EMU Ethos week

Yesterday I attended the final luncheon for our College of Business Ethos week.  While I have a number of thoughts on the purpose and effectiveness of the week, today I'll talk about the last speaker, Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager of the Detroit Public Schools.  Mr. Bobb started his talk off on the right foot with a quote from Aristotle.  But, as I expected, the majority of his talk was a mixed bag.  He mixes Aristotle's ethics with Christian philosophy (through St. Thomas Aquinas) and tries to justify Faith, Hope, and Charity.  He then tries to tie these Christian values with our Ethos statement virtues of integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, respect, learning, and work ethic.  Given the impossibility of the challenge, it is not surprising that the speech was disintegrated and difficult to follow.

He made some interesting points about organizational transparency (which reminded me of Diana Hsieh's discussion of privacy) that I need to think more about.  He also made some blatantly biased observations when discussing Aristotle's Rhetoric and his notions ethos, pathos, and logos. During this discussion, he claims that the Tea Party uses pathos - emotional appeal - to convince people of the dangers in Obama's policies.  While I do not deny that some in the Tea Party have used occasional emotional appeals, it is not their primary means of persuasion.  But consider Obama's use of individuals without insurance, with severe financial problems, and with medical problems requiring large amounts of money to cure.  The intent is clear - to make people feel sorry for that poor soul and vote them some money.  That is clear pathos.

But overall, I was impressed with Mr. Bobb's attempt to address ethical philosophy and explain its role in our decision-making.  Even if he misses the mark, the approach is one that too few people attempt. 

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