Thinking Activity 9.3
ANALYZING MORAL DILEMMAS
The following dilemmas ask you to respond with decisions based on moral reasoning. After thinking carefully about each situation, do the following:
• Describe the decision that you would make in the situation and explain why.
• Identify the moral value(s) or principle(s) on which you based your decision.
• At the conclusion of the activity, compare the moral values you used. Did you consistently use the same values to make decisions, or did you use different values? If you used different ones, how did the various values relate to one another?
• Describe your general conclusions about your own moral compass.
1. The Lifeboat: You are the captain, and your ship struck an iceberg and sank. The thirty survivors are crowded into a lifeboat designed to hold just seven. With the weather stormy and getting worse, many of the passengers will have to be thrown out of the lifeboat, or it will sink and everyone will drown. Will you have people thrown over the side? If so, on what basis will you decide who will go? Age? Health? Strength? Gender? Size?
2. The Whistle-blower: You work for a corporation that manufactures baby formula, and you suspect that a flaw in the manufacturing process has resulted in contamination that, in a small number of cases, can result in serious illness, even death. Your supervisor claims that everything is under control and warns that if you blow the whistle the company will likely face multimillion-dollar lawsuits. Moreover, if you blow the whistle, you’ll be fired and blackballed in the industry. As the sole provider in your household, your family depends on you. What do you do?
3. The Mad Bomber: You are a police lieutenant heading an investigation of a series of bombings that have resulted in extensive damage, injuries, and deaths. Your big break comes when you capture the so-called mad bomber, who tells you that he has placed a number of devices in public locations that will lead to even more loss of life. You believe that your only chance of extracting the locations of these bombs is to torture the mad bomber. Doing so, however, will jeopardize your career and the legal case against the mad bomber. What do you do?
4. The Patient: As a clinical psychologist, you are committed to protecting the privacy of your patients. One afternoon, a patient tells you that her husband, who has been abusing her physically and mentally for years, has threatened to kill her, and she believes he will. You try to convince her to leave him, but she tells you that she has decided to kill him. She is certain that he will find her wherever she goes, and she feels that she will be safe only when he is dead. What do you do?
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