The case of Jean McGuire is rather complicated. On one hand, she has her honest nature and desire to stay morally objective. On the other hand, she has a family of three children, whom she needs to feed, and a job that she is likely to use. The two spheres are incompatible, as following the principles of moral will leave her with no work, while trying to earn more money involves lies and cheating, which contradicts the basic norms of moral. Such situation is far not easy to deal with; however, it is an example of a difficult choice, which needs to be made in any case.
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The main question to answer is what actions can be considered as morally right for the woman in this situation. In my opinion, Jean needs to tell the buyers the truth and she should not try to deceive them. In other words, I think that Jean should not play the scene of conversation with headquarters; she should tell the prospects that they still have time to think about the buy, and that the lot is still available. This is due to the fact that staying honest is one of the main principles of morality. In case the woman cheats, she will be in one league with her colleagues, whom she treats with disrespect for their lies.
The salesperson should realize, that the prospects are unaware of the real situation, and that they hired a specialist in order to get real information. Anyone would barely pay for being deceived. We can talk of the notion of right actions here, mentioning that according to the consequentialistic definition “the right action is that action which, of all alternatives available to the agent, produces the greatest net sum of intrinsic value” (Jeske, 1). In our case, the intrinsic value is the one that will satisfy the moral needs of Jean. Thus, taking into consideration the responsibility of the profession, Jean should try to stay a worthy land salesperson.
One of the possible objections to my idea is that Jean already tried to stay moral and honest, but there is still something that led her to the situation she is in at the moment. Therefore, there appears a question: would it be moral in respect to herself to lose her job? Maybe she should just try to use Wright’s technique one time, in order to improve her financial state. In my opinion, it is impossible. The explanation for my point is that morality is something that is raised within the person constantly. There cannot be any failure, or give-up – a person can be either moral or immoral. They cannot be moral at mornings and immoral in the evenings; it is an everlasting work on one’s soul and consciousness. I case of Jean, if she applies the technique, there will be two undesirable consequences:
- She will feel bad because of failing to keep her one word given to herself
- She will have to apply the technique many more times, as once she tries it, she will not imagine her work without it any more.
What is more, I think that in the concrete situation, while Jean is standing at the office with two prospects and a telephone, I think that she should tell the truth. In my opinion, the woman should not make any excuses or make up stories, but she should simply tell the truth. She should tell the buyers about her intentions, and about how she changed her mind and decided to tell the truth. This can probably anger the prospects at the first moment, but later they will feel an enormous respect to the salesperson, who appeared to be so honest. This may even serve as a positive factor for the deal.
One of the counter-arguments to my position can be the fact that the woman has three children, for whom she is the only source of financial support. Indeed, it can seem immoral of Jean to tell the truth to some strangers to the prejudice of her own children. However, it should be bared in mind that the issue of morality should be judged apart from all the other notions, and compassion to children should not be a reason for lies. Even being a caring mother, Jean should try to stay unbiased and not to let herself become a cheater, giving up her own moral.
I am convinced that moral principles should be valued more than her own interests, and more than the interests of anyone else should. Indeed, “moral knowledge is seen as external to the self and thus moral motivation may lag behind moral knowledge” (Keller, 8). Therefore, it is important for Jean to abstract away from her daily problems and devote her energy to the development of her inner world. She may not know what morality really is, but until now she was successful at feeling it, and instinctively following it. In my opinion, this is the right way, and Jean should continue going by this way.
My opponent might object, saying that the responsibility of mother for her children is greater than any other kind of obligation in the world. I agree, the mother should not leave her children hungry or unclothed, and her essential task is to provide her children with all the necessary conditions for comfortable living. In addition, after her husband died, the children need more attention and care. However, to defend my position, I need to say, that children also need to be brought up in morally healthy environment.
Therefore, a mother, who is a good example of sticking to morality in any situation, can develop a deep feeling of responsibility in her children. The basic tendencies of moral interpretation by the leading philosophers of the world suggest “only with the development of a moral self is moral consistency established” (Keller, 9). Thus, the primary task of Jean is to develop her own morality, which later will undoubtedly serve different benevolent purposes for her and her family.
In addition to my previous statements, I should mention, that the notion of moral in all the cultures of the world is strongly connected to the notion of religion. Often religious books are the only sources of morality for uneducated people, or for those, who do not study ethics. Thus, judging from this point of view, it can be said, that in case Jean tells the truth, this action will be definitely awarded. Any religious person would not suggest holding on to the job that involves cheating and deceiving people.
Someone might tell that my point of view is biased and that ethics has no relation to religion. In this case, we can analyze the issue from the point of view of philosophy. Practically all the philosophies of the world express the idea that everything that we do comes back to us in different forms. Therefore, Jean is facing a really difficult choice, and making the right decision id extremely responsible in this situation.
In case she tells the truth, everything may stay as it is, but in case she tells lies, her life may change. With the gain of money, property, and wealth, Jean will lose her spiritual treasures, which seems to be rather terrifying. That is why, in my opinion, Jean needs to try to break the vicious circle, created by thousands other representatives of her profession, and stay honest. She needs to try, as far as subordination to one’s own morality is much more significant than subordination to one’s financial interests.
All in all, it can be said that Jean appeared to be in a very tricky situation. If I had some time to discuss all the possible actions and their outcomes, the woman only has a moment to decide what to do. Thus, it is extremely important for her to make the right decision. Such decision, in my point of view, will be being honest and following her own moral principles.
Jeske, Diane. “Special Obligations” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008. Web.
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Keller, Monika & Edelstein, Wolfgang. “Reasoning about Moral Obligations and Interpersonal Responsibilities in Different Cultural Contexts”. In Edelstein, W. & Nunner-Winkler. Morality in context. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005.