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Is it wrong not to inform a friend's organization of a potentially bad hire-

Is it wrong not to inform a friend's organization of a potentially bad hire--because I work with this person and want them to leave our organization? And yes, it's a bad hire, by the work ethic standards of everyone else I work with, it's not a personal issue!

I guess there are different angles to this one. Is it wrong in a business ethics sense not to tell your friend's organization about the person they may hire? Not unlesss you are one of the people contacted for a referencce, I suppose. You are not obligated to inform other businesses about the errors they may be about to make! But what has more traction for me in your question is where you identify the other organization as your friend's. As a friend, yes, I think you owe it to your friend to let him or her know about the problem--just because you would like to be rid of the bad colleague, you will sit back and allow your friend to inherit your problem? Not nice!

If a newspaper receives letters to the editor taking a position that has been

If a newspaper receives letters to the editor taking a position that has been proven factually inaccurate, is it nevertheless the editor's responsibility to print one or more of these letters? Is it more important to demonstrate that others hold a different point of view, however inaccurate, or to convey only accurate information? (Maybe this example is too political or specific, but this came up in regards to the subject of where President Obama was born.)

I believe editors have no such responsibility to print known falsehoods that some want to see in print. In fact, I believe editors have a responsibility not to print such letters. If editors practiced such misconceived "even-handedness," then this would provide a powerful incentive to determined groups to use such letters to create uncertainty in a public that often isn't very capable of discerning what's true and what is not. Reading many letters to the effect that Obama is foreign-born and hence ineligible for the Presidency may persuade a sizable minority of US citizens that their country has been hijacked by foreign agents. And groups could then abuse the letters-to-the-editors facility to inspire this persuasion, perhaps in preparation for terrorist activities such as the Oklahoma City bombing.

Companies could also abuse this sort of false even-handedness. Thus, imagine a company A that sells an expensive drug which reduces the symptoms of some dreadful disease. And imagine that a competing company B has developed a vaccine that can decimate this same disease (and therefore A's market for its product). If editors were committed to the kind of even-handedness you're contemplating, then the shareholders and employees of A would have a strong incentive to write many letters to editors all over the place stating (quite falsely and without evidence) that B's vaccine causes impotence, depression, or body odor.

The editors of media have a responsibility conscientiously to inform the public to the best of their ability. Where the evidence is uncertain, they should say so and give space to the best arguments against their own views. But where the evidence is overwhelming (as it has been for quite some time in the controversies over whether smoking is dangerous to health, over whether there is human-made global warming, over how people get infected with AIDS), editors have a responsibility to convey this to their audiences and to keep out the crackpots and those who would from ulterior motives manipulate the public.

Sure, this sort of editorial discretion can be and frequently is being abused. But this abuse is best kept in check through the multiplicity of media. If one paper denies that there is human-made climate change and keeps out any opposing voices on the ground that they are evidently ill-informed, then these voices can find or create other news media in which to state their case. The best evidence does not always prevail, to be sure, but (in a society with reasonably free media) it does generally do pretty well in reaching the public. And this advantage would grow, not shrink, I believe, if more editors saw their responsibility as I proposed.

As a business major who has a strong interest in philosophy I'm strongly

As a business major who has a strong interest in philosophy I'm strongly considering adding a philosophy minor. My question is this: how can studying philosophy help me in not just business but in life in general? What are some benefits to adding a philosophy minor?

Good philosophers don't take anything for granted. They are committed -- sometimes painfully so! -- to the idea that no beliefs, values, or points of view ought in principle to be exempt from scrutiny and criticism. They understand how easy it is to run a life on autopilot; to get into habits (of behavior or mind) that, on reflection, they can't justify or endorse; and to succumb to the temptations of complacency, or even smugness and arrogance. And they seek to teach and to model how to avoid these easy pitfalls. Studying, or studying with, such philosophers can give you the resources, and the inclination, to live a more deliberate life. Of course, too much self-scrutiny will prevent you from living your life at all. But taking courses that prime you to be reflective, especially about your own life, might help you establish habits of thought that will serve you well no matter what you end up doing with your life.

Will it be moral to continue working for a cigarette company knowing the

Will it be moral to continue working for a cigarette company knowing the sickenesses that smoking creates?

No I don't think it would be moral- and yet it would also seem immoral to me, as someone with a good job, to morally condemn someone who was working for a tobacco company because it was the only decent job that he could find to take care of his family. So I would go for degrees of culpability, but yes I would have to say that being part of a business that killed millions would not exactly be a righteous line of work.

Is prostitution immoral? Can we not think of it as a kind of industry where

Is prostitution immoral? Can we not think of it as a kind of industry where service (i.e., sex) is given and received while both parties involved benefit?

Even if both parties benefit from the transaction (relative to the baseline where they do not interact), the transaction can still be immoral. An extreme example would be a mother in Cambodia who works as a prostitute to feed her children. She prefers serving the customer and receiving the money over not interacting with him. And he prefers the transaction over not interacting with her (it only costs him as much as he earns in 20 minutes back home). But it may still be immoral to take advantage of the woman's situation by paying her so little.

Let's leave this sort of case aside and consider prostitution involving two people who are both well off and roughly equally well off -- perhaps a business person buying sex from a college student from an affluent family who is saving up to buy a flashier car. In this case, I'd agree that the transaction is not immoral, assuming free and informed consent on both sides ("informed" meaning among other things that neither has failed to disclose any infectious disease to the other).

Still, this sort of relationship is generally not part of the best life that a human being is capable of. Either person might aspire to a more ambitious romantic relationship in which they would share not only sex but also conversation, literature, travel, sports, emotions, and daily joys, curiosities and sorrows. Where these other possibilities are available but passed up in favor of prostitution, people are falling short of their potential in much the same way as they do when they pass up good novels for trashy ones, news analysis for daytime TV, or evening discussions for excessive alcohol. That's not immoral, so long as no one else gets hurt, but it's still ethically questionable in a broad sense of ethics as one can find in the ancients and in Bernard Williams, for example.

What does a person do when his or her co-workers do not do their job and he or

What does a person do when his or her co-workers do not do their job and he or she is always doing their job?


Let their ineptitude and laziness shine forth in all it's glory.

Hope they will be replaced by people who do their own work as effectively as you do.

If this fails, try to ensure that higher-ups know what you are doing so you are compensated more appropriately.

I am doing a project for my philosophy class. When I google search for the

I am doing a project for my philosophy class. When I google search for the ethically legitimate function of civil servants, I am finding zero. I am curious to find out if the code of conduct that civil servants follow applies to all professions (if there has every been just one code of conduct), also have these codes of conduct ever been revised. With more cultures and religious beliefs coming into play in society I am wondering if this has been addressed at all? Thank-You for your time, Becky J.

Dear Becky,

This sounds like a good project. I have some suggestions.

First, you might want to change your research strategy. Instead of google, I would take advantage of your academic library. Part of your tuition goes to fund library subscriptions to databases, such as EBSCO or Lexus-Nexus. These databases have tons of academic journals, featuring articles that have been vetted by professional philosophers (or economists or what-have-you). Google, on the other hand, will punch up whatever is popular. So my first recommendation is to go the database route because it might help you on the theory end of civil servant ethics.

My second idea is to do practical research on your local or state government. I know my state (New Jersey) is so renown for ethics violations by civil servants that there is a major push for ethics reform. In our case here, all state employees must watch a one hour power point presentation on professional ethics. I personally have vowed not to steal yellow stickies from the supply cabinet.

Finally, the issue of cultural difference is important. One interesting case study for you might be how taxes are collected around the world. The contrast between the U.S. and Italy, for example, is really lively!

Your company does work for a government-run enterprise. While waiting to be

Your company does work for a government-run enterprise. While waiting to be paid, the country suffers a massive earthquake. The enterprise is damaged but continues to run. Should the debt be paid or should the company write it off without any expectation of payment? The company is not a charitable organization.

Let me assume that the terms on which the company performed the work were fair and that the company actually delivered the work fully as agreed. In this case the company is really in the same position as other companies which are owed nothing by the country in question and perhaps never did business there. It would be a good thing for any well-off company or individual to make some contribution to the reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged country. But the company that is owed the debt has no stronger moral reason to contribute. (It may have a stronger prudential reason, if the money is costly to reclaim or efforts to reclaim it would generate negative publicity. But this is a different matter.)

Should I report a Consensual Amorous Relationship?

Should I report a Consensual Amorous Relationship? I am a lab research assistant at a public state medical school, and I have discovered that the head of the lab has a Consensual Amorous Relationship with another researcher at the lab. I found out that prior to joining the medical school, they both worked together at another private academic hospital having the same type of work and personal relationship. It is my understanding that being public state employees, they have a duty to prevent the conflict of interests, and that a Consensual Amorous Relationship between the lab director and the lab researcher clearly generates conflict of interest. Their is also an internal policy in place that requires that Consensual Amorous Relationships between an employee and direct supervisor,are required to be reported. I have a serious internal conflict in how about to solve my dilemma, Should I confront my supervisor and ask them to self-report, or should I proceed to report it directly?

To snitch or not to snitch? It depends on whether you think the rule on reporting such relationships is worth having, and if you do whether even then it is worth disrupting their professional lives by reporting it. Saying they have a duty to report it does not really show that they have a moral duty to report it, and it is your views on this moral issue that are relevant here.

Even if you thought they should report it, you might well not think it significant enough to confront them about or report them surreptitiously. Breaking the rules of an organization does not in itself establish guilt, you need to think about how valid those rules are, and if they are valid, how important if at all it is that they are enforced.

Do employers have some kind of ethical obligation to employ their countrymen (as

Do employers have some kind of ethical obligation to employ their countrymen (as opposed to outsourcing)?

One might make a Kantian style argument that it is unethical to 'use' one's countrymen by using the local resources and the education you received within the community to start your business, but then outsource the overwhelming majority of the work (and the implicit benefits) to a different community based strictly on cost once your business is successful. I think the argument is plausible, but I don't find it ultimately convincing.

The argument might be strengthened by revising the conclusion. Instead of making the blanket judgment that outsourcing is unethical, one might claim that one is obliged to weigh the benefits you and your business have received from your community of origin as one important factor when deciding whether to outsource (and perhaps how much to outsource if you decide to).