"He's sooooo unethical!" was her main complaint about my ex-husband. Having known him to be clinically diagnosed as a narcissist I had an inkling of what she meant. He says what he needs to say in order to get what he wants to get. Never mind if it's nice, never mind if it's true, he's a bona fida opportunist. What is an ethic to such a man? If its good for him, its "good." This is known as moral relativism. So what was my friend referring to? She discovered my ex-husband did business exclusively with Mennonite builders, because it is against their religion to sue people in civil court. Knowing full well he didn't have the money to pay for the home he had built, Bob (not his real name) would hire the Mennonites. Though they were angry about having to wait until the house sold to get paid, there was nothing they were willing to do, besides call him and voice their anger. Bob would feel uncomfortable for five minutes and then it was over. Without the long arm of the law he had essentially emasculated the builders. They weren't willing to take the house down. Bob's moral philosophy was sound for him, but what about the Mennonites, was their Christianity to be questioned? I thought it was a little unethical of them to not hold my ex-husband accountable. The New Stoa, what would they think of such a stunt? Gaining at another person's detriment, is it ever good? I had a philosophy professor in college, obviously not a Christian person, who believed people were basically good. That said, he extrapolated, everything they do is meant to be for their own good. "Excuse me," I interrupted at this point, "what about people who smoke cigarettes, or take heroin, for that matter?" I had him completely flumoxed for a moment. Long into the semester he was still attempting to explain somehow the self destructive behavior. "They think it's good for them," he tried, "because it feels good at the time." But the class would have none of it. We had all seen the warning label on cigarettes. Even print ads for cigarettes have warning labels. Is there anyone on earth who doesn't know it's bad for them? Why are they all trying so desperately to quit if they think its good? Who created the booming market for patches and for Nicorette gum? And then there's drugs. Do we even need a warning label for heroin? Don't we intuit something illegal, and high priced, and difficult to find would wreak havoc on our bodies? Some people think there is no right and wrong. Right and wrong are just labels we make up for stuff we don't like. Why is it wrong in one country to have more than one wife, and right in another? Wrong in one country to have an abortion, required in another? Wrong to have sex outside of a marriage or perfectly socially acceptable? I can see the argument for right and wrong being arbitrary when we look at such examples, however I think gaining at another person's detriment is across the board distasteful to all of us, oops, except my ex-husband.
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