Living a fully ethical life involves doing the most good we can.
- Peter Singer

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Leadership Blind Spots at Wells Fargo

By Susan M. Ochs
Harvard Business Review
Originally posted October 06, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

This leadership blind spot is the result of misguided reverence for their culture and its ability to inoculate the bank from systemic problems. It represents a governance breakdown of the highest order for executives and board members. But it appears that some red flags never even reached them: Investigations revealed the bank has ignored, discouraged, and even fired employees who tried to voice concerns about the intimidating culture and unethical practices.

In the worst cases, whistleblowers claim they were fired after reporting violations to the bank’s ethics hotline or trying to alert supervisors to illegal behavior.  Concerns raised by other employees were reportedly ignored, including an alleged email sent to Stumpf directly, and a petition, signed by 5,000 colleagues, that sought to lower sales quotas and combat unethical conduct. Stumpf called the firings “regrettable” and assured Congress that the bank has a policy of non-retaliation against whistleblowers.

But the damage goes beyond the employees who were terminated — it sends a signal to everyone else that they should keep quiet. At best, problem-raisers will be ignored; at worst, they will lose their jobs. Why risk it? If the bank doesn’t care, why should they?

The article is here.

Dear Donald Trump: I treat combat veterans with PTSD, and they are not weak

Joan Cook
The Conversation
Originally published October 5, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Combat trauma is a powerful predictor for a number of mental health problems. PTSD is, of course, the most notable consequence, but veterans who have served in war zones also suffer alarming rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse. And in recent years, the high suicide rates among U.S. service members have soared to an estimated 22 dying by their own hand each day.

If knowing that isn’t enough to make most Americans – including you – hang their heads, pause in appreciation and potentially cry, I’m not sure what would.

Sadly, veterans with PTSD also have what health care professionals call a “reduced quality of life.” They go to work less and use more health care services.

Unless treated, PTSD typically runs a chronic course and haunts a person for many years or decades. Thus, the substantial burden of PTSD is not just on a veteran’s back, but on their families, their communities and society as well.

The article is here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Should doctors have the legal right to refuse care?

By Lisa Rapaport
Reuters Health
Originally published October 5, 2016

Physicians shouldn’t have the legal right to act as conscientious objectors and refuse to provide services like abortion or assisted suicide even when these things conflict with their personal values, some doctors argue.

That’s because access to care should take priority, and conscientious objectors may make it more difficult for patients to get treatment they need, Dr. Julian Savulescu of the University of Oxford in the U.K. and Udo Schuklenk of Queens University in Ontario, Canada, argue in an article in the journal Bioethics.

They make their case as a growing number of countries worldwide are grappling with how much autonomy to give patients and doctors to make decisions about care at the very beginning and end of life, particularly in an era when new technology and social media keep pushing the boundaries of long-held personal and religious beliefs.

The article is here.

Are Biases Hurting Your Health?

By Stacey Colino
US New and World Report
Originally published October 5, 2016

It's human nature to have cognitive biases. These tendencies to think in certain ways or process information by filtering it through your personal preferences, beliefs and experiences are normal, but they can offer a skewed perspective.

"We all have these biases – they are the lenses through which we process information and they are a necessary part of the information-selection process," says Mark Reinecke, professor and chief psychologist at Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Even physicians and mental health professionals have cognitive biases when making decisions for their own health and while treating patients.

Meanwhile, certain subtle mental biases can affect the health choices you make on a daily basis – often without your realizing it. This can include everything from the dietary and physical activity choices you make to the screening tests you choose to the medications you take. Sometimes these biases are harmless while other times they could be problematic.

The article is here.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Preferences and beliefs in ingroup favoritism

Jim A. C. Everett, Nadira S. Faber, and Molly Crockett
Front. Behav. Neurosci., 13 February 2015

Ingroup favoritism—the tendency to favor members of one’s own group over those in other groups—is well documented, but the mechanisms driving this behavior are not well understood. In particular, it is unclear to what extent ingroup favoritism is driven by preferences concerning the welfare of ingroup over outgroup members, vs. beliefs about the behavior of ingroup and outgroup members. In this review we analyze research on ingroup favoritism in economic games, identifying key gaps in the literature and providing suggestions on how future work can incorporate these insights to shed further light on when, why, and how ingroup favoritism occurs. In doing so, we demonstrate how social psychological theory and research can be integrated with findings from behavioral economics, providing new theoretical and methodological directions for future research.

Across many different contexts, people act more prosocially towards members of their own group relative to those outside their group. Consequently, a number of scientific disciplines concerned with human cognition and behavior have sought to explain such ingroup favoritism (also known as parochial altruism). Here we explore to what extent ingroup favoritism is driven by preferences concerning the welfare of ingroup over outgroup members, vs. beliefs about the (future) behavior of ingroup and outgroup members.

The article is here.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Religious right suddenly decides morality’s not important in politics

Matthew Sheffield
Originally posted October 19, 2016

Throughout its history as a distinct political group, members of the so-called religious right have always made it a point to say that personal morals were important to political leadership. Thanks to Donald Trump’s becoming the Republican Party’s nominee against Hillary Clinton, however, it appears that white evangelical Protestants are changing their opinions.

Just five years ago, in 2011, a mere 30 percent of white evangelicals agreed with the idea that people who commit unethical acts in their personal lives could still behave ethically in their professional capacities, according to a study released today by PRRI, a nonpartisan research organization. Now, with Trump as the GOP standard-bearer, a huge majority — of 72 percent — do.

That immense shift in opinion means that the same types who made up former “Moral Majority” now comprise the religious group most likely to agree that public and private morality can be separate.

The article is here.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Is Character Necessary for Moral Behavior?

Angela Knobel
The Virtue Blog
Originally posted October 5, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

With these definitions in hand, we can reformulate our question. Is a given virtue necessary for the kind of morally good action characteristic of that virtue? For example, is the virtue of courage necessary for courageous actions? Is the virtue of kindness necessary for kind actions? (Let’s leave aside questions about the so-called “unity” of the virtues — that is, for instance, whether one can be courageous but unkind, or kind but cowardly.) At first blush, it might seem obvious that the answer is “no”: people who aren’t particularly courageous sometimes do courageous things, and people who aren’t particularly kind sometimes do kind things. This is true. But do they do these things in the same way that courageous or kind people do them?

The blog post is here.

When the Spirit Is Willing, but the Flesh Is Weak Developmental Differences in Judgments About Inner Moral Conflict

Christina Starmans & Paul Bloom
Psychological Science 
September 27, 2016


Sometimes it is easy to do the right thing. But often, people act morally only after overcoming competing immoral desires. How does learning about someone’s inner moral conflict influence children’s and adults’ moral judgments about that person? Across four studies, we discovered a striking developmental difference: When the outcome is held constant, 3- to 8-year-old children judge someone who does the right thing without experiencing immoral desires to be morally superior to someone who does the right thing through overcoming conflicting desires—but adults have the opposite intuition. This developmental difference also occurs for judgments of immoral actors: Three- to 5-year-olds again prefer the person who is not conflicted, whereas older children and adults judge that someone who struggles with the decision is morally superior. Our findings suggest that children may begin with the view that inner moral conflict is inherently negative, but, with development, come to value the exercise of willpower and self-control.

The article is here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cultural Humility in Psychotherapy Supervision

Joshua Hook, et al
American Journal of Psychotherapy, Volume 70, Number 2, 2016, pp. 149-166


As a core component of multicultural orientation, cultural humility can be considered an important attitude for clinical supervisees to adopt and practically implement. How can cultural humility be most meaningfully incorporated in supervision? In what ways can supervisors stimulate the development of a culturally humble attitude in our supervisees? We consider those questions in this paper and present a model for addressing cultural humility in clinical supervision. The primary focus is given to two areas: (a) modeling and teaching of cultural humility through interpersonal interactions in supervision, and (b) teaching cultural humility through outside activities and experiences. Two case studies illustrating the model are presented, and a research agenda for work in this area is outlined.

The article is here.