Quiz 1 :Conditions for Rational Choice

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Give a simple argument that breaking a promise, simply because it is convenient to do so, fails the generalization test. Note that one can break a promise only if it is possible to make a promise.
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The generalization test suggests that the reasons behind every action must be consistent with the assumption that everybody having the same reason would be acting the same way. Now in the event of anyone making a certain promise, it is important to understand that he or she should make a promise only if it is possible to make the promise in the said circumstances, and that for the promise to be trustworthy, the person making the promise should be trustworthy, at least to the person to whom the promise is being made.
However, as the proverb says, 'promises are made to be broken' if this is taken as an exaggeration, then anybody whosoever has made a promise, should not break it just because it can be broken. Because this defies the actual reason with which the promise was made, that is the rational justification behind any action (here that of making promises). Thus, it is clear that, not everybody would break a promise, just because it can be broken, and that brings in individuality to the actions, thus causing the generalization test to fail.

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Give a simple argument that lying, merely for convenience, fails the generalization test. Assume that the lie would achieve its purpose only if it is believed.
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The generalization test suggests that the reasons behind every action must be consistent with the assumption that everybody having the same reason would be acting the same way. Now in the event of anyone lying, it is important to understand that he or she should lie only if it is expected to fulfil the purpose by lying in the said circumstances, and that for the lie to be trustworthy, the person lying should be trustworthy, at least to the person to whom lying has been done.
However, anybody whosoever has lied, should not lie just because it is easy to do so and would give him/her a convenience. Because this defies the actual reason with which the lie was told, that is the rational justification behind any action (here, that of lying). Thus, it is clear that, not everybody would lie, just because it can be done for convenience and thus it imposes individuality to the actions, thus causing the generalization test to fail.

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As an ambulance driver, you normally use a siren and flashing lights only for an emergency. At the moment you are driving the vehicle to an important meeting with your boss that may determine whether you will be laid off due to budget cuts. You lingered a bit too long at lunch before departing and therefore turn on the siren so that you can arrive on time. Suppose for the sake of argument that this is legal. Is it generalizable?
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The generalization test suggests that the reasons behind every action must be consistent with the assumption that everybody having the same reason would be acting the same way. Now in the said circumstance wherein the ambulance driver is in a hurry to take his boss at the destination, and that it is essential to save him from being laid off, and when he is more pressurized because he got delayed having lunch and while taking rest, we are assuming that turning up the siren is legal just for the sake of argument. Hence the situation provides him with ample causes for justifying his actions.
However, it is clear that what this driver has done is highly subjective. Having subjected under the same circumstances, it is evident that a different driver may not have adopted such a way, which is visibly unethical. However, it is an ethical dilemma because arguments in favor of the driver is that this action of him has not caused any harm to anybody but may save his job. Thus, it is clear that, not everybody would do the same, just because it can be done for convenience and thus it imposes individuality to the actions, thus causing the generalization test to fail.

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The situation is the same as in the previous exercise, except that you are running late because of a very unusual traffic jam on the route. You can still arrive on time by using the siren. Is this generalizable? What exactly is the scope in this case? Hint : If you are willing to use the siren due to a traffic delay, would you be willing to use it for other kinds of delay? Why not?
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While walking down Fifth Avenue in New York City, you see a $100 bill on the pavement. You take the money and spend it because you have no way of knowing who dropped it. This is legal, but is it generalizable? Essay Answer: Tags You shop at a grocery that arranges milk bottles so that the oldest ones are in front and the freshest in the rear. You reach behind the older bottles to select the one at the very back. Your reason for doing so is to obtain the freshest milk. Does your behavior pass the generalization test? Essay Answer: Tags As you are about to board an aircraft, it is announced that the plane will be boarded by zones to expedite the process. However, you would like to board before your zone is called to make sure you can find space for your carry-on luggage in an overhead compartment. Is this generalizable? Essay Answer: Tags While commuting home from work, you take a detour through a residential area to avoid a congested main artery. Because only a few drivers take the detour, it removes several minutes from your commuting time due to the light traffic. Is your action generalizable? Essay Answer: Tags In the previous exercise, suppose that a few commuters can drive through the residential area unnoticed, but if many cars used the detour, the traffic would become a noisy and hazardous nuisance in the neighborhood. Does this have a bearing on the generalizability of your action? Essay Answer: Tags In Exercise 8, suppose that you are taking the detour only because few people know the city as well as you do. If many people knew about the detour and were nonetheless avoiding it, you would follow their example. Is your action generalizable? Essay Answer: Tags Music shop temptation. While browsing in a music shop, you spot a CD recording of Arnold Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire. You love this piece, but you are absolutely certain that no one else within a thousand-mile radius can bear listening to this abstract atonal music. The shop is lax about security, and you can easily walk out with the CD without being noticed. You conclude that stealing the CD, because of your unique affection for what others regard as incomprehensible noise, is generalizable. Are you right? Essay Answer: Tags Police have closed one lane of a highway due to an accident. A long queue of traffic has formed in the lane that remains open, because drivers slow down to view the accident. However, a few drivers bypass the queue by driving along another lane up to the point of closure and then rely on polite drivers to let them merge at the front of the queue. Is this behavior generalizable? Assume it is legal. Essay Answer: Tags In the previous exercise, is it generalizable for a driver at the front of the queue to allow someone to merge? Assume it is legal. Essay Answer: Tags You decide to play in an amateur tennis tournament because you know you are the best player in town and will certainly win the trophy and prize money. This is the only reason you are playing the tournament. Is your decision to play in the tournament generalizable? If not, under what sort of rationale would your entry in the tournament be generalizable? Essay Answer: Tags You are considering whether your cable TV business should enter the market in Anywheresville, which presently has no cable service. You expect a few other cable companies will do the same. However, past experience in towns of this size shows that only one cable provider will survive. Your only reason for entering the competition is to drive the other companies out. Is a decision to enter this market generalizable? Essay Answer: Tags Damage expense. Chris is a new hire at a manufacturing company, which pays his moving expenses. However, the movers seriously damage an expensive piece of furniture. The insurance covers only a small fraction of the cost. Chris mentions this to his boss Bob, who tells him to cover it by padding his expense account over the next few months. Chris is surprised by this suggestion, because in their previous conversations, Bob has impressed him as having a high sense of business ethics. (a) Is it generalizable for Chris to pad the expense reports? Be sure to state the scope clearly. (b) Suppose coworkers tell Chris that this kind of padding goes on all the time at the company. Does this change the analysis? Essay Answer: Tags Upgrading the refinery. You are plant manager at a refinery that meets all environmental regulations. However, the mayor of a nearby community is pressuring you to install new technology that would reduce emissions below mandated levels. You respond that your plant is more cost-efficient than some of your competitors because they bore the cost of installing the new technology. Putting the equipment in your plant would erase this advantage and perhaps result in a plant shutdown. However, the mayor, who has taken a course in Ethics as Rational Choice, points out that your rationale is not generalizable. If all plants followed your example, then keeping the old technology would no longer make your plant the most cost-efficient. How should you respond? Essay Answer: Tags Ordinarily, an action that fails the generalization test would continue to fail if the scope were broadened. This is because a rationale is less likely to be generalizable when it applies to more people. However, there are exceptions. Can you think of one? Essay Answer: Tags In Exercise 7, does boarding early pass the utilitarian test? Essay Answer: Tags The accidental bank robbery. Chris is a relief branch manager for Commerce Trust Bank. His job is to fill in for regular branch managers while they are away. Today he is serving at a bank with several inexperienced tellers. One of them, Carole, comes up$900 short at the end of the day. She is in a panic, because reporting a $900 shortage to headquarters would result in automatic termination of her job. On checking the transactions ledger, Chris finds that while cashing a check, Carole misread$100 as $1,000 and paid out the larger amount. Fortunately, thecheck holder is one of the bank's best customers. However, when Chris telephones the customer, he insists that he received only$100-even when Chris mentions that Carole would lose her job if the money were not returned Carole is in tears, but Chris must somehow reconcile the ledger. His options are: (a) report the loss, (b) debit the customer's account by \$900, (c) place the amount in a suspense account and let the regular manager resolve the issue at a later time. Which option is likely to maximize utility? Hint. If (c) is selected, the regular manager must select (a) or (b).