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John Paul Rollert
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Blog Entries by John Paul Rollert

Empathy, Gatsby, and the Great American Tragedy

(3) Comments | Posted May 16, 2013 | 11:54 AM

Hollywood adaptations of great novels tend to unnerve devoted readers. The effort seems hubristic and slightly profane, akin to painting a second Sistine Chapel or adding a chorus to King Lear. Perfection, by definition, can't be improved upon, and it seems suspect even to try.

So it is that a...

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5 Principles for Moral Leadership

(5) Comments | Posted January 25, 2013 | 6:16 PM

Accomplished leaders are like master craftsmen: their first principles are best practices, the felt wisdom of experience and reflection.

Take Benjamin Franklin. In his Autobiography, he describes 13 precepts for self-improvement he coined as a young man. They include Resolution ("Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what...

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Mitt Romney's "Factual Dexterity" and the Presidential Debates

(34) Comments | Posted October 2, 2012 | 10:39 PM

If past is prologue, Mitt Romney will reaffirm tonight that having a superior command of the facts is a temptation and a blessing.

Throughout the Republican primaries, Romney conveyed a mastery of policy minutiae that allowed him to parry and thrust with quickness and precision. Such dexterity helped him...

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Six Principles for Business Ethics

(3) Comments | Posted July 11, 2012 | 2:42 PM

The pleasure of teaching is being taught -- a lesson I learn every time I teach business ethics.

It's a good thing, too, for unlike my peers at law and medical school, I have no established canon of ethics to teach my MBAs. Instead, I ask them to make...

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Greg Smith, Adam Smith and the 'Self-Interest' of Goldman Sachs

(1) Comments | Posted April 24, 2012 | 1:05 PM

It has been almost a month since Greg Smith's letter of resignation sent Goldman Sachs into full PR panic mode. Since then, the firm has completed its great "muppet" sweep, Mr. Smith has secured a blockbuster book deal, and Lloyd Blankfein has found himself...

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The Great Infidel at 300

(2) Comments | Posted June 4, 2011 | 5:47 PM

What do you get a man for his 300th birthday? For David Hume, the University of Edinburgh has decided to pay him the kind of tribute it withheld during his lifetime, when the most important philosopher of the mid-18th century was denied the Chair of Ethics...

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Obama's Empathy for the Supreme Court

(6) Comments | Posted March 22, 2011 | 11:56 AM

I recently suggested that Justice Sam Alito's lonely dissent in the Phelps First Amendment case seemed to embody the "empathy standard" for judicial review, the very standard that Republicans warned about in the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Over the weekend, Emily Bazelon...

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Sam Alito: Setting the "Empathy Standard" for the Supreme Court

(19) Comments | Posted March 16, 2011 | 4:02 PM

For almost two years now, Republicans have issued dire warnings about an urgent threat to the Constitution emanating from the Supreme Court. What is this menace? A Justice's capacity for empathy, what Senator Lindsay Graham has called the "absurd, dangerous standard" by which President Obama has promised to evaluate Supreme...

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Adam Smith and the Wall Street Bonuses

(1) Comments | Posted February 16, 2011 | 12:45 PM

What would Adam Smith make of the Wall Street bonuses?

I was recently asked this by a student in my business ethics class. The author of The Wealth of Nations was a renowned moral philosopher long before he became interested corn laws and supply curves, and we spend considerable...

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Does the Tea Party Take the Constitution Seriously?

(17) Comments | Posted October 7, 2010 | 10:45 AM

Though the Supreme Court has a rotating line-up, snazzy uniforms, and the occasional wide-eyed rookie, the start of a new session still lacks the pageantry of opening day. This year was no different, though with the rise of the Tea Party, one might have expected otherwise. The Supreme Court building...

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A Coda to the Kagan Nomination: Empathy, Impartiality and the (Mis)Education of Jeff Sessions

(3) Comments | Posted August 16, 2010 | 4:13 PM

Nobody doubted that Elena Kagan would be confirmed to the Supreme Court, certainly not by the time her nomination reached the Senate floor. Much like the main event at WrestleMania, the machinations of major players, the careful choreography, and the last minute double-crossing (Ben Nelson!) proved far more interesting than...

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Leading in a New Direction: Barack Obama's Changing Leadership Style

(73) Comments | Posted July 2, 2010 | 4:08 PM

Last week, we learned that it is easier to fire a four star general than it is to plug a hole in the ground a mile under the sea. We also learned that Barack Obama's leadership style is still a work in progress.

This would seem bewildering to anyone...

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