Should I regret when readers explain my positions better than I do? I don’t. It is one of the great advantages of the Ethics Alarms symposium format: very smart people often refine my views and make them clearer for me, as well as others.
An example is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day, on a topic that has come up her before, boycotts. Every time it has, someone has countered my ethical conviction that boycotts are intrinsically wrong with the argument that we all have a right and often good reasons to refuse to patronize a business, so why is it unethical to urge others to follow our lead? Glenn does a better job answering that question than I ever have.
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post “Unethical Website Of The Month: #GrabYour Wallet.”
This is how I see boycotts, and I’ll explain by responding to parts of [reader Spartan’s] comment:
Assuming people have X amount of dollars they are going to spend, those X dollars will just go to other companies. Every time I buy a GM car (I only buy GM cars), am I hurting someone from Ford, Nissan, BMW, etc.?
Are you buying the car for its value, or in order to hurt other companies? Presumably, most people buy cars for their perceived value, or their styling, or some other characteristic that pushes the correct buttons of their personal taste in cars.
But if the only button GM presses is related to politics/religion/etc. then yes, it would be unethical.
I have a Mormon colleague who will only stay at Marriott hotels because it is a Mormon-owned chain. Is he boycotting other hotels?
Let me answer this question with another question: Is it ethical for a white person to patronize white-only restaurants because of the race of their ownership? Is it ethical for a gay person to patronize only gay-owned establishments? How about Catholics using a religious test for their patronage? Continue reading