Harmless Untruth





In the podcast Retraction, we are exposed to the truth about Daisey’s story about visiting Foxconn and the conditions he found. As we may be able to hear, Daisey had exaggerated some of the events and statistics that he talked about as facts in his last podcast. For this reason, we now encounter a different story about Apple than the one we had after his  first news. We also are faced with the ethical question of whether it is correct for a person to lie in order to improve the basic human conditions of some people and to allow others to see the truth about a company that they admire. In other words, does a harmless untruth have to be considered wrong even though it had the best intentions?

This is not the only ethical question that we make ourselves after listening to Retraction. Another question must be asked. Are these conditions as negatively viewed from the Chinese perspective as it is from the Western perspective? We know that cultural norms that are true in the Western  society should not be applied to evaluate the behavior of other societies. We should thrive to understand other societies within their own norms. Many of the workers of Foxconn are young people who come from towns looking for a well paying job. Since Foxconn pays better than the other manufacturers, they are willing to work the long hours. Sometimes, they are obligated to work overtime and, even though they know that they don’t have to and they could leave the company if they wanted, they  prefer staying at Foxconn since the difference in wages is worth it.

I think we realize that from the perspective of the workers most things are worth the pay, but should we not draw the line to when it comes to physical harm, especially when somebody did not know that it was a possibility that came with the job? We can rule out factory accidents that may happen for malfunctioning of working equipment but what about the two explosions that resulted in the death of people and the injury of 100 individuals, should we overlook that as well? I am pretty sure that both of our cultural norms and viewpoints agree in that the value of those wages is not worth death or grave physical injuries.






3 thoughts on “Harmless Untruth

  1. I like your focus on ethics in this post, as this is one of the central questions that is raised with the retraction podcast. There is such a negative stigma in society about lying–i think it can be universally agreed that this is a bad thing to do. But, as you allude to in this post, what if the lie is to advance a cause such as reforming the working conditions of Apple’s manufacturers? Could this be considered a white lie, or a harmless lie? I don’t think it is entirely harmless because it does damage Daisey’s credibility, at least with the viewers of TAL. He could have gotten the facts across without embellishing the realities of his own experiences at the Shenzhen plant. Yet, if Apple does make changes due to Daisey’s story, maybe it was worth it to lie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of the things that go on in these factories are horrid, and action has to be taken by these companies to make sure that these ethical problems get fixed. From long hours, to low pay, to harm to workers and unenjoyable working conditions, the list goes on and on. The companies that own these factories are the first ones who have to take some sort of action. However, I do like what you said in the second paragraph. You mentioned how we might need to think about things not from the Western perspective – whether it is these factories or anything else. We know the working conditions in factories are bad, but some of these people do want to work here because the pay is better than elsewhere. Some people work long hours because they want to earn extra pay. Things could certainly be better, but we could use the perspectives of people who live there to make an overall informed decision regarding different aspects of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stories are often understood in relation to other stories. We tend to hear TAESJ and hear it as 19th century sweatshops. I think there is exploitation, but it needs to be understood in its own terms. Even if Foxconn pays “better” than the alternative, is that the best metric to use?


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