Monday, 13 June 2011

A Moral Dilemma.

There are some situations in life, where there is no right or wrong action to make, where any path you take has consequences and both of them are equally severe, those are what we call moral dilemmas, when you are put in a situation where its nearly impossible to make a decision.

Here is one of the most famous moral dilemmas, its based on a true story.

""In 1842, a ship struck an iceberg and more than 30 survivors were crowded into a lifeboat intended to hold 7. As a storm threatened, it became obvious that the lifeboat would have to be lightened if anyone were to survive. The captain reasoned that the right thing to do in this situation was to force some individuals to go over the side and drown. Such an action, he reasoned, was not unjust to those thrown overboard, for they would have drowned anyway. If he did nothing, however, he would be responsible for the deaths of those whom he could have saved. Some people opposed the captain's decision. 
They claimed that if nothing were done and everyone died as a result, no one would be responsible for these deaths. On the other hand, if the captain attempted to save some, he could do so only by killing others and their deaths would be his responsibility; this would be worse than doing nothing and letting all die.
The captain rejected this reasoning. Since the only possibility for rescue required great efforts of rowing, the captain decided that the weakest would have to be sacrificed. In this situation it would be absurd, he thought, to decide by drawing lots who should be thrown overboard. As it turned out, after days of hard rowing, the survivors were rescued and the captain was tried for his action. If you had been on the jury, how would you have decided?""

Quite a wall of text isnt it? but that is the story, you are in a boat, the boat can only take 7 people but it has 30 inside it, either some get off and die, or everyone on the boat dies, if you're in charge, can you make that decision? would you be willing to murder some people to save others? or would you rather everyone died then face the guilt of killing so many people?

Of course some people would say "no matter what, it is wrong to kill" but don't most governments have a death penalty? if there is a serial killer and he is caught, isn't he usually sentenced to death?

Our reasoning for that is because if he ever got free, he would kill again, so the government euthanizes him ( or her) to prevent such a tragedy, it makes sense, sides its not cheap keeping someone alive for the rest of their lives and if said person has killed 30 people why keep them alive to begin with?

Its a similar situation here, we have the Lives of the Few vs Lives of the Many, where some will die for others to live or everyone dies, its a hard guilt-ridden decision to make yet if saving lives is the goal, doesn't throwing them overboard achieve that?

The method of deciding who lives and dies is interesting as well, in a survival situation where you have to row hard to survive, you have to face cold winds and icy water, and you are given the choice of two companions, A fit young man of say 25, and a woman who is 8 months pregnant, which one gives you the best chance of survival? Probably the pregnant woman :P but in our story, two women were in fact pregnant and both were throw overboard, its 4 lives in such a situation, its inhumane, its cruel but it is not unfair.

Its hard to decide if the Captain would qualify as a murderer in this situation, To murder someone is to perform an action that would lead to someone else dying, like shooting them, the captain threw them from a safe boat to freezing waters with no land in sight, some of them didnt even know how to swim, that is murder.

But isnt it also self-defense? Self-defense is the act of preventing someone from taking your life or injuring you, if someone came at you with a knife, and you killed him while trying to fight him off, thats not murder, its self-defense.

Both apply for our Captain, he killed these people willingly, he knew they would die, but keeping them around would have ended his life as well, at which point is it self-defense and at which point is it murder?

At the end of the day though, I would done the same thing as the Captain, Its these situations where we learn just how strong our will to live is, you have to know what you want and not stray from it, instead of being weak-willed and allowing everyone to suffer, you have to learn to hurt to succeed thats what separates the people on the boat from the people under the water.

As for our jury verdict?

well they came back with a verdict of...