Black Market Ethics

Randy Cohen: To visit another country is not to endorse its every practice.  If that were so, well, no European could ever come to America with our cuckoo, you know, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you know, what with our little Guantanamo. . . .  

If you choose to go to this other country, you really should obey the laws, including the laws about currency exchange.  That if you in your heart of hearts thought your conducting economic business in this country was going to have dire consequences that you genuinely disapproved of, well, here’s a solution: don’t go.  But if you choose to go, then you really do have to honor the laws and customs of the place you are visiting. 

There are times when you should not go, and, in my view, that’s when there’s an organized boycott or when the people who live under such a regime are urging you not to come.  That was the case in South Africa for awhile.  Here in the United States, there were organized boycotts, for instance, of some states that were determined to display the Confederate flag -- which apparently had nothing to do with race, you know, just a lot of whiners, and any way, I can’t imagine how anyone could think that -- but so once there was an organized political movement and residents of the state were wounded by the flag and said please don’t come, you should respect that.  But if it’s simply your own fastidiousness, well, I think you make the decision, go and obey the laws or, if this truly offends you, then don’t go at all. 

I think it works at the consumer level, too, not just the border crossing level, that I may choose to get bootleg software because I don’t want to prop up, you know, the evil empire of Microsoft, but that’s morally very, very dubious.  If you think that Microsoft -- and I use them strictly as an example.  I am not asserting a case for Microsoft’s corporate conduct.  I’ll leave that to the courts in Europe to do -- that if you truly think a corporation’s behavior is beyond the pale, then don’t do business with them. 

You can’t work out these self-serving rationalizations that because the other is wicked I can treat them without any moral consideration.  You choose your moral principles because you believe them right, not because of how good or bad you believe the people you’re dealing with are.  So if you don’t like Microsoft, don’t do business with Microsoft.  But you can’t steal their products because you've decided they’re bad people.

If you choose to go to this other country, you really should obey the laws, including the laws about currency exchange.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

4 anti-scientific beliefs and their damaging consequences

The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.

Moon Landing Apollo
  • Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
  • Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
  • All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less