Unethical careers

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odenskrigare
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Unethical careers

Postby odenskrigare » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:40 am UTC

What kind of careers do you believe to have a strong or even innate tendency towards being unethical?

The most obvious vocations I can think of which have a lot of controversy around them (not to say I agree) are: anything involved in the meat industry stack, prostitution, military, maybe even actuarial science in some cases.

I am actually nihilistic and don't believe any careers are unethical, but I'd like to hear others' opinions. In particular, what, if anything, do you find unethical about computing, robotics and indeed any other technology using some kind of digital processing?
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby crickets » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:28 am UTC

I honestly can't say i find any "careers" unethical. But then again, i have a very... uhm... loose? concept of ethics.

I'm surprised "tobacco rep" didn't come up on your list of possibly objectionable careers though.

Then again, would it really count for the lower level careers? Or do you have to go higher up the ladder to the people who, say, /run/ tobacco companies?
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby odenskrigare » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:34 am UTC

Oh, yes, tobacco reps.

And, obviously, the higher up the ladder, the more influence you carry in the world, no matter what. Unless you work in the UN or something.

What do you think about people who design and build increasingly autonomous military robots and computers?
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Hawknc » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:55 am UTC

Why would prostitution be unethical?

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Dream » Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:25 pm UTC

odenskrigare wrote:I am actually nihilistic and don't believe any careers are unethical, but I'd like to hear others' opinions.

Are you actually going to engage with a discussion about this, or are you already so sure of your nihilism that it would be pointless? There are many careers that I believe are unethical (although specific jobs, rather than careers is a more interesting and useful topic) but I'm not going to enter into the discussion if you're closed to opposing points of view.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby wst » Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:41 pm UTC

Pretty much everything business-wise is unethical, once you get to a high enough level in the company. Because, essentially, you are there to make profit. That means providing a service for more than the actual cost of the service. However, you could be paying intellectually, I doubt many people (even those denizens of xkcd) could make an MP3 player with quite a shiny OS and a touch-sensitive screen, and an OS for it, for less than it costs to buy an iPod Touch. It's 'laze money'.
However, you could still call it unethical, as they (whoever the money reaches first) still make you pay more than they bought it for, and more than it costs to pay employees in the company, as someone is making money for nothing, effectively.
I consider companies that lock you into proprietary systems unethical, myself. Or that limit what you can do with what you purchase. Dell and Apple have both been guilty of this, either by voiding your warranty by installing another OS, or the famous iPod cable, which costs £11.99. (Which is fucking ridiculous, I might add). Everyone knows companies are out to screw a little bit of cash out of you, to cover more than expenses, and this is often a good thing, as it lets companies grow reasonably, and gives people jobs and money to actually live a decent-ish life. It's when companies decide 'I know, lets make something that's not difficult to lose, then charge fucktons of cash for replacements, when a usb to usb cable is about 50p', that they go unethical, in my book.

Well, that sort of thing. I might be ranting a bit. Other stuff, like PMC's, I find less uneithical, than those companies that don't let you do what you like with your stuff. (Like buying OSX, and not being allowed to install it on non-Apple-branded hardware. What the fuck? It's my CD now, I can shove it into whatever orifices I like thanks very much.)

(I don't like Apple either, don't hate me because I used them as examples too much please...)
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby TheStranger » Sat Dec 13, 2008 2:02 pm UTC

wst wrote:However, you could still call it unethical, as they (whoever the money reaches first) still make you pay more than they bought it for, and more than it costs to pay employees in the company, as someone is making money for nothing, effectively.


I'd be hard pressed to call this 'unethical'. It is just Capitalism in operation. As long it is not a monopolistic situation the buyer is free to spend his money how they chose and the seller is free to ask for as much as they want.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby wst » Sat Dec 13, 2008 3:28 pm UTC

TheStranger wrote:
wst wrote:However, you could still call it unethical, as they (whoever the money reaches first) still make you pay more than they bought it for, and more than it costs to pay employees in the company, as someone is making money for nothing, effectively.


I'd be hard pressed to call this 'unethical'. It is just Capitalism in operation. As long it is not a monopolistic situation the buyer is free to spend his money how they chose and the seller is free to ask for as much as they want.

I was rambling a bit early in that post, but it is slightly unethical, if you think about it, as they're making money for nothing. My real bone with companies is those that do the whole 'proprietary' thing.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Azrael » Sat Dec 13, 2008 4:22 pm UTC

Remember which forum you're in, everyone.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby MartianInvader » Sat Dec 13, 2008 6:31 pm UTC

I would consider most upper-management type positions unethical. Your job is to make a profit, which, with very few exceptions, means putting money before your employees. Such jobs tend to require you to get as much out of your workers as you can for as little money as possible, which means it's your job to give them as low salaries as possible, as few perks as possible, and as little job security as you can so that you can lay them off if you need to.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby odenskrigare » Sat Dec 13, 2008 6:37 pm UTC

Dream wrote:
odenskrigare wrote:I am actually nihilistic and don't believe any careers are unethical, but I'd like to hear others' opinions.

Are you actually going to engage with a discussion about this, or are you already so sure of your nihilism that it would be pointless? There are many careers that I believe are unethical (although specific jobs, rather than careers is a more interesting and useful topic) but I'm not going to enter into the discussion if you're closed to opposing points of view.


I am very sure of my nihilism. But that is not to say I don't want to hear whatever you have to say, and will entertain it, if only for the sake of argument. Go on.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Indon » Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:13 pm UTC

Advertising, the science and practice of lying to the greatest extent possible to manipulate people into giving you their money (and its' politicized sister profession, propaganda).

I was going to say "working at a think tank" as well, but that falls under propaganda, which is in essence itself advertising.

I can't think of any other ones - even a record label could theoretically be run ethically, even if in practice the RIAA (and by extension, its' component businesses) are apparently run by massive scumbags. Ditto for diamond mining and a bunch of other industries which are run unethically, but could theoretically be run better.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Intercept » Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:56 pm UTC

I'm surprised no one has mentioned attorneys. Both defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to act unethically on a regular basis. The problem being of course, that if they didn't, the justice system would be even worse.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby odenskrigare » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:05 pm UTC

wst wrote:I consider companies that lock you into proprietary systems unethical, myself. Or that limit what you can do with what you purchase. Dell and Apple have both been guilty of this, either by voiding your warranty by installing another OS, or the famous iPod cable, which costs £11.99. (Which is fucking ridiculous, I might add).


Selling proprietary cables that cost twelve pounds is small potatoes. Let's talk about the kind of people that make one lose hope in humanity.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby clintonius » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Intercept wrote:I'm surprised no one has mentioned attorneys. Both defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to act unethically on a regular basis. The problem being of course, that if they didn't, the justice system would be even worse.
Attorneys have a bad reputation, and some (many?) have earned it. But I don't think it's fair to say that they are expected to act unethically. There are actually very strict ethical codes attorneys must follow or risk being disbarred. Can you clarify/back up your assertion?

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Naurgul » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:05 pm UTC

I'll go with advertisers (invent ways to circumvent the critical thinking of people to get them to give you money) and lawyers (the fact that there are good and bad lawyers showcases that judgement systems are flawed; if it was not, the skill of your lawyer would hardly matter because the being guilty or not would matter way more). Politicians can be too (be the middle man between people who can't resolve their differences on their own while not being an expert on the fields you need to make laws about) and journalists (dumb down and sensationalise everything to sell more papers) but I can't be as absolute as the first two not can I say that it's inherent to the career.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Azrael » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:07 pm UTC

I'm kind of interested in some justification as to why some of these jobs are unethical, rather than why people may not like them.

Why is proprietary, patented or copyrighted material unethical?

Why are the heads of large companies automatically unethical, rather than their actions potentially being unethical -- or potentially not?

In a thread about ethics, the fact that no one has even discussed what type of ethics they're using as a yard stick suggests a lack of SB worthy discussion.

Let's go ahead and purple that last part.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Kaiyas » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:13 pm UTC

A proposition:
The more power a position holds, the less ethical it becomes?*

Not as a biconditional, of course. (Unethical jobs do not imply powerful positions)

This may or may not hold depending on what you mean by "ethical". I was thinking that being able to arbitrarily change someone else's life drastically, possibly without consent, would be "unethical". The above statement falls apart if by ethical you mean self-realization.

Edit: Actually let's make a list of some things we can call "unethical"

Deception
Power?
Inflicting pain
...?
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Fusciante » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:39 pm UTC

I've actually been considering whether becoming a classical musician would be unethical. When I'm done with high school I'll probably have lots of different choices, so is it really right for me to sit around playing music and having fun when I could have been curing people with cancer or teaching kids about the world?
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Azrael » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:51 pm UTC

Fusciante wrote:I've actually been considering whether becoming a classical musician would be unethical. When I'm done with high school I'll probably have lots of different choices, so is it really right for me to sit around playing music and having fun when I could have been curing people with cancer or teaching kids about the world?


Explain to me how doing what you're good at and being happy is unethical? It's pretty much the perfect scenario under Aristotlelian.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby odenskrigare » Sat Dec 13, 2008 9:58 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:In a thread about ethics, the fact that no one has even discussed what type of ethics they're using as a yard stick suggests a lack of SB worthy discussion.

Let's go ahead and purple that last part.

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That's a problem. See, as a nihilist, I can't offer any framework to begin with. But it seems most of the people here fit the 'free software-loving Western left-wing' worldview. Let's use that.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Fusciante » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:14 pm UTC

Explain to me how doing what you're good at and being happy is unethical? It's pretty much the perfect scenario under Aristotlelian.

Well it just seems kind of selfish to just sit around in me own little world when I could be doing extremely useful stuff. I mean, how many lives can a doctor save through his career?
And I don't think of it as "musician = unethical", but more like it would be more ethical for me to become a doctor or something like that.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby odenskrigare » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

Music can inspire and uplift people. You forgot that.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Fusciante » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:25 pm UTC

Indeed. But seeing as I'd probably become a bassoonist in some symphony orchestra, my individual role in that uplifting experience would be quite small (though not non-existant).
But you do make a point, it'd not be too bad working with teaching youngsters music and stuff like that.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Intercept » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:48 pm UTC

clintonius wrote:
Intercept wrote:I'm surprised no one has mentioned attorneys. Both defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to act unethically on a regular basis. The problem being of course, that if they didn't, the justice system would be even worse.
Attorneys have a bad reputation, and some (many?) have earned it. But I don't think it's fair to say that they are expected to act unethically. There are actually very strict ethical codes attorneys must follow or risk being disbarred. Can you clarify/back up your assertion?

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Eh, both come with expectations that I personally consider ethical. Keep in mind I've considered being an attorney myself. Defense attorneys often accept the cases of people they know to be guilty (Granted, that would be the person, and not the profession in general.) or suspect/believe to be guilty. Prosecutors are given a case and told to win it as long as they obey the rules. They often falsely imprison people. Granted, most of the people who do these things aren't happy with them, but they still do them. Obviously these things vary from attorney to attorney, but it can be hard to make a living only working on the side of justice.

Also, my guess is Clintonius.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Spuddly » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:13 pm UTC

What about politicians?
To be a successful politician, it seems you have to be a lying douchebag.
Lying is unethical, right?
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby alexh123456789 » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:23 pm UTC

Just because many politicians lie doesn't mean the profession itself is unethical. It's theoretically possible to become a politician not for power but to help people, just uncommon.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby TheGuardian » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:52 pm UTC

No career is unethical. It would only be considered unethical to individuals who did not like the line of work or product that resulted from the career. Take an earlier example "Tobacco Representative." This is only considered unethical by individuals that have been negatively affected by or dislike the tobacco industry. As for the individual who is actually performing the job, he may enjoy doing his job or just consider it as a way to make money. But he still may not view his job as unethical seeing as it his career and he's still working there. Therefore no career can be branded "unethical" due to the word's relativity.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby RaptorAttack » Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:58 pm UTC

I'm not sure if I would describe any careers themselves as 'unethical', except possibly something like an executioner where the nature of the job itself is to do something that is (arguably) morally compromising. Or perhaps there is some career I can't think of where harming others is inherent to the nature of the career.

I think some careers are more likely to place people in unethical situations than others, or more likely to attract unethical people. I think high-level corporate positions seem to do this, as well as politics. Personally I think in order to get to such a high level, you usually have to be somewhat ruthless and self-interested, and willing to step on a few people on the way up. Also, as some others have mentioned in this thread, I think when the nature of a corporation is to make a profit for its shareholders, there is a lot of potential for the people at the top to rip off other people, misrepresent things, lie about a product or corporate practices, etc, since ultimately the corporation's aim is unrelated (at best) to helping others.

Politics is similar ... there is a lot of potential for helping others, but the impression I get is that you have to compromise yourself and perhaps adopt an "end justifies the means" mentality just to get to an influential position. I tend to think that if someone is motivated enough to run for office or try to gain political power, that in itself is often a sign that they can't be trusted with it.

I think the military is likely to place people in unethical situations as well, although I don't think the military itself is necessarily inherently unethical. Ultimately you are following the orders of your superiors and (at the top) following the interests of the nation. These could be ethical or could be unethical, and due to the hierarchical nature of the military you're stuck between a rock and a hard place (although I don't think following orders absolves people from moral responsibility).

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby RaptorAttack » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:00 am UTC

TheGuardian wrote:No career is unethical. It would only be considered unethical to individuals who did not like the line of work or product that resulted from the career. Take an earlier example "Tobacco Representative." This is only considered unethical by individuals that have been negatively affected by or dislike the tobacco industry. As for the individual who is actually performing the job, he may enjoy doing his job or just consider it as a way to make money. But he still may not view his job as unethical seeing as it his career and he's still working there. Therefore no career can be branded "unethical" due to the word's relativity.


Isn't the relativity of the word "ethical" a relative opinion on your part though? :-)

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Hull » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:05 am UTC

TheGuardian wrote:No career is unethical. It would only be considered unethical to individuals who did not like the line of work or product that resulted from the career. Take an earlier example "Tobacco Representative." This is only considered unethical by individuals that have been negatively affected by or dislike the tobacco industry. As for the individual who is actually performing the job, he may enjoy doing his job or just consider it as a way to make money. But he still may not view his job as unethical seeing as it his career and he's still working there. Therefore no career can be branded "unethical" due to the word's relativity.


That only really applies if we're talking about some relative standard of ethics. If we're speaking from a utilitarian perspective (for example, I'm most familiar with it), any job could be ethical or unethical depending on the end results of the employee's work. From a rights perspective, jobs that don't infringe on other's rights are probably ethical. In either of these cases, it's easy to brand a given career as ethical or unethical.

If you're saying that because people have different ethics, we can't call any career "unethical" because everyone's ethics are their own and theirs alone, then we can't really call anything unethical.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby TheGuardian » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:07 am UTC

RaptorAttack wrote:Isn't the relativity of the word "ethical" a relative opinion on your part though? :-)


Hull wrote:If you're saying that because people have different ethics, we can't call any career "unethical" because everyone's ethics are their own and theirs alone, then we can't really call anything unethical.


Good point, good sir. hehe

That's exactly what I was attempting to convey Hull. :-)

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby T-Form » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:42 am UTC

Regarding politics, I'd say that lying (as with similar forms of dishonesty or deception) is only unethical in certain contexts. This would include politics, as a vote for a politician or party is also a vote for the various policies that they promise to attempt to enact; a politician's promises are effectively offers to enact a policy in exchange for the power and privilege of a legislative or executive office. In that sense, it's fairly similar to dishonesty in advertising. Lying in politics is arguably more serious, however, as it also interferes with the right to self-determination; the state has no legitimacy without the informed consent of those governed, and among other things, this requires that all people are able to influence the nature of that governance (e.g. through voting). If politicians are dishonest, then voters are not sufficiently informed and cannot consent to governance; to assume office under those conditions is clearly unethical. In that sense, it's comparable to dishonesty in medicine; both interfere with informed consent, and thus the ability to control aspects of one's life.

While I'm talking about medicine, I'd say that cosmetic surgery is an ethically dicey career. Most of the time, it involves profit through the exploitation of fear and insecurity, and in turn it reinforces those fears and insecurities, which are themselves linked to unreasonable gendered ideals. This is also a problem throughout the cosmetics industry, of course, but cosmetic surgery in particular requires people to be sufficiently unhappy with their body that they'll attempt to have it permanently altered, and of course the job itself regularly requires the permanent alteration of a person's body under (usually) questionable consent.

Regarding the military, I reckon it depends on a combination of rank and reason for joining. A person who is drafted is acting under duress (and thus somewhat less culpable than a volunteer), while a person with a high rank is making decisions which cause wider harm. On a related note, I'd say that the design and manufacture of weapons is usually quite unethical. I'm thinking primarily of weapons designed to kill or harm people (i.e. not for hunting, sport, etc), and especially when they're intended to be used. Obvious examples would include mines and cluster bombs (killing civillians for years after a war has ended is arguably even worse than killing soldiers during the war), but I'd put chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and most weapons of war up there too.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby odenskrigare » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:37 am UTC

What about automated weapons? Where is the onus there? i.e., if some component goes haywire and the wrong persons get killed, who takes the blame, if anyone?
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Hull » Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:25 am UTC

odenskrigare wrote:What about automated weapons? Where is the onus there? i.e., if some component goes haywire and the wrong persons get killed, who takes the blame, if anyone?


This is interesting. Of course, I'd assign most of the blame to the person using the gun, as its barrel kind of has to be pointed at the person who dies (assuming you're talking about an improperly handled misfire or something). If it explodes and kills the user, there's not many people to blame but the manufacturers, who clearly either failed to test it or cut corners.

But really, when does someone start taking the blame for being an enabler? You can't shoot someone with a Glock if Glock didn't make the pistol, but is it fair to put any blame on Glock if they followed all laws and sold only to police? You could kill someone with Tylenol, or caffeine, but their products aren't designed to kill anyone, or even cause pain (both can cause reduction when used properly, anyway). Surely there's a difference in selling a police officer a gun, who misuses it and selling a felon a gun in a back alley. Which brings me to my main point.

There are few careers that are inherently unethical (Here unethical is defined as causing more harm than good, which is ambiguous but hopefully understandable in these cases). Weapons manufacturers are a good example - a company could sell only to police in reputable districts, or could sell exclusively to mercenaries and felons. Tobacco companies could try to hook kids at six or younger (I had a teacher who was), or could just sell their product to those interested. Most examples people give (as has been pointed out) aren't from inherently unethical careers, but careers where people tend to act unethically. We could argue about what careers cause people to be unethical, but honestly I think it's a property of the person, not the career.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:33 am UTC

Perhaps the yardstick for determining whether a career is unethical should be, can you only be successful at your job by acting unethically? An example would be, if I had a job going to asylums and injecting mental patients with the ebola virus in the name of medical research, I wouldn't get promoted if I refused to inject anyone. Then again, if I injected thousands of people and used the research to find a more deadly strain of the virus, then maybe I'd get promoted to some sweet admin role with a company BMW.

I'm going to throw out running an international charity for third world countries as an unethical career. To be successful, you go to some country and find the sick starving kid and take a hundred pictures of him with flies all over his face. Then you go back home, and you prey on people's guilt for tax free cash donations. Then you return with a bunch of workers from your country, build a well, take a picture of it, and bugger off home again. Then the well stops working, and no ones any better off except for you and your 'admin costs'.
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Re: Unethical careers

Postby Sweet Entropy » Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:41 am UTC

T-Form wrote:while a person with a high rank is making decisions which cause wider harm.


Their decisions are also geared towards winning, which would include keeping as many of their men alive as possible, and trying to end the conflict. That is what their job is, how is that unethical?

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby RaptorAttack » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:48 am UTC

Sweet Entropy wrote:
T-Form wrote:while a person with a high rank is making decisions which cause wider harm.


Their decisions are also geared towards winning, which would include keeping as many of their men alive as possible, and trying to end the conflict. That is what their job is, how is that unethical?


It's all dependent on what the military is ultimately doing, I think. If you're in a military that is fighting defensively to protect people's safety, or fighting to stop an opposing force that is threatening life and freedom, then military actions will usually be ethical (barring some kind of pro-pacifism ethical arguments, perhaps).

However, if you're a part of the force that is threatening life and freedom, or if you're part of a military structure that is fighting to take over territory or for nationalistic/political reasons, then you're in an unethical position I think. The higher you are in rank, the more likely that it's a voluntary choice on your part to participate and you're not just there out of financial necessity, being drafted, etc. Also, the more likely your decisions will have a wider negative impact. That is what I think T-form was going for.

And part of the problem there is that due to the structure of a military, you can be forced into participating in unethical situations due to having to follow orders from on high.

I guess, to answer your point more specifically, if you are a commander and are trying to end the conflict by winning and saving your men's lives, that's great, if ultimately your military is fighting the Nazis. However, if you're a Nazi commander and you're doing the same thing, your immediate actions might be interpreted ethically (i.e. saving the men under you), but I don't think you can hide behind "doing your job" when ultimately your job is to contribute to the success of something very bad in the big picture.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby tmcfulton » Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:58 am UTC

Intercept wrote:
clintonius wrote:
Intercept wrote:I'm surprised no one has mentioned attorneys. Both defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to act unethically on a regular basis. The problem being of course, that if they didn't, the justice system would be even worse.
Attorneys have a bad reputation, and some (many?) have earned it. But I don't think it's fair to say that they are expected to act unethically. There are actually very strict ethical codes attorneys must follow or risk being disbarred. Can you clarify/back up your assertion?

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Eh, both come with expectations that I personally consider ethical. Keep in mind I've considered being an attorney myself. Defense attorneys often accept the cases of people they know to be guilty (Granted, that would be the person, and not the profession in general.) or suspect/believe to be guilty. Prosecutors are given a case and told to win it as long as they obey the rules. They often falsely imprison people. Granted, most of the people who do these things aren't happy with them, but they still do them. Obviously these things vary from attorney to attorney, but it can be hard to make a living only working on the side of justice.

Also, my guess is Clintonius.

But that's not how the justice system works. It's not the job of the prosecutor or defense lawyer to decide if the person they are representing or prosecuting is innocent or guilty. That would lead to fairly partisan justice. The job of the lawyer in a court case is to argue their side as convincingly as they possibly can. As long as both sides have the strongest arguments possible, it all works out. It's the judge's job to decide who is innocent or guilty; I would say it is unfair and wrong to have, for example, a defense lawyer only taking the cases of people they believe to be innocent. That undermines the whole system.

Overall, I would think there are two ways to decide if a career is unethical. The first way is based on whether or not the career makes a person violate their own personal code of rights, the second is based on whether or not a career is detrimental to society.

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Re: Unethical careers

Postby odenskrigare » Sun Dec 14, 2008 4:10 am UTC

Hull wrote:
odenskrigare wrote:What about automated weapons? Where is the onus there? i.e., if some component goes haywire and the wrong persons get killed, who takes the blame, if anyone?


This is interesting. Of course, I'd assign most of the blame to the person using the gun, as its barrel kind of has to be pointed at the person who dies (assuming you're talking about an improperly handled misfire or something).


Again, I'd like to limit my focus to automated weapons or, more broadly, automated weapons delivery systems, i.e., manufactured agents which use lethal force on a target without human guidance.

I bring this issue up first because of the story of a South African automated AA gun that killed nine and wounded fourteen when it malfunctioned, but also because it seems that dumb ack-acks that don't really know what they're doing are only seem not to be the end of the line for killing machines. From what official documents tell me, the next generations of these devices will be able both to learn and reason, and even have 'thoughts' about ethics on the battlefield. Very abstract shit! Too abstract even for me, a human! If that's the case, what's to stop them from realizing how great they are and saying "Fuck you!" to everyone?

As someone who may well undertake graduate studies at one of the universities that works closely with DARPA on these kinds of projects (maybe Stanford), I personally have mixed feelings about this matter: "Maybe this isn't a good idea..." and "So what?" are struggling for control inside of me. I didn't want to start the thread on such an outlandish note, but that is really why I'm asking for other people's opinions.
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