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Internet Fantasy
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Q. Some of my friends love to prowl Internet chat rooms using fabricated identities. Their “Internet identity” may change their age, gender, and background. Is there any ethical problem with this? A. In a previous column we discussed the serious ethical problems involved in using an assumed identity to hoodwink customers. Those problems can occur […]
Discriminating Against Discrimination
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Note to readers: The following question was sent to a columnist in a major American newspaper. His reply generated much controversy, and a number of readers requested that I respond to the same issue. AM Q. The courteous and competent real-estate agent I’d just hired to rent my house shocked and offended me when, after […]
Respect or Neglect
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Q. My friend is a recovered alcoholic. As he is now going off to college, he confided in me his fear that the new environment will cause him to suffer a relapse and go back to his old habits. Should I discretely contact a counselor at the university so that someone will be keeping an […]
Members Only
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Q. I usually visit America for a few weeks a year — not enough to justify membership in a warehouse club. So when I go, I sometimes borrow a card from a friend who is a member. Is there an ethical problem with this? After all, the store benefits from the added business!  A. This is […]
Surreptitious Speaker Phone
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Q. Do I need the caller’s permission to put a call on the speakerphone? Sometimes I want others in the office to hear, or I need the speakerphone in order to have freedom of movement yet others are present. A. This is a classic “opt in, opt out” question: Is it my responsibility to avoid […]
Snow Job
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Q. After a recent snowstorm I went out shoveling walks and driveways. I cleared one medium-size driveway that usually costs about fifteen dollars, but the owner cheated me and gave me only three! Am I at fault for not agreeing on a price in advance?  A. Of course it is always best to avoid understandings […]
Sold Salesman
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Q. Can I hire a salesman away from a competitor?  A. There are many reasons someone might want to hire an employee currently working for a competitor. Some are a lot more ethical than others. You might want to hire this individual because he has excellent qualifications and you believe he has exactly the skills […]
Charitable Worth
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Q. Is it appropriate to establish rigid criteria for charitable giving?  A. Deciding to whom to give charity is never easy. No one wants to seem hard-hearted and demand that a needy person prepare a thorough dossier before we give a token amount. Yet at the same time we want to avoid giving to people […]
Copycat Ethics
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Q. Since name brand items are so expensive, many enterprising individuals market look-alikes. Is it ethical to sell or to buy these knockoff products? A. In order to answer this question properly, we have to make clear that there is a crucial difference between two kinds of “look-alike” products: 1. Counterfeits. These are designed to […]
BCC E-mail Ethics
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Q. Is it unethical to send a “bcc” of an e-mail? I’m worried that this could be deceptive. A. While the ethics and etiquette of e-mail are still evolving, the basic principles of thoughtful behavior are always applicable. For the e-mail uninitiated, “bcc” stands for “blind carbon copy.” Once upon a time, copies of correspondence […]