What Take Precedent: Personal Values or Company Values?

Who?

In the article “Curators at Museum of Natural History Object to a Trustee,” Rebekah Mercer is on the board at the Museum of Natural History in New York. She is a Trump Supporter and donates money to institutions which deny and challenge climate change.

What?

Scientists and curators in the museum are calling on Mercer to be fired. They argue that her beliefs do not correlate with the beliefs the museum holds. In an open letter from 28 curators at the museum, Mercer’s views are said to “directly contradict the museum’s mission and impede our ongoing efforts to educate the public about the science of past and future climate change.”

Why is this an ethical issue?

There is no simple answer for what decision the president of the Museum of Natural History should make. On one hand, it makes sense to want employees to share the same views as an organization. The leaders have a right to strive to keep the credibility and reputation of the museum intact. However, it is wrong and in some cases, illegal to fire someone because their beliefs do not match yours.

What ethical theory is this?

This can be considered virtue ethics. The people who are challenging Mercer are judging her by her character and her views instead of how proficent of an employee she is. They are not taking into account how good she is at her job.

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