Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mistakes were made

The guys at the Economist sometimes have these weird blind spots:

Borrowers, mortgage brokers, bankers, CEOs and policymakers all had incentives to engage in behaviour that brought the global economy to its knees. Bad and reckless decisions were made; I am not sure they were unethical.

How would you define 'unethical' in that case?  Is it just relative -- 'more unethical than your neighbor'?  Trying to weasel your way out of the meaning of ethical (and of course he means moral, not ethical, strictly speaking) here is akin to the Nazi's trying to say that they were just following orders, or to the American populace trying to get off the hook for the Iraq war by claiming that they were 'misled'.  Yeah, mistakes were made, everybody was doing it, and few people had a full understanding of how the whole system worked ... but that doesn't make it less unethical, to use the triumphant triple negative.

In the end of course, this debate is kinda stupid.  Let's quit worrying about whether it was moral or not and figure out what mechanism was behind it.

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