January 26, 2005: Features
March 28, 2005:
Click here to read the ethical scenarios and compare your responses to other PAW readers.
What are they thinking?
Illustration by Steven Veach
What do future leaders think about ethical issues? To get some insights, PAW invited all members of the classes of 2003 and 2004 with known e-mail addresses to participate in an online survey about their opinions on everyday dilemmas, ethical issues in public policy, and the role Princeton has played in developing their thinking. About 27 percent of those who received e-mails, or 22 percent of the class members (505 people), responded. We present their answers here.
We did our best to ensure that the results would be as accurate as possible, but this was not a scientific endeavor. The complexities of ethical dilemmas are not easily captured by simple survey questions. Therefore, the responses should be seen only as a glimpse into the views of recent graduates.
1 Do you find yourself thinking about whether something you have done,
or want to do, is morally right or wrong?
2 Do you believe that, as the recipient of a Princeton education, you
have an obligation to perform public or community service?
3 Do you feel obligated to make charitable contributions regularly?
4 When investing in a stock, do you ever research a company’s practices
to see that they meet your ethical standards?*
5 Would you invest in a highly profitable company that relied on child
6 If you could, would you wire your home for cable reception without
paying for it?
7 Have you ever illegally downloaded music?
8 Have you ever taken supplies from your workplace to use at home for
9 When you were a student at Princeton, did you ever cheat on an exam?
10 When you were a student at Princeton, did you ever knowingly plagiarize
or submit work that was not your own?
11 Have you ever lied on a résumé?
12 Since graduating, have you ever taken credit for someone else’s
13 If you saw a friend or co-worker doing something that you believed
was unethical, would you confront him or her?
15 Do you support or oppose allowing research to clone humans?*
16 Do you support or oppose use of the death penalty in at least some
cases of premeditated murder?
17 Do you support or oppose a family’s option to remove life support
from a person deemed by doctors to be in a persistent vegetative state?
18 Do you believe that Princeton traditions such as the honor code gave
you a moral grounding that colleagues from other institutions lack?
Note: Totals may not equal 100 percent because of rounding.
DILEMMAS: A PAW Online survey