The Problem of Ethics

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Goldman Sachs, charging that the investment bank “sold investors a subprime-mortgage investment that was secretly designed to lose value.”

But this issue goes far beyond investor confidence. If the SEC’s allegations are true, then at the very least we are witnessing a real breakdown in ethics—people, ordinary men and women, failing to “do the right thing.” In one sense, this ought not to shock us because an essential part of true ethics is the belief that ethics are grounded in some transcendent authority. And this belief in a transcendent authority is clearly on the wane in postmodern American life.