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Global Threats
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Q. You recently wrote that pollution is not an inherent case of “damage” but a kind of nuisance which the community must weigh against cost of control. What about global dangers like global warming, where no meaningful community control exists? A. I received many thoughtful replies to the pollution column, which was intentionally meant to […]
No More Flood
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Q. Last week you explained that solving our environmental problems requires international cooperation. What can Jewish tradition teach us about nearing this ideal? A. In recent weeks we have explained that Jewish law definitely mandates regulation of pollution and other nuisances, but that most kinds of pollution, even the most threatening kinds, are not direct […]
Apprentice
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Q. Many successful firms hire summer interns. These dedicated volunteers are generally of significant value to the firms, yet are paid nothing. Is this fair to the youngsters? A. There is certainly something paradoxical about internships. The law forbids hiring workers for below minimum wage, but allows employers to hire them for nothing! This may […]
Should Father Pay
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Q. My son wants his brothers and sisters to be at his upcoming wedding, but not all of them can afford the trip. He wants me to pay half the plane fare. I have helped him in the past to the best of my ability, but the truth is that my means are very short […]
Under the Table
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Q. My friend’s employer pays her “under the table,” without paying employer taxes. I would like to protest their behavior, but I’m afraid it will cost my friend her job. A. There is definitely a place for protesting improper behavior, but we also need to examine the boundaries of this ethical imperative. Certainly it is […]
Magic Moment
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Q. In a recent column, you wrote that it is generally fair for parents to contribute to making a wedding celebration according to their means. Shouldn’t we condemn lavish weddings? A. Anything good can be taken to extremes, and having a memorable wedding is certainly one. Opulent weddings, or those beyond the means of the […]
Slander in Self-Defense
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Q. An employee resigned suddenly to compete with our firm, leaving us in the lurch. Am I allowed to tell inconvenienced customers the reason for our disarray? This would both take the blame off me and my remaining loyal employees, and also warn the customers about this person’s questionable character. A. A sudden departure in […]
Stereotypes and Prejudice
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Q. I try and judge people objectively, but recently I learned an acquaintance was from a different ethnic background and I was dismayed to see that it completely changed my views on her. Is such “racial profiling” an ethical deficiency? A. We have to distinguish different types of judgment. One thing we should make completely […]
Your Loss, My Gain
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Q. Is it ethical to take advantage of someone else’s mistake in business? A. “Taking advantage of someone else’s mistake” is quite a broad topic. This week we will give an overview of some of the dilemmas this could involve, and in subsequent columns we will try and give more specific examples. Jewish law on […]
Is Googling Ethical
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Q. Sometimes when I meet someone new or I have business with someone, I search for information about them on the internet. Is this an invasion of privacy? After all, I only obtain publicly available information. A. Finding publicly available information through an internet search service such as Google has become so common that we […]