(Warning: The following blog entry discusses illegal actions and other unethical deeds. I do not recommend doing anything described in the following entry; it’s simply a discussion of some of my moral views. Your views may vary, and if so, please let me know what you think.)
One game I’ve always thought looked interesting was Scruples. The point of the game is to discuss how you would react to a variety of ethical dilemmas. One of the more interesting example questions listed on the official site asked how you would react to your spouse day trading, if doing so was profitable but caused your spouse to be stressed. Ignoring the obvious objections many of my readers will raise to the whole idea of day trading, the underlying question is interesting: would you want your spouse to sacrifice his/her mental well being in return for money?
These sorts of moral questions got me thinking: what wouldn’t I do for money? What is so beyond my ethical standards that no amount of money would convince me to do it? It’s an interesting thought; you can gain a lot of insight into yourself and your ethics by considering what you will and won’t do for money. So, what have I come up with?
Things I WILL NOT do for any amount of money:
- Murder: Killing someone in cold blood for money is the top of my list of things I will not do. While I might conceivably kill in self defense or to protect my family, killing someone for money is definitely beyond my ability. And not just because I’m a horrible thought; I can’t abide the thought of taking someone else’s life, particularly for money.
- Maiming: In the same vein, I can’t picture myself doing serious, permanent damage to anyone. Torturing someone is (mostly) out. I might be willing to cause someone pain under the right circumstances, if I felt that the good that could be done exceeded the harm. There is one exception, of course…
- Harming a Child: I can’t hurt kids. That, more than even these previous points, is a guiding principle in my life; until someone becomes a teenager, there’s no amount of money you can pay me to do any harm to them.
Things I Would Consider, In the Right Circumstances:
- Kidnapping: This one is pretty questionable; I’d only seriously consider kidnapping if I were doing something like reuniting a parent with her offspring. Of course, the number of circumstances where this is actually the case is probably pretty small, and verifying the parent’s story would take time and effort on its own.
- Theft: This is easier; given a substantial reward and something to take from a rich enough target, I have no moral qualms with theft. That said, I doubt my skills in this area would impress anyone.
- Blackmail: Here, I’m torn; if it’s something illegal, I would lean towards turning the blackmailed person in to the authorities. If it’s simply immoral, I’d consider blackmailing someone.
That’s probably enough for now. Of course, all this is off the cuff speculation; if I actually had the skills and techniques to do any of these things and faced the opportunity, my decisions would likely be much different. That leads into a bit of catch-22: the only way I could get the skills would be to do these actions, but the only way I would do anything on these lists is if I were offered quite a bit of money from an outside source. So, the chance of me becoming an expert cat burgular or superb blackmailer is rather slim. (Hear that, FBI? You’ve got nothing to worry about from me.)
That brings us to the $64,000 dollar question: what would you be willing to do for money? What are you unwilling to do? What circumstances would make you reconsider your opposition? It’s an interesting question to ponder, and I’d like to hear what you think.