Dave Nussbaum, managing editor at the Behavioral Scientist blog, recently sat down with Yuval Feldman at Bar-Ilan University Law School in Israel. Professor Feldman recently published the book The Law of Good People: Challenging States’ Ability to Regulate Human Behavior in which he examines how behavioral ethics could change legal design and enforcement.
Through the course of the interview, Professor Feldman describes how ethical violations are highly contagious. When left unchecked, such behavior will grow and the numerous, subtle rule violations that result end up creating new social norms for what is considered permissible legal behavior. These small rule violations “ordinary unethicality” gives people room to pursue their self-interest while still feeling comfortable with their ethical choices. Within a particular firm or in broader society, the cumulative impact has a greater impact on the destruction of social capital and trust than the few gross violations by truly “bad” people.
The full interview is available: Designing to Avoid “Ordinary Unethicality”: A Q&A with Yuval Feldman