The Morality of Exploiting Flaws in Government Lotteries
Webcast Q&A: Sunday, 12 June 2011, Question 4
In the live broadcast of Philosophy in Action Radio on 12 June 2011, I answered a question on the morality of exploiting flaws in government lotteries.
Is it moral to exploit a design flaw in a government or private lottery? An article in Wired describes how a statistician noticed a design flaw in the Ontario government lottery "scratchers" game which would allow people to consistently win money. He was described as being "ethical" because he alerted the authorities rather than taking advantage of it for personal gain, and they fixed the problem. Would it be moral to exploit a mathematical flaw in a government lottery without alerting anyone? Would it make a difference if the game was the work of a private casino rather than the government (e.g., exploiting a bias in a casino's roulette wheel)?
My Answer, In Brief: So long as you're playing by the rules, you're not cheating. However, you don't want to adopt the mindset of a cheater, nor harm yourself in some other way by exploiting this weakness.
- Download: MP3 Segment
- Duration: 10:23
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About Philosophy in Action Radio
I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My dissertation defended moral responsibility and moral judgment against the doubts raised by Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer four meaty questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of practical importance.
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