It is time to shake off your dusty critical-thinking cap and jump into some good old fashioned ethical scenarios.
- Your friend has a product that could generate astronomical wealth if widely adopted (say, $26 billion in a single year). Your friend also happens to have immunity from any legal liability for that product. Are you justified in being skeptical of your friend’s claims? Does he/she have an inherent conflict of interest that might cause them to lie or skew information in their favor? Why/why not?
- Your old friend Sam calls and invites you to partner with him in business. You ask him to explain his business model and his pitch goes like this, “It is very simple. I identify freedoms that people already have and enjoy. I then find ways to take away those freedoms away. Then, I sell those freedoms back to them in the form of permissions, fees, licenses, and passes.” Would you partner with Sam? Why/why not?
- Your company has a messy track record of civil and criminal fines for issues related to fraud, bribery, malpractice, and unethical behavior ($4,660,896,333 over the past two decades, for instance). However, these fines are a mere slap on the hand in comparison to your annual profits. Do you, A). Brush these criminal fines off as “operating costs” and continue with business as usual? Or, B) Come clean and address the fraud, bribery, malpractice, and ethical behaviors despite the inevitable impact to the bottom line?
- Your company has just created a breakthrough beverage. It has zero calories, incredible nutritional benefits, and it tastes amazing. It is a huge hit. A tremendous marketing campaign results in it becoming a staple in 70% of people’s diet. However, it is later discovered that this beverage is responsible for a host of unexpected health issues and even deaths. If you come clean to the public, it will be the ruin of your company and maybe even the whole industry. People may never trust you or anyone you partnered with again. Do you, A) Tell the truth and take responsibility even though it would cause mass societal outrage and demands for accountability? Or, B) Do you consider it collateral damage, keep it quiet, and suppress any critical information in attempt to maintain public trust?
- You discover a way to address certain nutritional needs through a variety of plants that are readily found in nature and can be easily grown. Do you, A) Make your money teaching people how to grow these plants, selling seeds, and showing others how to take charge of their own health and wellness? Or, B) Keep the information about these plants as trade secrets, extract the key active ingredients, reproduce them synthetically in a lab, patent them, and make your money selling it them as products for a lucrative mark up?
There you have it— five ethical questions to consider for yourself or to discuss with your friends.
Any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental!