Moral Dilemmas and Thought Experiments (page1)

List of Ethical Dilemmas and Thought Experiments:

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1. Jane has a strong intuition that the recently released killer, Socrates, is going to murder someone on the West side of town. Logically speaking, all the evidence points to the contrary. In violation of police policy, Jane investigates and saves a family from a brutal death. Firstly, is Jane's action moral? Secondly, should she be considered moral if judged solely based on that action? Thirdly, should society praise Jane for her decision?

2. Louie discovers a watch on the ground, and it begins to glow strangely. He is transported to the future for a short period, and he returns to the original time with the watch absent. Disturbingly, he learned that in exactly one week, he is supposedly going to commit rape. A child is born, and she grows up to end world hunger. Presuming he can avoid the crime, should he do so?

3. A group of survivors are stranded on an island. Uncertain as to whether they will receive help, they have resorted to cannibalism. A mother and her child are amongst the survivors and fear drives the mob into considering the child as a potential victim. Agreeing to a random drawing, the mother's daughter is selected. Instead, the mother stabs a random person with a knife she has hidden away. Was her action moral? If not, would it make a difference if the random drawing was done without her consent, presuming both her and the daughter would participate in the consumption of the loser?

4. A local hunter is known for brutalizing an endangered species in an area known for having a corrupt government. As an animal rights activist, Saul concludes that upwards of one hundred animals will die if the hunter is not stopped, putting the species at even greater risk. Is Saul justified in his decision to kill the hunter, and would he be justified if the species were not endangered?

5. A couple travels back in time and decides not to engage in the activities that led up to the birth of their child. Is this situation ethically worrying? Why or why not?

6. Local scientists find two unknown species, and they have no reason to presume either is more valuable ethically or in its potential benefits to mankind. Seeing that one species is absolutely adorable and about to be killed by the other, should you shoot the attacking creature? It is not adorable.

7. Driving across a bridge, you see three hitchhikers in the cold. Knowing no one is likely to come back for hours but wary of strangers, do you have an ethical obligation to provide aid?

8. Already in an irritated mood, a local volunteer approaches you to join their cause of helping the sick. You've evaluated the quality of the average person and determined that they make the world worse off. However, they are theoretically capable (though highly unlikely to) of becoming productive members of an ethical society. Is the possibility of usefulness enough to justify aiding them? Should they be aided? If not based on possibility, what supports coming to their aid?

9. From a moral standpoint, the majority of societies intellectuals conclude that impoverished nation X is filled with people whose lives are not worth living. They stay alive, rather, for a variety of cultural, social, and other forces that serve as a "cruel web" that forces them to wait for their death. It's astronomically doubtful that everyone or even half the people will be helped. Given a limited amount of resources, you can kill a hundred people or save one. The harm you spare those 100, if applied to the saved individual, would be capable of making their life horrible almost 20 times over. Should you invest in bullets and murder as a charitable tactic?

10. The majority of your society has become sheep who follow the words of mass media and popular figures, who themselves are often victims of indoctrination and illogical beliefs. Knowing these people have had their rationality fundamentally impaired, is removing their voting rights a justifiable action?

11. A child is being raised according to the views of their parents. As it turns out, these beliefs are both undoubtedly false and potentially harmful to society. Is there an ethical obligation to inform the child concerning the truth of the matter, or do parents have a moral license to misinform their children?

12. Is it morally justifiable for private clubs to deny service to people of a particular race where the policy is openly admitted as being due to "the racial immorality and inferiority" of said race. Should this be illegal?

13. If #12 is unethical, do religious institutions denying service to homosexuals deserve to be categorized in the same manner. Should it be illegal to deny them service marriage services?

14. Given that homosexuality is genetic and appears to cause no social harm, just about any child can turn out homosexual. Since certain religious groups claim that homosexuality is a sin, are parents who teach this engaging in child endangerment? The idea being that is that the psychological impact such religious views may have if their child is gay is, in fact, dangerous and harmful.

15. An old women is in a coma and will die within the hour. Her family is dead, and rowdy teens steal the body and toss it off a cliff. Consequently, money is saved as a result of their unusual tendencies. What should be the ethical evaluation of such circumstances?

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Tahj Ali Blow said...

I think these are really interesting thought experiments. I'm planning to write an article on Pragmatism on my own blogL:

Would you mind if I used a few of your thought experiments in my post? Specifically, I'd want to use #1, 2, and 6. I would put links to your page and give you the proper citation. Let me know what you think.

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