Part I: A Dilemma
Gerald Wahr was not prepared for such a sudden turn of events. He was scheduled to
complete his degree in chemical engineering in June. He planned to return to help his
parents run the family farm right after graduation. However, in early May his father
became seriously ill, and it was evident he would have an extended, expensive stay in the
hospital. Geralds mother and his older brother could continue to operate the farm as
long as they could manage the bills. But without an additional source of income, the
family would soon begin defaulting on the farms mortgage payments. The best hop for
saving the farm would be for Gerald to find employment as an engineer.
Since Gerald had expected to return to the farm, he had already missed many
opportunities for job interviews. He would have to work quickly. After an intensive
search, only one solid opportunity surfaced. Pro-Growth Pesticides, Inc. would be on
campus next week to interview candidates for a supervisory job requiring a degree in
Gerald certainly is academically well qualified for the job. However, there is a hitch.
The Wahr farm uses strictly organic methods; Geralds family has always opposed the
use of pesticides. In fact, Geralds father is noted in the area for his outspoken
views about this and Gerald admires this in his father. As a young child he often proudly
announced that he wanted to grow up to be just like his father. Harold Wahr, however, had
different ideas about this. A high school dropout, Harold advised young Gerald to further
his education. "Without a college degree," he told Gerald, "youll be
as ineffective as I am. You have to fight fire with fire. If you really want to show those
pesticide folks a thing or two, youve got to be able to talk their language."
So, Gerald decided he would go to college and study chemical engineering.
Geralds studies have done nothing to shake his conviction that organic farming is
best. Quite the contrary. He is now more convinced than ever that the pesticide industry
is not only harming the environment generally, but farm products in particular. Despite
this, should he go for the interview with Pro-Growth?
Part II. Conversations With Friends
At first Gerald rejects the idea of going for the interview. He thinks of it as a
matter of integrity. How can he work for a company that researches, produces, and markets
the very products he and his family have so long opposed? However, his friends counsel him
otherwise. Here are some of their arguments. How might Gerald respond to them?
Ellen: Look, if you dont go for the job, someone else will. The job
wont go away just because you stay away. So, the works going to be done
anyway. Your refusing the job wont change a things.
Bob: Right! Furthermore, you need to look at this from a utilitarian point of
view--the greatest good for the greatest number. If you dont go for the job, someone
else who really believes in pesticides will--and thats going to make tings even
worse! If you take the job and arent gung ho, that might just slow things down a
Dan: Besides, you might be able to introduce a few reforms from the inside. That
wont kill the pesticide industry, but it might make it a little bit
better--certainly better than if some zealous pesticide nut takes the job.
Ellen: So, its pretty clear what to do. All things considered, you ought
to go for the job. Its your only real chance to save the farm; and if someone else
gets the job, Pro-Growth will cause even more harm. You cant be a purist about these
things. Its not a perfect world, you know.