Commentaries

IGE's commentaries, generally written by President & CEO Anthony J. Gray, offer an ethical perspective on current events. Ranging from short-form, quick-hit summaries of the ethical dynamics behind the headlines to exhaustive examinations of systemic issues, the form and structure of our commentaries may vary, but they are always tailored to the issue at hand.

On Whose Authority?: When Popular Referendum Shapes a Governor's Power to Act

November 27, 2017

It is undoubtedly the role of our elected officials to represent the interests of constituents, but that duty does have limits. What those limits are, however, can raise some pressing ethical questions. There is certainly not a unilateral obligation to do whatever the majority may desire—the exercise of independent judgment is fundamental to a representative democracy.

The Ethics of the Preemptive Pardon

November 3, 2017

Everyone knows that a President has the power to pardon, which serves as a check on the Judicial branch. While there are certainly limits to this power, the President historically has been granted wide discretion in its use. It has been used for many different reasons and, as shown by Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, may not even require a conviction to be exercised. But what are its limits? In light of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election, this question has become more pressing.

Flagged for Kneeling: Colin Kaepernick and the Ethics of Introspection

October 17, 2016

Colin Kaepernick made national news in the preseason when, to publicly protest the shooting of young African-American men by police, he remained seated during the national anthem. The controversy that erupted has continued to this day, evolving weekly before becoming the cultural phenomenon known as the anthem protest. Criticism of the anthem protest was immediate, and loud, and has continued without pause. Although critics raise various objections, a certain pattern has emerged: instead of addressing the substance of the protests, they have remained largely focused on the techniques.

Welcome to Hell: Rio Olympics 2016

August 4, 2016

It is difficult to imagine a more perfect disaster than the emerging realities of the Rio games. I’d originally intended to focus solely on the Zika virus, which itself could potentially blow up into a global pandemic, but the past few weeks have made it clear that the risk of Zika is not the most severe concern facing these Olympics. The broad categories of known issues are unique in their scope and severity, but they’re the sorts of problems you get when developing countries host major international events: pollution, safety concerns, governmental chaos, cost overruns, facility issues, and the like. What makes Rio unique, however, is that Rio's got them all.

Complicated Truths: A Call for Nuance in Discussing America's Heroin Epidemic

March 22, 2016

I’ve been wanting to write a piece on the heroin epidemic for some time now. But what could I say that has not already been said? The issue has been discussed at great length, its more compelling aspects given longform treatment in some of our nation’s most prestigious journals—The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker—while thousands of shorter pieces have recited the grim, undisputed details: how opioid and heroin overdoses have spiked, how they’ve impacted new communities and demographics, and how, arguably as a result of that shift, what has for decades been seen as a criminal-justice issue has become one of public health. Which is why the commentary I ended up writing about the epidemic isn’t about heroin at all. It’s about us.

Volkswagen's Toxic Code: Debugging the Dilemma of Proprietary Software

February 10, 2016

By now, you’ve probably heard about the Volkswagen scandal, how a routine study exposed regulatory fraud so vast that it nearly brought down one of the world’s most respected automobile manufacturers. Maybe you’ve seen the story on the news lately—a massive compensation fund was just established, and civil suit filed in Detroit—or read it in the paper, or discussed it online. Maybe you marveled at the hubris of how, even as Volkswagen was touting the revolutionary emission controls of its brand-new diesel engine in 2009—when the new Jetta Diesel was named the Green Car of the Year—even as the entire automotive world was hailing them as the undisputed industry leader in cleaner diesel engines, they had, in fact, never even attempted to meet any emissions standards whatsoever. Quite the opposite, in fact.