Lessons in ethical decision making from ‘The Good Place’ creator Michael Schur

The storied television producer explained how a fender bender prompted him to learn from Aristotle, Kant and others.

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How tv producer Michael Schur learned about ethics

When communicators must deliver a corporate message or directive that doesn’t jive with the values of our workforce, it can create a dilemma. But when that disconnect between what you’re expected to communicate and what you believe feels personal, some basic ethical principles can equip you with the reasoning to navigate.

“So how do you prepare for that?” said Michael Schur, the television writer executive producer of shows like “Parks & Recreation” and “The Good Place,” during a recent TED talk. “By reading theories of ethics and understanding what they say, what they mean, how they purport to help us make better decisions and become better people.”

Schur began the talk by describing a time when his wife got into a fender bender in New Orleans. After the guy asked for an exorbitant fee, Schur told him that he shouldn’t care about such a minor cosmetic issue. After all, Hurricane Katrina had just decimated the city. Schur offered to donate the $836 that the man had requested to replace his bumper to the Red Cross Katrina relief fund in his name if he agreed not to file a claim and fix his car. The man said he would consider it.


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