Nowadays, people live at a time when discerning what’s right and wrong is getting more complex. As your choices can have profound, long term implications, it’s best to know where your moral compass lies.
In this episode of Follow Your Different, Dr. Susan Liautaud talks about Ethics and why it is more than just common sense. She explains why it matters more today, and how to apply an Ethics lens to critical areas of society. This is a fascinating conversation that will matter to anyone who cares about making the world a different place.
Dr. Susan Liautaud is the author of the new bestseller, The Power of Ethics: How to Make Good Choices in a Complicated World. She is an Ethics Advisor to major corporations and institutions, and also teaches Ethics at Stanford. She serves as Chair of the London School of Economics and Political Science Council.
Why Ethics is Not Common Sense
It used to be that people grew up on stories that gave examples of what’s right and wrong. Everything seemed black and white, and the lines in the sand were clear. In today’s world, where information is but a touch of a screen away, these lines have seemingly been blurred.
Dr. Susan Liautaud uses media platforms like Facebook or Twitter as examples for this. On one hand, it serves as a tool to connect people together and have lively conversations. On the other hand, there are some that use it to bully people and spread misinformation.
“In today’s world, you know, good and bad are all mixed. We are in this gray zone and things that can be used for the good like social media. Yet they can also be used for harm, like bullying on social media or spread of disinformation. So I think largely because the world has just gotten so complicated and technology and all the forces driving it aren’t really common sense for a lot of people.” – Dr. Susan Liautaud
The World is Changing so Fast
Christopher shares that for him, changing your opinion on something is not a bad thing. It means that you are open to new ideas and correcting your own.
“If you haven’t changed your mind lately, how do you know you have one?” – Christopher Lochhead
Dr. Susan agrees with this sentiment, and describes that Ethics can be the same way. The things we find ethical or otherwise can be flipped due to recent events or newly-available information. For her, it’s better to be in-the-know rather than to always stick with the old ways.
“I think one of the things about ethics that’s different today is that the world is changing so fast. The complexity I referred to earlier is evolving so quickly that we need to be monitoring, instead of holding our nose and leaping into a decision and being sure that we’re absolutely right. So I don’t call it flip flopping. I call it staying grounded in reality.” – Dr. Susan Liautaud
Finding Non-Binary Solutions
As more people get access to information and the lines between black and white get even more blurred, people’s definition of Ethics changes even further. For Dr. Susan, this is not a bad thing. Her main concern lies with people still looking for binary solutions to solve ethical problems.
Dr. Susan explains how people can get stuck behind a yes or no mindset for different situations, which limits their thinking to binary solutions. She elaborates further by using Christopher’s foil board example:
“What I would say is, can’t we find a solution that is non-binary, other than you can’t foil board on a public beach. Maybe you can foil board at certain times of day, in a place where there are only foil boarders who are willing to put themselves at that risk. We get ourselves into this Yes, No, black, white, one side of the wall or the other binary thinking, and we never get to seizing opportunity and mitigating risk.” – Dr. Susan Liautaud
To know more about Dr. Susan Liautaud and how Ethics is not common sense in some companies, download and listen to this episode.
Dr. Susan Liautaud teaches cutting-edge ethics at Stanford University and serves as Chair of the Council (trustees) at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
She advises corporations, NGOs, and governmental bodies and their leaders on internationally complex ethics matters and is the Founder of the Ethics Incubator.
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Stanford profile: Dr. Susan Liautaud
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