Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet

Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet

Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet

Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet

Synopsis

What does it mean to carry out "good work"? What strategies allow people to maintain moral and ethical standards at a time when market forces wield unprecedented power and work life is being radically altered by technological innovation? These are the questions at the heart of this important collaboration by three leaders in psychology. Enlivened with stories of real people facing hard decisions, Good Work offers powerful insight into one of the most important issues of our time and, indeed, into the future course of science, technology, and communication.

Excerpt

In 1994-1995, we three authors spent a year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) in Palo Alto, California, each working on a separate book. Although we had known each other and admired each other's work for many years, we had never collaborated on a project. Our fields of interest overlap but are different. Gardner, a cognitive psychologist, is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, which led him to study creators and leaders in different realms. Csikszentmihalyi, a social psychologist who writes from an evolutionary and motivational perspective, is best known for discovering the psychological state called "flow," in which an individual's skills and challenges mesh in absorbing ways. His studies of flow have included groups ranging from surgeons to mountain climbers, and like Gardner, he has a special interest in creativity. Damon is a developmental psychologist who has long focused on social and moral issues. He has written definitive texts on moral development and, with Anne Colby, has carried out a pioneering study of individuals who have led exemplary moral lives. Despite our different foci in psychology, we had enough in common to enjoy exchanging ideas whenever we ran into each other on the cloistered CASBS grounds, overlooking nearby Stanford University.

One afternoon, our conversation turned to the question, If you had the choice, what sort of problem would you work on for the next ten years of your professional life? As we talked it became clear, first, that we did have . . .

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