comply. 4-2017

Ethics at Compliance

Joshua Hartshorne, PhD student in the psychology of language at Harvard University, suggested to think about the way that language frames thoughts: “words are very handy mnemonics. We may not remember what seventeen spools looks like, but we can remember the word seventeen.”

If we take this idea and let Microsoft’s Bing translate “Compliance” from English to German, we not only get the literal translation “to comply with laws or guidelines”, but other meanings as “harmony”.  This may be consistent with the legal situation, but suggests a broader possibility, which refers less to laws, but rather to values and attitudes, or in short: “ethics”. Laws are the written result of a culture’s common ethical understanding.

It was a pleasure and honor to write an article about “Ethics at Compliance” for the December issue of the leading German Compliance magazine “comply.”

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