30 Jan 2009

How should ethics be built into our strategies for business, for government—and for life?

The downturn has an upside. The current economic turmoil is the perfect opportunity for businesses, governments, and individuals to rethink their ethical orientations from the bottom up. The Open University Ethics Centre's new lecture series on “Integrity in Public Life” will explore some of the most pressing ethical dilemmas of our time.

As Timothy Chappell, Director of the Ethics Centre and Professor of Philosophy at The Open University, puts it: “The people, countries, and organisations that get through all this best are going to be the ones that have the best understanding of themselves, of where they are trying to go, and of what their true values are. Our four distinguished lecturers will present reflections on their own experience, at the heart of government, in business, and in the academy, to stimulate our audiences to ask those questions for themselves.”

The four lunchtime lectures will be hosted at St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, London, during May and June 2009 from 12:50 – 2pm. Entrance is free and open to all.

For further information or to book a ticket, please contact Marie-Claire Le Roux on Tel: 01908 6 52032 or email

06 May 2009
Dr John Githongo: The Paradox of Two Recessions

John Githongo, the Kenyan anti-corruption campaigner now working as Senior Advisor - Advocacy, World Vision UK, will consider some of the scandals that have come to light as the economic tide has gone out in European business. He will compare the apparent paradox whereby economic upturn and democratic recession have gone together in Africa.

20 May 2009
Lord Butler: Integrity and Politics

Lord Butler will draw on his experience as a previous head of the Civil Service, and lead author of the Butler Report, to discuss the ethical pitfalls facing politicians and civil servants, and how to avoid them.

27 May 2009
Professor John Cottingham: Integrity and Fragmentation

Professor Cottingham, the distinguished philosopher from the University of Reading, will argue that we are harmed by living in a compartmentalised culture. Our institutions are manned by specialists who have mastered a particular field, but are not expected to form a view of the whole. Individually, we divide our lives into work and leisure, as if we were modular beings. Yet the classical Greek philosophers’ ideal of the unity of the virtues shows that people cannot live well unless their activities are integrated into a meaningful structure, informed not just by technical expertise but by a vision of the good for humankind. We need this idea today.

17 June 2009
Baroness O'Neill: Trustworthiness, Accountability and Character

Baroness O’Neill, cross-bench peer and President of the British Academy, focuses on the place of trust in public life, and explores what we should take as evidence of trustworthiness. Character, codes of conduct and formal systems of accountability can all be helpful for judging trustworthiness, but what can we do when they don’t provide enough evidence?

Editor’s Notes
John Githongo is a former Kenyan journalist who investigated bribery and fraud in his home country and later, under the presidency of Mwai Kibaki, took on an official governmental position to fight corruption. In 2005 he left that position, later accusing top ministers of large-scale fraud.

Lord Butler of Brockwell has been Head of the Civil Service, and was Master of University College, Oxford, until July 2008. He chaired the Butler Report on the broader issue of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction

John Cottingham is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Reading and an Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. His recent books include On the Meaning of Life and The Spiritual Dimension.

Onora Sylvia O'Neill, Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve CBE PBA FAMS FRS (Hon.) FAAAS (Hon.) MRIA (Hon.), is a crossbench member of the House of Lords. She studied Philosophy, Psychology, and Physiology at Oxford University, and wrote her doctorate with John Rawls at Harvard. She is a professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge and President of the British Academy, and chairs the Nuffield Foundation. Until October 2006, she was the Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge.

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