Should I Buy an SUV?
I should buy an SUV because it gives my family a better chance to survive an accident.
This statement does not seem to be a Q1 violation.
Taken at face value, this statement does not seem to be a Q2 violation. However, what if buying an SUV gives your family a better chance of surviving an accident, but increases the odds that you will kill someone outside your family? Then you have to consider if you want increased risk to yourself from people who (using your same reasoning) buy even larger cars, and to yourself when you or members of your family are pedestrians.
Clearly it is not immoral to protect yourself and your family. But in this case, reducing risk to your family may increase risk to strangers (and, to make matters worse, some studies imply that the decrease in risk to your family may not be significant). When considering this issue, you must decide how comfortable you are with this possibility of increased risk to others, and whether you feel that taking on the increased risk brings with it additional responsibility to be a good driver and therefore minimize the risk to others as much as possible.
There are other practices that might benefit you but bring risk to others. Which of these would you consider moral?
- Putting a bear trap below a window at night to snare burglars.
- Installing an automated water balloon cannon in your side yard to punish trespassers.
- Hoarding food during a food shortage.
- Driving a bicycle on the sidewalk to avoid auto traffic.
- Going to work sick so that you don’t lose the perfect-attendance award.
- Leaving a store before anyone notices that you spilled a bottle of slippery olive oil.
- Participating in a protest against an unfair law, even though the protest will severely impede rush-hour traffic.
- Driving a metal spike into a tree to deter logging, even though it may harm someone who tries to cut down (or cut up) the tree in the far future.
- Saving money by buying a product made by a company that is known to have an unsafe workplace.
- Disconnecting the fire alarm in your college dormitory because pranksters keep setting it off in the middle of the night.
- Not telling a cashier that she gave you too much change, even though that will make her drawer off at the end of the day.
- Picking up a live hand grenade that landed at your feet and throwing it in a random direction, despite there being other people around.
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.