The Ethics of Fun

Published: June 1, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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Ethics is often dry, serious, and yes, even depressing with the amount and frequency of individuals and organizations that we admire, trust, depend on, or root for caught up in all manner of conduct unbecoming. So, here are some questions to consider: Is it ethical to have fun? Can you have too much fun; not enough fun; is there an ethics of fun?


The answer: Well, by default, yes! (At least that’s my rationalization.)

According to the Josephson Institute, one important aspect of the ethical value of responsibility is the pursuit of excellence.  Josephson lists five sub-categories for pursuing that excellence.

Diligence – “It is not unethical to make mistakes or to be less than excellent,” Josephson writes, “but there is a moral obligation to do one’s best, to be diligent, reliable, careful, prepared and informed.”

Now, follow me here. We go to work, do a good job, perhaps even receive praise from the boss, or successfully accomplish a vast number of items on our to-do list, and what do you want to do as a little reward for a day like that,… class? You go out for some fun, right?

Doing One’s Best, Perseverance, Good Work Habits and Continuous Improvement – ALL qualities for pursuing excellence, and all examples where it’s a good thing to go out and have fun, afterwards.


“All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.” Translation, if all you do is work, without quality time off to have fun, you will not only become boring, but I suggest, you will not be able to produce quality work in the long run.

So, when I feel myself tired from the scandals-du-jour (even in the middle of the day), that’s when I turn to… Comedians IN CARS Getting Coffeepresented by Acura (got the commercial in there, Jer).

Want to live up to your potential, do your best, BE ALL you can BE… (without joining the Army), I recommend a nice 14-20 minute dose of a show that doesn’t take itself seriously or anything else, for that matter.

One of my favorite episodes comes from Season Five. (Yes, folks, we have now reached the pinnacle of internet TV where they list a collection of 14-20 minute comedy bits as seasons.) It’s a two-parter with Tonight Show Host Jimmy Fallon whom Jerry picks up in a classic 1956 Corvette (Jerry’s a car guy) and here’s the bit: Fallon thinks he’s being picked up for coffee, but… first, they drive to another location where they get out of the Corvette and climb into Jerry’s Range Rover with a boat attached. That’s when Fallon discovers he’s going out on the ocean in Seinfeld’s Boston Whaler – a tiny boat with an outboard motor. A surprised Fallon is so taken with the ad-lib adventure that the two comedians are quickly laughing their way through the entire afternoon, and so are we.

So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by work, school, or this week’s ethics scandals, like me, I urge you to click on the link and give yourself a break. Oh, and if you’re concerned about the boss, or teacher, just tell ‘em that ethical people continually look for ways to develop their knowledge, skills, judgment and enjoy themselves after they’ve done all that work.

Today, I’m spending time with comedians in cars. All that ethics stuff can wait until Wednesday. I’m sure they’ll all still be there when I get back.


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