For 12 years, Randy Cohen penned "The Ethicist," a weekly column for The New York Times Magazine syndicated throughout the US and Canada. The column answered readers’ ethical questions on all topics ranging from business ethics to medical ethics to MP3 downloads. His recent publication, The Good, the Bad and the Difference, a book based on the column, seeks to differentiate between ethical behavior and illegal activity. He is currently developing “A Question of Ethics,” a show for public radio. Read More >
If we can reach a rough consensus on right and wrong—don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal—why don’t we all behave virtuously? Cohen explores the idea that the answer lies not in our characters but our circumstances, and discusses how to create the kind of communities (in our neighborhoods, our schools, and our businesses) in which we are likely to behave admirably. During the Q&A, he then applies these ideas to the actual ethical problems facing the audience.
After 12 years writing the popular New York Times Magazine column “The Ethicist,” Randy Cohen shares details and answers popular questions of his unusual job: Were those letters real? Did he ever get one wrong (or, depending on your perspective, right)? Audiences are given a chance to pose their own ethical dilemmas or set Cohen straight about a past column.
In this talk, Randy Cohen takes a close look at the ethics of transportation. Ethics concerns the effects of our actions on others. If you drive a private car when you have alternatives—say for a half-mile hop in a big city—then those effects are horrible: you pollute the air, squander public space, and kill about 30,000 of your neighbors every year.
We all deplore plagiarism, but should we? Randy Cohen argues that much of what we label as plagiarism in fiction, in music, and in art, is not only acceptable, it is admirable. Indeed it is the only way such work can be done. Other kinds of plagiarism—in academic work, for example—deserve our scorn. How do we distinguish between them and how ought we respond to each?
"Randy was great—very smart and quite the sense of humor. Thank you for your work on this and connecting us with Mr. Cohen."