Of Ann Landers and Randy Cohen

March 20, 2006

Dirty Dishes

Dear Ethicist,

I am in a moral quandry. I was under the impression that making a name
for oneself by insulting and slandering another individual was
unethical. However, you, a self-proclaimed ethicist, seem to be doing
just that. Would you care to defend your actions with an ethical line of


Guy Who Thinks You’re An Unethical Ethicist

p.s. My housemates don’t clean up after themselves, and I used to do all
of the house cleaning until I silently stopped recently. Is it fair of
me to believe they will catch the hint and start pitching in, or am I
just dreaming? Is my action unethical, or should the blame lay with my
lazy housemates? What can I do?


annlanders2.JPGThanks for interrupting the writing of my Kant paper. I’m sure this is a much more pressing matter, anyway.

Apparently you haven’t been to grad school, kid. Libel (slander is spoken defamation and in grad school no one can hear you talking) and insult are the meat and potatoes of intellectual careers. All condescention aside, I don’t think I’ve been particularly unfair to Randy Cohen, ho-hum ethicist extraordinaire. When he’s right he’s boring and when he’s wrong he deserves a verbal lashing in just proportion to his mediocrity.

As for your next question you ask is it fair of you to assume your housemates will pick up their load of the cleaning, but whether you make the assumption or not has nothing to do with fairness. Instead, it’s about the facts on the ground and the history that got you there. Although (the late? can anybody tell me?) Ann Landers is the noted professional of two paragraph inter-personal solutions, I wouldn’t mind taking over her job as well as Randy’s.

Continuing to ignore your household duties would be ineffective. It’s plain by your letter that your living companions have a much higher tolerance for filth than you. What will happen is the cleanliness of the house will come to some sort of natural filth rhythm congruent with the sanitary will of your housemates. Don’t expect them to all of a sudden wake up and realize GWTYAUE isn’t doing the dishes anymore and if they want to live in a clean house they’re going to have to clean them themselves. They probably don’t even notice the difference, and if they do they wouldn’t want to expend the effort to bring things up to your standards. Such is the tragedy of the commons, which is why Communism is a superior system of living to Anarchism.

So here’s what you do GWTYAUE. What you need is some outside authority to compel each member to work in rotating eight hour shifts (according to his or her abilities, of course) until cleanliness is restored… perhaps a landlord?

Sincerely, Michael “the ethicist” Goldman


One Response to “Of Ann Landers and Randy Cohen”

  1. Peter Says:



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