... I was disappointed that the use in the article of Atticus Finch, archetype of a principled and honorable lawyer, was said by some to be a mistake because he lost. In an article looking at topics which included values inherent in a practice, I believe we could have included no better moral compass.
My thoughts about Finch are articulated well in an essay titled "In Search of Atticus Finch" (Clark Memorandum - J. Reuben Clark Law School) [pdf]. Excerpt:
... In one sense Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson live only in the pages of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird, and in the classic motion picture by the same title, starring the late, great Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. But in another, more important, sense Atticus Finch lives! He must live! Should the day ever come that he ceases to exist, the profession of law also would cease to exist, because Atticus Finch is the embodiment of what it means to be a professional in law.
How so? What is a “professional” anyway? In our 21st-century vernacular, the word is seen as synonymous with competence. In one dimension it means possessing a particularized set of skills beyond those commonly found in the general populace. Often it means advanced education, qualifying examinations, and certification. “Know how.” “Board certified.” “Admitted to the bar.” “MD.” “CPA.” “NFL.” “NBA.” “The National Academy.” These are all words, initials, and phrases commonly found in the context of any reference to a professional.
But in law, especially, there is another dimension. Being a professional is more, much more, than possessing a set of skills, a license, or the initials JD. Being a lawyer means more than being a skilled advocate, more than a legal technician, or more than an architect of business transactions. The lawyer has taken an oath—a solemn oath,
"In China, when we receive an inheritance we view it as the life energy of the person who has given us that money or property, whatever it is. It represents all of their love, toil and experiences. In fact, in a way it not only represents the culmination of their life’s efforts but it is an extension of the opportunities, successes and sacrifices of all of their ancestors. So when we spend some of our inheritance, it is to us as if we are spending the life energy of our ancestor(s).” As I was introduced to this new paradigm I now call the “Chinese Meaning of Money,” I came to realize that the meaning associated with financial capital is one of those intangible and invisible components of family wealth that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren.
Click to listen to this 9-minute interview of Dr. Ellen Langer at the Leaderonomics channel on YouTube. Worth listening to and then considering how "there" you are each day. According to Dr. Langer, being mindful sets the stage for success in all arenas of life, and can result in improved health. A better sense of humor, too!
What role do emotions play in ethical decision-making? Philosophers have long debated the question, disagreeing about both the nature of "the good" and how best to achieve it. Rationalists ground one's capacity for virtue in logic and deliberate cognition, while moral intuitionists look to one's capacity for feeling deeply. Immanuel Kant, for example, maintained that right conduct flowed from a sense of duty that functioned independently of emotion. Conversely, David Hume argued that all right action involved sentiment and that reason, stripped of passion, could not impel ethical choice.
Philosophers are not alone in their fascination with the question. Psychologists also have delved into the relationship between emotion and moral development, creating varying models of maturation that either embrace or reject emotion as a critical component of moral discernment. Today, debates in the "soft sciences" of the mind spill into the "hard sciences" of the body. Interest in the biological bases of emotion invigorates neuroscience, and developments in functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) promise methods for mapping the synaptic pathways that induce affective states. Although we can now detect activity in portions of the brain associated with emotional experience, it remains unclear whether those electrical surges push us in "right" or "wrong" directions.
In the mediation world, scholars and practitioners frequently treat emotion as the unruly step-child of the problem-solving mind. Professor Leonard Riskin characterizes emotion as a potential negotiation saboteur and offers "mindful practice" as a useful corrective. He argues that mindful mediation can help negotiators gain better control over their wandering minds and negative emotions, and achieve more satisfying, interest-based solutions.
This essay celebrates Riskin's call to arms while suggesting some limits to what mindfulness can achieve in the ethical realm. It examines in more detail the relationship Riskin posits between mindful practice and ethical decision-making. It discusses recent developments in neuroethics that imply a prominent role for emotions in establishing ethical restraint. It also surveys a growing body of evidence that suggests the directive power of our emotions remains largely hidden from and impervious to the control of our "reasoning" selves. Lastly, it examines what Riskin has, in an earlier work, described as the ethical "hard case" in light of recent explorations into the emotional wellsprings of deontological versus consequentialist thinking. Although the mediation community need not wade deeply into the debates currently roiling social psychologists, it is useful to reflect on the genesis of our ethical commitments and whether they continue to serve the field’s long-term goals and interests.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Today's college students are not as empathetic as college students of the 1980s and '90s, a University of Michigan study shows.
The study, presented in Boston at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, analyzes data on empathy among almost 14,000 college students over the last 30 years.
"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research. "College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait."
Konrath conducted the meta-analysis, combining the results of 72 different studies of American college students conducted between 1979 and 2009, with U-M graduate student Edward O'Brien and undergraduate student Courtney Hsing.
Compared to college students of the late 1970s, the study found, college students today are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective" and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."
In a related but separate analysis, Konrath found that nationally representative samples of Americans see changes in other people's kindness and helpfulness over a similar time period.
Listen to conversations, the media, and advertising, and you will hear many, many words and phrases from the world of sports. We use them frequently to communicate, and this frequency is the topic of a recent article in SIVault. From "Time To Call A Reverse":
If you want to measure the depth of our obsession with the athletic, forget the gargantuan Super Bowl ratings or the willingness of grown men to shell out big bucks for replica jerseys. Just listen to the way our conversations are laced with sports-speak. We live in a world of knockout blows and three-strike laws. We think we're batting
Below is an e-mail I received from Professor Len Riskin which I post here with his permission.
The Initiative on Mindfulness in Law and Dispute Resolution, University of Florida Levin College of Law
May 28, 2010
Forthcoming Events Related to Mindfulness in Law and Dispute Resolution (Note: This is not a comprehensive list of events related to mindfulness in law and dispute resolution. These are programs that have a strong, explicit focus on mindfulness in law or dispute resolution, and with which I am connected or of which I happen to be aware. Other resources for information on events dealing with mindfulness in law and dispute resolution are listed at the end of this document.)
June 30, Webinar, Contemplative Neuroscience, with Richard J. Davidson, University of Wisconsin, 3:00-4:00 p.m. EDT. Sponsored by the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/413703562 [This program will not deal with mindfulness in law.]
July 12-14, 2010, Chicago (Downtown). Summer Institute on Negotiation: Critical Skills for Effective Negotiating. Northwestern University,
French author and researcher Christian Salmon is on to something. Today, stories help legitimate management, and also governments. Salmon’s book is a well-written and very professionally researched account of how storytelling has come to the worlds of brands and of politics; of how it is now ‘a route to spirituality, a strategy for grant seekers, a mode of conflict resolution, and a weight-loss plan’. ...
Early in 2005, the Harvard Business Review published a major article which argued that, in times of ‘unsettling transition’, telling a
Who would believe that a world history of food and drug safety could be engrossing? If you do not think it is a topic that could hold your attention, you may change your mind after reading this article from Social Issues in America.
I include this article with permission of its author Jack High, a friend of mine who is a professor at George Mason University. Click to read "Food and Drug Safety" [pdf]. Included in the article is a timeline that goes from 12,000 BC to 1995 AD, and includes many important food- and drug-related events. Enjoy learning? Read this article.