FACING AN ETHICAL DILEMMA
Posted by: Write My Essay on: November 21, 2017
I recently borrowed my brother’s bike. He is in South Korea teaching English and I thought that I would ask him if it would be okay if I used his bike when he is gone, and I promised that I would fix anything that breaks. Unfortunately, on the first day of riding it, several of the gears didn’t work. I didn’t notice whether the gears were working when I began to ride or if I broke them. At this point, I knew that I would have to pay the repair costs. However, I am not sure that the gears weren’t already broken and, in fact, I am fairly certain that they were broken prior to me using the bike. I was then faced with the dilemma of whether I should fix the gears or tell my brother that they were already broken when I borrowed the bike. I am a person of my word – and I would expect that my brother would have made me aware of the problem prior to lending me the bike if such a problem existed – but I went ahead and paid $125 to repair the bike. I made this decision not only because I gave my brother my word, but I wanted to avoid any type of confrontation. Also, I was afraid that if I was wrong, and the gears were actually broken by me, then I would seem like an unreasonable person if I hadn’t paid for the repairs. My brother was appreciative of me fixing the gears and he didn’t mention they were already malfunctioning. I didn’t ask him whether they were broken prior to me borrowing the bike. The result of all this is that I may have been the victim of an unethical behavior on the part of my brother, and I am now also out $125.
I believe the principle of universalism could best be applied here. If my situation was made a universal law, and everyone trusted their brother to be upfront about repairs that were needed on a bike, then there would be the possibility of easily unethical behavior on the part of brothers throughout the world (or universe). Taking it a step further, and assuming that when faced with any decision that requires honesty on the part of someone else, where the consequence of that person not being honest means that there is a potential victim, then the potential for corruption would be acted upon quite easily by unethical people. This would create a society where honest people are made to be the victim of those who are dishonest. It could also be applied to a situation such as a waiter saying how much the bill is without actually bringing the bill. There is potential that the waiter will overcharge and the person paying with simply trust them to be ethical. The world would not be able to function this way because many people who were in a position to be dishonest would scam others.
When making the decision to repair the bike and assume that my brother would have been forthcoming about the needed repairs, I didn’t think about the universalization principle. I assumed that my brother would be ethical and bring to my attention the malfunctioning bike either prior to me borrowing it, or after I told him that I was taking the bike to be repaired. If I had to act in this situation again – and taking the universalization principle into consideration – I would have asked my brother if the bike was damaged prior to me borrowing it. This would at least require on his part more effort to be unethical – assuming he isn’t a sociopath with no regard for ethics – because he would need to lie about the bike not needing repairs prior to me borrowing it.
There are some people in this world who do take advantage of other people’s trust, whether it is a car salesman who sells a lemon for an outrageous price or another con man who phones a random elderly person and tells them that they are their grandson who is in need of money so that they can post bail. People sometimes need to be questioned in order for any potential victim to gauge whether they are being ethical. If I had asked my brother whether the bike was broken prior to me borrowing it, he might have said the bike already needed repairs.