Ethics Alarms Thanks The Ethicist For Some Non-Pandemic Topics

With  about 80% or more of all news stories somehow involving the Wuhan virus and its effects (World War II must have been like this), finding non -pandemic stories and ethics issues has become an irritating and challenging job.

Fortunately, Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “The Ethicist” column” this week saw two interesting issues arise, both of which he answered correctly. (There are other questions in the column too.) One inquirer asked, “It has become clear to me, however, that individual senators and other elected officials outside my state do indeed have a powerful effect on the entire country. Is it appropriate for me to donate to candidates in elections in which I cannot vote?”

Of course it is. Appiah wrote essentially what I would: “As you recognize, the effects politicians have aren’t confined to their immediate constituencies. On the contrary, the prospects for our country depend on who holds elective offices at every level. For one thing, representatives from each of the states in the U.S. House and Senate vote on national legislation. For another, policies in one state affect what happens in others….We are one nation; if we’re to aim at liberty and justice for all, we need to do it together.”


The second question was interesting because it is amazing that anyone would have the gall to make such an outrageous request, and fascinating that anyone would be so  puzzled about how to respond that they would seek advice from a third party:

My ex-husband’s new fiancée recently contacted me, insisting that I give up my last name. She and I just happen to share a first name…My ex’s fiancée thinks I’m “sick and stuck in the past” and that I should be “embarrassed to not let things go.” …Is it terrible and unethical to keep it? …she is furious, and I’m worried her anger could escalate to harassment.

Never mind The Ethicist’s answer, which is  less vociferous than mine but otherwise tracks with it. I would say:

“How dare this harpy demand such a thing? Tell her your name is your business, and if she doesn’t like sharing it, she should change her own, preferably to Bitchy McBitchface.  She has your husband, and now she thinks she has a right to demand your name?

Why would you even have to ask advice about this? Your letter goes into excruciating detail [I left out this part] about why you don’t want to change it—you don’t need to justify that!  Stop being a door mat! It’s your name! If Wife #2 looked like you, would you consider her demand that you get a nose job or change your hair color? Your husband is going to marry this wacko? if you really are on as good terms with him as you say [I also omitted this] , then do him a big favor and warn him. She’s a control freak, and nuts. I see a boiled rabbit in his future.

If she harasses you, get a restraining order, and buy a gun.

14 thoughts on “Ethics Alarms Thanks The Ethicist For Some Non-Pandemic Topics

  1. Towards her first point, all are forgetting the brilliance of federalism. The reason Senators and Representatives matter so much is we’ve forgetten the principles the country was founded on. If they only stuck to matters that had to be handled at the federal level instead of the ever expanding nanny state, what the federal government did would matter far less.

  2. Bitchy McBitchface reminds me of something I’ve noticed recently, or at least concluded recently. “Bitch” is the go-to moniker women give to other women of whom they disapprove. I think it’s the ultimate and universal badge of shame women reserve for each other. Very interesting. Guys have a broader selection to choose from: harpy, shrew, harridan. Bitch isn’t always first in line. (Or you can just say, “Man, she reminds me of Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris!”)

    • And in equine circles the term among the gals is “mare-ish”, as in “she was acting mare-ish”. (You have to own a mare to really appreciate this.) Somehow that is more acceptable than using the B-word. No, I cannot explain it, but it does come close to all the discussion as we see over how “the N word” is somehow an acceptable alternative.

      • That’s hilarious and really interesting. Thanks Mike. I guess dog breeders work along the same lines. When an old golden retriever bitch attacked, unprovoked, our son’s incredibly sweet, intelligent and generous pointer mix, the vet (a woman!) who stitched him up told us in passing, “Old female golden retrievers give the word ‘bitch’ its meaning.” As I am fond of saying, anecdotal evidence is the best evidence.” Not that I ever expect any scientists or jurists to ever agree.

    • Women today will also use “bitch” affectionately with each other, or with pride to describe themselves. But we tend to really not like men to use it at all.

  3. “It has become clear to me, however, that individual senators and other elected officials outside my state do indeed have a powerful effect on the entire country. ”

    One of the squelch arguments against term limits is “Just stop voting for them.” Just as here, I can’t stop voting for people I was never able to vote for in the first place, and their corrupt longevity encourages people in my district to keep voting for our own time servers.

  4. I actually encountered the precise situation that you described: My friend’s wife had the same first name (an unusual one) as his ex-wife. The situation was complicated by the fact that my friend had never told his wife that he had been previously married and divorced. She only found out because she kept getting the ex-wife’s mail. She asked the ex-wife to change her name, and the ex-wife agreed, mostly in order to avoid future confusion.

    Yes, my friend and his wife are still married, 25 years later.

        • Fairly rare. You have a certain name that you use throughout your professional career. It becomes a family name. And when the family splits up, you still are one half of it. The man has agreed to share his name, and it’s still yours.

          If I was fond of my original name, then I wouldn’t change it in the first place. But if I did, I wouldn’t be giving it up.

        • In the cases I’m personally familiar with (admittedly not many), there are two reasons given: a professional career has been built with the married name, and changing it back might be disadvantageous, or the married name is more palatable, i.e. she doesn’t want to go back to be a “Hogwallopshire” after being a “Holmes” or “Wilson”.

        • My mother not only kept my father’s name after divorcing him, she kept it after remarrying a different man. She had become known professionally under that name and it had earned a certain brand equity.

        • Ever tried legally changing your name? It’s a royal pain in the ass; new ss card, new dl, etc. I kept my married name for two reasons: the aforementioned pain in the ass, and two of my children (my two sons – my daughter is married) carry the same name. In fact, when my mother divorced her second husband she asked my dad if he would mind her returning to his last name as her children had that name. He did not mind at all. Neither did his current wife.

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