Do you still have to keep a promise, if someone forced you to make it at gunpoint?

July 24th, 2006

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Patrick McIlheran points out that General Motors should honor the commitment they made to provide perpetual healthcare to its retirees.

As he says:

“Generally, sildenafil help companies that make even foolish promises nonetheless ought to not weasel out of them.”

And, online while I agree in principal, prescription I’d like to remind everyone that those promises weren’t made out of the goodness of GM’s heart. They were extorted by the unions using the threat of crippling strikes to get their way.

So my question is: does a promise made at gunpoint have the same moral legitimacy as a promise freely committed to?

Entry Filed under: Media,Observations

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cantankerous  |  July 24th, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    According to Aristotle, the answer would be no.

    According to Kant, the answer would be yes.

    Personally, I’m a big fan of Aristotle.

  • 2. Administrator  |  July 24th, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    That would qualify as the first time Aristotle OR Kant were cited on this blog.

    Congratulations for showing the rest of us up as the ignorant slobs we are! ;)

  • 3. Josh Schroeder  |  July 24th, 2006 at 9:31 pm

    I haven’t made up my mind on this one. A promise made under duress is often made in the interest of self-preservation, not so much telling the truth. Is a a confession (admission of guilt) made under duress admissible in court? Also, the party under duress may only be telling the aggressor what they want to hear, so they were doing it to appease the aggressor, which means there was no intention of fulfilling the promise.

    I guess right now I’m in a pragmatic mood. Can you survive and rebound if you break the promise? On the other hand, can you survive if you keep the promise? Then again, maybe standing up to the union would give other companies the courage to stand up to their unions. Should GM take the risk for the sake of the American economy? If GM tells the union to die in a fire will it piss them off or will they back off?

    My head hurts.

  • 4. folkbum  |  July 24th, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    The blame lies with neither GM nor the union.

    The blame lies in the uniquely diastrous American system of health-insurance-as-fringe-benefit system. Even heavily unionized countries elsewhere (like France) are not having a the kind of health care crisis we are.

  • 5. folkbum  |  July 24th, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Parts of my previous comment were brought to you by the department of redundancy department.

  • 6. grumps  |  July 25th, 2006 at 5:42 am

    You say “under duress.” They say “bargained in good faith.” Wages and benefits are a cost of doing business. Get over it.

  • 7. Administrator  |  July 25th, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    “Wages and benefits are a cost of doing business.”

    Agreed. And like any other cost of business they must be flexible enough to respond to changing business conditions.

    In other words, if the company takes in less money it needs to be able to lower its costs.

    Union contracts make it impossible to react appropriately to changing business environments…a condition that is ultimately unfavorable to both a corporation AND its employees.

  • 8. Clint  |  July 26th, 2006 at 11:15 am

    My personal thought would be that no employer should offer medical benifits. They should be the responsibility of the insuree, not the employer or gov’t.

    If GM or any employer, said that they will pay an extra $10k/yr but you get your own insurance, everyone would have been better off.

  • 9. Leaning Blue » Blog&hellip  |  July 26th, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    […] “So my question is: does a promise made at gunpoint have the same moral legitimacy as a promise freely committed to?” –Elliot […]

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Being in a wheelchair gives you a unique perspective on the world. This blog features many of my views on politics, art, science, and entertainment. My name is Elliot Stearns. More...

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