Thanks to Clarence Ekerson of StreetFilms for emailing me Open Planning Project Executive Director Mark Gorton’s interview with New York Times ethicist Randy Cohen. It’s about the ethics of transportation in New York City in particular and in big cities in general. During the interview, Cohen says (slightly paraphrased):
- Ethics is about the effects of our actions on others and, especially when you live so close together in a city, it’s easy for one person’s actions to have profound effects on others.
- One thing that undermines ordinary happiness and health and economic life of New Yorkers is the private car.
- We’re becoming a nation of fatties in part because most Americans, when they want a quart of milk, can’t walk but have to take the car to get it.
- If you leave decisions [about the ethics of transportation] to individual moral choice there is no solution possible to the problems caused by automobiles. People will continue buying SUVs even though they harm others more than other cars.
- But we as a culture, as a country and as a society are capable of making wise policy choices.
- What’s wrong with driving around the city to do errands is simply everything. The word we ethicists use for that kind of behavior is “selfish.”
- It’s particularly vile and morally indefensible in New York City, where there is excellent public transit. There absolutely no need for private cars in Manhattan.
- The greatest crime of the automobile in New York City may be that it undermines ordinary happiness in ways we’ve ceased to notice. That’s truly sad.
Watch the interview below or click here to come to the blog and watch it.