Okay, this one’s for all the ethicists/moral philosophers out there. Pull up a chair and let’s play along.
Consider the following scenario: you are a single parent, with two children and a house (white picket fence optional). You can make the ends meet, have a little extra in the bank, and your parents babysit the kids during the daytime, so everything is keen at home. You’re working at the same company Dilbert works at, and am firmly lodged in the “average white-collar worker” column.
So anyway, you’re putzing along in your cublcle when the Pointy-Haired Boss™ pays you a visit. The PHB explains that there’s a problem – due to “budget problems,” he’s going to have to lay you off … unless you happened to have seen Star Wars (the first movie) in the theater when it came out back in 1977. If you did, then he can go to his boss and try to weasel out some more money to keep you employed (apparently the CEO believes helping Star Wars fans is good for his karma).
Now, you’re a savvy guy/gal/wookie, and you know Star Wars pretty well – but you never saw it in the theaters back in ‘77, since your parent/legal guardian refused to take you to the theater at the time. Your viewings of Star Wars has been strictly limited to videotapes and DVDs.
Putting aside any questions about the oddball nature of the boss’ requirement, what do you do, o defender of morality? Do you
(a) lie that you did see Star Wars in the theater back in '77, save your job, and protect your family and home.
(b) admit you never saw Star Wars in the theater back in '77, thus getting laid off and endangering your family and home over a trivial matter?
The strictly moral answer is (b), of course, but I’m curious as to how many people will actually choose that route given the context of the problem…