Posts Tagged ‘transparency’

Is it ethical to review a friend’s book on Amazon?

September 2, 2010

If you write a review of a friend’s book on Amazon should you disclose that you’re a friend? Even though it would diminish the impact of your review?

My friend and favorite author, Leora Krygier, raised some interesting questions about the ethics of reviewing books:

“Should reviewers disclose their leanings and prejudices, and their world view? And on the other side of the coin, what about all those reviews we authors ask our friends to write on Amazon? Should ‘friend’ connections be disclosed in honest reviewing? What about blurbs that come from authors who have the same publisher? Is that a conflict of interest? And reviews for money? Do we just stack it all up to ‘it’s okay because it’s just promotion?’ or is this an ethical issue that needs addressing?”

An ethics principle that almost always works is the “clear conscience” rule: reviewers should have a clear conscience—they shouldn’t hope that their background remains hidden. If I write a review on Amazon for Leora’s book I must disclose that she’s a friend, because there’s a clear conflict here: I hope her book succeeds and I want to write an honest review. If my publisher asks me to review a colleague’s book I have a slightly different conflict: I want to stay in my publisher’s good graces ­and I want to be honest. If I’m being paid for a review I want to please my patron and I want to be honest.

I’m not saying that I can’t be honest in my reviews; in fact I did love and admire Leora’s novel (more…)

What’s with the Sestak case: felony, political stupidity, or bad ethics?

May 28, 2010

Ethics Bob has to comment on the Sestak case, under penalty of losing his ethicist license. First, the background.

While campaigning in the Democratic primary for the U.S. senate seat from Pennsylvania against incumbent Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, Congressman Joe Sestak said that the Administration had offered him a big job, hinted to be Secretary of the Navy, if he would get out of the race. He wouldn’t say who made the offer, and the White House wouldn’t say anything. After winning the primary mostly because Specter kept getting confused about which party’s endorsement he was seeking, Sestak repeated the claim, then became coy about who and what, finally clamming up completely.

In the wake of a furor on all sides over a possible felony and cover-up, the White House this morning released its official review of the affair by White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer. There had been an effort, made not by the White House staff but by Bill Clinton, (haha), “to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in [uncompensated] service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board.”

The lawyer’s memo gave a traditional lawyer’s analysis:

· We didn’t do it.

· The guy who did it didn’t make an offer, he just asked a question.

· The question wasn’t about a real job, just about an unpaid advisorship.

· It was perfectly legal when he did it.

· Everybody does it. (more…)


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