Monday, June 6, 2011

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5: Moral Dilemmas

        So, many people consider morality to be one of the best assets of the human being. Still, sometimes, you've gotta make some hard choices. Let's look at a few situations of these...

5: A Father's Agonizing Decision
Das boot! Er... Your choice, son.

        You are an inmate in a concentration camp. A sadistic guard is about to hang your son who tried to escape and wants you to pull the chair from underneath him. He says that if you don't he will not only kill your son but some other innocent inmate as well. You don't have any doubt that he means what he says. What should you do?

        Well, if you look at it from a third person perspective, you know that the father should pull the chair. Now, it depends on the father's point of view. Morale could lower incredibly if he doesn't pull the chair. If he does, the father will feel guilty.

4: Sophie's Choice

Damn you, Meryl Streep!

        In the novel Sophie's Choice, by William Styron (Vintage Books, 1976 -- the 1982 movie starred Meryl Streep & Kevin Kline), a Polish woman, Sophie Zawistowska, is arrested by the Nazis and sent to the Auschwitz death camp. On arrival, she is "honored" for not being a Jew by being allowed a choice: One of her children will be spared the gas chamber if she chooses which one. In an agony of indecision, as both children are being taken away, she suddenly does choose. They can take her daughter, who is younger and smaller. Sophie hopes that her older and stronger son will be better able to survive, but she loses track of him and never does learn of his fate. Did she do the right thing? Years later, haunted by the guilt of having chosen between her children, Sophie commits suicide. Should she have felt guilty?

        Now, really, that's just cruel, but given the choice, would you lose two of your children or keep one of them? Obviously, it's preferrable to keep one, but really, the choice is a b*tch. You'll feel guilty if you let them both die, and even more guilty if you choose one over the other.

3: The Trolley Problem

        A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?

        Now, if you were logical, you'd flip the damn switch. The problem is that the other person is an innocent bystander, and isolated from the event. Morally, it's the philosopher's fault people died, but imagine the man's family when they knew he could be saved. Five people against one, though, I'd choose the five, unless I was related to the other person.

2: The Pregnant Woman And The Impending Doom

Can anybody tell me HOW THE HELL I GOT HERE?!?

        A pregnant woman is leading a group of people out of a cave that's on a coast. When they're about to get out, the pregnant woman gets stuck. Fortunately, or unfortunately, somebody has a stick of dynamyte. If they don't use the TNT, everybody except the woman will drown. If they do, the group survives. What would you do?

        This is an extremely hard choice, mostly because you care about the unborn kid. Problem is, what's one life against a bunch of lives? It's a hard, hard choice, but somebody's gotta make a decision. Most possibly, the TNT would be used, out of madness from somebody of the group of people.

1: The Partiality Of Friendship


        Jim has the responsibility of filling a position in his firm. His friend Paul has applied and is qualified, but someone else seems even more qualified. Jim wants to give the job to Paul, but he feels guilty, believing that he ought to be impartial. That's the essence of morality, he initially tells himself. This belief is, however, rejected, as Jim resolves that friendship has a moral importance that permits, and perhaps even requires, partiality in some circumstances. So he gives the job to Paul. Was he right?

        Now, usually, you do what you can to help your pals. But seriously, your responsibility is to make the firm as efficient as possible, then you go and choose the more qualified man, no matter how close you are to your friend.

        Well, as I said, some choices are hard. What would you do? Feel free to comment below. Some will be based on religion, others on utilitarianism, I don't know, just comment. It'd be interesting to see what people choose.