What is an example of the difference between long-term and short-term interests as it pertains to ethics? 

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Let's start with ethics. The Oxford dictionary defines ethics as the "moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity." That sounds like a great definition; however, "moral principles" will differ from person to person. This means that long term and short term ethical interests for one person might not exist as possibilities for all other people.

I think parenting could offer some good examples. In the short term, a parent wants to be able to provide for his or her family. That parent also wants that child to grow up to be a "good" person. Does a parent compromise his or her modeling of right and wrong to steal food in order to feed the family? In the short term, the family stays fed; however, the consequences might be that the children learn that stealing at certain times is acceptable.

The business world and city governance could offer a good example too. Let's use something like traffic congestion. A city planner could decide that it is beneficial to the largest number of people to make a road change that will increase movement through the city and increase the overall business gains of the city. That would appear to be the right decision and a "good" decision; however, that decision might come at the cost of destroying a beautiful city park or the city's focus on historical preservation. The "right" decision in this case is cloudy because the long term city interests are in contrast with the immediate, short term interests.

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