If you read predictably irrational or the righteous mind, you will find many experiments that show how contradictory we are in defining what’s ethical and what’s not. Some of these contradictions are small, hard to detect, and most of us live with it. Other contradictions are what make people being seen as hypocrites.
One of the experiments that was conducted on a university campus put some coke cans in the common fridge, these cans shouldn’t be taken as this is not a free beverages fridge, they disappeared in no time. When the researchers exchanged the cans with their monetary value and put money instead, it took longer for the money to disappear. Why people are ok with stealing coke but not the money representing it?
Another thought experiment comes like this: If your daughter asked you to get her a pen on your way home, is it ok to bring her one from the office? If yes, if instead of pens there was a pile of cash, would you take from it to buy her the pen?
I remembered this as on the weekend I went to print some documents for personal use, my friend told me why don’t you just bring it in office? I said well, I think it is wrong to do so since these are for work purpose.
Then we went into a deeper discussion into what’s ethical and what’s not.
Is taking a coke from the free drinks fridge in the office to home ethical?
What if you took it home for a friend?
What if a friend came to pick you up, you let them in and brought them a coke? Should you go to the supermarket and buy one?
I am not saying that people who print personal docs in the office are wrong, maybe their companies are ok with that. I am also not saying I follow the rules all the time, neither that I consider those taking pens home unethical since this could be something the society is ok with.
It is just something to think of.