When You Talk About Ethics
In my experience, people will more readily discuss possible legal violations than ethical ones. Cite the law and you're a serious decision maker. People scoot up to the conference table. The high priest/lawyer may be called upon to read the entrails. The legal issues are quickly sorted out. Usually no one gets upset. Mention an ethical problem, however, and you can see the personal defenses shooting up.
"Personal" is the operative word. The law is frequently vague and external. Questioning the ethics of conduct is regarded as more of a personal matter. People are more inclined to question the authority of the questioner - hardly a saint and at best a wounded healer - to make judgments. That's why ethical concerns must be raised carefully but they must be raised. It is too easy to slip into a "just obey the law" mode and think that doing so puts one in the sunny meadows of ethical behavior. There are many forms of legal conduct that are pretty ugly. As a Supreme Court justice noted years ago, having the right to do something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.
We need more people who are willing to ask, "Are we doing the right thing?"