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Session Title: Neither beast nor god: Discernment as a model of ethical decision making
Speaker: William Foote, Associate Professor, Manhattan College

Session description: The realm of ethical decision making, especially in complex organizations, requires human decision-maker authenticity as the standard of objectivity. Complex organizations and the ecosystem of other organizations and stakeholders they inhabit possess multiple layers and points of connectivity beyond the comprehension of anyone or even a team of expert decision-makers. Whatever the stores of data, channels of communication, systems of information, policies, procedures, even codes of compliance and conduct exist, the key to ethical objectivity remains the authentic human decision-maker. Authenticity arrives only by way of the self-appropriation by human decision-makers of their ever-evolving ability to decide according to values, with feelings that reinforce value, that progress human development universally. Through practice in authenticity multiple decision making agents work within the constraints of time, space, commitments, laws, regulations, and prevailing recommended practices to use appropriate data, models, reflection to reach virtually unconditioned ethical judgments. What is different about the data of an ethical inquiry is the data of consciousness immanent in the very heuristic structure of the human decision-makers themselves. Human decision-makers are the ethical decision-making model. Their consciousness, including feelings for value, is the data.

Bio: The work of William Foote, PhD, rides the seams between economics, ethics, governance, and underlying value chains, operations, and strategies. He’s had faculty appointments at Clarkson, Syracuse, and Le Moyne, taught finance, economics, and business ethics, and worked with evolving online and executive learning programs. During his career, Foote helped build an energy and environment practice in Europe for Ernst & Young, led the quantitative capital markets team at Deloitte, and helped establish new practices in enterprise risk management at Deloitte, Charles River Associates, and more recently at Alvarez & Marsal.

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