Should I Pay for Something If I Don’t Have To?
If I can get something for free, there’s no reason I should pay for it.
This may be a Q1 violation if you think that some forms of "voluntary" payment are not really voluntary.
This is a Q2 violation if you would ever expect someone to voluntarily pay you for something.
There are many circumstances in which either you are given the opportunity to pay for something or it is implied that you should pay for it, but you are not compelled to do so. For example, if a computer company allows you to download their software at no cost but requests that you send them $10 if you like it, you might decide that if they want to give their stuff away, you’re going to let them.
If you make such a decision, you should (by Q2) consider whether you would want people to pay you if you marketed a product in this way. You might think that this is a silly way to market a product and be essentially voting against the practice by never paying the makers of "free" software. Or you might think that paying for software you use is a way to keep makers of such software in business.
Tipping is another form of payment that is usually discretionary. Culture may urge you to tip in certain circumstances, and tipping might be so prevalent that wages are based on the assumption that tips will be made, but you generally can’t be forced to leave a tip. If you were in a service job where tips were traditional, would you expect to get tips?
In which of these situations would you pay even though you could receive goods or services without payment?
- The leader of a political group that you strongly disapprove of just published a book. You’d like to read it but hate the thought of his getting your money. The book is available at the library.
- You are interested in a book on morality, but not sure you want to buy it. You read enough of it in the book store to know that it’s exactly what you’re looking for, but now you’ve read so much of it that you don’t feel the need to own a copy.
- A Web site that you frequently use as a resource for your work has a "donations" button.
- You go to a high-end camera store and as an expert for advice on which model would be best for you. Once you’ve decided which camera you want, you go home and buy the recommended model from a discount Web site.
- A business has a "take a penny, leave a penny" dish by the register. You’ve taken pennies on a few occasions. On this occasion, you just received a penny in change.
- After paying your bill at a nice restaurant, it’s time to tip the waiter. You received good service, but think that the menu prices were too high.
- You receive good service at a restaurant, but the bill has a space for a tip for the maître d’ and he hardly did anything.
- You are visiting a country where it’s customary to tip people who give you directions, but where you’re from people don’t tip for that.
- You are entertained by a street musician.
- You are annoyed by a wandering violinist in a restaurant who apparently isn’t going to leave until you tip him.
- You download music from your favorite band’s Web site. They ask that you pay what you think the music is worth.
- DVDs are way overpriced, but you can download them from pirate Web sites for free.
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.