Friday, March 1, 2013

Justice ~ #1a ~ The Moral Side of Murder

To answer these questions, view the first half of Harvard University's video:  Episode 1, Part 1.

If you had to choose between (1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing, even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing — what would you do?  What would be the right thing to do?  That’s the hypothetical scenario Professor Michael Sandel uses to launch his course on moral reasoning.


Bonnie Jacobs said...

How can anyone talk about the moral side of murder? Let's try. To answer these first questions, you don't have to read the book. Watching the Harvard video is optional (I have provided a link with the questions), but the ideas will make more sense if you do. What would you do in the situations Sandel discusses?

Shirley said...

Although I appreciate that hypothetical discussions do provide an opportunity for persons to examine their thought processes on various topics, I am not a fan of these. This dates back to the popular college debate of the determination of who is tossed first on the hypothetical raft. Part of the problem is that one very seldom in life would come up with such a scenario to start with and if one did the outcomes of the alternative options would not be as certain.

However, if one accepts the premise, of the runaway trolley in which one either allowed the five passengers to die or crashed into the side track killing the worker, I would opt to do nothing other than continuing to try the brakes as even though the mathematical calculation would indicate that it would be better to allow five to live at the expense of one. Killing the one would be a deliberate act which I would consider less moral than letting the five passengers die.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

caboose said (left comment on the main "Justice" thread on March 3, 2013 at 4:54:00 PM EST)...

(1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing, even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing

I pray never to have the need to make such a decision. Killing one person would be the choice I would make. I pose a question: what is the meaning of morality?

To me it means right or wrong, your conscious speaks to you when you are making a wrong decision. Behavior is a persons actions right or wrong .Responsibility means obligation to ourselves how we act. Our principles create are personality, our ethics is what we have learned good or bad, it makes us who we are today. I believe our values have changed significantly over the past fifty years and our children and grandchildren our confused and disoriented seeing our world today, here in America.

Shirley said...

I agree--ethical questions are generally resolved by an individual's moral compass. It does seem that these compasses have changed over the years. Some things have improved (racism for example seems less acceptable), but the corporate mentality of measuring success by wealth obtained by any means seems to have permeated society.

Listening to the news reports of the assisted living resident who was allowed to die because workers were not to do CPR even though the 911 worker was adament about its need and was willing to provide instructions made me think of the moral questions in this chapter. Should one attempt to save a person's life even though it is not in your job description? (Another case was of the life guard who saved a drowning victim who was drowning outside of his assigned territory and wound up losing his job.) Of course, as is typical in real life situations, the assisted living case may not be as simple as presented. Some people give instructions not to be resuscitated and given that CPR sometimes allows the recipient to live, but as a vegetable, this is not an unreasonable preference.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Shirley, you have mentioned some really telling recent examples of moral thinking that are in the news. Listening to the 911 operator beg the cool-speaking woman to do anything to find a gardener or passerby willing to administer CPR is heartbreaking to hear. I really admired the lifeguard, but the question arose about what would have happened if someone drowned while he was away from his station. It didn't happen, but what if? The elderly woman who died at the assisted living place apparently did NOT have a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, possibly because she was healthy and wasn't on the verge of dying. I am appalled by the corporate mentality in the United States.