Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

Weekly Columnist "The Ethicist" for The New York Times Magazine

Speaker Categories: Business Ethics | U.S. Correspondent | Ethics | Communications & Psychology | Media | Political Satire | Political Humor/Satire

Travels From: NY, United States.

Speaker Fee Range: $5,000 to $10,000*

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Randy Cohen Bio
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"The Ethicist"

Randy Cohen writes the weekly column "The Ethicist" for The New York Times Magazine, syndicated by the Universal Press Syndicate as "On Ethics". Diane Sawyer interviewed him on three questions he's frequently asked: Should I tell if I discover that a friend's spouse is having an affair? How honest does my resume have to be? If my umbrella is missing, may I take another one from the pile? Cohen's thoughtful, judicious answers have a way of suddenly turning wry.

His first professional work was writing humor pieces, essays, and stories for newspapers and magazines (The New Yorker, Harpers, the Atlantic, Young Love Comics).  His first television work was writing for "Late Night With David Letterman" for which he won three Emmy awards.  His fourth Emmy was for his work on Michael Moore’s "TV Nation." He received a fifth Emmy as a result of a clerical error, and he kept it. 

He was the original head writer on the "The Rosie O’Donnell Show" for which he also co-wrote the theme music. For two years, he wrote and edited “News Quiz” for Slate, the online magazine.

Randy was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended graduate school at the California Institute of the Arts as a music major studying composition. He is unable to account for either of these circumstances.

Randy is also the ethics columnist for the Times of London. The Good, the Bad and the Difference, a book based upon the column, was recently published in paperback by Broadway Books. He is a regular contributor to Weekend All Things Considered on National Public Radio.

How To Be Good

If we can reach a rough consensus on right and wrong -- don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal -- why don’t we all behave virtuously? I explore the idea that the answer lies not in our characters but our circumstances, and discuss how to create the kind of communities -- in our neighborhoods, our schools, our businesses -- in which we are likely to behave admirably. Then during the Q&A, I apply these ideas to the actual ethical problems facing the listeners.

Plagiarism, a Kind of Defense

We all deplore plagiarism, but should we? I argue that much of what we label as plagiarism in fiction, in music, and in art, is not only acceptable; it is admirable. Indeed it is the only way such work can be done. Other kinds of plagiarism -- in academic work, for example -- deserve our scorn. How do we distinguish between them, and how ought we respond to each?

Being The Ethicist: An Evening with Randy Cohen....

Join the writer of the popular New York Times magazine column for a conversation about how he got, how he does, and what he’s learned from his unusual job. Are those letters real? Does he ever get one wrong? (Or, depending on your perspective, right?) Here’s your chance to pose your own ethical dilemma or comment on that week’s column.

Etiquette / Ethics / Politics

From the small scale interaction of social custom through the vast scale of social policy, an ethical view of politics / a political view of manners.

Do the Republicans Own Virtue?

William Bennett, among others, associates personal morality with right wing politics. But it ain't necessarily so. Is there an ethics of the center?

  • The Good, the Bad & the Difference: How to Tell the Right From Wrong in Everyday Situations
    The Good, the Bad & the Difference: How to Tell the Right From Wrong in Everyday Situations Purchase Book

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Recent Books

  • The Good, the Bad & the Difference: How to Tell the Right From Wrong in Everyday Situations
    The Good, the Bad & the Difference: How to Tell the Right From Wrong in Everyday Situations Purchase Book
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