Saturday, June 9, 2012

Robert Wechsler Review

On Robert Wechslers’ CITY ETHICS.ORG site he reviews “The Faces of Injustice” by Judith Shklars, below is an excerpt from his post.  Please click on the link to read the rest of the article, well worth reading from start to finish. 

When I read the article I was reminded of the culture of “do nothing, see nothing” that permeates our organizations and, yes, our entire society.  Only when people speak out about injustice and keep speaking out even in the face of intimidation and ridicule will this culture change.

 "…passive injustice, "the refusal of both officials and private citizens to prevent acts of wrongdoing when they could and should do so. ... By passive injustice I do not mean our habitual indifference to the misery of others, but a far more limited and specifically civic failure to stop private and public acts of injustice. … when we do not report crimes, when we look the other way when we see cheating and minor thefts, when we tolerate political corruption, and when we silently accept the lies that we regard as unjust, unwise, or cruel. Public servants are even more likely to be passively unjust, being by training unwilling to step outside the rules and routines of their offices and peers, afraid to antagonize their superiors were they to make themselves unduly conspicuous. The resulting injustice is [due to] many hands in general, who need to be reminded constantly of the possible consequences of their inaction.”

Passive injustice allows ethical misconduct to occur. The existence of unwritten rules, the intimidation and fear, the misplaced loyalties of an organization lead to silence and acceptance of misconduct. Shklar believed that even citizens have an obligation not to be passively unjust. 'Passive injustice is a strictly civic notion. It does not need the support of any particular moral philosophy … Passive injustice refers to our public roles and their political context — citizenship in a constitutional democracy.' "

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