Why the presumption of good faith can make our lives civil again

Taking time for thoughtful consideration has fallen out of fashion, writes Emily Chamlee-Wright. How can we restore good faith and good judgement to our increasingly polarized conversations?

  • The clamor of the crowd during a heated discussion can make it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. Adam Smith wrote that the loudness of blame can stupefy our good judgment.
  • Equally, when we're talking with just one other person, our previous assumptions and knee-jerk reactions can cloud our good judgment.
  • If you want to find clarity in moments like that, Emily Chamlee-Wright recommends practicing the presumption of good faith. That means that we should presume, unless we have good evidence to the contrary, that the other person's intent is not to deceive or to offend us, but to learn our point of view.
Keep reading Show less

Sexual harassment: Organizations must stop protecting ‘brilliant jerks’

More rules is not what's going to stop sexual harassment at work, says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. Change the culture.

  • "Too many organizations have tolerated the brilliant jerk. Too many organizations have tolerated the highly profitable sexual harasser or bully," says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. At this point in time, more rules is not the answer. The workplace culture must reject harassers.
  • When organizations do nothing to stop harassers and have one set of rules for the powerful and one for the powerless, productivity, workplace culture, and morale are affected in ways we can measure, and in insidious, destructive ways that we cannot.
  • "Think about it, says Taylor. "Your star performer is known to flirt the line, if not cross the line, with respect to inappropriate workplace behavior. Are you prepared to fire that person, even if it means you may lose a major contract? That's when employees will judge who you are and what this company is really about. They're going to judge you on what you do, not what you say."
Keep reading Show less

The awkward truth about choosing charities

Philosopher Peter Singer broaches an uncomfortable truth about the Make-A-Wish Foundation and GoFundMe pages.

  • None of us have infinite bank accounts so when we make charitable donations we have to weigh up how to do it most effectively. What is the most suffering you can reduce for the amount of money you have?
  • Philosopher Peter Singer uses the Make-A-Wish Foundation as an example. It's a much loved charity for the joy it gives to dying children. Yet the cost of the average wish is $7,500—an amount that, if spent effectively, can save one, two, three, four, or more children's lives, says Peter Singer.
  • "We ought to think about that before we respond emotionally to what seems like a great idea," says Singer. "If you compare saving a child's life with giving a child one great day then anybody—the child, the parents—anybody would say 'Oh, so much better to save the child's life, of course.' And you can save not just one child's life but more than one."
A free download of the 10th anniversary edition of The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty is available here.





10 quotes from great minds on why you should vote

Don't feel like going out to vote? These ten thinkers have something to tell you.

Photo by Michael on Unsplash
  • Everybody occasionally wonders if they should bother to vote.
  • To help out, we have quotes from 10 great minds explaining why voting, and participation in politics in general, is the right thing to do.
  • Some of them will inspire you, some will scare you, and some are pretty funny.
Keep reading Show less

3 ethical catastrophes you can help stop, right now

Deciding how we ought to live is one of the greatest challenges of being alive. Ask yourself these important questions to gain clarity, with philosopher Peter Singer.

  • Philosopher Peter Singer cites his top three ethical issues in the world today as: extreme poverty; climate change, which is related to poverty; and the way humans treat animals.
  • Any rational being should be interested in trying to understand how they ought to live, and whether they are doing things that are right or wrong. Singer suggests asking yourself important questions. When it comes to extreme poverty, ask: "Is it okay for me just to be living my life in my society and not doing anything for people who, through no fault of their own, are living in extreme poverty?"
  • For climate change, ask how you can put pressure on political leaders to take serious steps to prevent a climate change catastrophe that will disproportionately affect the poor. When it comes to animal cruelty, ask: "Am I complicit in the suffering that's being inflicted on animals, especially in factory farms but in other forms of farming as well? Am I complicit in that when I buy those products? And, if so, does that mean that I need to stop buying them?"
Keep reading Show less