It’s the evening. I’m home. It’s strange. I had a conversation after work today. They said they liked working as a contractor because it meant not needing to get involved in office politics. I asked what they meant by office politics. They said having drinks with people who you didn’t like so that you could get promoted. It scares me that this may be normal, something most people do. To me is seems manipulative, dishonest and weak. Lying is a betrayal of your principles. If your morals are worth so little to you that you’d trade them away for a promotion, you have no morals.

Counterpoint: You do. In a prisoners dilemma choosing to always cooperate ensures that the defector wins. Choosing to loose is not noble. Victimhood is not good. If everyone manipulates to get promotions and you don’t, you choose to allow the worse people to gain more power faster. Engaging in manipulation denies their comparative advantage. Punishing the unjust is just. Putting yourself in a position where you can do more good is just. Choosing to win is, in this case, just.

Counter-Counter point: It’s funny how the better you are at reasoning/arguing/telling stories, the more you can justify any conclusion. Is reason really a better guide to ethics then intuition? The above is wrong. You’re not a machine. You can’t decide on a case by case basis when to lie and cheat and steal and when not to. You’re an animal, hardwired to do what you need to to survive by millennia of evolution. There’s a monster in the back of your head and it wants you to do whatever you need to to win and pass on your genes. The strict moral rules we impose on ourselves are the bars of it’s cage. As are the system of incentives and disincentives we call a society. Explicit, clear rules are hard for the beast to trick you into crossing. If your moral rule is “never lie”, it’s fairly obvious when you do. If your rule is “only lie when doing so does more good than harm”, your ability to lie is only limited by the beasts ability to generate stories justifying that lie. Our perceptions are skewed by self-interest. Our minds have been honed by evolution into storytelling machines. Hence why in reality most good people have strict moral rules and most bad people have lax ones which allow a great deal of discretion.

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