Corporate Masks. I find Bender’s exploration of the concept of masks intriguing. This article provides a continuation of the subject I discussed in my blog for last week – the inevitable moral conflict between the rationality of organizations and the personal ethics of the members of those organizations. In last week’s reading, Michaels referred to corporations as “faceless” or a “shield” behind which individuals can no longer be held responsible for their actions . This aligns well with the reading for today, which claims:
It is this desire to act unethically while avoiding guilt and maintaining ethical integrity that has led to the creation of masks .
However, the treatment of the organization presented by Ladd , which claims that moral considerations cannot be a part of organizational decision-making, seems to fall into the category of what Bender calls “addressing masks,” or the view that unethical behavior and corruption are innate traits of complex systems .
Personal Reflection. Although I found Bender’s discussion of masks enlightening, I found his views on the necessity of religion for morality insulting. According to the article,
. . . we must seriously reconsider the necessity of religion for morality. Secular ethics have not met the task .
I see this as an attack on secular philosophies, such as humanistic atheism, that provide a framework for moral living that is separate from religion. I would like to see the author address the concept that religion can also be a mask.
Full Circle. In this last blog, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on what I said in my first weekly critique. In particular, I said:
. . . after reading this article I think I better understand the difference between personal and professional ethics and the need for this distinction.
Sometimes, I think, learning means admitting that we know less than we thought we did when we started out. In this last blog, I am considering the claim made in the article for today that it is the excision of our personal morality from our public and professional lives that has caused the moral crisis in our society today. The distinction between personal and professional ethics, then, may more complex than I originally thought, and something that requires further reflection.
Thank you for reading this final blog of the semester! Today I am both focusing on the article assigned and trying to consider how my thinking has changed throughout the semester – please feel free to add your ideas, especially if you disagree. Some questions you might be able to help me by answering: Did you find any parts of “The Mask” particularly enlightening or offensive? Re-reading your first critique of the semester, how do you feel about what you wrote?
 Michaels, D. 2008. “Sarbanes-Oxley for Science: A Dozen Ways to Improve Our Regulatory System.” In Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health, pp. 241-265. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
 Bender, K. 2010. The Mask: The Loss of Moral Conscience and Personal Responsibility. In An Ethical Compass: Coming of Age in the 21st Century, pp. 161-173. New Haven: Yale University Press.
 Ladd, J. 1970. Morality and the Ideal of Rationality in Formal Organizations. The Monist 54(4):488-516.