Invisible Executives


John Schwartz, author of the New York State Newspaper article, When an Executive Acts Like a Spoiled Brat,” discusses the problem with tech executives who have no fear of the consequences of their actions. Schwartz says, “These tech bros seem to think that money and position let them do whatever they like, without consequences.” Schwartz compares the problem of these titan executives to a similar problem in the ancient mythology of the ring of Gyges. Schwartz says “it sounds like the problem posed by Plato in ”The Republic” about the ring of Gyges. In that tale, a bit of ancient bling renders the wearer invisible. Using his new superpower, the guy with the ring lies, cheats, seduces the king’s wife and takes control of his entire empire. The question then arises: How bad would you be if you thought you wouldn’t get caught, or couldn’t be held responsible for your actions?”

Schwartz refers to Gyges’ actions to draw a similarity between him and the tech executives who, because of their money and power, feel as if they are invisible to the consequences of their actions. Similar to the reading from Plato, Schwartz raises the question of whether all humans would behave irresponsibly if they were “invisible” to the consequences of their crimes. Socrates brother, Glaucon responds to this question in Plato, “Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with anyone at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point.”

Schwartz and Plato touch upon the same issue, as to whether humans would commit crimes if they knew they would eventually have to face the consequences. In the reading from Plato, Socrates and Glaucon are discussing the story of Gyges and how it relates to human nature and innate good or evil. Schwartz refers to this story to build up to his suggestion that executives, when given the power, can and will resort to committing unjust acts, and to stop them, Human Resource need to put in place reward/punishment systems to make it clear to them that they aren’t invisible to the justice system, and that like everyone else, they will eventually have to face the consequences.  





Schwartz, John. “When an Executive Acts Like a Spoiled Brat.” New York Times, 16 July 2017, p. 14(L). New York State Newspapers, Accessed 18 Sept. 2017.

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