Is it okay for my boss to use a fake identity with customers?

Maybe, maybe not. You and your coworkers have a lot more evidence of what kind of person she is, and you might have reason to believe that she is basically honest, with one exception. Honesty has many different dimensions; a body of research in social psychology suggests that we are wrong when we imagine this to be a “global character trait”. The scrupulous accountant might lie to his wife about his scam; the student who cheats on exams can be totally frank with his friends; etc.

And I’ll give your boss one thing. The very fact that you are thinking of telling her to change her ways says a lot about the workplace she has created. He may not be ruled by absolute honesty, but – in a way that should not be taken for granted – he is clearly not ruled by fear either.

Over a year ago, I moved 300 miles from home to take care of my elderly, bedridden father until he died. (My mother died before him.) I have been handling my parents’ finances, legal and medical needs, and their homes since my father started having health problems three years ago. The past year has been an incredibly difficult time. I didn’t see my husband or two college-aged children for much of the past year because Covid made visits too risky. One of my sisters hasn’t even visited my parents for 15 years. My other sister shared some of the responsibility and also came to live with him last summer when his living room was closed, but in the past six months she canceled visits several times and came on. see for a five day stay. The other sister apologized a lot and then stopped talking to me. I am so angry with them for not visiting him, in his confusion and sadness, and for leaving me alone for six months to watch him die.

Here is my dilemma: When his lawyer asked me to verify the accounts of the beneficiaries, I found out that all the accounts are split evenly between the three of us except one, who only lists me as the primary beneficiary. . This account probably amounts to a third of the assets, excluding real estate. It is possible that he created this account a long time ago, and because I am the oldest, maybe it is simply by forgetting that he did not change it for the three of us. If my sisters had helped me, I wouldn’t hesitate to share this account with them. But my anger cries out, “Karma! None of us have financial difficulties. Am I unethical if I don’t share the account with them? Name withheld

What really matters it’s not what you want or what your sisters want. This is what your father would have wanted. If you’re sure he would have wanted an even split, you should aim for that. If you are sure he would have been happy to see you take your full share, I see no problem in accepting it. But what if you don’t know what he would have wanted? Then you also have the right to keep this amount, since you have assumed the responsibility for the care. Keep in mind, however, that the red haze of anger has a special way of magnifying the past while erasing the future. You might want to take some time to think about how what you do today will affect your dating relationship five or 10 years from now. Finally, since this is not the money you need, you could take the opportunity to do some philanthropy in memory of your father. Although you might want to keep some of the money for attorney fees in case your siblings file a lawsuit.


Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches philosophy at NYU. His books include “Cosmopolitanism”, “The Honor Code” and “The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity”. To submit a request: Send an email to [email protected]; or send mail to The Ethicist, The New York Times Magazine, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018. (Include a daytime phone number.)


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