A lot of people are facing ethical decisions about their daily life as a result of the coronavirus. Ethicist Lee McIntyre has stepped in to help provide advice over the moral dilemmas we face. If you have a question you’d like a philosopher to answer, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m a stripper and struggling to decide whether or not I should go back to work as normal once the lockdowns are lifted. I live with my boyfriend and his two kids. My job is very high contact with no social distancing at all. I don’t know if it’s irresponsible for me to work in this fashion due to the pandemic, as I might be putting other people — and myself — at risk. But I don’t have any other form of income that can sustain me at this level at the moment, especially since I am also in school. - Michelle O.
I commend you for looking out for the health and safety of all concerned. Even if they aren’t able to do so, your patrons should thank you for thinking of them too.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, work is changing in many industries. Millions of people have lost their jobs, while others who were once required to show up in person — including high-tech workers and those in customer service call centers — have discovered it’s possible to work from home and still get paid.
Instead of routine examinations, many doctors are now seeing patients through telemedicine. Might something similar be a possibility for you? Your line of work seems no different than any other in the possibility for innovation in the face of lockdowns or social distancing.
Instead of going back to stripping in person, perhaps you could make an equivalent amount of money as a “cam girl” online? You’d be in control of both your level of interaction and clientele and even your schedule. Some of your previous patrons might welcome the opportunity to see you again.
Alternatively, depending on where you live, you might search out clubs whose owners have retooled their business plan in response to the novel coronavirus, to allow for no contact or drive-thru service, such as the Lucky Devil Lounge in Portland, Oregon.
As you recognize, financial considerations can make it a lot harder to do the “responsible” thing, even when we know what that is. But that has always been so. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that virtuous behavior arose not from any moral calculus or weight of consideration, but from the discovery of one’s true nature. Virtuous behavior is what virtuous people do. Instead of trying to make the right decision, the greater challenge for you might be to accept the kind of person that you already are: thoughtful and concerned.
The facts would seem to suggest that it’s not safe for you to go back to stripping right now. But whether you do that or not, one hopes that, as the German philosopher Immanuel Kant put it, your character might “like a jewel, still shine by its own light as something which has full value in itself,” whether anyone else can see it or not.