Ethics in America

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Ethics in America was a ten-part television series, originally aired from 1988 to 1989, in which panels of leading intellectuals from various professions discussed the ethical implications of hypothetical scenarios, which often touched on politics, the media, medicine, and law. The panels were moderated by law professors from leading law schools.[1]

The series was developed and hosted by former CBS News president Fred Friendly and produced by Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society (later renamed Fred Friendly Seminars). It was funded in part by the Annenberg/CPB Project. The executive producer was Cynthia McFadden. The series was originally broadcast on PBS. In 2006, Fred Friendly Seminars produced a new series, Ethics in America II, which also aired on PBS.[1][2]


The original series included ten one-hour episodes:[3][4]

  • "Anatomy of a Hostile Takeover (Ethics in Business)"
  • "Do Unto Others (Personal Ethics)"
  • "Does Doctor Know Best? (Ethics in Medicine)"
  • "The Human Experiment (Ethics in Scientific Research)"
  • "The Politics of Privacy (Ethics in Journalism)"
  • "Public Trust, Private Interests (Ethics in Government)"
  • "To Defend a Killer (Ethics in Criminal Law)"
  • "Truth on Trial (Ethics in Civil Law)"
  • "Under Orders, Under Fire (Ethics in the Military, Part I)"
  • "Under Orders, Under Fire (Ethics in the Military, Part II)"


Panelists who appeared on the series included:[1][4]



The series received a number of awards, including:[5]

  • 1989 Houston International Film Festival "Worldfest Houston" – Silver Award for the episode "Politics, Privacy, and the Press"
  • 1989 International Association of Audio Visual Communicators – Special Achievement award to "Cindy" in Talent
  • 1989 International Film and TV Festival of New York – Finalist Award for the episodes "To Defend a Killer" and "Under Orders, Under Fire Part I"
  • 1989 National Educational Film and Video Festival – Bronze Apple Award for the episode "To Defend a Killer"
  • 1990 Ohio State Award for the episode "Under Orders, Under Fire"


  1. ^ a b c "Ethics in America TV Series". InBaseline. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  2. ^ Seglin, Jeffrey L. (April 24, 2007). "Ethics in America II". The Right Thing. The New York Times Syndicate. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  3. ^ "Ethics in America – A Ten-Part Series (1987)". Fred Friendly Seminars. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  4. ^ a b "Ethics in America – Individual Program Descriptions". Annenberg Media. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  5. ^ "Ethics in America – Reviews and Awards". Annenberg Media. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 

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