August 1, 2014
Deepen relationships by
asking questions about the meaning of life
This group of questions revolves around what I might call “convenient ethics.” We can be quite incensed when someone steals a painting from a gallery, but we might overlook where stolen paintings are exhibited.
For example, several years ago a writer to the Los Angeles Times wanted readers to boycott the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibit of “Old Masters, Impressionists and Moderns” because a major part consisted of paintings seized from two Russian collectors after the Communist Revolution.
He felt museums should not profit from stolen property and was sure LACMA wouldn’t show paintings seized from private owners by Saddam Hussein or Hitler. It would realize such an exhibit would be morally wrong.
Then there is the matter of sharing files of copyrighted material on the Internet. I’ll bet most of us have done some of that at one time or another.
The questions below explore just a few of the ways we can find ourselves in conflict with what we claim to believe when it is convenient to do so.
|Suggested Method for Exploring Questions on Living Your Values
How Do You View the Way in Which You Live Your Values?
- Would I go to an exhibit if I knew it contained stolen paintings? Why?
- If I believe a thief is one who steals something that doesn’t belong to him or her and if I download music from the Internet, taking music that belongs to someone else and for which I know I’m supposed to pay, do I call myself a thief?
- If I share songs but don’t consider it to be stealing, what is the reason I give to justify my actions?
- There are those who excuse sharing of music using the Internet by saying it is like lending a chain saw to a friend. Others respond that the difference is that in one case you make a copy of the song, but you don’t make a copy of the chainsaw. Which analogy seems most correct to me? Why?
- Do I believe the record company is right in filing charges against those who swap songs? Why?
- Even if I don’t pass on songs to others through the Internet, are there other ways in which I infringe on copyright laws, for example, by making a copy of a CD or sharing a copyrighted software program? How do I justify my actions?
- Do I believe it is okay to take what someone else has created for my own use if it comes from a big company on the theory that they wouldn’t miss it, or if I think a company is making too much of a profit? Why?
- If I say I am opposed to violence but watch movies with excessive violence in them, do I encourage violence?
- How closely do I practice my moral scruples in daily life?