THE COMPENSATORY ETHICS THEORY EXPLAINS A LOT. Although the theory is new (at least to me), compensatory ethical behavior has been around for a long time. Satirists have had a field day for years with puritanical characters who believe that their sexual probity outweighs all their sins. Matthew Engel, in his article on Engel’s Theory of Finite Niceness, points to a Dickens character, Mrs. Jellyby, who is devoted to the natives of Borrioboola-Gha while neglecting her own children. Of course, compensatory ethics should not always be condemned. Sentencing in court recognizes compensatory ethics in the form of the letters and testimony submitted to the judge which describe good works performed by the convicted criminal which should be weighed against the crime. And we all make decisions as to how much charitable activity we engage in. We could always do more.

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