• schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    Here's an interesting scenario:

    Let's say there is a small business whose policy is to have employees work in the office not from home. In the midst of the Corona crisis, the business does not allow workers to work remotely, even though the functions of the job can be done from home.

    Let's say, only a few functions that are non-critical to the job might be missed out (some physical task that can only be done in the office, but not critical).

    Let us also say the company is less than 10 people (9 people let's say) and is located in an area that has not been given a shelter-in-place, but gathering places have been shut down and that the guidelines from the CDC are to have no more than 10 people gathering when possible.

    If the employer makes the employees come to work because it's less than 10 people, and technically there is no shelter-in-place in effect (or perhaps even if there is it's left up to the employers themselves) would the business be in ethical boundaries in the time of coronavirus?

    @Bitter Crank @Baden @csalisbury @Benkei Any thoughts?
  • DingoJones
    2.5k


    Im confused, what does this have to do with Anti-natalism?
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    Im confused, what does this have to do with Anti-natalism?DingoJones

    Go away troll.
  • DingoJones
    2.5k


    Lol, come on that was funny.
    Anyway, arent you essentially asking if the guidelines that are in place are ethical? In your example the guidelines are all being followed, so its only if you think that those guidelines are ethically inadequate that there would be an ethical breech.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    Anyway, arent you essentially asking if the guidelines that are in place are ethical? In your example the guidelines are all being followed, so its only if you think that those guidelines are ethically inadequate that there would be an ethical breech.DingoJones

    I actually don't see it that way. They may be technically following the guidelines, but they are breaking the spirit of the intent. In other words, this is a non-essential business that can work remotely. Also, this is pertaining to ethics. Is it ethical to enable people to work in close quarters (or closer quarters than they would) when almost all medical and government advice to the public is to work remotely if you can?
  • DingoJones
    2.5k


    Well, you didnt really include those parameters in the initial post. Sure, if it is unethical to get those people to come to work when they could work from home then yes the company is in ethical breech.you’ve defined it thar way.
    I dont understand the conundrum.
  • god must be atheist
    3.4k
    The guidelines are legal, the decision is ethical. The legal guidelines are a balance with the optimum protection and the optimum production efficiency in mind. Obviously in some cases both the efficience an the protection will suffer.

    Is it ethical of the employer to direct their employees to come in to work, when they can do it at home? God only knows. I think "ethics" and "morality" are big words, but only by those who use it. One person's ethical deed is another person's unethical deed.

    "Lenin was admired by millions for his high ethics."
    "Lenin was deplored by millions for his unethical behavoiur."

    There. If you want to make a decision on ethics, go ahead, but don't hold anyone else to it, because one person's ethic is another person's evil.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    There. If you want to make a decision on ethics, go ahead, but don't hold anyone else to it, because one person's ethic is another person's evil.god must be atheist

    Right, but in this case, one person's ethics might lead to people under them getting sick. I think the big things that stick out here are:

    1) The work can be done remotely. It is not a service job or something that needs a physical presence. In this case, it is the employer's perceived ideas on productivity and/or some intangible value to physically being in the office that is overriding the possible consequences towards health or society-at-large.

    2) If there are 9 people, that is awfully close to 10 but not 10. Somehow the number itself seems a bit arbitrary to the principle behind the guidelines itself which is trying to limit social contact.

    3) Finally, is there a difference in ethics between personal and business decisions? For example, in this case, social distancing would be relied on by the the employees themselves outside of work. What if everyone's tolerance for social distancing is different? People make individual choices, but at a business level, decisions are made on behalf of groups of people. The manager now has to take into account the safety of a group of people all making individual decisions and coming back to a common area. The manager can stop the common area part, even if they can't control individual decisions.
  • god must be atheist
    3.4k
    Whatever. If you call it ethical, it's shmafu. Meaningless. Haphazard.

    If you make good, solid arguments why it ought to be a different way, I support your cause. Being reasonable, and conducive to a goal is much better to call a change on those grounds. Calling reason "ethical" is evil. Reason is reason, and your reasoned well. Forget ethical. That's nothing more than a nice word, that UNDULY recruits emotional support for your cause.

    If you can't reason, you ought not to fight for it. But you reasoned it well. You don't need ethics. Just present your reasons.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    I dont understand the conundrum.DingoJones

    Some people would say they are not being unethical. They aren't breaking any rules.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    If you can't reason, you ought not to fight for it. But you reasoned it well. You don't need ethics. Just present your reasons.god must be atheist

    What are reasons without values behind them in terms of how people act towards each other?
  • god must be atheist
    3.4k
    What are reasons without values behind them in terms of how people act towards each other?schopenhauer1

    Did I mention VALUES anywhere in my post? What the heck is this sort of Strawman fallacy?

    Don't upset me, please.

    Ethics are subjective values, and as such, they are not useful for an argument. If you want to say "It saves lives, or has a better chance to save lives", that's a good value, and has nothing to do with ethics, does it now.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    Ethics are subjective values, and as such, they are not useful for an argument. If you want to say "It saves lives, or has a better chance to save lives", that's a good value, and has nothing to do with ethics, does it now.god must be atheist

    Um, dude, valuing something that has a better chance to save lives IS a value.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k

    Chill out. I meant to say the decision to value that value IS an ethics. There's way better ways to express your frustration.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    Darn, I'm surprised this isn't getting any attention being this is probably one of the most relevant topics, if you are from a country implementing social distancing...

    @frank@Frank Apisa@ssu@ArguingWAristotleTiff@Hanover@Punshhh?
  • WatchingRook
    8
    Well to answer your questions I think we need to make some assumptions. Of course these would be reflective of my viewpoint, but to make any headway in the discussion we need some more footing.
    1. The rules put in place are not ethically authoritative. Since the government may or may not be just then disobeying it cannot be unjust as a rule.
    2. The basis for defining whether something is ethical or not would be in reference to any risk incurred by the employees. We could decide on using some sort of deontological system, but legislative decisions seem to be more consequentialist, plus consequentialist arguments seem to make more sense to the masses and thus using said system in our discussion will make our discussion the most informative and discernible. I will bring up some deontological points later if requested, but for now I'll just stick with a consequential view.
    3. The business must have either considered or neglected to considered whether to act a certain way is moral. Since it is comprised of human beings who are at least potentially rational this is really a given but I feel it should be mentioned, since anything not capable of ethical consideration can't be held to a moral standard.
    4. Like many people in this situation we don't know how great the risk is of contraction, all we know is that no one currently working shows symptoms of being ill/infected.
    5. Employees can't leave without incurring some significant personal risk. Since it is hard to get employment at least in the current environment, becoming unemployed would mean a loss of income and a threat to someone's livelihood since they would not be able to meet personal expenses. It could be argued that this is not realistic since people could "tighten their belts" so to speak, but having to move out of wherever one currently lives would incur a yet higher risk of transmission so we shall regard losing one's current living situation as a non-option.

    Since we don't know that everyone in the facility is healthy, we can't rightfully assume that there is no risk, so to make employees work in high-transmission conditions would be to force them to incur some risk, which would make it unethical. This fact derives from the arbitrariness of having to work on-location, since the initial discussion assumes that the job could be done at home. The risk here is different from any other risk assumption expected of employees since in professions of high risk employers must try to offset the risks of the job not only with pay, but also with safety measures. Since the risk here is strictly human contact, that itself is forcing employees to assume a risk which for assumption 5 they are not able to avoid.

    Of course, the objection could be made that since are rational beings they should make the decision of whether to work for a company making them assume such risks at all, but this consideration becomes moot on consideration of assumption 5.

    Just as a note:
    If you want to say "It saves lives, or has a better chance to save lives", that's a good value, and has nothing to do with ethics, does it now.god must be atheist

    To say that it is good is to make an ethical judgement and thereby to do ethics. The very act of deciding if something is good or bad is an ethical judgement.

    Further, to say that there is no ethical knowledge as you are asserting implicitly by saying that all ethics is merely opinion is in itself an ethical assertion. If you say there is no ethical knowledge and that assertion is ethical knowledge then that statement is self contradictory and it must be false.
  • NOS4A2
    5k


    If the employer makes the employees come to work because it's less than 10 people, and technically there is no shelter-in-place in effect (or perhaps even if there is it's left up to the employers themselves) would the business be in ethical boundaries in the time of coronavirus?

    I don't think we can say the employer makes people come to work, as if pointing a gun at their head. They certainly risk losing their employment if they do not show up.

    But the employer has overhead: office space, equipment, and other costs. So I can understand why he'd want his employees to work there.

    The risk is higher I suppose, but I think the employer is within his ethical boundaries by the fact that requiring his employees to come to work doesn't necessarily lead to their infection.
  • WatchingRook
    8


    Interesting take, though if there is a risk doesn't an employer need to consider the ramifications of the thing he is risking as well? Just because things do not follow with necessity doesn't mean that people aren't supposed to consider them. Someone might not necessarily be mad if I drink their soda, but they might. So I don't. By analogy, the business can say that their employees aren't necessarily going to get sick because of what the company tells them to do, but they still might. And if that is the case, to ignore the risk that the company is putting them at would be an ethical failing, wouldn't it?
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    ethical or not would be in reference to any risk incurred by the employees. We could decide on using some sort of deontological system, but legislative decisions seem to be more consequentialist, plus consequentialist arguments seem to make more sense to the masses and thus using said system in our discussion will make our discussion the most informative and discernible. I will bring up some deontological points later if requested, but for now I'll just stick with a consequential view.WatchingRook

    Not all government law is consequentialist. In many countries, there are a list of rights that are to be respected. Presumably that is deontological. But I agree in this case, the ethics seems to revolve around consequences.

    Since it is comprised of human beings who are at least potentially rational this is really a given but I feel it should be mentioned, since anything not capable of ethical consideration can't be held to a moral standard.WatchingRook

    True, though, I guess you can make an argument from negligence. Let's say the management only got news from really skeptical sources about the contagiousness or deadliness of the virus. Their decisions were not out of full knowledge, but out of their limited sources. However, this one seems like a real stretch to justify being that almost all news seems to be swayed by the arguments for stay in place. However, there are holdouts, opinions, and ideas from those who don't see the problem. To them, it may be the media overhyping.. or for them it's a political, not really real.

    Like many people in this situation we don't know how great the risk is of contraction, all we know is that no one currently working shows symptoms of being ill/infected.WatchingRook

    I find this one interesting, as the guidelines also stipulate that the place should be cleared out if anyone is suspected to have symptoms. Being how easily someone can get these symptoms, it just takes one worker to be possibly infected to make the go-to-work policy go bye bye. Why would anyone take the risk if they don't have to and be ahead of the curve?

    But, let's make it MORE interesting.. Let us say some of the workers have partners who were exposed (the don't HAVE) the virus. What should the manager do with THAT information?

    . Employees can't leave without incurring some significant personal risk. Since it is hard to get employment at least in the current environment, becoming unemployed would mean a loss of income and a threat to someone's livelihood since they would not be able to meet personal expenses. It could be argued that this is not realistic since people could "tighten their belts" so to speak, but having to move out of wherever one currently lives would incur a yet higher risk of transmission so we shall regard losing one's current living situation as a non-option.WatchingRook

    Yes, which is why this is a dilemma for the employee and not something easy to get out of.

    Since we don't know that everyone in the facility is healthy, we can't rightfully assume that there is no risk, so to make employees work in high-transmission conditions would be to force them to incur some risk, which would make it unethical. This fact derives from the arbitrariness of having to work on-location, since the initial discussion assumes that the job could be done at home. The risk here is different from any other risk assumption expected of employees since in professions of high risk employers must try to offset the risks of the job not only with pay, but also with safety measures. Since the risk here is strictly human contact, that itself is forcing employees to assume a risk which for assumption 5 they are not able to avoid.WatchingRook

    I agree with this assessment.

    Of course, the objection could be made that since are rational beings they should make the decision of whether to work for a company making them assume such risks at all, but this consideration becomes moot on consideration of assumption 5.WatchingRook

    Agreed.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    But the employer has overhead: office space, equipment, and other costs. So I can understand why he'd want his employees to work there.

    The risk is higher I suppose, but I think the employer is within his ethical boundaries by the fact that requiring his employees to come to work doesn't necessarily lead to their infection.
    NOS4A2

    It doesn't necessarily lead to their infection, but the employer knows that there is a higher risk of contracting the infection by being in the physical presence of others. Why wouldn't that be taken as more important than overhead and such? Is health less important than overhead? Also, what responsibility does the manager have to the greater society? Presumably, less physical space with others would be less chance for others to contract and spread the virus to society at large- including to people who are most vulnerable to the disease.
  • NOS4A2
    5k


    Interesting take, though if there is a risk doesn't an employer need to consider the ramifications of the thing he is risking as well? Just because things do not follow with necessity doesn't mean that people aren't supposed to consider them. Someone might not necessarily be mad if I drink their soda, but they might. So I don't. By analogy, the business can say that their employees aren't necessarily going to get sick because of what the company tells them to do, but they still might. And if that is the case, to ignore the risk that the company is putting them at would be an ethical failing, wouldn't it?

    I do think the employer needs to consider the ramifications. He'll need to weigh the risks of operating in a confined space during a pandemic with the risks of disrupting and harming his business. I don't think his decisions are necessarily unethical, but they do place a higher burden of responsibility on the employees to protect themselves.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    I don't think his decisions are necessarily unethical, but they do place a higher burden of responsibility on the employees to protect themselves.NOS4A2

    This I disagree with. The employees cannot police each other's own social distancing practices. However, the manager can prevent in one fell swoop everyone's own practices from affecting the whole group itself. He can combat potential risk at a higher level.
  • NOS4A2
    5k


    It doesn't necessarily lead to their infection, but the employer knows that there is a higher risk of contracting the infection by being in the physical presence of others. Why wouldn't that be taken as more important than overhead and such? Is health less important than overhead? Also, what responsibility does the manager have to the greater society? Presumably, less physical space with others would be less chance for others to contract and spread the virus to society at large- including to people who are most vulnerable to the disease.

    All good questions. But I do not think we can blame the employer here unless he himself infects others with the virus. Rather, wouldn't it be unethical for an employee to go into a crowded workplace with an infectious virus?
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    But I do not think we can blame the employer here unless he himself infects others with the virus.NOS4A2

    So the managers have no responsibilities of health protections during a well-known pandemic to its employees?

    Rather, wouldn't it be unethical for an employee to go into a crowded workplace with an infectious virus?NOS4A2

    Yes, but most times, ,people don't even know they have the virus before they get symptoms, or may be asymptomatic and spread it. This is also well known.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    I actually don't see it that way. They may be technically following the guidelines, but they are breaking the spirit of the intent. In other words, this is a non-essential business that can work remotely. Also, this is pertaining to ethics. Is it ethical to enable people to work in close quarters (or closer quarters than they would) when almost all medical and government advice to the public is to work remotely if you can?schopenhauer1

    I'm not nuts about the parameters you set up for this...they seem contrived. But I see "the spirit" of what you are after...and I agree. The ethical thing for every employer to do...is to follow the spirit of any laws enacted...rather than be rigid.

    That said...a couple of personal things.

    My wife simply went in and asked her boss what the "contingency plans" were for the shop...and after he beat around the bush for a while...she went for the jugular. "I'm a few months away from 65," she said.

    The boss damn near jumped out of his chair. (Nancy looks about 30!)...and immediately called in the IT tech and ordered him to work out a way for her to work from home. She now gets up each morning and heads down to her office (the ping pong table in our basement) and puts in a full day of work. Travel to and from work is a hell of a lot easier walking the stairs...than traveling the busy highway she was using.

    Two...I work a few days a week as a starter at a golf course. Golf courses are hardly essential...but much better they stay open. Old people need exercise...and golf often is the only exercise some get. I have to move golf carts in and out...and the steering wheels are a problem...but with gloves and sanitizer spray, it should work out okay. We are opening late (not until early April) so the may be consiidering a full closure. It is a county course...and almost the entire non-essential country operation is totally down.

    Three...I've got a GREAT picture of our three cats doing social distancing but I just do not know how to post a picture from my computer. I have the picture at Flickr, but it is too goddam small.
  • DingoJones
    2.5k
    Some people would say they are not being unethical. They aren't breaking any rules.schopenhauer1

    Then they would be ignoring how you’ve framed the question wouldnt they? As I said, you have defined the act as unethical.
    You are essentially asking, as far as I can tell, whether its unethical For the company to do something unethical if they are still technically following the rules. The answer seems very obvious. Yes, the immoral act is immoral but abiding by the rules.
  • Ladybug
    22
    I think this is slightly in a grey area. If the employees are in a higher risk factor for contracting the illness and wish to work from home, then yes, I think it is rather unethical due to the possibility of causing emotional distress for the employees when it is avoidable. For the physical aspects of the job that need to be performed in the office, it would not be that big of a deal to just have on or two people come in for a bit to complete those jobs.
    On the more practical side, it would be inefficient to require those people to come in. They would be stressed out and thus less productive, which would harm the company anyway. Therefore it is more practical to have them work from home for the time being.
  • WatchingRook
    8
    I don't think we can say the employer makes people come to work, as if pointing a gun at their head. They certainly risk losing their employment if they do not show up.NOS4A2

    If you don't mind me asking, what are the points of contention? I thought I laid my case out fairly well, and if you object I really would like to hear why.
    Partly since reason dictates for my reasoning to be incorrect there must be an issue of form or one of my premises isn't true.
  • NOS4A2
    5k


    If you don't mind me asking, what are the points of contention? I thought I laid my case out fairly well, and if you object I really would like to hear why.

    Partly since reason dictates for my reasoning to be incorrect there must be an issue of form or one of my premises isn't true.

    I do not object to anything you've written.
  • schopenhauer1
    6.2k
    I'm not nuts about the parameters you set up for this...they seem contrived. But I see "the spirit" of what you are after...and I agree. The ethical thing for every employer to do...is to follow the spirit of any laws enacted...rather than be rigid.Frank Apisa

    There are real world scenarios where this is playing out.

    My wife simply went in and asked her boss what the "contingency plans" were for the shop...and after he beat around the bush for a while...she went for the jugular. "I'm a few months away from 65," she said.Frank Apisa

    That's what I am talking about here. Employees would have to speak up vocally or possibly be put in unnecessary harm's way.

    Two...I work a few days a week as a starter at a golf course. Golf courses are hardly essential...but much better they stay open. Old people need exercise...and golf often is the only exercise some get. I have to move golf carts in and out...and the steering wheels are a problem...but with gloves and sanitizer spray, it should work out okay. We are opening late (not until early April) so the may be consiidering a full closure. It is a county course...and almost the entire non-essential country operation is totally down.Frank Apisa

    I can see having open spaces open with limited sharing of clubs, etc.

    Three...I've got a GREAT picture of our three cats doing social distancing but I just do not know how to post a picture from my computer. I have the picture at Flickr, but it is too goddam small.Frank Apisa

    Nice. Maybe it will become a meme.
  • ssu
    4.6k
    Darn, I'm surprised this isn't getting any attention being this is probably one of the most relevant topics, if you are from a country implementing social distancing...schopenhauer1
    Ok, let's take the example.

    In the midst of the Corona crisis, the business does not allow workers to work remotely, even though the functions of the job can be done from home.schopenhauer1
    There can be a cranky individual of a boss of a small company that does this, but I think it's rare. Likely it's that the company really doesn't have the simple tools to work from home even if the work is done by computer at the workplace. Having the ability connect to the workplace system from outside is an investment, you know. So if the accounting is done with a floppy disc computer back from the 1990's, because who gives a sh*t about accounting otherwise that it's done...

    But to the example where it would be possible to work from home, but the boss wants to hold your hand at work. Well, in a country where the vast majority of the workforce belong to a labor union and you have to have by law someone taking care of the health and security of the personnel, this is a no-brainer. The situation described in OP would simply go against prevailing laws. The employee or the (employee's labor unions lawyers) simply could take the issue to court and likely win. After all, going against emergency powers legislation isn't smart. As it is now in place, an observant libertarian might argue that my country doesn't have all the freedoms as before.
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