Ethics is what one ought to do–the kind of behaviors that would make the world a better place, especially if everyone engaged in them.The key question is: how does the conscientious public servant sort through competing considerations and determine “the right thing to do?” When it comes serving the public, how does one put one’s values into practice?
To determine what one ought to do, go to the root of the matter and think in terms of values.Research by the Institute for Global Ethics identifies ethical values that transcend virtually all cultures and religions.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”–Warren Buffett
In this video JoAnne Speers, Executive Director of the Institute for Local Government, discusses ethics principles and ethics laws and the difference between how local officials must act and how they ought to act.
What is the difference between acting lawfully and acting ethically?
This distinction and the interaction of laws and ethics in public service was the topic of discussion during a public sector roundtable at the Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics on August 9, 2013.