Ethical Dilemma

Nothing to Sneeze At?


I was at the theater when I started sneezing repeatedly from a new cold. The person next to me sneered that I was going to get her sick. I felt guilty for venturing out and potentially infecting others. Do I have a moral obligation to stay home when I’m sick? —Jane L., Smithtown, New York

ANSWER I’m with your neighbor, although without the sneers. Your sneezes risked the health of others and diminished their enjoyment, either of which is sufficient reason to stay home, get a lot of rest, and drink plenty of fluids. The demands of work and family sometimes force us to drag our contagious selves out into public, but when you can avoid infecting (or annoying) others, you should.

—Adapted from ‘The Ethicist’ in The New York Times Magazine

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