Ethics are a Minimum

This post is a thought exercise that I hope encourages you to think about how to build better processes. In other words, it is also how we can spread more love and caring this Valentines Day.

As I taught about ethics in class I realized we can’t have low or high ethics, either we have ethics or we don’t. Actions are either ethical, or they are illegal, inappropriate or not desired. Ethics are not a high bar, they are the minimum. Ethics are a low bar for a civilized society.

We need ethics codes because it shows the users, customers and professionals that there are expectations. There is an ethical code in Health Education, however the ethical code not only sets up expectations, it also provides a framework on how to improve. The ethics code requires health educators to continually get more education and to use that knowledge to improve methods used in the profession.

Are ethics Yes or No?

Even though ethics seem to be black and white, either we have them or we don’t. It also seems ethics are a low bar, however I am continually reminded that being ethical can get complicated. Workers who must keep a job to support their families may be required to sell a number of drinks or tanning sessions for example to keep their job even if they know it is wrong. This situation makes it difficult to do what they know is right.

The difficulty of doing what is right was demonstrated by Stanley Milgram’s experiments that were used to try to understand how good people could have participated in the Holocaust. This video explains how and why people may sometimes not do what they know is right…

Ethic WERE complicated

I was reminded again that ethics can be complicated when I listened to the NYTimes Daily Podcast: Who Else Its Culpable int eh George Floyd’s Death? In this podcast it explains that although the fellow officers wanted to do what was right, the situation made it very hard.

How can we improve?

What do you think? It seems there are rarely bad people, but bad systems. Continually improving processes can help generate comprehensive benefits by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic benefits so everyone and everything benefits.

What system or process improvement could help make life better for all while it also prevents another George Floyd like experience? I am interested in hearing your ideas, please share.


Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!


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