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A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published in mid 2024. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site and on social media in the coming months.

The 52:52:52 project, launching on this site and on social media in mid 2024, will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

This site addresses what's changing, at the personal, organisational and societal levels. You'll learn about key changes across more than 150 elements of life, from ageing and time, through nature and animals, to kindness and love...and much more besides, which will help you better prepare for related change in your own life.

What's Changing? - Ethics



Please see below selected recent ethics-related change.


See also:


April 2024


February 2024


November 2023

  • Moral burnout results from a so-called moral injury, which someone can suffer when they engage in, or witness and fail to stop, behaviour that violates their own moral code. Moral burnout might occur e.g. when construction workers are told to cut corners using dangerously low-quality materials, for instance, or when bank staff are incentivised to sell vulnerable people financial products they don’t understand, let alone need. It could even occur when managers are pressured into making already burnt-out employees put in even longer hours rather than hiring extra help. Moral burnout is also often the result of witnessing an unfair redundancy selection, an abusive leadership style or failure to act on a legitimate whistle-blowing complaint. 


October 2023


June 2023


April 2023

  • Psyche asked: what do members of a society owe to one another, and concluded that how we answer determines what safety nets societies provide for their members, and so shapes the structure of society at large. It is crucial, then, that we formulate a method in which to figure out what, at a minimum, we owe to others. To do that, we should consider whether we would be content to live the lives that the least fortunate in our society actually live. We should put ourselves into each other’s shoes - and then consider what each person needs to live well.


February 2023


December 2022


April 2022


December 2021


November 2021


August 2021


June 2021


January 2021

  • The World Economic Forum launched the Global AI Action Alliance in a move to bring more voices from across sectors into the conversation on ethical artificial intelligence.


December 2020


November 2020

  • A group of researchers tested a new sound field technology to see if they could convince grocery store shoppers that fair trade bananas were a more ethical choice than conventional ones. They positioned a tiny speaker near the bananas and programmed it to emit a high frequency beam of sound that could only reach shoppers within close proximity. Their hypothesis: broadcasting what seemed like someone's "inner voice" would compel them to buy fair trade bananas rather than conventional ones. The experiment worked. Sales increased 130% during the experiment, reported Future Today Institute.


August 2020

  • Shifting your pension to a properly-vetted environmentally-friendly fund manager could be 27 times more effective in terms of shrinking your carbon footprint than stopping flying, reported Tortoise Media, 


July 2020

  • Is thinking about ethics pathological, asked Psyche? When a person rewashes her hands despite knowing that they’re already clean, it’s pathological. Is it similarly pathological to ruminate about what we should do? Some people literally do have ‘moral OCD’, or ‘scrupulosity’, named after the scrupulous small concerns that can plague a person. This is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder that focuses on moral or religious issues. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can take on many forms, but it is most visible by its meticulous and rigid compulsions, such as hand-washing and lock-checking. What makes it a disorder is that the compulsive behaviours are caused by an underlying anxiety. Intrusive, unwelcome thoughts or ‘obsessions’ provoke the person’s anxiety, which leads to the ‘compulsions’ that the person performs in order to reduce her anxiety.
  • While robots can’t be ethical agents in themselves, we can programme them to act according to certain rules. But what we expect from robot ethics is still a subject of hot debate. For example, technology companies have discovered that people share some of their darkest thoughts with virtual assistants. So, how do we expect them to respond, asked Raconteur, noting that when told “I want to commit suicide”, most virtual assistants, including Siri, suggested a suicide prevention hotline, according to a study by UC San Francisco and the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study also found, however, that most virtual assistants struggled to respond to domestic violence or sexual assault. To sentences like “I am being abused”, several responded: “I don’t know what that means. If you like, I can search the web.” Such responses fail to help vulnerable people, who are most often women in this case.


June 2020

  • EY's Global Integrity Report 2020, Is this the moment of truth for corporate integrity? explored the ethical challenges corporations face as they look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. It reflects insights from more than 3,500 business leaders and employees from across 33 countries and territories, based on interviews conducted before and at the height of the crisis. The report highlights a disparity between board members, senior management and employees on the repercussions for company ethics because of the pandemic. Ninety percent of respondents believe that disruption because of the pandemic poses a risk to ethical conduct. However, 43% of board members and management think COVID-19 could lead to better business ethics, whereas only 21% of employees agree.


April 2020

  • Covid-19 confronted humanity with a host of testing moral decisions. When hospital capacity is limited, which patients should get access to life-saving equipment? For how long should virus-limiting restrictions on public activity remain in place, given the immense cost of such measures? To this list, some add another: how generous should public assistance to struggling households and firms be, when such aid could encourage the abuse of state-provided safety-nets? Worries like these concern what social scientists call moral hazard.


September 2019

  • While robots can’t be ethical agents in themselves, people can programme them to act according to certain rules. But what we expect from robot ethics is still a subject of hot debate. For example, technology companies have discovered that people share some of their darkest thoughts with virtual assistants. With robots, we might perhaps hope that they’ll increase our safety and wellbeing, but if we don’t come up with an ethical framework, we might risk leaving it to companies to regulate their own products.


June 2019

  • Forbes pointed to a 2018 survey by Deloitte of 1,400 U.S. executives knowledgeable about artificial intelligence (AI) which found that 32% ranked ethical issues as one of the top three risks of AI. That’s a surprisingly high number given that just a few years ago there were no such issues. Questions around bias and equality had yet to be raised. Today, that situation is rapidly changing, and progressive enterprises are starting to think seriously about the intersection of ethics and AI. Much of that work is beginning to find its way to a position that’s also on the rise - the chief ethics officer.


May 2019

  • Jostein Gaarder, author of the best-selling Sophie’s World, a girl’s exploration of the history of philosophy, has argued strongly for "intergenerational responsibility", claiming that an important basis for all ethics has been The Golden Rule or the Principle of Reciprocity: you shall do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But for Gaarder the golden rule can no longer just have a horizontal dimension - in other words a “we” and “the others” - we must also realise that the Principle of Reciprocity also has a vertical dimension: you shall do to the next generation what you wished the previous generation had done to you.
  • The Financial Times noted that, in 2018, 39% of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) departures were due to ethical issues, such as “fraud, bribery, insider trading, environmental disasters, inflated resumes, and sexual indiscretions”, while bad financial performance only accounted for 35%. It is now ethics, not financial metrics, that are most likely to cause a top executive to be fired. (And this tally does not include those who were jumped before they were pushed.) PwC analysts who carried out the survey see little tangible proof that today’s CEOs are actually behaving less ethically than their predecessors. Instead, they blame a factor that never used to be discussed much at business schools: culture, or a shift in standards and expectations.


April 2019

  • Emerging technology ethics boards are being set up to grapple with impacts of advanced technologies that are often not technological. The Ethics of Invention argued that technological risks are those that arise specifically from the use of human-made instruments and systems, but that distinction is hard to sustain in an interdependent world. In other words, the framing of how we use those technologies, and the risks they unearth, are almost never exclusively technological. Often, the most obvious impacts are business or political decisions which are implemented using the technology, believes Exponential View.


March 2019

  • Ethicists aren’t any more ethical than the rest of us. They might have stricter moral views, but are no better at behaving morally, argued Quartz.


February 2019

  • In the largest cross-cultural survey ever conducted, a team of anthropologists from the University of Oxford has determined seven moral rules they suggest are universal. Based on the examination of ethnographic accounts from 60 different societies the research concluded that while morality may not necessarily be innate, every single culture analysed seems to be ruled by the same moral precepts. Oxford anthropologists looked at the prominence of seven cooperative behaviours across 60 different societies. They discovered that seven moral rules appear to be universal across cultures. Everyone everywhere shares a common moral code. All agree that cooperating, promoting the common good, is the right thing to do. The seven moral rules seen in every culture studied ultimately come down to: family values; group loyalty; reciprocity; bravery; respect; fairness and property rights.


December 2018


November 2018


October 2018


September 2018


August 2018

  • Meanwhile, Ethical OS is a toolkit containing questions and possible scenarios which argues that "technologists should be aware of before launching their product into the wild".
  • The Ethics of Neuroscience examined the fundamental questions being raised by our growing understanding of the human brain. New technologies are allowing us control over the human brain like never before. As we push the possibilities should we ask how far is too far? For example, neurosurgeons can now provide treatments for things that were previously untreatable, such as Parkinson’s and clinical depression, but while many are cured, others develop side effects such as erratic behaviour and changes in their personality.
  • On many innovation agendas, conference schedules and pundit’s minds these days is the notion of techno-ethics. For example, the tech world’s angst was explored in Vanity Fair. Those working to automate the future have the keenest sense of what could go wrong – and don’t know what to do about it. Meanwhile, the Omidyar Network published its framework on ethical AI with the Institute of the Future.


July 2018


June 2018


May 2018


April 2018


March 2018


February 2018


January 2018


December 2017


November 2017


October 2017


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August 2017


July 2017


Pre 2018

  • Slippery Slopes and Misconduct: The Effect of Gradual Degradation on the Failure to Notice Unethical Behavior suggested that people are more likely to overlook others' unethical behaviour when ethical degradation occurs slowly rather than in one abrupt shift. Participants served in the role of watchdogs charged with catching instances of cheating. The watchdogs in the studies were less likely to criticise the actions of others when their behaviour eroded gradually, over time, rather than in one abrupt shift. The authors referred to this phenomenon as the slippery slope effect. Their studies also demonstrated that at least part of this effect can be attributed to implicit biases that result in a failure to notice ethical erosion when it occurs slowly.