Ethics and Morals

Virtue Board Games

I never knew that "Snakes and Ladders" belonged to this category.

Read an excellent short history here.

One example, with description taken from this other site:

A frankly insane 19th century board game.

The game comes on a series of hand painted paper tiles attached to a thin cloth allowing it to be folded up and put into a drawstring case. When unfolded, it forms a spiral-shaped track on the board going from the outside and running anti-clockwise to the centre. Included are some things to use as counters and a spinner, through which a matchstick can be pushed to form a single-dimensional-rotary d4 equivalent. This is intentional by the makers as they did not want to be seen to be encouraging customers to bring a dice box into private homes. Yes, that is the stated reason as given in the rules to this game, which is described as "for the Amusement of Youth of both Sexes."

Also included are a number of tokens which are handed out to players as they play. Players start at the beginning (i.e. before space 1), roll the dice spin the spinner, which yields a value from 1 to 4 (were d4s available in 1818?), and move that number of spaces. Each space is named with either a Virtue or a Vice and every single one has an effect, usually relating to the rewards that such a virtue might bring (i.e. receiving tokens), or the comeuppance of "the dangerous paths of Vice" which do bad things to the player. Apart from "Hope" which requires the player to "wait with patience until the next turn."
So the players spin, move, and things happen to them, much like the Game of the Goose. It's quite clear from reading the rules, however, that the moral behind the game is highly flawed. Many of the Virtue spaces reward you with "tokens" yet these tokens have zero bearing on the outcome of the game. It is mentioned that the first player to land on the final space (with the whole if you overshoot you must count back rule in effect) "claims the contents of the bank and wins the game" yet there is no indication of what the tokens are for. The first player to the final space, imaginatively named "Virtue," wins regardless of how many tokens everyone has. This means that you could have systematically landed on every vice space imaginable but if you're first to land on the final space exactly, you win regardless of the number of tokens in the bank. The rules also don't specify how many tokens should go in the bank and with the preponderance of "vice" spaces that send you back often a long way, i.e. to "House of Correction" (space 1) or "Stocks" (space 9) a player skilled in fudging spinner spins could well find themselves with an infinite number of tokens. So even if you insert the house rule that the player with the most tokens wins, the player getting to the end "claims the contents of the bank" and therefore has infinity tokens and wins that way.

So what's the real moral message imparted by this game? That stopping to help and be charitable and nice is all well and good but the victory in life goes to whoever barges through the fastest or to the luckiest player. The attempt at inculcating a set of moral values into the youth of both sexes is undermined by the fact that players don't have to make any active choice; at the end of the day, whoever spins the lucky numbers gets the prize at the end of the day.

I can't help but feel that this kid of explains something about Victorian morality though I can't think what.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Feb 10, 2023 - Comments (0)
Category: Games, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, Ethics and Morals

Keeping a promise

I'd call this a misguided sense of honor.

Billings Gazette - Aug 30, 1991

Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 04, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime, 1990s, Ethics and Morals

Miss Vice

In 1950, while Americans were bestowing titles such as 'Miss Potato Chip' or 'Miss Typical Teen' on young women, the French elected a 'Miss Vice'.

Chicago Tribune - July 3, 1950

The winner was 17-year-old Diane Erdos. Some details from the NY Daily News (Jun 25, 1950):

Diane won her title at Cave Tabou, rendezvous of the Existentialists, a year ago, after she put up an awful howl at being eliminated from a contest for the title of "Miss Virtue of Paris." Writer Boris Vian, the promoter, staged a Miss Vice contest to give her another chance.

The sexy brunette showed up with a costume made of three rather small pieces of newspaper — and won hands down over eight other contestants. The selection was popular. The crowd in the smoke-filled Cave Tabou congratulated Diane so enthusiastically that she lost her clippings and was carried unadorned on the shoulders of her admirers until the cops rescued her with a voluminous cape.

NY Daily News - June 25, 1950

Miss Vice, who was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, was soon after arrested for trying to blackmail one of her father's friends, threatening to tell the police that he was trafficking cocaine and illegally exporting ball bearings to countries behind the Iron Curtain.

When arrested, she confessed, saying, "I wanted the money to travel around the country and teach Existentialism to the youth of France. I intended to reveal my body in the interests of this new religion, so the sensation would bring me big audiences of young people to hear about M. Sartre's new philosophy."

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 01, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Philosophy, Ethics and Morals, 1950s

The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure

This curious book, compiled and published by the U.S. Government, is a catalog of examples of ethical failure among federal employees. As explained in the intro:

The Standards of Conduct Office of the Department of Defense General Counsel’s Office has assembled the following selection of cases of ethical failure for use as a training tool. Our goal is to provide DoD personnel with real examples of Federal employees who have intentionally or unwittingly violated the standards of conduct. Some cases are humorous, some sad, and all are real. Some will anger you as a Federal employee and some will anger you as an American taxpayer.

Some of the categories of ethical failure include Abuse of Position, Bribery, Conflicts of Interest, Credit-Card Abuse, Financial Disclosure Violations, Fraud, Gift Violations, Travel Violations, Misuse of Government Resources and Personnel, and Time and Attendance Violations.

You can download a word document of the entire book for free from the DoD. Or, you can buy a hard copy from Amazon.

It was last updated in 2015. Can't wait for the post-Trump era edition!

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jan 05, 2018 - Comments (8)
Category: Lies, Dishonesty and Cheating, Politics, Books, Ethics and Morals

Girls Who Go Wrong



Click each image for greater readability.


Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 11, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Etiquette and Formal Behavior, Comics, 1940s, Ethics and Morals

The Vatican, Without Sin, Casts The First Stone

The year is 1482. The Vatican has just released a statement that reads, "ordaining women into the priesthood was a sin on par with pedophilia." Nobody blinks and life goes on... oh, gosh, I'm sorry! It wasn't 1482 after all. That statement was issued this year. Just a few days ago, in fact. You can see how I might have gotten the dates wrong, though, since that kind of misogynous declaration couldn't possibly hold true today. Unfortunately, they really said it. But why? Author Tim Padgett, in Time magazine, explains it "When any institution is as convinced of its own moral infallibility as the Catholic Church is, it tends to lash out at criticism - especially charges as serious as the priestly rape of children - with Dostoyevskian paranoia. And the church then fortifies its less popular stances, like an all-male priesthood or the condemnation of gays, in the process becoming even more uncompromising." And don't start thinking that Mr. Padgett is against the Church, or Christianity, in any way. He was sitting in mass, watching his daughter serve as an altar girl, on Sunday, when he got the idea for his article.

Posted By: Nethie - Tue Jul 20, 2010 - Comments (6)
Category: Gods, Religion, Can’t Possibly Be True, Ethics and Morals

Electric Chair for Lobsters

A Lawyer in Jolly old Britain has invented a new method of killing lobsters. The "Crusta-Stun" (presumably a shortening of crustacean and stun gun) will retail for about £2,000. That's around $3,300. Yikes.

This "humane" way to dispatch your lobster is supposedly even sanctioned by PETA. If we invented machines big enough for cows, does that mean beef's back on the menu too?

The image above originally comes from MAKE

Posted By: dherlich - Wed Nov 25, 2009 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Food, Ethics and Morals

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

A 22-year-old, who is using the pseudonym Natalie Dylan for safety reasons, is going through a legal brothel in Nevada to sell her virginity. Why? She's got bills to pay, of course. Dylan says she's already taken a polygraph test to prove her virginal status, and is also willing to undergo a medical exam. The Story. Let's hope she never did any horseback riding when she was younger.

Posted By: Nethie - Fri May 22, 2009 - Comments (2)
Category: Contests, Races and Other Competitions, Collectors, Sex Lives Worse Than Yours, Ethics and Morals

Understanding Your Ideals

Let us all learn from Jeff's struggle the true meaning of popularity and hewing to our ideals. And just remember: "Grandma's going to be aaall RIGHT!"

Posted By: Paul - Wed Oct 22, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Education, Family, Children, Parents, Philosophy, Ethics and Morals, Transportation, 1950s

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