Is it ethical to lie to my boss about a job interview at another company if that’s the only way I can get time off? —Anonymous, San Francisco
IT’S UNETHICAL TO LIE to your boss for the purpose of getting a job elsewhere. There’s no way around this reality. But if we’re going to think about these problems in a vacuum—where ethics are the only concern—it’s also unethical for an employer to try to stop an employee from pursuing his or her own happiness. Let’s be pragmatic here: You may have no other option. Telling this lie might be the only way you can change your life (and everyone deserves the right to pursue the career he or she desires). So if you can’t always be honest with other people, at least be honest with yourself. Understand that what you’re doing is unethical, but consider the degree of real damage this is going to cause and accept that you are—like all of us—imperfect.
—Adapted from “The Ethicist” in The New York Times Magazine