On May 9, The Third Reich officially lost to the allies. It is the day when the most unethical and immoral government fell. I thank all those who took part in the War fighting it; we will remember your exploit forever.
May this day serve as a reminder that unethical actions never go unpunished. Pragmatic decisions must be made while taking ethics into account as well.
Why do some people think that we should have more laws and some say less? This classification is the very essence that makes one’s laws harsh and other’s not so. When you see a harsh law, you know who is behind it.
Some believe that people will not stay within ethical borders unless there is a possibility of some incentive (better yet, punishment) and some say that they will stay decent without laws (some go even further and say that with laws more people will misbehave just to be rebellious).
I am against anarchy, but I also believe that we should have as few laws as possible. It seems absurd for me to believe that most people are evil. Furthermore, I think that nobody has a right to tell me what I should do and what I should not. The more laws we have the further we get from freedom. Democracy is not the same as anarchy, but it is not supposed to be a dictatorial regime either.
I recently found a website called Ethical Consumer that is looking at the social and environmental records of various companies. Basically, they tell you if a specific company is following business ethics or not. Interesting website, but nothing special, I would just put into the webliography, if it wasn’t for the (wrong) name of the website… Once again, I thought about the difference we see between business ethics and consumer ethics. Why do people notice when businesses behave unethically, but don’t care when consumers do (specifically this website tells us that it is unethical to consume what these “unethical” businesses produce)? Long warranties and return policies are, to many unethical consumers, as a moving blanket for a bull. I’ve seen people return mowers with grass still in them, but nobody seemed to care- if the store doesn’t have anything in their return policy that disallows such actions, consumers believe that they have a natural right to do so. Why? Why don’t they see that it is unethical, almost as if they were stealing the money directly? I am not quite sure why this divide occurs and it disturbs me very much, as it means that I don’t understand something very essential about human relationships…
In article, “Let’s keep this between you and me, all right?” I already mentioned nondisclosure agreements. In some other articles, I talked about the thin line that separates law and ethics. This time I’d like to unite the two topics.
In Volume 16 (April) of Network Computing I read a tiny news-story “Apple Bites Back”. This article essentially tells a story of a college grad that violated the agreement by distributing copies of Apple’s beta software. He didn’t get any jail time, but I’m sure he paid dearly for his indecent behavior. Just as I argued in my previous articles- when you go too far in behaving unethically, you bound to do something illegal. This story proves my point once again.
In fact, as I see it, NDA (nondisclosure agreement) is that separating (or if you want- bounding) line between law and ethics (and vice versa). When you don’t keep a secret you promised not to disclose, you are behaving indecent, but if you promised it on paper, you are also behaving illegally. Nondisclosure agreement is one of the “waiting rooms” of the law. It covers legal aspects as well as ethical.
As you might’ve noticed, my site was not available for the past 24 hours. I had server access to mySQL in the very beginning (I still don’t know why) and could change things (i.e. post new articles), but nobody could access my site. To fix the downtime problem (this was not the first time, mind you) I had to change my hoster company from Ripplehost to Hostpc.com, as my xHoster has been constantly down, did not respond to any messages, and did not update his users on the situation. I switched and since I just paid for it, I requested my credit company to dispute the charge- no service=no money.
When I was through all the hoops to get my server running I thought of an ethical decision I’ve made. When we pay somebody, we say that they have responsibilities before their customers, but for some reason we don’t talk much about that of the customers. Does it mean that ethics depend on money? If I pay you, you have to behave ethically and I can do whatever I want? Did I, myself, behave ethically when I switched the company? Alright, in my case, the xhoster didn’t do anything to fix the problems and so they behaved very unethically, but what if they would do all they could? What if it was a problem with their hard-drives and I would decide not to wait and still switch? Would that be ethical? Most people say go ahead, you have the right to do so, but that just means that money determine ethics. In Russia, they have a saying that reads something like this: “One who pays, orders the music.” Is it same with ethics??! I hope not.
After reading an article in Washington Post called “Japan Honors War Dead and Opens Neighbors’ Wounds” I pondered as to what my own views on this issue are. Many Jews, Gypsies, and other civilians were exterminated by nazi-soldiers during WWII and it would be a shock for me to learn of, say, a normal Jew honoring Nazis. So is it ethical for others to honor nazi-soldiers or their supporters? But Russian soldiers have a lot of blood on their hands, but many (including myself) honor them for saving the world from fascism. A good soldier does what he is told without questioning the orders. Such a soldier can save many lives… So where do we draw a line? Soldiers taking part in a massacre are criminals, no question about it. But when does a fight turns into a massacre? In the modern world, the line is too thin to notice for a layperson. Was Hiroshima a massacre and pilots dropping the bomb murderers? Were Japanese pilots taking part in the Pearl Harbor confrontation murderers, even though Pearl Harbor is a military port?
I know a few people whose parents were nazi soldiers during WWII (even current Pope has questionable connections). They feel ashamed for what Nazis did to my ancestors, but I cannot ask them not to respect their parents. I personally disregard people who disrespect their roots and thus I can only hope that they are not proud of that part of their history…
As I argued before, ethics can have a big impact on politics. The new (?!) development with Tom DeLay proves my argument yet again. It doesn’t matter what you personally think, some still think that he did not behave ethically and thus it might drastically affect his political life. Ethical issues affect politics whether we want it or not. Moreover, it doesn’t even matter if a person is ethical him or herself. If they don’t behave like one (in the eyes of their audience of course), it will get them sooner or later…
It’s been discussed whether one has an ethical right to use tools similar to AdMuncher to rip out various advertisement from websites. Advertisement itself was also discussed… But recently I found out about a Russian company that does context based web advertisement. The company is called RORER and it would not stand out in the field, if it was not for a special additional “context filter”. The filter “for ethical reasons” blocks all advertisement on webpages with “negative information” (i.e. news stories about terrorist activities, car wrecks etc.).
So while we argue whether it is ok for websites to sink us with advertisement and for us to try to fight it and get some clean air, some advertisement companies decide to act ethical themselves… This gives me great hope!
Is it ethical to use unethical behaviour of others? If it is unethical to steal for any reason, is it ethical to ask others to steal for an ethical reason? What about using money that were stolen by somebody else?
MIT is launching a new research initiative to develop a $100 laptop that they could sell to developing nations so that the kids will have laptops. Sounds ethical. But say MIT finds out that a country is constantly abusing human rights, should MIT still sell these laptops? The laptops will be used for the good of the society, but by supporting such governments, MIT would also be acting unethical. In fact, what if the money were “nationalized” by the country? Should MIT knowingly take the money in exchange for the “ethical” laptop?
My answer is no! It is unethical to use unethical behavior of others for any reason!
Different people can have different ethics. However, once ethics are set for a given person, each action can be given an ethical rating. Sometimes it is hard to do, but we still try to reason and prove that an action is either ethical or unethical.
Such analysis is an action itself and thus must as well be either ethical or unethical. If we assume that each action can have different “ethical ratings” (see my “Ehics.1-Ehics.2+Ehics.3=Ehics.X” article), we see that thinking whether a possible action will be ethical can make such action “more ethical”. We can go on and say that if one does not “check” whether an action is ethical before he actually does it, it automatically makes the action less ethical. In fact, if our logic is correct thus far, we can even say that an action, that would otherwise be unethical, can become ethical, if we actually reason first, and vice versa. If a person does something without actually checking if an action is ethical, we can say that the action will be unethical no matter what.
It sounds like I’m stretching it, but if you think about it, you might find it correct at least in part.