What is the best unethical “life pro tip” tip everyone should know?
I take the fifth on answering this blog request. I am an ethics junkie. Bill O’Rourke, another ethics junkie, and I have written a book, The Power of Ethics, and many blogs about the importance of living ethically, which I have defined as not harming anyone physically, fiscally, or emotionally. Or, on the positive side of that same coin, helping others physically, fiscally, and emotionally and doing so well into my retirement years. I have been fortunate beyond imagining to be able to do so, and the beat goes on.
I am not a Pollyanna. I know that our world is imperfect and unethical behavior is endemic (pandemic?). My book and other writings will not change the world, but I will consider them successful if I change one person to be more ethical. Perhaps the writer of the blog?
Despite assertions to the contrary, there are no unethical life pro tips.. But there are borderline situations. Consider this: two employees take (borrow? Steal?) money from the till, one to feed her children. She returns the money every month, thereby fitting one of my definitions of ethical by not harming others. The other employee takes money to feed his drug habit and does not return the money, thereby harming others, and, I suspect, harming himself with addiction and guilt presuming he has a conscience. The first is either ethical or legal according to common law, or borderline unethical (she borrowed money but for a good cause); the second clearly unethical (he stole for self-serving purposes). We could debate those situations and conclusions ad infinitum.
So, here’s another situation that may be (is?) more clear-cut. A tippler at a crowded bar changes the TV channel to a program more to his liking, irking, i.e. harming others at the bar emotionally but surely not significantly (except in Pittsburgh, where changing from a Steelers’ game to Judge Judy would be a capital offense) . Another tippler pockets the bartender’s tip, a clear case of improving himself fiscally but harming another. Significantly? It depends.
The bottom line is this: Each moral situation and dilemma requires careful engagement with its nitty-gritty, perhaps unpleasant, underbelly. When it comes to ethics, the devil really is in the details.