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A Few Moral Delimas...

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Posted by Mark on June 16, 2003 22:03:49 UTC

I was reading a book out of the philosophy section the other day and it brought up a question that I was wonderring if you guys could address. Throughout the book, the author would pose a question brought up to him by other people and then offer his take on it. But for this particular question he offered nothing; he simply said that the person asking the question was somewhat demented.

It was brought up by a professor in a business ethics class; the moral delima is such:

A crazed gunman holds 15 hostages, 1 of them being yourself. He tells you that he is going to kill everybody there (except you-the reason why is of no significance to this problem) within two minutes unless you decide to save them.

How do you save them?

You must kill 1 hostage and the rest of them go free. The gunman tosses you a knife (hey, if he tossed you the gun you'd simply kill him).

What is the moral thing to do? Do you allow the gunman to carry out his threat, thereby taking the guilt of murder upon himself and sparing you the guilt of taking a life? Or do you sacrifice one person (if you even have it in you to actualy go through with it) for the good of the other 13 people.

Are you now a murderrer deserving of hell's punishment? (I'd say of course not!), or is killing "with moral and good intent" justifiable (not only justifiable, but honerable as well)?

What would be the "Christian thing to do"?

How about Glenn's budhist perspective? What about Karma and becoming a "refined human being"?

Is a killer a killer regardless of his reasons for killing? Remember Dr. Kavorkian, the "mercy killer" (name probably grossly mispelled)...

By the way, the reason you get to go free regardless of whether or not you save everybody else is so you can't use the selfish "anything necessary for my own survival is justified" argument (not saying you necessarily would anyway). You're simply taking into consideration others' lives, not saving yourself.

Since the book refused to offer an opinion, I thought I'd toss it out there for you guys. I'm really curious about the "right" answer. What's the moral thing to do? You may argue, "well whoever I kill was doomed to die even if I chose not to kill," but then you still have innocent blood on your hands regardless. Nobody in the room is a killer (not even the gunman) except yourself.

P.S. what is your stance on capital punishment while we're on the subject of "justified homicide"...?

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