Summary of Ethical Intelligence

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Ethics are complex, but Bruce Weinstein offers a lucid guidebook to sticky ethical situations. He articulates five universal moral principles. Not always successfully: His logic needs work in a few areas, and he backs away from several complex ethical challenges. But even readers who disagree with the author will find value and utility here. getAbstract recommends Weinstein’s thoughtful guide to those interested in ethics and philosophy, as well as to managers and HR personnel who are responsible for shaping ethical workplaces.

About the Author

Bruce Weinstein, PhD, hosts Ask the Ethics Guy! on Bloomberg Businessweek’s online management channel.



The Need for “Ethical Intelligence”

Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book Emotional Intelligence suggested that reading people’s emotions and responding appropriately is essential to work and daily life. But what if your emotional intelligence tells you one thing is true about a friend but your friend tells you something different? How should you respond? All the emotional sensitivity and acuity in the world cannot guide you, because this is essentially an ethical question: What is the right thing to do? To answer such questions you must develop your ethical intelligence.

The Five Core Principles of Ethical Intelligence

The five essential tenets of ethical intelligence are:

  1. “Do no harm” – This is often associated with medical personnel, who are dedicated to helping the sick, but who must, at the very least, not make anything worse. This is a fine basic creed for everyone. This “principle of noninterventionism” asks you to not hurt other people. If you must harm someone in some way – for example, if you must break up with a romantic partner – act responsibly to minimize the pain as much as possible.

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