Why Tipping Is Unethical

Have you ever tipped your auto mechanic for changing your oil? How about the surgeon who gave you a new knee? Or the cashier who toted up your grocery bill?

Then why does it make sense to tip your restaurant server?

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The Redskins Need a New Name

The NFL season is still more than a month away, but here in football-crazed Washington, the Redskins already dominate the sports pages. And with that kind of coverage staring me in the face every morning, I can’t help thinking anew about the team’s controversial name—specifically, whether its continued use constitutes unethical behavior.
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Business Ethics: Some Progress, But….

Corporate compliance officers—those hard-working, well-intentioned executives who worry about obeying the law and acting ethically—have had some good news recently. There are definite signs of progress on several levels. But some very high-profile failures, most notably the scandal at General Motors involving faulty ignition switches, make the rest of us wonder whether progress is really being made. The answer, I think, is, “Yes, but…” There are signs of improvement, but there’s still a long way to go.
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The Ethics of Charitable Giving

Most of us would agree that sharing our good fortune in the form of charitable giving is an ethical thing to do, maybe even an ethical requirement. If we’re blessed with more money than we need, whether by hard work, good luck, or a combination of both, we ought to lend a helping hand to those who need it. Right?

But what does it mean to have more money than we need?
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No Free Pass for Lying Politicians

When we conducted an informal survey last year asking people when it’s okay to tell a white lie, a large majority, 71%, came down hard on politicians, saying it’s wrong for them to shade the truth, even when it’s just a matter of emphasizing facts that support their point of view and ignoring those that don’t.

But lying by politicians remains rampant. Continue reading

Sales and Marketing: An Ethical Nightmare

I don’t envy those of you who earn a living by selling something. I never have—always knew it was an ethical minefield—but my appreciation for your dilemma has grown immensely as your problems have become mine.

Within the next few months, my first novel will be published and I’m getting ready, reading tons of information on how I’m supposed to promote it, create buzz, persuade people to review it, win fans, and ultimately convince a fair number of people that it’s worth their time and money.
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Taxes: Your Annual Ethics Test

Many ethical dilemmas land on our doorstep when we least expect them, but there’s one that arrives with dogged regularity—the annual income tax return.

While there are thousands of strict regulations and rules, and many checks and balances, a lot depends on our own integrity. With the Internal Revenue Service able to audit so few returns, the tax code becomes dependent to a surprising degree on the honor system, and that can lead to strong temptations to cheat.
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Delta Goof Raises Ethical Issue

One issue that comes up repeatedly in the questions and comments we get has to do with the ethics of paying a fair price. One example involves a situation like a yard sale when a buyer recognizes an object as being worth far more than the seller is asking. We think the general rule is that there’s no ethical obligation to pay more. The price was set by the seller, and let’s face it, one of the big attractions of yard sales is the possibility of finding a great bargain. Still, when the price difference is major, we’re inclined to think the fairest approach is to split the difference.
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Why Aren’t Ethicists More Ethical?

As the host of Talking Ethics, I’m sometimes asked whether I feel a greater need to live a strictly ethical life. People are probably also wondering whether I really do.

To me the answer to the first question is a resounding yes. If you’re going to talk the talk, you ought to walk the walk. There’s no question that I try harder to do the right thing. But that’s not to say I succeed.
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Deciding When It’s Okay to Lie

One of the age-old problems in ethics is whether and when it is permissible to lie. While most of us might agree in principle that truth and transparency are critical ethical principles and that lying and deception are intrinsically wrong, we don’t always agree on how to apply this to everyday life. Is truth always required? And if not, just when is it okay to lie?
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Ethics Quiz: Selling Tactics

Ethical dilemmas come at us in all kinds of ways, large and small, with a surprising frequency. This week, we’re looking at five “everyday ethics” problems, presenting one each day. Think them over, decide what you believe is the best course of action, and then compare your views with mine, which you’ll find at the bottom of this post. Be sure to comment if you disagree. Here’s today’s problem:
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