2013 Conference of the Professions: "Shortcuts and High Roads" - April 26

Lawyers, Physicians, Clergy to Discuss Moral Conundrums at April 26 Ethics Forum

DALLAS (SMU) — What role do white lies, shortcuts and petty misbehavior play in a profession? Do companies pave the way for dishonesty? Behavioral economist/psychologist Dan Ariely, author of the bestselling book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty (2012), will delve into such issues with local law, medical and faith leaders at the “Shortcuts and High Roads: Everyday Morality and the Professions” ethics forum Friday, April 26.

Perkins School of Theology is one of the sponsors for this 27th annual Conference of the Professions, which is set for 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the T. Boone Pickens Training and Conference Center, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, 2222 Welborn St.

Tickets are $20 general admission and free for SMU and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center students. The conference qualifies for Continuing Education Credit for medicine, law and theology.

Register online.

“Most of us think of ourselves as moral human beings. Ariely challenges us to consider the everyday choices that chip away at our standards,” says Maguire Ethics Center Director Rita Kirk.

Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University, also is author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (2010) and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (2010). His 2009 TED Talk, “Are We in Control of Our Own Decisions,” has garnered more than 2.1 million views.

Joining Ariely will be 14th Judicial District Court of Texas Judge Eric Moyé, who has served as an adjunct faculty member at SMU and the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop; Lynne M. Kirk, professor of internal medicine, associate dean for graduate medical education and associate chief of the division of general medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center; Clayton Oliphint, senior pastor of the 6,000-member First United Methodist Church in Richardson; and Rena Pederson (moderator), communications director for the National Math and Science Initiative and former vice president and editorial page editor of The Dallas Morning News.

As an example of common dilemmas involving professional ethics, Lynne M. Kirk cites a March 2013 Health Affairs article by professors/researchers Lisa I. Iezzoni, Sowmya R. Rao, Catherine M. DesRoches, Christine Vogeli and Eric G. Campbell. The authors cite a 2009 study revealing that “approximately one-third of physicians did not completely agree with disclosing serious medical errors to patients, almost one-fifth did not completely agree that physicians should never tell a patient something untrue, and nearly two-fifths did not completely agree that they should disclose their financial relationships with drug and device companies to patients. Just over one-tenth said they had told patients something untrue in the previous year.”

“No profession can heal itself until it knows the sources and extent of its own (mis)behaviors,” says Dedman School of Law professor/medical ethicist Tom Mayo, former director of the Maguire Ethics Center. “Dan Ariely’s riveting presentation will cover the results of his research with more than 30,000 subjects and reveal how we professionals actually respond to these everyday temptations."

For details, contact maguire_ethics@smu.edu or 214.768.4255.


For nearly three decades, the Conference of Professions has brought together members of law, medicine and theology in the Dallas area to discuss common challenges—ethical and otherwise—facing these professions. The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility jointly sponsors this activity with the Dallas County Medical Society, Dallas Bar Association, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, SMU Dedman School of Law, and the SMU Perkins School of Theology.


The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility is a University-wide center supporting student and faculty ethics-related education and activities, as well as community outreach to private and public institutions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Maguire Ethics Center serves as a forum for the exploration of issues bearing on the public good. It also seeks to challenge and encourage the development of ethical discernment, imagination and action. For more information, visit smu.edu/ethics.