How far would you go in order to make a sale?
You have a used SLR with a dented top. It looks ugly but functions flawlessly. You have another top from a junked, identical body. Would you make the switch, without disclosure to the buyer, in order to sell it more easily, even if the serial number was now changed? Without hesitation, I would. Why not? There is nothing missing and the camera has not been downgraded.
But there are other questions that segue from this easy situation. What if, for example, by opening a camera body you damage the meter? Would you simply say that the deter 'does not work', leaving the buyer to wonder if only cleaning the contacts is all that might be necessary to make that meter work? No, I would say that the meter is DAMAGED and that the meter would have to be replaced.
Strict honesty, per se, might not be the main driving force behind adherence to ethical standards. I think, instead, protraying honest VALUE might be a better approach. The buyer does not need to know that I damaged the meter beyond repair, but needs to know that that meter IS, in fact damaged (so he/she doesn't go on thinking one can simply clean the contacts in order to get it working again).
Take another example: a lens that has a front element badly acratched. From an identical lens, whose body was badly damaged (but the glass is OK), you have its elements, intact. You switch the front elements and now have a 'perfect' lens using the other len's element. Fine ethically, I say. But what if, instead, two cemented elements came apart and you cemented them back together again. Do you disclose this? My response: don't disclose such ONLY if your ability and experience can be compared with a truly professional job. If not, disclose, saying that you think that there should be no problem with the glass in the long term because "I think that I did an adequate job cementing the elements".
My question to all: I have an Olympus OM 1.4/50mm that had bad internal foggy glass. I knew that I had to open it up to clean the elements. This is normally a simply thing to do but in this instance, with the 1.4, you have to unscrew a threaded nut and do a few other things before you get to the various elements. Somehow, through a combination of shear ignorance and ultra tight fittings I had to use a vice and I badly, unbelievably actually, scratched the aluminum fittings. If you could see this lens when taken apart you would croak with how bad it looks. It looks as if a car ran over it because of all the scratches and cuts. But the glass is excellent, even perfect, and the mechanics (aperture and helical) are completely unscathed and the body is as rigid as new. Amazingly, when I put it back together, one could not tell that there was any damage. It looks, and acts, perfectly as new. And, mechanically, it will last just as long, as nothing that really matters physically is damaged.
Would you sell this lens with those facts undlsclosed? My feeling is that I would be veering towards doing that because I know, in my heart, that NOTHING pertaining to either the optics or mechanical durability is compromised. But...if it were ever taken apart again, there would, indeed, be a visual shock. But, again, there is this to consider: after all that work cleaning the lens, you can be absolutely assured that everything inside is nicely tightened and will NOW probably function BETTER than if I had left it unopened. I, personally, would feel that this lens is NOW in better shape, and will last longer now, than before I had opened it. The helical is cleaned and regreased.
Questions like these seek to bifurcate the concept of honesty into two components: perception vs reality, and force us to at least recognize that there really is a difference between the two. - David Lyga