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A Moral Dilemma

April 7, 2014

The source of morality varies among individuals, particularly in a pluralist society. For some people, it comes from religion; for others, it comes from a particular philosophy. In Western society, philosophers have debated for thousands of years whether an objective moral standard exists, but without agreement. When faced with a dilemma that tests our moral reasoning, how can we decide what is the right thing to do? Below are three moral dilemmas.

Task: Choose ONE of them and tell us what you would do? Explain your reasoning.

Scenario 1: Plagiarized Report*

You are head of a student council at a high school, and are faced with a difficult decision regarding a grade-twelve girl’s risky, last-resort choice. This girl is an honor student. All through her academic years, she has obtained straight A’s, has many friends and has never been disciplined by the principal. However, near the end of her grade twelve year, she fell ill with the flu and fell way behind in her school work. She missed three weeks of class, which resulted in her having to rush a report that would be worth 40% of English, a required graduation subject in her curriculum. She was so desperate about the report that she went online and passed off a report she found on that subject as her own. Her English teacher caught her and has referred her to you. If you enter on her academic record that she plagiarized, she will likely not be eligible to be accepted into St. Steven’s University, a school she has dreamed of attending all through high school and needs in order to fulfill her academic and future dreams.

Scenario 2: The Mad Bomber*

A madman who has threatened to explode several bombs in crowded areas has been apprehended. Unfortunately, he has already planted the bombs and they are scheduled to go off in a short time. It is possible that hundreds of people may die. The authorities cannot make him divulge the location of the bombs by conventional methods. He refuses to say anything and requests a lawyer to protect his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. In exasperation, some high level official suggests torture. This would be illegal, of course, but the official thinks that it is nevertheless the right thing to do in this desperate situation. Do you agree? If you do, would it also be morally justifiable to torture the mad bomber’s innocent wife if that is the only way to make him talk? Why?

Scenario 3: The Pregnant Women*

A pregnant woman 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 she is unstuck, they will all be drowned except the woman, whose head is out of the cave. Fortunately, (or unfortunately,) someone has with him a stick of dynamite. There seems no way to get the pregnant woman loose without using the dynamite which will inevitably kill her; but if they do not use it everyone will drown. What should they do?

*Note: Taken from http://listverse.com/2011/04/18/10-more-moral-dilemmas

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72 Comments leave one →
  1. Channer permalink
    April 8, 2014 2:38 pm

    I picked the scenario 2 about the bomber.
    I was thinking about the issue and I would certainly agree with the torture. I would do it if necessary even if it is illegal and morally wrong. This is because it would save many lives resultingly. Perhaps it could be seen as a morally wrong action, but there is no other options I can take to save lives in this desperate situation. What if the bomb goes off and a number of people get killed? By torturing the “criminal”, we can prevent that from happening. Also, if torturing the innocent wife is the only way to make him talk, I would also do it. It seems to be really cruel, but as mentioned, it is the only way to save other innocent lives. After the situation is settled, I would find a way to fully compensate the wife for her sacrifice. There are always some situations on which we have to make decisions. I think it is important to compare the results coming after the decisions and make a prudent decision.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 9, 2014 4:52 pm

      Could the madman be a liar? Crazy? Should we presume he is guilty before we have proof in a court of law? Should we trust the police? (Think of former Korean police and the waterboarding of innocent people.) Even assuming we have complete proof he is guilty, how reliable is information gathered from torture? People will often say anything under torture to make it stop. What kind of torture could the authorities use? How severe? What are the boundaries? What if the madman dies during torture, and the bomb is a hoax, or nobody is hurt from the bomb? Does torture degrade and corrupt society? As for his wife, are you sure you want to live in a society that accepts the torture of innocent people? Where might that lead to?

      • Channer permalink
        April 9, 2014 9:07 pm

        Oh, the last sentence woke me up just now. I really do not wanna live in a society accepting the torture of innocent people! The victim could be my family and even myself! yeah… and for sure, the police could overuse their power when torture is allowed. hmm! i should think about this more deeply!

  2. Jeremy permalink
    April 8, 2014 5:45 pm

    I chose scenario 3, “The pregnant woman”.
    I believe morality is immanent in most of the people. I am pretty sure that most of the people in the cave, whether it is inevitable or not, think or feel that killing the woman is not a proper decision to make. It is true that people will be terrified on the upcoming disaster and in some part in their heart, they might want to escape as it is also an instinct that cannot be controlled. However, as “love” and “harmony” have always been a core norm in human nature, and as we strived to develop ourselves with “cooperation” throughout history, killing a life to justify the survive of others will not be honored at all. I surely guarantee that even though they survive by murdering the woman, they will live rest of their lives in pain and guiltiness. Therefore, even though the scenario say that there are no other way to escape the cave, they should keep figuring out the alternatives that can lead them out of the situation.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 9, 2014 5:12 pm

      Most religious people and/or Kantians believe as you do (i.e. Everyone has human dignity which would make murder wrong no matter the situation). In most Western countries, necessity is not justification for murder. However, the public is divided on this.

      • Jeremy permalink
        April 13, 2014 3:13 am

        Yes, I agree. Even though I am not a religious person, I still believe natural morality in human being. But, of course as you said, there might be some controversy on this issue.

  3. Creative C permalink
    April 8, 2014 10:58 pm

    I chose the scenario 2, The Mad Bomber.
    I would definately do same thing as the officer suggests if I were a man in that position. We have to be aware what is the most important thing in that situation. And we have to recognize that we do not have much time to dispose the bombs. I am not saying morality is not important. However, the circumstance we are facing now is the matter of a number of innocent people’s life. It is better to solve problems based on morality and legal system but we do not have enough time to take care of them. What if we waste much time thinking about morality or law in this urgent circumstance and finally lose numerous lives, who is going to take chage of these? Torture is the last option that we can choose. However, if it is the only way to save people and to solve this situation, I do not think we have another option. I wish I had alternative to fix this case, though, I have to torture someone because I believe that this can be moral determination in this situation.

    • Creative C permalink
      April 8, 2014 11:03 pm

      My argument is too strong. But don’t get me wrong. I do not like torture thing.

      • omg permalink
        April 9, 2014 12:23 am

        me neither hhhh

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 9, 2014 5:18 pm

      Actually, there is no objective standard of morality. Some people believe that morality is about counting numbers (i.e. Sacrificing one person’s life to save many is a moral act). These people are consequentialists. They believe that the moral thing to do depends on the consequences of the action. In other words, the end (saving many lives) justifies the means (in this case, torture).

    • April 10, 2014 3:56 pm

      I understand your opinion. Scenario 2 is an embarrassing affair. I hope and believe that some affiars like this will never occur in reality.

    • Channer permalink
      April 10, 2014 4:09 pm

      Yeah , that makes two of us but i was thinking about living in a society allowing torture after reading a comment from Prof. Todd. isnt it too hideous to live in such society?

  4. omg permalink
    April 9, 2014 12:43 am

    scenario 3
    To write it directly, I will save the people except pregnant woman. When I first read this story, I thought they were so pitiful. How extreme the situation is! If this happens right in front of me, I might be really confused about what I should do. Whether I pick the pregnant woman or rest of the people, there must be life damages.
    Utilitarianism came up my mind. Jeremy Bentham insisted untilitariansim that explains about the choice we have to make while we are living. Utilitarianism pursues greatest happiness principle. Each person has same value of happiness whether they are young or old, man or woman and extra. People could not suppose the life of human by comparison beacause they are all the same. So when people have to decide which way to go, they should choose the way most happiness is guaranteed in comparison.
    So if utilitarian is adopted in this situation, we should sacrifice ( sacrifice sounds little bit negative, no offense) the pregnant woman to save rest of the people. Although I do not perfectly agree to this idea, however, this utilitarian idea is at least the most appropriate one among group society. Yet there is no proper idea, better than utilitarianism. Who will gonna decide which life is much more precious than othrers? Nobody. So utilitariansim is the answer for scenario 3.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 9, 2014 5:23 pm

      Actually, by your conclusion, you have decided that the pregnant woman’s and her unborn child’s lives are less precious. Is utilitarianism the best moral philosophy? Maybe, but we live in a pluralistic society, so we need to find a way to accommodate other modes of moral reasoning which may conflict with our own.

    • Solomon C permalink
      April 10, 2014 2:40 pm

      How can u measure the person’s value? just 1+1 > 1person?

      • omg permalink
        April 11, 2014 11:16 am

        Dont you guys have any better idea for utilitarianism in society ? all of you mean u r gonna kill bunches of people for only a woman and a baby ?What do you think about the rest of the people that was killed just for one woman? The situation is bit extreme so we have to choose quickly whether we wil save the people or the woman. There is no 3rd choice in here. so I thought that utilitarianism is at least the best way for now in specific situation.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 11, 2014 5:57 pm

      OMG, if you re-read my comment, you will realize that I had not stated what I would do. I was simply pointing out that utilitarianism doesn’t take into account minority rights so some lives may be calculated as less precious. Actually, in this extreme situation given there are no other options available, I would probably use the dynamite. However, in Western culture, if the pregnant woman and her baby were killed, the killers would not be able to argue necessity as justification for murder. However, they would probably not be charged with murder but manslaughter. During sentencing, the judge would take all factors into account, so the punishment would be less severe.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 11, 2014 7:52 pm

      OMG,
      Utilitarianism may seem like the best solution in this situation, but others would disagree. Sacrifice is always easier when it is someone else doing the sacrificing. However, imagine that the ‘only a woman and a baby’ as you describe them are actually your wife and unborn baby. Also, imagine the other people who will blow up your wife and child include George Bush and Dick Cheney (I use them because they have had no difficulty blowing up people for the greater good). A true utilitarian would have to accept this as a moral act. But I expect only the most ardent utilitarian could.

  5. Nabi C permalink
    April 9, 2014 3:45 am

    Scenario 1:
    People make a mistake. Some mistakes can be finished simply with the words like “Sorry” and “It’s okay,” but the mistakes done on purpose by someone can be serious problems, sometimes even crime. That’s why there are rules in every kinds of community. And here this girl who has been so brilliant in everything broke one rule intentionally for her school career. Considering all the achievements she’s made and her attitude of diligence she’s showed, I would be thinking about overlooking her only mistake for her future. It would be helpful for her close future if I do that, but would it be also helpful for her whole life? No, I hardly think so. She would not think that what she did is as bad as deceiving everyone else, though it really is, and she also would justify herself telling herself ‘I couldn’t help it,’ and only remember her achievements and all the praises from the others without a chance of self-reflection. And then she would do the same thing again in future, who knows? So I would do enter on the record of her plagiarizing, not to drag her down from her dream-university but to give her an important lesson.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 9, 2014 5:52 pm

      I agree with you. She certainly made a bad decision when there may have been other options. For example, she could have talked to the teacher for an extension and maybe a reduced grade. Is the punishment fair? If it is transparent, consistent, predictable, and proportional, then yes. In addition, not punishing her would send a bad message to her and other students. Having said that, one-strike-and-your-out policies can sometimes lead to injustice unless all extenuating circumstances are fully considered. Could she be punished in another way that would still teach her a lesson, be fair to other students, be in the spirit of punishment for a better society, but not end her dream? Possibly.

    • April 10, 2014 4:07 pm

      You are looking at the problem from a broader perspective. After reading your writing, I could change my thought.

      • Jeremy permalink
        April 13, 2014 3:10 am

        I once had a similar experience when my friend tried to cheat during an exam in high school. I whispered to him not to do such thing and fortunately, he stopped. In my opinion, a single failure in a report or a test will not ruin one’s future. There will be a lot of other opportunities both the girl and my friend will meet, however, stop cheating or lying may be their only chance to make it right. In that sense, giving them a lesson will be the answer afterall.

  6. mike C permalink
    April 9, 2014 2:23 pm

    Even though we are living in pluralist society, which respects individual diversity, we still need a morality to live together. In my opinion, morality comes not from religion or philosophy. To be more basic, it comes from considering others. When each individual respect others, the true pluralist society achieves.
    So in this point of view, in scenario 1, I would enter the record of her plagiarizing. Of course she had a excuse to do such action. Her situation was not fair compared to other students. However, what I want to say is that her method was wrong. She didn’t cared about others and just pursued her own benefit. Someone could say that it is not a big deal to be criticized and punished, since she didn’t actually stole something, or fell someone in trouble. However, plagiarizing is not a simple cheating. It is a stealing of other’s work. Regardless of extent of seriousness, her action is wrong in moral point of view. If she were in that bad situation, she should have chose other method to solve her problem. For example, she could ask her teacher to extend her deadline of report. Since her absence was inevitable cause, which was not her fault, her teacher could understand the situation and could made her an exception. If she tried to solve the problem in this way, she could satisfy both herself and others.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 9, 2014 6:03 pm

      I agree that she should have considered other options such as asking the teacher for an extension. By the way, how exactly do you ‘consider’ others? Do you respect their freedom? Do you try to maximize their happiness? Do you try to cultivate their virtues? Each of these approaches are fundamentally different.

  7. Kate C permalink
    April 9, 2014 9:31 pm

    I chose scenario 2.
    I agree with official’s suggestion. In this situation, bombs are about to explode and mad bomber refused to say anything about bombs. If I delay a little more many innocent people’s lives would be lost so I have to make a decision quickly. There’s no time to lose. There is no way to make him to say but his wife can make him talk. If I make mad bomber open his lips and can stop exploding by torturing his wife, I would do this. I know it’s so cruel for her and torture is illegal but one person’s sacrifice can save hundreds of people’s lives. Torture isn’t morally justified but this is the only way to solve the problem and I think saving many people’s lives is much valuable than one person’s sacrifice. In addition when many people are threatened by few people, I think sacrificing the few for many is justifiable. I know this kind of sacrifice has to be compensated and need to agreement about sacrifice. However there isn’t enough time so I would do the same thing as the official did.

    • Nabi C permalink
      April 10, 2014 7:21 pm

      I agree with you mostly, but you said, “saving many people’s lives is much valuable than one person’s sacrifice,” and I’ve got a couple of questions here… Do you really think that the value of a person is proportional to the number of people? I mean, can saving many people’s lives be more valuable than saving one of your family?…It can be very relative. I agree that torturing an innocent woman can save a lot of people, and it seems inevitable to do that. But talking about the value? I don’t know… The only fault of the woman is having married a guy whom she never expected to be a bomber, and this makes her not worthy enough to be protected as a human as much as the others? Yet again, i don’t disagree with you. I just think that ‘a value’ might be something different and difficult.

  8. April 10, 2014 1:49 am

    Scenario 2, The Mad Bomber:
    I have 3 questions; Is he not a suspect but a real criminal?, Did they try the whole conventional methods except torture?, and How much time we have until the explosion? If we couldn’t get the correct answers, we do not have any justification to torture him. He is a citizen protected by the constitution, so we have to respect his right in every condition. Also, according to the presumption of innocence, we have any authority to blame or punish him. Above all, I believe that we could solve this problem using other methods such as asking leading questions. In society, there are many experts in terms of crime, so we could use them. If a criminal psychologist asks him a leading question, the first one could be how much time we have. After counting the time, we could call in a bomb disposal squad and the dogs or deduce the location of the bombs. Next, police could evacuate people nearby the location. In the world, the fundamental principle is the crucial root to manage the society. If the root is shaked, the whole of rules are unstable. Therefore, although it is an urgent situation, we must try to stick to principles.

    • Nabi C permalink
      April 10, 2014 7:26 pm

      I think you did a good pointing out. Deciding tortures or no tortures without considering those important questions, wouldn’t make a good result.

  9. Angela C permalink
    April 10, 2014 2:26 am

    I chose the scenario 1.
    I would keep my eyes closed for her. Though I understand her situation, it doesn’t means that I agree with her decision. She shouldn’t plagiarize other’s report. She’d better to explain her situation to her teacher and ask about this first and then do her best would be a better solution. However, I decided to understand her because she seems to be an earnest girl so I think that there was no bad intention. Maybe she didn’t know that the plagiarized report can be a serious problem, and this is the wrong point of her awareness. Her wrong awareness is from ignorance of plagiarized problem. We can give a lecture to her about plagiarism, impose an assignment about plagiarism such as ‘research some bad results that plagiarism can occur’. So it will be a good idea to teach her about the problem of plagiarism and give her a chance to think and act in a proper way.

    • April 10, 2014 4:10 pm

      When I was high school student, I met a teacher like you. She was so kind and warmhearted.

  10. Solomon C permalink
    April 10, 2014 2:35 pm

    I take the scenario 3

    It is like the story of Michel Sandel from justice. There are so much like these dilemmas. In that situation of secnario 3, The women, who are pregnant, faced some kinds of scrifiecd situation. Acutually many people think about that she has to die for the other people because she is just one(or two) and If she were not die, Many people in the cave would be drowned. However, It smells kinds of utilitarianism that greatest happiness for the greatest number. It could be resonable in some way but we can’t count happiness and It is not objective for countable. So we cannot ask for her sacrifce for many people. Although it is hard things to do so, human being itself is valuable and anyone can ask for that on purpose.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 10, 2014 4:54 pm

      If you were in this situation, would you also accept death and do nothing? Is there a biological drive to survive? Does Darwin’s Theory of Evolution come into play in this situation? Does the instinct to survive supersede questions of morality in extreme cases such as this?

      • Creative C permalink
        April 10, 2014 9:59 pm

        I wonder how many people can actually accept death in this situation. And one question is that accoring to scenario3 information above, is there any way to save woman? The problem is she is not going to survive whether they use the dynamite or not.

      • Solomon C permalink
        April 10, 2014 10:08 pm

        I didn’t mean to do nothing, how come we take the death peacefully? I try to find another way not to that way.

        yes, you are right, does anyone can take death and think about morality in that situation. Anyone cannot tell confidently in that situation and It, I think, doesn’t have any meaning to make such a extreme situation and ask “what are you going to do in this situation?”.

        We already know through our experience about weakness of human being and human reason after going through WW1 and 2. So I know about the fact that human being is so weak and sometimes evil but we also have a ability to reflect on ourselves and want to assert that Using a utilitarian thinking and applying a mathematical rule to human make the situation more worse(despite it is easy way).

      • proftodd permalink*
        April 11, 2014 1:02 am

        Hi Solomon C.
        From reading the problem, there is no other way out, so trying to find another route isn’t an option. The problem strips away other possibilities to focus on the limited choices of doing nothing (because killing another is morally wrong) and killing the women out of necessity to save one’s own life. If so, which would you choose if you were one of the group and had no other options?

    • Helen permalink
      April 11, 2014 8:56 am

      I definitely agree with your idea. But once read the reply commented by professor Todd, it has to think about carefully and deeply again.
      Really wonder what is the best answer and what would I do if that kind of same situation is over me.

  11. CURRAHEE permalink
    April 10, 2014 11:31 pm

    I picked the scenario 1 about Plagiarized Report.

    Although it’s unfortunate that this girl plagiarizes report, I’ll enter on her academic record that she plagiarized. There is one reason that I think this way about her mistake. I think that everyone follow the rules for harmonious community. Some people may be damaged owing to rigid rules. Nevertheless, It is important to us that we follow the rules. If we pull any punches for one reason or another, free rider who benefits from something without paying for the cost will be able to occur in future. Free rider may make our community inharmonious. It it inevitable to make a sacrifice for a great cause. For these reason, I’ll enter on her academic record that she plagiarized.

  12. Helen permalink
    April 11, 2014 8:53 am

    My answer is for scenario 3 : The pregnant woman.

    Firstly, I want to say this is the most interesting topic of these commenting stuff!!!
    When making a hard decision even with a moral dilemma, I know that it’s process is always based on majority. Someone might think that it is right to save the woman because she is one of the social weaker (pregnant), what about others? Rest of people are also have right to keep their life because each are very precious individuals. Therefore, we should not arrange “The dignity of life” without partiality. In other words, if someone has to be a victim, it should be the minority which is quantitatively less. Of course the best solution in this situation is surviving all together. But once it is hard to do, I would choose the rest of people push the button of dynamite to survive. Again, it is really sad to kill either the pregnant woman or the rest of people in the cave. There is not any particular group who has to be survive in any of reasons. Therefore, I think it is certainly right to make decision only based on “how many life can be saved?”.

    • Lunchtime C permalink
      April 11, 2014 7:37 pm

      I totally agree with you. It’s true that we can’t choose which is more precious life, but we have to think ‘Majority’ first.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 12, 2014 12:08 am

      Hi Helen,
      I’m glad you enjoy this blog post. Some difficult questions to further the discussion. Why should morality be based on majority? In America, there was a time when the country was a democracy (majority rule) and slavery was acceptable. Could we then say that Americans were not immoral to have slaves at that time? The Nazis in Germany were elected by democracy? (Of course, Hitler later became similar to a dictator.) Any moral issues with what the Nazis did?

  13. April 11, 2014 10:26 am

    I chose Scenario 2 The Mad Bomber

    I think I would agree with torturing him. Because the bomb was already
    planted by the criminar, and I also think that there is no other way
    to eliminate the bomb and save many people. And about the mad bomber’s
    wife, I absoulutely sorry for he and agree with this method is so cruel.
    But If there is no way to solve the dillema except torturing the bomber’s
    wife, I would choose it. I think it had better to decide one certain
    way to solve the probelm rather than to confuse and let the situation
    get worse. Also we cannot consider this cruel method as a negative
    decision because it is for other innocent lives.
    I think in our world, there are so many situation which are similar
    to ‘The Mad Bomber’ case. And there is no perfect and
    idealistic way for everyone. So, I think that we had better choose
    the realistic way to solve the predicament.

    • April 11, 2014 10:29 am

      Oh there is mistak about pronoun. ‘ I absoulutely sorry for her’ is right.

  14. LCA c permalink
    April 11, 2014 1:06 pm

    I chose scenarion 2. In terms of morality, torture can be justified. It is obvious that torture is the last thing we want. But in this case, if we keep watch over this event, this mad bomber can blow up the city and citizens. People have right to live and right to happiness. Innocent people should not be invaded their right. The mad bomber has already violate right of the innocent to happiness. It means that he gave up community spirit so he can also be invaded his right by government which controls whole city.
    But there’s unsolved question. Is there any efficiency to torture his innocent wife? Maybe it won’t be. This mad bomber already abandoned his everything by setting this explosive. If he cares his wife or his kids, this situation would not occur. And also, innocent wife has no sin except choosing this mad bomber to marry.

  15. Angrybird(C) permalink
    April 11, 2014 1:44 pm

    scenario 1

    It is very pity that she couldn’t caught up the schoowork because of her illness.The fact that she is smart student makes me feel more bad. However, this is not mean she can disobey the rules. Obviously, she made a wrong decision which plagiarized her report. If i overlook her mistake, it is unfair to other students who submitted their report which is done their best. Also, she will not know seriousness of her mistake and unreflected about plagiarism.Once rules are broken, it is easy to happen again next time. In order to protect other mistake, school should handle this problem strictly.

    • Lauren(C) permalink
      April 11, 2014 11:49 pm

      I am sympathetic to that line, “If i overlook her mistake, it is unfair to other student…..”

      When I was a high school student, some teachers pretended to make up the story for smart students in a reference of universities. As well as I was very evnvy for it, I thought it is very unfairness for everyone. Nowadays, when I look at upon the past, I’m still annoyed. It was too unjust!

  16. tnpqnp90 permalink
    April 11, 2014 5:52 pm

    Scenario 3.

    When it comes to moral norms, I think there are no fixed rules, an absolute criteria, as well as good and evil. If all the people who are struck in the cave notice the fact that a man has a stick of dynamite, what will be happen? Would they use a dynamite or not? Certainly, these people in the cave would choose to use a dynamite to get out of the gloomy prospect. Because I firmly believe human nature are appeared through tough situation, chances are high that a pregnant women is killed. Also, if there is only one who insist the use of dynamite among the many people below the pregnant woman, chances are high that the dynamite is used for explosion regardless of each individual’s moral perspective, Personally, It seems that morality exist in the chaos. And it is so flexible according to specific situation. When we see the circumstance like “scenario 3” above from the point of 3rd view, which is very neutral view, can we say like this “a pregnant woman is so pity, but we should save numerable people instead of just single person.” or “she is a pregnant, so sacrificing her is too harsh.”. I would reluctantly choose the former. It’s like a chaotic state beyond our moral norms.

    • tnpqnp90 permalink
      April 11, 2014 5:59 pm

      additionaly, the option(using dynamite) is given to bottom group, not a woman.

  17. Coffe C permalink
    April 11, 2014 6:53 pm

    scenario 2.
    Of course, she has been good student and has given her best shot during school years. However plagiarizing is so serious problem that it cannot be easily tolerate.
    I know that her situation was very urgent and her desire to admit good university was so strong but If I were in her situation, I would act differently.
    If she talked to teacher about report, professor might give her test to replace report or extension of time. Since she was very ill during 3 weeks and she always made an effort, professor would give other options for her.
    However, she didn’t try other ways but chose plagiarizing which is easiest way to her.
    So from this experience, she need to learn lessons.
    Also if I don’t enter on her academic record, It will be unfair to other students.
    As a head of a student council, I have to maintain fairness and I have no choice but to enter her record that she plagiarized.

    • Coffe C permalink
      April 11, 2014 6:55 pm

      I chose scenario 1 not 2.

    • HakJ C permalink
      April 11, 2014 10:14 pm

      when i read yours i was confused hahaha

  18. Lunchtime C permalink
    April 11, 2014 7:35 pm

    I chose scenario 2.

    it’s true that torture is illegal. However we can’t solve all of the problems with logic.Sometimes other ways are needed. In this case, there are numerous innocent citizens. They can be harmed because of a man without any reason. Not only that, but the buildings, roads and facilities would be damaged. To reestablish them and compensate for the victims, a lot of money would be needed. However, death of my love, family which brings great sadness won’t be compensated with money or something. It is obvious that we have to find the bomb. And if there is no way but the illegal? We have to choose the way even though it’s illegal! It can be justified when you can save hundreds of the lives. And if it is the only way to make the mad man talk, torturing the wife is inevitable. Of course there is no grade in people’s lives, but we have to think which one would make more harm. Saving hundred of people is first.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 12, 2014 12:21 am

      Would you worry that if torture becomes acceptable, it could be used more often? If it is used more often, could it become abused by certain individuals or the state? Could the state create a pretext to use torture against people who the state considers an enemy, for example a political opponent?

  19. HakJ C permalink
    April 11, 2014 9:50 pm

    I chose scenario 2 “The Mad Bomber”.
    If you are a high level official in this scenario, and if your family or intimate friends live in the city, are you going to torture the mad bomber’s innocent wife in order to solve the problem or not. If I were him or her, I will try to torture mad bomber’s wife for citizen and acquaintance. However, I think that torture is the last option to solve it. Before torturing her to change bomber’s mind, I have to find and try another options such as call his friends, parents who can make him change, just pretend to torture her. It is not late to torture when it does not work. I know that torturing innocent person is illegal and immoral though, preventing criminals is the most important truth for innocent people.

  20. Vanilla permalink
    April 11, 2014 10:41 pm

    Scenario 2 :
    Does he have the human right who violate other’s right? Do we have to protect him? I don’t think so. Personally, I disagree with the law that everybody has fifth amendment right. I think we can torture him hardly because he can not be deserved to have the right. However, it is unfair that innocent his wife have to be tortured. Torturing his wife is the conduct to create another victim of madman. Therefore, we have to protect her and other people who can be another victim from bombs together. This argument can be far away from professor’s intent, but I believe ‘the only option’ can not be existed in the world. We can handle this situations by various methods. It’s up to our willpower and executive ability. Torturing her is only option, I would like to talk his wife first and then ask her to act like the person who is in the torture. Or we can borrow her voice only through the phone. Or promoting the fear to her, but we will not inflict an injury upon her. I think moral problem is so obscure. Because the moral standard is not set and it is different by people. The one thing I can sure is that we have to protect people from this danger by various methods rather than discussing moral standard without ceasing.

    • proftodd permalink*
      April 12, 2014 12:30 am

      Once torture becomes acceptable, it could be abused. In fact, history is full of cases where people with power abuse their power. A political opponent could be unfairly labeled a ‘terrorist’ to limit his/her ability to challenge the political establishment. An economic rival could be labeled a terrorist to extract economic benefits for people closely related to the government.

  21. Lauren(C) permalink
    April 11, 2014 11:40 pm

    Scenario 1: Plagiarized Report

    I would and could never overlook the her plagiarized essay. There are three reasons why I would do that.

    One thing is that I might pass over her behavior if it did not have an effect to the others. However, it would be likely to make the other students failing at the university because of what she did.

    Second reason is for ‘her future’. In Korea, there is a proverb related with problem of habits, “As the boy, so the man play”. This sentence is interpreted as what is learned in the cradle is carried to the grave(habit is a second nature or old habit dies hard). If we just cover for all her mistakes and don’t punish her, she will have a habit which makes ‘lie’ for her ownself. One lie makes many.

    Finally, I want to tell her that a life is fate in the side of a fatalist. Life is like a roller coaster which continually changes from being up to down. No matter how sad she is because of not entering the university, she can success if she does herself justice in the other university. Also, she would has an advantage thanks to past when she fallen the college.

    For these reason, she need to know her own fault for the future.

    • Gordon permalink
      April 11, 2014 11:58 pm

      Ah, second and third reason is very persuasive to a plagiarized girl include me.

  22. Gordon permalink
    April 11, 2014 11:55 pm

    Scenario 2: The Mad Bomber*
    Many other students agree with torture to criminal, then I’ll protect him. Definitely, he did a bad action and it makes a huge confusion to our society and many other innocent citizens. But, how can government do a torture to somebody? Before we think this, we should think about which concepts are more important and must be considered first between nation and people. We will agree people is more and most important value in case of people who are live in democratic society. Never government system doesn’t suppress and torture someone. Rather, the government should help to all citizens live their lives with satisfaction. But someone who doesn’t give this, like this mad bomber, its caused from the government. They didn’t care about their own citizen. Some people think a torture must enforce for a large number of innocent citizens. I agree with protection who are not related this situation. However, we need to see more widely. If this happening is solved by torturing, it is a prove about our society doesn’t safety, and it gives an opportunity to happen such a thing same. Although, all citizens who are in the public area may undergo and be sacrificed, the government should try to fix a genuine meaning of government’s role, and protect our future society. It will be a moral action to save our future time and space.

  23. itsme c permalink
    April 12, 2014 1:16 am

    Scenario 2: The Mad Bomber

    I also agree that bomber should be kicked his ass by torture but anyway we are in the society which is regulated by te rule that we made. The basic assumption that our society mend is that “All people are the matter and need to be protected”. So in this issue, i take mad bomber’s side.

    Though he is crazy cruel one which need to be dead but there is no reason government to torture him. And what about his innocent wife? Is she become the person who need to be tortured becaus she falls in love with wrong guy? If the wife of bomber is your sister or your mother or daughter, what will you say?

    And the other problem arise in here. If the torture is needed means to keep our society better, then who is the one choose how much pain he or she should be put? And what is the measure of pain? Do government is right to put one person who are also his citizen torture? Dose it seems democrecy is? I don’t think so. Government is not the upperclass thing in our society. It is just mean that we control. And no one is king.

    I also hate Mad Bomber but based on mentioned reasons, I strongly argue that high level officers have no right to order torturing him because they should be based on our rule we made not by their out of blue decisions.

  24. jay permalink
    April 12, 2014 2:43 am

    Scenario 1: Plagiarized Report

    I think she is really pitiful in this situation. However. anyway, it is right that plagiarism is considered as a bad behavior. Therefore, it makes sense that entering the record about her plagiarism. If she really wanted to enter the school which she hoped to go, she should have kept image of honor student by not plagiarizing. She had to be more careful when she faced with difficulties. Through the situation, she showed she did not have ability to cope with crisis. I think ability of crisis management is also important element to be able to appear people’s character. If we accept the mistake made by her, other mistakes also should be going to be accepted. And then, confusing situation will be spread out to society. Which mistakes are accepted or non-accepted? I agree with that people make mistakes. People always make some mistakes. However, famous quotation says failure which is similar to mistakes is mother of success. Thus, I wish that she acknowledges her mistakes and I really hope she earn the lesson and become more honor person who even has ability of crisis management.

    • April 12, 2014 9:10 pm

      Today, I was preparing for one of my tests reading a paper written by a professor from a prestigious university in Korea. Then, I found something weird; I found some copy-and-paste trace. He was explaining about a movie, and the title was wrongly written all over in the texts. I was very shocked. I don’t know whether he copied another’s one or his one, but both are very shocking. Plagiarism is wrong definitely. I think it is not different at all with stealing other’s fortune.

  25. April 12, 2014 8:15 am

    Scenario 2: The Mad Bomber

    I would do torture his wife.
    Sometime, I see the limit of law. Law and moral standard is set for majority people who need to be protected by it. I think many of lives have a priority than mad man’s family.
    In addition, It does not make sense that the mad man’s way of thinking, My wife is important for me, but others’ wives are not, I don’t get it.
    In this case, furthermore, no one can sure the wife is innocent. She might take one part of his mad. It is more reasonable.
    For many reasons, anyway, I would torture him and his wife.

    • Melissa permalink
      April 13, 2014 10:32 pm

      Oh, you would take a firm stand on him and his wife. It’s interesting!

  26. Lion permalink
    April 12, 2014 9:22 am

    I chose scenario 2.

    I disagree with official’s suggestion. Torturing human is not morally justifiable even in this circumstance. I think that good purpose can never justify evil means. No matter how good purpose is, it is clear that the purpose will be end up losing of its meaning when the means is evil. Also, I doubt whether torturing the terror suspect is effective to make him divulge the location of the bombs. What if the information drawn under the torture is false? He would say anything in order to just avoid the suffering. In addition, if we use it to justify torture once, it may be widely used even in the absence of any urgency. In these reasons the torture cannot be justified.

  27. Hooni permalink
    April 12, 2014 3:32 pm

    I picked the scenario 2 about the bomber.
    I agree with official’s suggestion. torture is necessary in this real situation.
    Although torture is regarded as an illegal, mad bomber’s confession is the only way to save innocent civilians lives. The safety of civilians must come first at all times. Bomber is a crazy guy who already committed a crime. If the government recognize his human rights, public opinion is likely to become even worse. Moreover, if the government find the location of bomb and disjoint that bomb without any victims by torturing, this could be worthy of praise. In these circumstances, his innocent wife could be sacrificed by unjustifiable way, but this is a sacrifice for social safety.

  28. April 12, 2014 9:04 pm

    Scenario No.3 – Pregnant woman

    In this case, whether he uses dynamite or not, a person or people will be sacrificed inevitably. If he uses, a pregnant woman dies, but if not, everyone except her will die. In this context, it is said that her head is out of the cave. It means that she can communicate with someone outside, if it is possible. But if not, it’s a do-or-die question- who will go to die. The opinion of the woman is really important in this situation. If she is ready to sacrifice herself and the baby, it is immoral anyway but less immoral to bomb that dynamite. However if she denies about that bomb issue, it can cause huge problem after rest of the people get survived. But, if I’m the pregnant woman, then I would willingly sacrifice myself and my dear baby. My life and my child’s life is very important to me, but because mine is important, I can’t ignore the others’. There in the cave can be a little girl or a boy who might be my daughter and my daughter. And there in the cave can be someone’s beloved husband or wife. Then, I can’t let them die. I’m also one’s beloved wife and daughter, but I don’t want to live in a life full of guilty. It is literally impossible to choose one; it cannot be some yes-or-no question. Thus, I tried to answer in my point of view, and my answer is that I’d rather die.

  29. Little Kitty C permalink
    April 13, 2014 12:14 pm

    Scenario 1:

    I’m head of a student council at a high school, who must pursue fairness in terms of every student’ report. This is my duty and responsibility as a student council. I’m very sorry for the girl’s excuse but the excuse is beyond my responsibility. That is, it’s non of my business anyway. I must do not care her excuse. It means that I have to focus on what she did as a result, even if it sounds cruel for her. Whatever her excuse is, Her fault, the plagiarism is still what she should have avoided as a student. In addition, as other students already said, Entering on her academic record that she plagiarized would be more helpful for her whole life in the end.

    This decision is from job morality.

    • Melissa permalink
      April 13, 2014 10:30 pm

      Yes, I agree with you.

  30. Melissa permalink
    April 13, 2014 10:29 pm

    If I were in the first situation(Scenario 1 : Plagiarized Report), I would send an e-mail to her English teacher anonymously. It is a pitiful situation that deadline of assignment was too tight for her but plagiarism is certainly taken as a serious offence in schools and universities. Also if she gets A grade, other students will get lower scores naturally. It can be unfair that one person cuts down scores of majority. I cannot acquiesce her fault and she has to face the mistake.

  31. Korean permalink
    April 13, 2014 11:19 pm

    Scenario 2 :

    I think torture should be allowed in this case. I know that putting the criminal’s wife to torture has ethical problems, but there is no way to prevent innocent people. This dangerous situation is real. To solve this serious situation, the authorities have to do everything. Otherwise a number of people would be dead and hurt. All the people of the city cannot be a victim because of one woman’s human rights. Abuse of human rights, even one person, cannot be allowed but this is specific case. So I would torture the wife for majority. If torture is the only way to find out place where the bombs were planted, I would torture her to protect a lot of people, even if it is morally wrong.

  32. Beeyomi permalink
    April 14, 2014 4:23 am

    If I were the officer, though I know the mad bumber also has his own dignity and I will feel guilty torturing him, I would torture him in order to save the millions of innocent people. It is not because the larger number of people have more dignity or importance than the smaller one, but because human dignity can be respected as long as it does not harm other’s, dignity violation can be different in its degree, and neglecting is similar to involvement.

    First, it may be asked whether the mad bumber has a really equivalent dignity with the innocent. According to Imanuel Kant, human dignity comes from capability to be rational and to act freely. However, the mad man, because he is ‘mad’ and trying to damage other’s lives, does not have rationality and dose not exercise freedom but license. Also, there already exist penalties invading human dignity such as imprisonment and even execution to punish for offenses like this. Therefore, because he does not conduct massacre just yet, I cannot give up the only way to save the millions of people in order to respect his questionable dignity.

    Secondly, even though a serial killer and a virtuous clergy have identical dignity, there is still the matter that harm on dignity can be different in its degree. Torturing can leave lifelong trauma on people and it is obvious violation of human dignity. However, trauma is totally different from death which deprives people of chances overcoming trauma and developing their infinite possibilities. Thus, blocking a murder will be better choice than not torturing.

    The last reason why I am willing to torture the madman is, that taking no action as the only person who can stop disaster is similar to ignoring and even involving in the crime. Death of many innocent people is disaster.If I have responsibility for the millions of innocent lives, I will torture the bumber because it is the only mean I can save them.

    Additionally, about the case of his wife, she may feel guilty if the bomb kills the millions of people. Though this emotion is not a result of rational thinking, this means she is more related to this crime relatively to the millions of people who are completely unconnected with him. Therefore officers can request cooperation first, and if she rejects it is also similar to involving the crime as above-mentioned, and if she accepts, there can be an act to deceive the bumber.

    Torturing the bumber and suggesting an unethical deal to his wife may harm their dignity as well as the officer’s one. Also punishment for this illegal behavior and post management for their rehabilitation should be followed. Nevertheless, torture seems better than leaving the millions of innocent people to die, which means there is not any possibility to improve one’s life afterward.

  33. esc1108 permalink
    April 14, 2014 11:49 am

    Although it is the only way to let the bomber open his mouth, I think torturing innocent wife is wrong. Of course ignoring the only way to solve the situation could be great sin. However, going against the human right can be more dangerous. If we just connivance this case by torturing the wife, we would save more people who are innocent, however, if the human rights have been ignorant there maybe more violent in the society, espcially to the authorities.

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