I was stumbling again today and I came across a Website called Some Moral Dilemmas. This websites gives a list of moral dilemmas from a book called Moral Reasoning, by Victor Grassian (Prentice Hall, 1981, 1992).
Reading this website brought back memories of an Ethics class I once took where I argued with a professor that ethics and morals have a religious background. If you don't know right from wrong because you were never taught as a child what God considered right or wrong than how can you know what is ethical or moral? This professor did not agree with my theory and brought up the question of atheists who don't believe in God, weren't taught right or wrong as decided by God. Did that mean atheists didn't know how to be ethical or moral? It made me think. But I think what I was trying to say is that for me, making ethical or moral decisions is based somewhat on WWJD - What would Jesus Do, even way before that saying became popular.
So in reading some of the moral dilemmas on the website I noticed that my decisions are based on my faith, my religious upbringing and WWJD. Read some of them and see what you think? For instance...here's a random one:
A Parent's Agonizing Choice
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?
My immediate reaction is that God says Thou Shall Not Kill. He doesn't say Thou Shall Not Kill unless your children are in mortal danger. So morally and ethically according to my religious upbringing I answered that I would not do what the guard wanted me to do. Not because it was my son, but because it's not in my hands to take another person's life. Even if taking that life will save another.
But then I got to thinking further, that peace officers and soldiers and doctors make those decisions everyday. Sometimes you have to take the life of someone to save the life of someone else. Peace officers may have to shoot a bank robber who has taken hostages in order to save the lives of the hostages. Soldiers may have to take lives of innocent bystanders in order to save the lives of even more humans in the community. A doctor may have to terminate a pregnancy in order to save the mother.
It's interesting to contemplate all these different dilemmas and choices that can be made and why. For instance, this dilemma:
The Fat Man and the Impending Doom
A fat man leading a group of people out of a cave on a coast is stuck in the mouth of that cave. In a short time high tide will be upon them, and unless he is unstuck, they will all be drowned except the fat man, whose head is out of the cave. [But, fortunately, or unfortunately, someone has with him a stick of dynamite.] There seems no way to get the fat man loose without using [that] dynamite which will inevitably kill him; but if they do not use it everyone will drown. What should they do?
Since the fat man is said to be "leading" the group, he is responsible for their predicament and reasonably should volunteer to be blown up. The dilemma becomes more acute if we substitute a pregnant woman for the fat man. She would have been urged by the others to go first out of the cave.
What do you think? How would you vote?