Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Dilbertian conundrum

Everything I say is false

The eternal intern Asok is given a thankless task (that's quite a departure) in today's Dilbert comic strip. He quickly turns it into a paradox.

The pointy-haired boss wants a trophy case for the corporate offices. However, his company has not earned any awards to place in such a case. That is not a problem for a creative manager. He instructs Asok to obtain a trophy case and stuff it with items purchases from a trophy shop. Problem solved!

But Asok's creativity creates a potentially unresolvable situation. He orders a trophy with the inscription “Best Unethical Filling of an Awards Showcase.” It's not specified whether the citation honors Asok or his pointy-haired boss, but that's not the problem. It seems to me to be a legitimate award. Surely the pointy-haired boss's scheme is an excellent example of an unethical solution—perhaps even prize-worthy—as is Asok's creative implementation. Is it still correct, therefore, to consider the trophy case a sham?

Fortunately: yes! As we can see in the last panel, Asok acquired many prizes that must be bogus—unless that scamp managed to come up with truthful inscriptions for all of them. In that case, uh oh!

1 comment:

Porlock Junior said...

But if we assume that the display case is for awards given to the company (which I believe is the usual, uhhh, case), then giving the award to yourself is unethical regardless of the subject matter, ans so unethicality is preserved.

However, a conversation I had immediately before reading this post was concerned with some questions of stock issuance, which put me in mind of the essence of US securities law: disclosure. By putting that trophy in the case, you are disclosing that the whole thing is bogus; hence, arguably, the self-award is no longer unethical; and the paradox is restored.