What should business ethics mean for consumers?

In a free column in Forbes, Ian Ayres and Barry Nalebuff (both professors at Yale Law School and Yale School of Management) ask: What do we make of the fact that most people's actions aren't consistent with what they consider to be ethical behavior? Ayres and Nalebuff think this is a result of their not having thought much about the issue. The most worrisome result is that this inconsistency causes some people to try even harder to find an ethical justification for their actions. And that leads to the worst possible approach to ethics, in which your actions determine your ethical reckoning. The reasoning goes as follows: "I am an ethical person. Hence, if I did something, it must be ethical. Let me find the ethical justification for it." Better to allow the possibility that you made a mistake but will do better in the future.