintance and a second cousin named Tammy? Whom shall the Tesla hit? Who ought to live and/or get hurt? Until the automotive engineers and ethicists answer these questions, it may be wise to refrain from purchasing stock in driverless technology.

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Illegal, Immoral, or Inappropriate Questions?

Eli Apple, highly touted Defensive Back of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and top NFL draft prospect was allegedly asked in an interview about his sexual preferences / orientation — a clear legal violation and inappropriate question in the interview hiring process. While both illegal and inappropriate, the question over Apple’s sthexual orientation is not immoral; i.e., it is NOT a query violating moral  conscience nor a matter of ethical debate.  It is important to understand this distinction:  The act is against the law AND a hiring policy violation; but it is not an instance of transgressing a company’s ethical boundaries, despite one’s personal preferences on the matter.

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Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a traditional holiday celebrated on February 2, along with a concomitant romantic comedy of the same name groundhogstarring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog rises from his burrow , spring will come early.  If it is sunny, and the groundhog sees its shadow, and retreats back into its burrow, the winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

I absolutely hated this film, its very mention, even years after it came out. I can still hear the annoying radio wake-up call to this day; it even influenced my initial prejudice against viewing the Edge of Tomorrow (which contains parallel repetitive plot lines.

My family friend / hair stylist urged me to give this movie a second chance (as she adored the flick!). Since I frequently write on redemptive themes, I thought a two hour reinvestment was certainly worthy of a final viewing, so to speak. I hesitatingly placed the DVD on the tray,bracing myself for additional moments of visual torture and  punishment.  Surprisingly I found this particular viewing not only bearable but incredibly sweet, and I’m glad I was “forced” to watch Groundhog Day one more time! Bill Murray’s actions seemed to embody Jack Nicholson’s line from his and Helen Hunt’s romantic comedy . . . As Good as it Gets: “You make me want to be a better man.”

Thank you Andrea Ortiz for making me want to be a better writer!

The Monday Morning Business Ethicist

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Philosophy of Phantasy Phootball

Black Friday

Black FridayGiven the title of this blog, I suppose it would be more appropriate to write about Cyber Monday, but in discussing business ethics, I suppose that Black Friday is apropos.  The day after Thanksgiving is historically and traditionally cited as the biggest shopping day of the year for many businesses  . . . and their corresponding pre-Christmas sales are being pushed back farther and farther  each year,  interrupting many family meals. While this fact alone may be a moral issue per se, it is interesting to note how obsessed our nation has become with getting a good deal (even though these discounts  ultimately may not be a bargain at the end of the day). The truth is that this national “holiday” represents an event filled with high volume traffic and some shoppers and employees risk harm (and even their earthly demise) in order to save some money.

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Adeline’s True Age

Lionsgate have released a trailer for The Age of Adeline . The film ...After miraculously remaining 29 years old for nearly eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford) threatens to uncover reality, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever. This Kantian decision, to tell the truth always, irrespective of the consequences, ironically sets her free from the bondage and chains of time.

Summer Plans

The Monday Morning Business Ethicist has been and will continue  to take a break from the Blog this summer as he rehabilitates from his hemorrhagic stroke in October ’12 and prepares to teach an online business ethics course at St. Ambrose University in Fall 2015.

Will be back to the Blog in short time!


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Yellow is the New Black!

Fresh Off The Boat [FOB] is the latest TV series attempt to diversify and reach out (i.e., market a specific product to a particular target audience) to a sliver of America’s racial/ethnic spectrum while still appealing to the dominant white base.  On one hand, a problem is that this show, like so many preceding it (e.g. Bonanza to Native Americans, and Sanford & Son to African Americans) remained successful because each resonated with  the apparent stereotypes it tried so hard to break down. On the other hand, these nuances limited each television series from advancing beyond beneficial boundaries of a true color-blind sitcom (cf. The Cosby Show).

Yet, while FOB is a necessary move toward cracking “the banana barrier,” this sitcom is a required first step in achieving Asian-American assimilation and acceptance.  Before reaching these final two resting points, a tenuous and shaky middle ground like FOB remains adequate for its intended purpose.

XLIX Ethics

With all this hoopla and outcry over the last few moments of the Superbowl, a casual observer could be led to believe that something (even of moral or ethical import) went seriously wrong.  Talk radio was abuzz assigning blame and finger pointing to the now-infamous “call” ( the Seattle Seahawks’ final offensive play was overanalyzed myriad ways. As a lifelong Hawks fan, it’s easy to look at the wrong end of a 28-24 Superbowl result, and cry “foul.” We wish to blame officials, coaches, coordinators, and/or other players or appeal to the zebra suits or a higher power for assistance in overturning the results. But the decision wasn’t a moral move, and definitely not an ethical one–even though it seems as if something went drastically awry.   The play could be described at best as unwise, and at worst foolish. Even the coaches and players ultimately assumed personal responsibility (see Russell Wilson’s and Kam Chancellor’s response in particular: http://www.fieldgulls.com/…/seahawks-players-react-to-super…

I’m sad (and probably tasted a small portion of what it felt to be a Green Bay Packers devotee a couple weeks ag0 in the NFC Championship; but the Seattle Seahawks will be back in the big game again. Or at least they ought to be . . .  See y’all in San Francisco next year. But when the emotions die down, we will realize that we failed to capitalize on a good play call against a goal line defense (designed to stuff the run (Marshawn), and Malcolm Butler made a mad play (deserving the MVP keys of that truck).  Congratulations to the New England Patriots for winning one of the greatest championships in recent memory. It was a classic battle  truly deserving of the term Super Bowl.

“Up” in the Air with Nail Houses

After a beautiful life and marriage cut short by his wife’s premature passing, Up (2009) depicts an elderly gentleman’s quest to fulfill his childhood “cross-my-heart” sweetheart promise to move to Paradise Falls in South America. Enter Russell: a young boy who is one “Be kind to the elderly” act away from earning his final badge toward becoming a Wilderness Explorer. Karl Frederickson has to continually choose between fulfilling personal desires and including Russell on his quest. Frederickson winds up discovering that the adventure doesn’t lie in the destination but in the journey. Frederickson’s nail house, which was so important to him at the beginning of the movie primarily because of its memories, gets appropriately left behind in his finding that life is never too late for new experiences. The fifth amendment of the United States Constitution generally protects private property from governmental seizure without “just compensation.” However, eminent domain (compulsory seizure for civil use, public safety, or economic development) allows the transfer of private property for the public interest in exchange for fair market value. Eminent domain represents a skirmish between individual property rights, public property, the common good, and private economic development.

The Constitution has traditionally been quite clear about public use, just compensation, and due process as prerequisites for eminent domain. But during contemporary times, Costco is a “public use”; just compensation is getting pennies on the dollar., and cities have offered owners nothing for their land, doing them “favors” to take it off their hands. So this is the world that we have come to. And how just did we get UP there?