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July 8, 2019 / Congau

Enjoy Your Free Ride

Have you ever been a free rider? Did you take the bus without paying? Did you feel ashamed? Should you feel ashamed? Take it easy, mate. You didn’t hurt the bus driver. The bus company didn’t get injured. No one suffered anything from your action. No one is any poorer. The moral judge may acquit you.

Ethics is all about doing good to others and avoid hurting them. If nobody is hurt by what you do, your action would be ethically neutral, so help yourself, jump on the bus and enjoy your free ride.

“But what if everyone did like that?” objects our moralist. “If no one paid for the bus, public transportation would not be possible and society would lose.” Sure, if everyone did… If your small action really had the result that everyone followed you and did the same, it would of course be damaging to society. But you know that’s not the case. You are probably too insignificant for anyone to imitate you, let alone the whole society. There’s just no connection between what you do and what everyone else does. You should only worry about what your behavior actually leads to, not what would happen if you lived in a fantasy world. In the real world you are innocent.

Still, before you enjoy that free ride, there’s another thing you should consider. Other people will surely not be hurt, but are you sure you won’t hurt yourself? If you really couldn’t afford that bus trip, if the only real alternative would have been a long an exhausting walk, then save yourself the trouble and ride along for free. But if you could afford that ticket, if the measly coins it costs you would not set you back too much, then pay up!

Don’t be greedy for your greed may hurt you. You can’t damage the bus; society will not be harmed; no other person must suffer, but it may not be good for yourself. Ethics is difficult. Think twice.

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