Ethical Dilemma

An Unwarranted Advantage


My father always said we were “part Indian.” My brother believed him; he got into graduate school as a Native American. Later, we discovered claims of our native ancestry to be untrue. Does my brother have an obligation to make up for privileges received?  —Name Withheld, Portland, Oregon

ANSWER: Your brother cannot be faulted for believing what his father repeated throughout his childhood. But he got an unwarranted leg up when he applied to grad school, so he should make amends by contributing to organizations that offer education aid to Native Americans.

Adapted from ‘The Ethicist’ in The New York Times-

An Unwarranted Advantage
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