12/10/20: My Answer to “The Social Dilemma” #poetry #essay #socialmedia #art #criticalthinking #education #humanity
The earnest creators are very smart. I have the answer to their dilemma.
Social media collects all kinds of data on people and then uses that data to manipulate behavior. Social media users are thus pawns of all manner of salesmen and autocrats. They are brainwashed to want, fear and believe what corrupt and nefarious forces want them to believe in order to expand those forces’ wealth and power.
The makers of this film posit that the ordinary human is no match for the billions (trillions?) of algorithms and thousands of genius engineers who engage our attention online and alter our behavior in the real world. These manipulators condition us to live for likes and dislikes, and thereby chase vapid popularity and lose our souls. Our supposed masters of artificial and human intelligence force feed us alternate realities that lead us to buy and vote for products and policies that are disconnected from our true wants and needs.
The documentary uses ominous music on its soundtrack. The film argues that social media is robbing us of our authenticity, and our powers of self-determination. Social media creates our lives of addictive co-dependency, and our totalitarian society.
I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news first. Great masses of people have always stupidly followed dishonest salesmen and violent dictators. The technology of subjugation has just improved exponentially, just like the technology of everything else has moved forward — if not at as fast a pace.
We aren’t born human. Our learning curve is the longest of any animal. The upside is that we have the most potential of any creature. The downside is that we have to work hard to reach our zenith, and bad luck or foul play can prevent us from ever reaching the promised land.
The good news is that we don’t have to be concerned with social approval, and we can learn how to discern what is true and false, fact and fiction, real and fake. We are capable of understanding ourselves and assessing the nature of the world.
I self-publish on social media and I don’t pay attention to likes and dislikes. I don’t spend time looking at advertisements and “posts” that don’t interest me.
It took me seven years, but I have perfected a course that connects participants with each other —- in a real way — by writing, speaking and talking to one another in detailed exchanges which require time, focus and attention
encourages participants to explore what they truly think and feel through journalling — by just encountering the blank page and initiating content, and not getting snared in endless reactionary loops
teaches skills of organization, analysis, research and critical thinking enabling the human powers of discernment and decision making.
I didn’t create this course as an answer to the dilemma of social media. I created the course as an answer to the dilemma of society. I saw people exiled from their own happiness and creativity, unable to interpret the world and prey to all kinds of malevolent pressures which mobilized them against themselves.
I taught the course in business schools because that is where I had the opportunities — but it could really be offered anywhere.
Or better yet, a person could get the same benefit simply by reading my writing. The process that the course teaches is one that everyone has to figure out for themselves, and watching others who have gone before you is the best way to learn —- as long as you get busy and work at it yourself.
Below is the syllabus that I used the last time I taught the course. The Roe book on Business Ethics is interchangeable with many other collections of cases.
No one else can teach this course because it is written in my voice. It wouldn’t translate if someone else attempted to use this same material. Personal connection is key here.
Our society holds technology in too high regard. Technology will never be our master unless we let it. Our humanity — our ability to think, create, communicate and connect — is the most potent thing in the universe — talk about soft power.
It requires commitment and hard work to be excellent and free. Our intelligence and our character cannot be sold to us. They are not matters of obedience.
All authority and responsibility for your life reside in you. No one can take your life away from you unless you let them.
No group, leader, marketer or ideology can tell you what to want, what to think and feel, and what the nature is of reality and truth.
It is your burden, honor and joy to figure those things out for yourself.
Don’t let the fact that you are reading my words on social media distract you from the words themselves. These words could just as easily be on a legal pad, or a painter’s canvas or in a book.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas
MGMT 441 BUSINESS ETHICS Spring, 2020
Classroom assignment and time: Corboy Law Center Room 207, Tuesdays 6 pm – 9 pm First class meeting February 25, 2020; Last class meeting May 5, 2020
Office Hours: By appointment
Phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
This course has two important main learning objectives.
- Students will further develop their conscious “Ethical Presence” — habits of behavior that foster their ability to function ethically as professionals.
- Students will further develop their skills of ethical decision making.
The course develops analytical, practical and creative skills which students can apply in their roles of ethical leadership beyond the classroom.
School of Business LUC.edu/Quinlan
Text: Business Ethics: A Conversation (2nd ed), Roe, George
Redding, California: BVT Publishing
Text: Ethical Presence Manuscript, Thomas, Richard
Chicago, Illinois: Self-published, Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas
This text can be found at this link: https://richardsteventhomas.wordpress.com/2020/01/29/1-29- 20-ethical-presence-manuscript-for-mgmt-441-loyola-quinlan-school-of-business/
*See schedule below for further supplementary readings (links provided on syllabus), or further short readings that don’t appear on the syllabus may be assigned in class.
Grading Scale for Masters Students
97-100 = A
93-96 = A-
89-92 = B+
85-88 = B
81-84 = B-
77-80 = C+
73-76 = C
70-72 = C-
Method of Evaluation/ Marking Scheme:
Attendance — Reduction by one full grade for each absence exceeding two absences:
Attendance will be recorded at the beginning of each class. University policy allows two class absences. Every class that you are absent that exceeds the two allowed by University policy will result in the loss of a full grade in your final grade. This is not meant to be punitive. No mitigating circumstances will be considered. Full attendance is strongly encouraged to achieve one’s greatest benefit from, and success in, the course.
Technical Requirements for Written Assignments
Written assignments need to be typed, in the following format: Font size 12 point, spacing 1.5, left and right margins set at 1.5. The pages need to be numerated.
Assignments must be printed one-sided. Written assignments will not be accepted via electronic transmission. They must be handed in to the instructor in class at the assigned time.
Multiple-paged written assignments must be stapled.
Written assignments will not be accepted via electronic transmission. They must be handed in to the instructor in class at the assigned time.
Failure to follow these technical requirements will lead to a reduction of the grade for an assignment at the discretion of the instructor. The instructor reserves the right to refuse to accept, at his discretion, any written assignment that does not comply with these requirements.
Professionalism — 10 points (or reduction of fewer or more than 10 points at the discretion of the instructor):
Your personal conduct and behavior in class and in your execution of out of class assignments represents 10 points out of 100 if you conduct yourself in a professional manner. To the extent that you do not behave professionally, your final grade can be reduced by fewer than 10 points, 10 points, or more than 10 points at the discretion of the instructor.
The basis of the evaluation of your professionalism will be the extent of your compliance with the following requirements broadly found in most codes of professional conduct — lawyers’ rules, accounting codes of ethics, codes for nurses, insurance agents, realtors etc., corporate codes of conduct and employee handbooks, to name a few illustrative examples.
We will discuss these concepts periodically throughout the course, but here is a brief thumbnail to illustrate the expectations:
The Five Pillars of Professionalism
- Competence – when a professional agrees to perform a task or series of tasks, which you have done by enrolling in this class, she agrees to be able to perform the tasks competently. The competence can be fully developed at the outset, or the professional commits to “getting up to speed’ acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to complete the tasks satisfactorily. You have an ethical duty to master the activities, assignments, requirements and procedures of this class.
- Diligence: The opposite of diligence is neglect. You agreed to take this course. You have an ethical duty to fully complete the assignments by the required dates, to be on time for class, to be attentive and engaged when in class, to fulfill all of your obligations when
working in groups … basically to conscientiously fulfill all of your obligations to the work of the class, your classmates and the instructor.
- Communication: Keep any person — classmate, instructor or external third party, fully aware of any aspect of your work that they have a right to know.
- Honesty I: Always tell the truth. Don’t lie.
- Honesty II: Don’t steal. Don’t take anyone else’s personal or intellectual property. Don’t plagiarize.
- Civility: Ethical conclusions are subjective. It is likely that at times you will hear values expressed by the instructor and/or classmates that you do not agree with, and perhaps in some circumstances that you also won’t respect. You don’t necessarily owe ideas respect. You do owe all human beings respect. Bullying, mockery or other insulting behavior will not be tolerated.
Class Participation and Performance— 10 points (or reduction of fewer or more than 10 points at the discretion of the instructor):
During class we will discuss a number of cases, and explore different avenues of thought. It is important that all students come to all classes prepared and ready to fully participate in the class discussions, and group and individual presentations. The participation portion of the grade it is not simply quantity but also the quality of your contribution.
Ethical Presence Journal and Speech — 15 points Ethical Case Portfolio — 15 points
Final Paper and Speech — 50 points
MGMT 441 Tentative Course Schedule
I might make changes during the course to take advantage of emerging news and issues. However, I won’t move an assignment date forward in the schedule.
DATE & TOPIC
CLASSES 1 and 2: February 25 and March 10* We will be on Spring Break on March 3.
Introduction & Course Organization and Introduction to Ethical Presence
Pre-class assignments: Read pages 2-13 of the Ethical Presence Text*; Read Part IV of the Ethical Presence Text — Connecting. Read Part VI of the Ethical Presence Text — Career Discovery and Advocacy
*A note on the text: it is written from a human point of view. It is written in a personal voice. You should respond to it with a personal voice. I am a lawyer. I’ve been an improvisational actor and a college professor. I’ve worked in marketing. I’m a Bears fan. I like going to the movies. I love my wife. I was one of the caregivers for an elderly mother with advanced dementia. I’m a lot more than that. And I am no different than you. You are wonderfully diverse, with all sorts of passions, dreams, talents, personality traits and values. All of that can shine through the most mundane and difficult ways that you practice your respective professions. When I was an improvisor I was known for my discipline and organization. When I did trials as an attorney, I was known for my quick thinking and creativity. You are perfect just the way that you are.
There is an old maxim of improvisational acting, “Wear your character as lightly as a hat and coat.” The practice of your profession is a very complex, elaborate and demanding hat and coat. When you meet all of the requirements of your work and shine with soulful authenticity, you take care of yourself, other people and whatever God you believe in.
No talent is required to create art and a life of art. Hard work is required. But it is a labor of love. When you find the joy of what is, you burn away all pain and conflict and serve yourself, your spirit and others.
The process is difficult, and so worth it.
Writing Assignment: Write your first entry of your Ethical Presence Journal. Focus on these three entities: yourself, the world and any desires, fears, frustrations that obstruct you from finding complete congruence between yourself and the world. Write about the entirety of your life — not just your work. Write about what brings you joy and satisfaction — coaching Little League, playing in a band, driving your kids to school, cooking———————————————————— whatever interests you.
Write about what you want financially, how and who you want to serve, and what feeds who you
are as a person. We often see our inner life and the need to fit in and succeed in the world as in conflict with each other. That misconstrued and non-existent conflict is the source of unhappiness in executives and other professionals. This course stands for the proposition that the pursuit of one’s happiness — a pursuit that is hard and satisfying work — is the source of our humanity and our presence. We will learn in this course that ethics and creativity are one in the same. When the practice of our business is viewed as an art, you accept the fact that being a professional is part of who you are, and that all of the other parts of who you are determines how you practice your profession.
All human beings are exactly the same. The heart of mankind is a unity. All human beings are also unique beings. All human beings express their humanity in individual and unique ways. Even in professions that have very structured cultures, and are about conforming to rules and methods, very different human beings interact in ways specific to themselves and each other.
Vocation is found where the heart’s desires meet the world’s needs. No one can teach you the particular impulses of your heat, or how to navigate the specific needs of the world that you are called to address. No one can teach you all of that but you. You teach yourself that by self- overhearing. And by listening to how others react to what you do, not from the perspective of their approval/disapproval but in order to evaluate the effects of your choices. That is the purpose of the Ethical Presence Journal.
You will write an Ethical Presence Journal entry as homework for every session of the course.
This is in part an art class. The art of living and the art of professional and ethical effectiveness, living and working with honor, are one in the same.
Learning objectives: developing career discovery and advocacy skills, written communication skills, storytelling skills
Hour One: Course Introduction — Syllabus and Expectations
Hours Two and Three: Group Discussion/Lecture about Ethical Presence, and the 6 Pillars of Ethics — which we will apply to every activity of this class and hopefully beyond.
Any formal or informal code of conduct for any profession, address these fundamental aspects of the ethics of personal character:
- Honesty (Don’t lie)
- Honesty (Don’t steal)
I’ll lay out the base descriptions of EP and the Pillars. We will do an exercise. Each person must speak. The next person must accept what was said by the prior talker and either amplify it or
make a distinction. Then another talker can jump in and we repeat the process. If no one jumps in we keep going with talker — accept———————————————— amplify or distinguish. Confused? Good. This course is
about creating and FIGURING THINGS OUT.
Learning objectives: Developing Communicating Skills, Connecting Skills, Team Building Skills, Oral Communication Skills, Giving and Taking Skills
Hours Four, Five and Six
You will be asked to give a two-minute speech based on your first Ethical Presence Journal entry. Be sure to introduce yourself in the speech————————————————————— name, what you do, where you live, family –
— anything you want us to know about your life and work. Don’t write out a speech. Improvise the speech based upon your first journal entry. You will also be asked to participate in a discussion responding to every other student’s speech.
On the final day of class, you will give a speech based on your cumulative journal entries for the course. I will be available to meet with you and discuss your journal with you whenever you wish to do so. Don’t be frustrated when things seem unclear in your process. The trick is to live the questions and wait for the epiphanies of clarity.
This course is a chance for you to pause and reflect about what it is to be a human being who works professionally.
Experience Observe Reflect Apply
It is important that you commit to the process of this course. That very process will make you a happier, more effective, and more skilled at meeting your ethical professional requirements.
My role is simply to introduce and guide you to creative process. I have no tips or answers for you. But you do.
Learning Objectives: Developing Public Speaking Skills, Listening Skills, Communicating and Connecting Skills, Empathy Skills, Career Discovery and Advocacy Skills
CLASSES 3 and 4: March 17 and March 24
Introduction to Ethical Decision Making—- Making Ethical Case Treatments
Pre-class reading assignments: Read Part V of the Ethical Presence Text—- Making and
Presenting a Case. Read the Heinz Dilemma, pages 4-8 of Roe. Read Chapter Three Ethical Theory in Business in Roe.
due Class 3 on March 17— Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Heinz Dilemma in Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.
due Class 4 on March 24 — Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 3 Problem on Page 39 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.
As always write your Ethical Presence Journal entry for each week. Hour One: Case-making skills lecture
Hours Two and Three: You will make a presentation of your Ethical Case Treatment of the Heinz dilemma. Be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case
-making boot camp.
Hour Four: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Three Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.
Hours Five and Six: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Three Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.
says what you are going to do and how you are going to do it and what you will recommend in headlines so decision makers know where you
are going. You EARN the right to present your case by showing that you have a clear vision of your argument. Headline what the facts, issues, analysis and recommendations are. Don’t be
Facts are concrete details of the case presented with completeness and specificity. What happened? Relevancy and
Primacy!!!! When you present facts you EARN the right
to identify the issues because you show mastery of the situation and you can identify what the problems are.
Issues lay out problems or other considerations and mirror recommendations. What are the Problems; questions? When we lay out
the issues we EARN the right to analyze the situation and look for answers.
Analysis looks at the facts in light of the highest level
abstract thought; connect those facts to highest level abstractions that one can find: for ex: laws, theories, histories, experience; concepts,
philosophies: and uses Critical Thinking(Critical Thinking is reasonable thinking. It
is NOT blind acceptance of any proposition not supported by reason (logic) and by the evidence (objective facts).
• Involves premises and conclusions; sometimes views facts in light of higher-level thought.
- Premise-based logic is like a staircase. Each step lies the foundation for the next step.) to give those facts coherent meaning A
thorough analysis EARNS the right to make decisions or recommendations.
Recommendations will say what you think decision maker(s) should do in light of your analysis.
Recommendations answer the questions and problems addressed in the
Conclusion mirrors introduction; sums up.
We’ve shown you—headlines of issues, facts, analysis and recommendations. Since you have completed all of your steps you have
EARNED the right to display your argument with
more than organized reason; you can be emotional, philosophical and cast your argument to a higher plain with broader implications than simply the case before you. You can appeal to the decision maker’s
higher angels and ask THEM to transform and do something. THE WHY
Learning Objectives: Developing Skills — Case-making, Public Speaking, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Organization, Applied Ethics
CLASS 5: March 31
Pre-class reading assignment: Read Chapter Five Corporate Social Responsibility in Roe. Writing Assignments
Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 5 Problem on Page 60 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.
Hand in the progress of your Ethical Presence Journal written over the first six weeks of the course. (You need only print one copy to hand in at the beginning of the class). These documents will be returned to you at Class 6.
Hour One: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Five Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.
Hours Two and Three: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Five Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.
CLASS 6: April 7
Pre-class reading assignment: Read Chapter Six Corporate Governance and Ethical Leadership in Roe.
Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 6 Problem on Page 71 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.
As always write your Ethical Presence Journal entry.
Hour One: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Six Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.
Hours Two and Three: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Six Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.
CLASS 7: April 14
Pre-class reading assignment: Read Chapter Seven Moral Rights in the Workplace in Roe. Writing Assignments
Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 7 Problem on Page 86 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.
As always write your Ethical Presence Journal entry.
Hour One: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Seven Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.
Hours Two and Three: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Seven Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.
CLASS 8: April 21
Pre-class reading assignment: Read Chapter Eight Diversity and Discrimination in Roe. Writing Assignments
Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 8 Problem on Page 100 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.
As always write your Ethical Presence Journal entry.
Hour One: The class will break out into groups and share their Roe Chapter Eight Ethical Case Treatments and prepare Group Ethical Case Treatment Presentations.
Hours Two and Three: Group Presentations of Roe Chapter Eight Ethical Case Treatments. Again be prepared for a lot of challenge and constructive criticism. This is a case -making boot camp.
Class 9: April 28
Hand in your completed Ethical Presence Journal (20- page minimum) for the course. Prepare a 4- minute speech summarizing your experience
Hours One through Three: Ethical Presence Journal speeches
Class 10: May 5
Hand in your completed portfolio of all of the cases that you have written up for the course. AND
Final Paper due: May 5
For final paper:
Read Chapter Nine Ethics in a Global Environment in Roe.
Write up an Ethical Case Treatment of the Chapter 9 Problem on Page 110 of Roe. As always print 2 copies — hand one in to Professor Thomas at the beginning of class and keep one yourself for use in class.
Prepare a 4- minute Ethical Case Treatment speech for the Chapter 9 problem. Hours One through Three: Chapter 9 Ethical Case Treatment speeches