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Monday, October 08, 2007

The Demand and Supply of University Ethics

In today's Wall St. Journal, Peter Berkowitz laments that there is insufficient critical attention to the ethics of running a modern research university, especially in light of the flowering of programs and centers of ethics at schools across the country, such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton's.  For what it's worth, this past Christmas break we had some discussion here on Prawfs about the ethical practice of legal scholarship, which provoked good and lively comments.

Because I have to finish prepping for class (another ethical obligation), I will just post some of the questions Peter provocatively and in some cases tendentiously poses from his piece today, and invite readers to share reactions or links to sources about some of the questions. Peter asks:

Is it proper for university disciplinary boards, often composed of faculty and administrators with no special knowledge of the  law, to investigate student accusations of sexual assault by fellow students, which involve crimes for which perpetrators can go to jail for decades?

Should universities have one set of rules and punishments  for students who plagiarize or pay others to write their term papers, and another -- and lesser -- set for professors who plagiarize or pay others to write their articles and books, or should students and faculty be held to the same tough standards of intellectual integrity?

How can universities respect both professors' academic freedom and students' right to be instructed in the diversity of opinions?

What is the proper balance in hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions between the need for transparency and accountability and the need for confidentiality?

What institutional arrangements give university trustees adequate independence from the administrators they review?

Is it consistent with their mission for university presses to publish books whose facts and footnotes they do not check?

In accordance with what principles may a university bar ROTC from campus because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell policy" concerning homosexuals, while inviting to campus a foreign leader whose country not only punishes private consensual homosexual sex but is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and who himself denies the Holocaust and threatens to obliterate the sovereign state of Israel?

Update: Doug Berman asks an  ethics question of his own--should he sell his votes for reputation effects on US News?


Posted by Administrators on October 8, 2007 at 02:45 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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