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Practice Module on Ethics? Rules? The Other?
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: August 11, 2002
Latest Update: August 21, 2002
Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, August 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.
A professor in the School of Urban Planning shared this with us on a theory listserv:Subject: How to become a CEOA city boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.
The next day the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died."
Kenny replied, "Well then, just give me my money back."
The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already."
Kenny said, "OK then, at least give me the donkey."
The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?"
Kenny, "I'm going to raffle him off."
Farmer, "You can't raffle off a dead donkey!"
Kenny, "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he is dead."
A month later the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?"
Kenny, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $898."
Farmer, "Didn't anyone complain?"
Kenny, "Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back."
Kenny grew up and eventually became the chairman of Enron.
OK. At first, it's just funny. Now reread it to pick up the clues. In the ethics context we consider the Other, dominance, power and its misuse. By consideration of the Other we mean that we recognize that the world's resources are limited and that there are others with whom we must share those resources, either in a just manner, or by the force necessary to protect that we believe rightfully to be ours. By dominance and power, we mean that we also recognize that sometimes we are in a better position than others with respect to a given resource. That means that we may have the skills, or the access to information that others do not have. To use that advantage or privilege over others is to dominate or to exploit them. Fairness, in the sense we are using it here, means, as Rawls explains it, that every citizen has equal opportunity for access to the information or skills, and that no one seeks to monopolize the skills or to disinform others through information control.
Read it also in terms of Maria Pia Lara's theory that those who have been dominated or exploited seek redress for the wrongs done them. Often this redress comes in the form of a demand for recognition. Those who were oppressed or excluded seek to conquer the silencing imposed upon them. This seeking of recognition of their condition does not redress the imbalance and may not ease their pain. But the recognition and acknowledgment of those who have dominated, oppressed, excluded them brings the social, political, economic situation to awareness, from which point it can now be transformed as the dominated and the dominators build their situatedness interdependently.