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Moral Dilemmas

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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Bryn
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:47 pm

Moral Dilemmas

#1 Post by Bryn » January 30th, 2008, 5:04 pm

Here's the first of what could be many:

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?

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jaywhat
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#2 Post by jaywhat » January 30th, 2008, 5:11 pm

Kill the guard and/or die in the attempt.

Maria Mac
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#3 Post by Maria Mac » January 30th, 2008, 6:41 pm

I have to agree with jaywhat. There's no way I could do it. I'd justify my refusal by reasoning that, as he's a sadistic guard and we're in a concentration camp we're probably all going to die anyway.

Thomas
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#4 Post by Thomas » January 31st, 2008, 7:35 am

Well, knowing my son, he'd probably shout "Do it, Dad, just do it!" in the hope of saving the other man's life. However, I agree with jaywhat that going for the guard would be more honorable. If that isn't possible, I'd get up on the chair and hug my son and refuse to let go. Hopefully the guard would shoot us both.

Can't work out whether this one is better or worse than 'Sophie's Choice'!

Bryn
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#5 Post by Bryn » January 31st, 2008, 7:50 pm

What's Sophie's Choice?

How about this one (excuse American spellings, I can't be bothered to change them):

You have a wonderful daughter. She is 8 years old and has always been a happy outgoing child. But a while ago something terrible happened, she was raped. You are quite sure that the person who raped her is your neighbor. Your daughter is so traumatized she has stopped speaking, but she in other ways been able to convince you that he is the one. Unfortunately not enough evidence can be found to convict him.

You try to put your life back together. You move to another house and try to help your daughter in any way you can, but it is clear that the experience has ruined her life and that of your family.

One evening you have taken your wife out to dinner at a restaurant when you spot your former neighbor at another table. He is eating alone and looks unhappy. You quickly finish eating and leave. The next day you find out that your former neighbors wife has been murdered. Enough evidence to convict him of the murder is soon found, and at first you are very happy, finally his will get what he deserves.

But then you remember that you saw him in the restaurant at the time of the murder. you know he did not murder his wife. Maybe he paid someone else to do it… You remember that the police said that it had been made it look like a burglary, maybe it was…

You sit down to think. If you keep quiet he will be convicted for the murder, and the real murderer will go free If you give him an alibi, he will go free, but you can’t be sure the real murderer will be found, and it is possible that the evil bastard paid someone to do it… What do you do?

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Alan C.
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#6 Post by Alan C. » January 31st, 2008, 8:05 pm

If he was eating at a restuarant, surely plenty of other people would provide his alibi, other diners, restuarant staff, credit card receipt etc, (sorry Bryn) :exit:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

FloatingBoater
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#7 Post by FloatingBoater » February 1st, 2008, 12:01 am

I would make him the offer to support hs alibi if he hands himself over to the police and confesses to raping the child.
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.

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jaywhat
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#8 Post by jaywhat » February 1st, 2008, 5:46 am

What if he didn't and what about forensic DNA etc. The whole scenario reeks of paranoia

Maria Mac
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#9 Post by Maria Mac » February 1st, 2008, 6:49 am

Bryn wrote:What's Sophie's Choice?
A film starring Meryl Streep. Her character - a Pole - was in a labour camp and had to choose which of her two children would die. If she refused to choose, they would both die.
You sit down to think. If you keep quiet he will be convicted for the murder, and the real murderer will go free If you give him an alibi, he will go free, but you can’t be sure the real murderer will be found, and it is possible that the evil bastard paid someone to do it … What do you do?
As Alan said, it is a very unlikely scenario. He would have told the police he was in the restaurant (assuming he wanted them to know) and someone on the staff would have remembered him.

It's not necessarily the case that he will be convicted of the murder or even that the case will get to court unless the evidence against him is compelling. I think I'd be inclined to leave well alone.

FloatingBoater
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#10 Post by FloatingBoater » February 1st, 2008, 9:34 am

Some times there is no time to deliberate on the morality of unexpected dilemas. During WW2 my old chap was a PoW of the Japanese on the Burma Railway (''Bridge on the River Kwai for thse not of my generation.) He and his pal were caught cutting down Kapok trees (because they were soft wood and useless) instead of the hardwood variety need to use as railway sleepers sleepers.
As a punishment they were made to sit cross legged before the entire camp. They were threatened wth beyonetting unless they beat each other senseless with 3" thick bamboos.
They did.
They both however survived the three and a half years, but lost touch after the war.
The old chap lived until he was 91; he regretted the incident deeply and was never truly comfortable with his concience and I miss him like hell.
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.

Maria Mac
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#11 Post by Maria Mac » February 3rd, 2008, 1:16 am

How unimaginably barbaric, FB. :cross:

FloatingBoater
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#12 Post by FloatingBoater » February 3rd, 2008, 6:35 pm

As we have heard today a terrorist suspect and his MP have been eavesdropped by police during a private discusssion in prison. There are several things I think bring the matter into the realms of moral dilemmas.
Firstly, how many MPs would take the trouble to visit their constituents when in prison on remand I wonder. Could it be that the MP is biased towards certain members of his constituency because the share the same ethnic background; would he make the same personal effort to act in the same manner for others not sharing a common heritage? or Is he keeping his eye on the next election in showing solidarity with the same group that makes up his parliamentary lobby? how very moral!

Second,given the seriousness of the allegations against this man should the police be criticised for gathing intelligence by any means possible even though it may breach the civil rights of both parties?
I would have thought that if he man was innocent of the charges he would be only too pleased to have been heard speaking candidly about his dilemma without his interrogators being given recourse to torture or coersion.

I think the nation and much of the West is in a moral dilemma over having spurious claims of breaches of civil liberties being used by Islamic extremists to enhance their own devious advantage.
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.

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jaywhat
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#13 Post by jaywhat » February 4th, 2008, 6:20 am

Two points
-the MP and the guy in prison had been friends since school days
-it may be a moral dilemma and it may not.
Are we saying all eavesdropping is wrong or just on MPs.
If just MPs that is simply the Wilson Doctrine (or summat like that) and can be overruled if required. So we have here an example of either no one being told the truth about this or no one really in charge of the situation at the top - not so much a moral dilemma as a cock up.

Firebrand
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#14 Post by Firebrand » February 4th, 2008, 9:55 am

As far as electoral support is concerned, I would have thought it was quite a risky thing for an MP to visit a suspected terrorist in prison or appear to show favouritism to someone of his own ethnic group. For everyone who approves of this action there will surely be others who disapprove and it may end up costing him more votes.

FloatingBoater
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#15 Post by FloatingBoater » February 4th, 2008, 11:18 am

In view of the circumstances and threatsthat we are currently living under, I believe that it was a moral act to record the conversation and the minor breach as outlined by Firebrand should be amended when concerning matters of national securiy.
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.

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Oxfordrocks
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#16 Post by Oxfordrocks » February 4th, 2008, 12:02 pm

You have to remember he is still just a suspect, as such he is innocent until proven otherwise. If this recording was produced in court, I bet the defence lawyers would tear it to shreds.
Do you really think this person would give away any incriminating evidence to his local M.P. anyway?

Would you like your private conversations listened to ?
hello

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wizzy
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#17 Post by wizzy » February 4th, 2008, 8:47 pm

If both of the men were white no one would think that was the reason that the MP was visiting the suspect in prison. Also, as jaywhat pointed out, they were friends from school. I suspect most people have a lot of friends of their own ethic group.

I agree that in some circumstances it may be appropriate to bug people to obtain evidence, as long as there are regulations about the situations in which this is appropriate (and I'd say prison before being found guilty is probably not appropriate). I don't think MPs should be exempt from bugging in the above circumstances, I don't agree with any situations where MPs are above the law or subject to less scruitiny than any one else. However I don't think MPs should be bugged just because they are MPs, which is possibly the case here.

I don't agree that there are spurious claims of civil liberties being breached. There are situations where this is clearly the case, and the government keep pushing for more. They are people held under house arrest without charge. They want to hold people in custody for more than 28 days (imo already a long period) without charge. They want to remove any accountability of the police when they stop and search people. I think removing anyone's accountability is very dangerous grounds. If the forms really are so cumbersome they could look into whether they could be made a bit shorter, not just got rid of all together.

There's no way to totally eliminate the risk of terrorism. Personally I find the constant reduction in our liberties alarming and don't think it is worth it for the alleged (but dubious) claims that it is making the country safer.

FloatingBoater
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#18 Post by FloatingBoater » February 4th, 2008, 8:53 pm

The fact that both men were ethnically Asian and not white has nothing to do with the case. The complaint was made by the MP as an MP under an MP's imunity. If he visited as a friend then he had no call to complain s he was there in a private capacity and not acting as an MP.
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.

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jaywhat
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#19 Post by jaywhat » February 5th, 2008, 6:43 am

I would say he was visiting as both. The idea of being able to separate your relationships into compartments does not make sense to me - even if some people claim to do that.

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wizzy
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Re: Moral Dilemmas

#20 Post by wizzy » February 5th, 2008, 7:29 pm

This
FloatingBoater wrote: how many MPs would take the trouble to visit their constituents when in prison on remand I wonder. Could it be that the MP is biased towards certain members of his constituency because the share the same ethnic background; would he make the same personal effort to act in the same manner for others not sharing a common heritage? or Is he keeping his eye on the next election in showing solidarity with the same group that makes up his parliamentary lobby?
and this:
FloatingBoater wrote: The fact that both men were ethnically Asian and not white has nothing to do with the case.
contradict each other.

And again I'm with jaywhat re the capacity of visiting.

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