Friday Ethics Discussion
March 3, 2017 –
The Ethical Response to an Illegal Neighborhood Business
Today's topic: How to ethically respond when an illegal business provides life-sustaining financial support, but makes for a noisy neighborhood. Roy leads.
Scenario: Jack lives alone in a single family home. His neighbor Ralph, a fully employed daytime professional auto mechanic, operates an auto repair side-business in his front yard, with all the ensuing problems, like noise from air compressors, impact wrenches, hydraulic jacks, engine hoists, tow trucks, and gatherings of talkative, alcohol-consuming, young men enjoying auto stereo music. Jack could shut down the business with a phone call to report the zoning violations, but Ralph's in-laws, Martha (who has life-threatening cancer) and George (a quadriplegic) live in the other unit of their duplex. The loss of Ralph's income from his home business could have major and even existential impact on the in-laws and disrupt the important family support system.
What should Jack do? What issues are most important in his decision? Does Jack have a right to a peaceful neighborhood if it means major disruption to his neighbor? What can Jack do to preserve the relationship with his neighbors and get peace and quiet for himself?