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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Slavery: What’s Your Ethical Duty?

Ask anyone if slavery is unethical and you’re almost sure to get a resounding yes. But the cold truth is that the practice continues in many forms and in many places, even here in the U.S. So a much more relevant question has to do with our ethical responsibility to do something about the problem: Do we have one and what exactly should we do?
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Long Overdue: A Sports Code of Ethics

I’ve been struggling with some ethical inconsistencies in the world of sports. Maybe you can help me think them through. Consider the following:

In golf, the honor code rules. Players routinely assess their own penalties if they accidentally move a ball or otherwise violate a rule. This doesn’t seem to happen in any other sport. Try to imagine a first baseman turning around to a baseball umpire after an “out” call and saying, “No, actually my foot slipped off the bag and he’s safe.” (No, I can’t imagine it, either.)
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When a Thumbs Up Poses Problems

You hire a roofer. He shows up late and takes two days longer than expected. He does an adequate job but isn’t very good about cleaning up. As he leaves, he offers you a $50 rebate for any referrals who sign with him. Do your recommend him to your neighbors? If you do, do you tell the neighbors you’re getting a rebate? Do you split the rebate?
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Barring Anonymous Web Comments

On Aug. 1, the Eagle-Tribune, a daily newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts, took a courageous step. It stopped allowing users to comment anonymously on its Web site.

In a column announcing the decision, Executive Editor Al White said that while he understood that some people were unable to comment freely under their own names, allowing anonymity created bigger problems. “Too many used the feature to spew vitriol, bigotry, obscenity, cheap shots and juvenile taunts, no matter how hard we worked to keep the conversation civil.”
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