Jurisdiction & Ethics (Lessons 8-9)

“This wasn’t right, damn it. This wasn’t fair.”

–Quoted from Ben Mezrich, The Accidental Billionaires.

In our next lecture (2/22), we are going to re-enact another pivotal scene from the movie “The Social Network”–a scene based on chapter 16 of the book Accidental Billionaires. This scene takes place in the spring of 2004 in the office of Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University. Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have arranged a meeting with President Summers (in real life, they waited in line like everyone else to meet Dr Summers during his monthly office hours) in order to accuse a fellow student (Mark Zuckerberg) of violating Harvard’s Honor Code. So, we will need three volunteers for this in-class activity. In the meantime, please think about the following three questions:

1. In your opinion, did Mark violate the Honor Code?

2. Does Harvard have “jurisdiction” in this matter?

3. If not, what court would have jurisdiction, a State court or a federal one?

In addition to the technical legal issue of jurisdiction, in the second part of our next lecture we are also going to discuss the fundamental problem of personal ethics. Simply put, how do you decide between right and wrong?

don’t be evil = do the right thing?

 

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