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  • Showing only topics with the tag "ethics". Back to normal view
    1. I'm struggling with a potential ethical violation at work; feedback needed

      I have a work-related ethics question, and I thought the fine people here on tildes were perfect to give feedback. I'll try to be brief but still give all of the information. Background I work for...

      I have a work-related ethics question, and I thought the fine people here on tildes were perfect to give feedback. I'll try to be brief but still give all of the information.

      Background

      I work for an energy utility. This company isn't a charity, but it is a non-profit. We are owned by the people who buy power from us (called "members"). We don't profit off of the electricity we sell to our members, but we do generate extra electricity to sell to other utilities (mostly to for-profit ones). Any profit we make is either set aside for future use or is sent out to the members as a check. Yes, our members actually get a check each year. This cooperative was built to serve rural communities since at that point in history profit-driven companies weren't willing to spend the money to run electricity to these communities. We cover 90% (geographically) of our state, along with portions of a neighboring state. We generate using wind, hydro, solar, coal, and natural gas. I don't remember the exact numbers, but I believe roughly 30%-40% of our generation comes from renewables, and we now have a dedicated team researching nuclear power (SMNR) and energy storage (which would allow us to further shift to renewables).

      Context

      There is a PAC (an entity that throws money at politicians in exchange for votes) for rural electric cooperatives that we participate in. This PAC can only accept donations from our members or employees. While the stated purpose is to advocate for rural cooperatives in general, I personally think that largely translates into advocating for fossil fuels.

      Every year there is a 10-day period in August where they start asking us employees to donate. Anyone can donate at any time, this is just the time that they emphasize it. Leadership has REPEATEDLY emphasized that there is no pressure and that our supervisors can't see who has and hasn't donated. I've been here nearly five years, and they've said this each time. I know that under the previous CEO (he left ~10 years ago) there was pressure to donate, and that's probably why they emphasize this now.

      Issue

      I've discovered however that the leadership CAN see information on who has donated and how much. PAC donations are public information, and the names and amounts can be easily seen online if you know where to look. I do believe that my division leader didn't know this, though I can't really know whether the other leadership did or didn't. There's no way to know if any supervisors have looked at this data or made decisions on it. After I brought it up to my division leader he thanked me and said he will send this new information out to our division.

      However, communicating this to the rest of the company is beyond his control. He's alerted the people who can do this but what they do is up to them. While my division doesn't really care who donates, I get the impression that other divisions feel differently. IT has a profoundly different culture than the rest of the company. Senior leaders say there's no pressure, but that's not neciserily the case for supervisors and managers. It's been implied to me that the teams that work in power production, transmission planning, etc still have expectations about donations.

      What to do?

      So here's the core ethics question: Is it unethical for senior leadership to withhold this new information about the visibility of donations from the rest of the company? The assurance of anonymity was intended to reassure us that there would be no retaliation for those who don't donate and that there would be no favoritism for those who do.

      Is this just a small thing that's not really important? If this is an issue, how significant is it? It's obviously not "dumping toxic waste in the river" bad, but it still feels like it must have some level (or potential level) of impact. If this is an issue, what actions would you personally take? How much would you be willing to risk taking action on this?

      Thanks in advance, I just want to do the right thing.

      16 votes
    2. Atheism and moral realism/objectivism?

      *Disclaimer: I am not an apologist, theologian, or a philosopher, just someone interested in the topic. Perhaps this could've been asked in r/AskPhilosophy or maybe even r/changemyview, but I...

      *Disclaimer: I am not an apologist, theologian, or a philosopher, just someone interested in the topic. Perhaps this could've been asked in r/AskPhilosophy or maybe even r/changemyview, but I figure the conversation might be good here

      The recent post here on Absurd Trolley Problems has had me thinking about ethics again, and I realized I've never been introduced to how one can be an atheist and be not only a moral objectivist, but a moral realist. I remember a debate I watched years ago with William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens where Craig asks Hitchens what the basis of morality is, and he acts insulted, insinuating that Craig intended to say that atheists couldn't "be good without God" (which I think became a famous moment for the both of them.)

      But I never got the answer to Craig's question that I wanted. Without God, how should we determine what moral facts there are? How should we determine if there are moral facts at all? I grew up in a fundamentalist religion, and found myself in adulthood deeply interested in apologetics, and see similar responses in debates to the one mentioned above. Now while I believe Hitchens was a moral relativist, I often see and hear cases where atheists do seem to want to say that [insert atrocity here] was objectively morally wrong. Can atheists reasonably claim that there are not only moral facts, but objective moral facts that they can access? Upon examination, aren't you ultimately required to derive an "ought" from an "is"?

      I skimmed The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris some years ago, and it seems to "avoid" (i.e. commit) the "is/ought" fallacy by simply declaring that "human flourishing" (however that may be defined, separate issue) is an irreducible "ought" in his eyes. The book is great, I think that science should be part of the discussion about how one ought to live their life if the goal is some end like human flourishing; doctors already give prescriptions for behavior based on a presupposed goal between both parties to promote health and well-being. Both of these necessarily presuppose a state of affairs that one "ought" to seek to attain.

      But none of this answers why one "ought" to do anything; sure, there are facts about what one "ought" to do in order to attain a state of affairs, but that isn't morality: that's true of any subject where two people agree to share a goal. It doesn't tell us why they should have that goal. None of this feels like a satisfying answer to the question Craig posed. I don't feel like I'm any closer to these objective moral facts.

      I should say this topic is really meaningful to me. I've thought a lot about veganism, and the suffering of non-human animals. I've thought about the impact of my consumption decisions instead of perpetually leaning on the "no ethical consumption" crutch (even though there are reasons why that would have merit in certain circumstances. I literally can't stop thinking about climate change and how powerless, yet simultaneously complicit I feel. I've read Peter Singer, Scripture, Kant, John Stewart Mill, Rawls, and works from many others, and can't find any reason for an atheist (and maybe even a theist?) to think that there are these moral facts at all, much less objective, accessible ones. This really leaves me with "I guess I should just do whatever it is that I feel like doing", which probably seems to you as unsatisfying as it was for me to type.

      14 votes
    3. Should superpowers announce?

      like, say I've invented a magic trick that I don't know how it's done. What is my moral obligation to report novel phenomena? If a divine singularity spontaneously opens up in my living room, or...

      like, say I've invented a magic trick that I don't know how it's done. What is my moral obligation to report novel phenomena? If a divine singularity spontaneously opens up in my living room, or in my kidney, and somehow I harness it and taught myself to fly -- do I have to tell people, or do we think it would be too scary? It seems really obscene and disruptive to announce something so premise-shattering. Shouldn't I labor in secrecy? Do I have to expose my abilities to some sort of mandate before I can start?

      11 votes
    4. Is it ethical for services to exclude those without internet access?

      I've been turning the question over in my mind since I read this article the other day. A company that delivers milk and basic groceries is moving to online-only billing and account management -...

      I've been turning the question over in my mind since I read this article the other day. A company that delivers milk and basic groceries is moving to online-only billing and account management - the article quotes various people who are "disgusted" that the company are cutting off their "elderly or vulnerable customers". It's one relatively niche example that raises a much broader question, and the idea of people still living without some form of internet access genuinely caught me by surprise.

      The UK has 94.6% internet penetration, relatively low costs (£10/month or less) for basic access, and a variety of subsidised schemes available for people to get basic hardware. That said, there are always gaps for people to fall through, and that last 5% still represents over three million people. At what point does it become reasonable to assume everybody is, or has the opportunity to be, online?

      20 votes
    5. Would you eat lab grown human meat?

      This question popped up between my friends and I when we were discussing the possibilities of lab grown meat. When discussing lab grown meat, one of the arguments for it is that it is far more...

      This question popped up between my friends and I when we were discussing the possibilities of lab grown meat. When discussing lab grown meat, one of the arguments for it is that it is far more ethical to consume as it didn't originate from a living, conscious being. But if you replace the meat being grown in a lab to human meat rather than fish or beef, is it still less ethical? Or is it something that will be seen as incredibly taboo to the point where it should be outlawed?

      I would be curious to read your thoughts and points of view on this!

      For me, it's going to be a hard no that it shouldn't it be done. But to be honest, I feel like my feelings regarding it come from an emotional perspective rather than a logical one.

      Edit: Let's throw in lab grown human organs as well. Say these are the organs that aren't suitable for transplant, but are perfectly edible.

      36 votes
    6. When can lying be a virtue?

      You're with your wife at a party. At your eyes, she looks absolutely stunning. But, with the years, she gained a lot of weight. She asks you: "Honey, does this dress makes me look fat?". And it...
      1. You're with your wife at a party. At your eyes, she looks absolutely stunning. But, with the years, she gained a lot of weight. She asks you: "Honey, does this dress makes me look fat?". And it does. It definitely does. Is lying virtuous in this situation?

      2. You're in a relationship. He's handsome, tender, caring and perfect. You feel a bundle of good feelings towards him, but you don't even know what "love" really is. You don't know the true nature of your sentiments, but you know they're strong and you don't wanna hurt his feelings. He asks if you love him. Saying no would be false. Saying yes would be false too. Is lying virtuous in this situation?

      3. A three-year-old is dying of cancer. He's only got a few days. He asks you if he's gonna live. You say "yes". Is lying virtuous in this situation?

      4. Your fellow soldier lost his legs and torso. He's bleeding through his mouth and high on morphine. He asks you if everything's gonna be okay. You say yes. Is lying virtuous in this situation?

      5. You've been married for 5 years and, after some problems, you decide to take a real break (not like Ross and Rachael). During this break, you have sex with several woman/men. You decide to resume the relationship, but you know your partner would not be able to deal with your sexual adventures. When he/she ask about it, you say you didn't see anyone in the time you were apart. Is lying virtuous in this situation?

      6. You know the project is dead. You also know that saying so will have absolutely no effect on its direction. Do you say the project is shit, or do you say it's got a shot just to save face? In that case, is there any virtue in telling the truth?

      7. You believe A is true, but you also know that declaring A right now will lead to unfavorable result C. Do you declare A right now, or do you wait to declare it when it will lead to favorable result D? This guy knows what I'm talking about...

      12 votes
    7. What are good, modern right-wing values anyways?

      I'm in too much of a left-wing echo chamber, to the point where anything conservative or right wing appears to be 'evil' or not necessarily purely right-wing. For example, conservatives generally...

      I'm in too much of a left-wing echo chamber, to the point where anything conservative or right wing appears to be 'evil' or not necessarily purely right-wing. For example, conservatives generally promote family values and the family as the foundational unit of a society. But this too often gets grouped together with same/opposite sex marriage arguments. Another point is small government, but that often manifests in deregulation in areas where regulation is now necessary (e.g. environment).

      So, what does it mean to be an ethical right-winger today and in the next decade?

      40 votes
    8. My country decided that animal sacrifice in the name of religion is constitutional

      Another person said that s(he) can't form an opinion because s(he) eats meat, and it is almost the same thing. She feels it's wrong, but at the same time thinks it's prejudice against some...

      Another person said that s(he) can't form an opinion because s(he) eats meat, and it is almost the same thing. She feels it's wrong, but at the same time thinks it's prejudice against some religions if we are worried about a couple of animals and continue to kill millions just to eat.

      I can agree and disagree with this point, but one thing being wrong doesn't give a pass to other things.

      But if we agree that it's constitutional to sacrifice animals, then what certain religions do to women (or any person) should be at the same level.

      That's why i disagree at the end. It shouldn't be allowed, period.

      The animal being sacrificed didn't chose to be there, nor the human being mistreated.

      What are your opinions? Can someone point what i'm thinking wrong here?

      PS: Sorry for my poor wording because english is not my first language. I wanted to know the opinion here about morals or what is right or wrong, not the law itself. Of course that any discussion on that is welcome too.

      25 votes
    9. Why is it becoming increasingly more wrong to kill animals for food?

      Probably in the majority of history people used to hunt, or kill farm animals for food without a second thought. But in the recent years it looks like the public opinion is shifting in a way when...

      Probably in the majority of history people used to hunt, or kill farm animals for food without a second thought. But in the recent years it looks like the public opinion is shifting in a way when perception of eating meat is kinda like perception of homophobia or racism. Arguments against eating meat and for preserving farm animal lives are actively upvoted, and with this tendency being non vegetarian is already becoming "uncool" and eventually will be frowned upon, like littering.

      Is that because hardcore vegetarians and animal rights activists got their voices spread in social media? Or it's mostly an environmental problem, particularly with large farm animals? Or humans are quickly becoming better, more civilized? If so, why meat eating is such a high priority issue to address when issues of people to people interactions are still far from being solved?

      23 votes
    10. What are some ways to be a more ethical consumer?

      This is a broad question, but I don't really want to narrow it down because I feel like we see unethical issues across so many industries. I want to be able to buy clothes knowing that I'm not...

      This is a broad question, but I don't really want to narrow it down because I feel like we see unethical issues across so many industries. I want to be able to buy clothes knowing that I'm not supporting child/slave labor just as I want to be able to buy a videogame knowing that the people who created it had time to go home to their families each night. And if the clothes were made with child labor and the game did have a horrible development crunch? Well, those aren't places I want to put my money, even if I'm interested in the product.

      Price and convenience used to be the kings of my spending habits, and I was solely interested in products on my own terms. I have no doubt that I have bought many items that have supported the suffering of others. Now, I am much more concerned with a product as it exists in context, and I'm willing to pay more for companies that do things "right." The problem is that this context isn't always available. Most companies are not exactly upfront with their shady practices, after all. How do I know if, say, the bluetooth speaker, quinoa, or dinnerware that I'm looking at was responsibly produced?

      What are some ways can I make more informed decisions about what I choose to buy so that I can lessen harm (be it personal, environmental, or otherwise)?

      How can I find out which companies support practices that are in line with my values? If anyone has any insight into particular industries, that would be especially valuable.

      10 votes
    11. When is euthanasia acceptable? Where do we draw the line ethically?

      I recall recently seeing an article posted that was related to euthanasia, and I started thinking about the subject. I see both potential pros and potential cons associated with it. For example,...

      I recall recently seeing an article posted that was related to euthanasia, and I started thinking about the subject. I see both potential pros and potential cons associated with it. For example, there's the concern about family members or authority pressuring an ill person to opt for doctor-assisted suicide to ease financial burdens, for instance. There's also the benefit, on the other hand, of allowing someone who is terminally ill or guaranteed to live the rest of their life in excruciating pain the option to go out on their own terms. With proper oversight and ethical considerations, it generally seems to be an all-around ideal to provide an "opt-out" for those who would only continue to suffer and would rather not prolong it, as a merciful alternative to forcing them to live it out.

      But then there are some trickier questions.

      As a disclaimer, I spent nearly a couple of decades struggling through depression and have been surrounded (and still am surrounded) by people who struggle with their own mental illnesses. Because of this, I'm perfectly aware of the stigma and subpar treatment of mental illness in general. With that in mind, I completely recognize that there are certain conditions which are, at this time, completely untreatable and result in peoples' quality of life deteriorating to the point that they become perpetually miserable, particularly with certain neurodegenerative diseases.

      Thus, the question occurred to me: wouldn't such a condition be the mental health equivalent of a terminal illness? Would it not be unethical to force someone to continue living under conditions in which their quality of life will only diminish? Shouldn't someone who has such a condition, and is either of sound enough mind or with a written statement of their wishes from a time when they were of sound enough mind, be able to make the same decision about whether or not to opt to go out on their own terms?

      And yet, as reasonable as it sounds, for some reason the thought of it feels wrong.

      Is there something fundamentally more wrong about euthanasia for mental health vs. euthanasia for physical health? Is it just a culturally-learned ideal?

      More importantly, what makes euthanasia acceptable in some cases and not others? Which cases do you think exemplify the divide? Is there something more fundamental that we can latch onto? Is there a clear line we can draw? Is psychology itself just too young a field for us to be drawing that ethical line?

      I'm genuinely not sure how to feel about this subject. I would be interested in hearing some other thoughts on the subject. The questions above don't necessarily have to be answered, but I thought they could be good priming points.

      24 votes
    12. What, if anything, makes a morally good war?

      I've been consuming the darkness that is wartime histories from the past three or four centuries and I feel like I've encountered a lot of people who had what they believed to be justifiable...

      I've been consuming the darkness that is wartime histories from the past three or four centuries and I feel like I've encountered a lot of people who had what they believed to be justifiable reasons to launch wars against other powers. There are people who thought they had divine right to a particular position of power and so would launch a war to assert that god-given right. There are people who believed in a citizen's right to have some (any) say in how their tax money gets used in government and so would fight wars over that. People would fight wars to, as John Cleese once said, "Keep China British." Many wars are started to save the honor of a country/nation. Some are started in what is claimed to be self-defense and later turns out to have been a political play instigated to end what has been a political thorn in their sides.

      In all this time, I've struggled to really justify many of these wars, but some of that comes with the knowledge of what other wars have cost in terms of human carnage and suffering. For some societies in some periods, the military is one of the few vehicles to social mobility (and I think tend to think social mobility is grease that keeps a society functioning). Often these conflicts come down to one man's penis and the inability to swallow their pride to find a workable solution unless at the end of a bayonet. These conflicts also come with the winning powers taking the opportunity to rid themselves of political threats and exacting new harms on the defeated powers (which comes back around again the next time people see each other in a conflict).

      So help keep me from embracing a totally pacifistic approach to war. When is a war justifiable? When it is not only morally acceptable but a moral imperative to go to war? Please point to examples throughout history where these situations have happened, if you can (though if you're prepared to admit that there has been no justifiable war that you're aware of, I suppose that's fine if bitter).

      20 votes
    13. Do you think "incivility" can be used as a tool for positive change?

      I have been reading a lot of the articles on uncivility. A big complaint is politicians don't like the power it gives people. Which I understand can be bad, but it also seems like for the first...

      I have been reading a lot of the articles on uncivility. A big complaint is politicians don't like the power it gives people. Which I understand can be bad, but it also seems like for the first time in a long time, the average person has a way to impact these high powered politicians. Ordinarily there is nothing we can do, we can't touch them when they continually do things not in the best interest of the people they represent. They do shady things, and we have to go with it.

      They are arguing uncivility is dangerous because it creates the problem of officials being scared to make decisions based on how they will be impacted. If a judge rules one way, and the masses start making his life hard, they say it isn't really fair to the judge. Which makes sense.

      This is the information age. We have access to so much more going on than adults did before us. We actually have platforms to be heard on a large scale. Which means pressuring these people to do right through "uncivility" could be harnessed and used positively to enforce change. If the people making these decisions that are not in our best interest have something to lose, maybe they will finally start doing right by us.

      What are your thoughts on this aspect of the uncivility debate going on right now?

      16 votes
    14. Today I finally beat being a digital pirate despite having to jump a big hurdle

      The book Code Complete changed me as a programmer and as a person. It is the best book I have ever read and if you're a programmer I highly recommend you read it. The book was so good that after...

      The book Code Complete changed me as a programmer and as a person. It is the best book I have ever read and if you're a programmer I highly recommend you read it.

      The book was so good that after having read the pirated version of it I just had to give the author its money's worth. The problem was that almost nobody sells a PDF version of the book - Amazon sells it as a Kindle book, but I prefer PDFs (can use my chioce of software to read it). After searching for a short week I finally found a seller that sells a PDF version. I have never been so happy to find a legal PDF version of a book. Having been a pirate in my teens I'm proud of having gone to such lengths to the right thing. That's all. Just wanted to share this with you.

      TL;DR: Instead of pirating a book because I didn't find a legal PDF version spent time searching for a seller and bought it legally.

      25 votes