For this assignment you need to read the five moral dilemmas below. For each dilemma, identify the action or choice that the utilitarian would make, and provide a brief explanation of why the utilitarian would find the action permissible.
: You are a prisoner in a camp along with seven of your friends. Your days are spent doing manual labor around the camp, and you are fed, albeit small portions, at least once a day. You are also given water, a blankets—so treatment isn’t terrible. One day, you find that sadistic guard has lined up your friends outside of your cell. He hands you a gun and gives you an ultimatum: either you shoot one of the seven he has lined up, or he will shoot all of them, but not you. The question is whether you should take the gun from the guard, and follow his command, shooting on of your friends.
: You are on a caving trip on the coast, and you are leaving the cave system when your guide, a pregnant woman, get stuck at the exit. High tide is coming, and if you don’t get out of the cave system quickly, you will be caught and drown along with the other people on your trip. Someone you are with happens to have a stick of dynamite. If you use the dynamite near the exit where the pregnant woman is stuck, she will die in the explosion, but the rest of you will escape the cave instead of drowning. The question is whether to use the dynamite.
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: You are the father of a young girl. One day she is raped by your neighbor. There is an investigation, but not enough evidence can be presented to convict or arrest him. You move away from your house and try to restart your life with your family, but your daughter is clearly damaged from her traumatic experience at the hand of your neighbor. Months later, you are out one night at a restaurant with your spouse when you see the neighbor who raped your daughter. You quickly leave after your meal. Days later you find out that the neighbors wife has been murdered, and the neighbor is the prime suspect. At first you are happy that he will be convicted and sent to prison—after all he wasn’t convicted for your daughter’s rape. However, you notice that his wife was murdered at the same time you saw him days earlier in the restaurant. The question is whether you speak up and provide him a truthful alibi, or you say nothing, and see him go to jail, and his wife’s killer free.
You and your family go away to the beach for the weekend. You had a young child, as does your brother, and the two are best friends. Once you have arrived at your hotel, the girls ask if they can go out to the beach for a swim. Soon after, you hear screaming, Running down to the beach you discover they have waded out into the water too far, and are struggling to stay afloat being caught in a rip. There is no one else at the beach, and don’t have much time till they become too tired to swim. Your niece is having a particularly difficult time being the weaker swimmer. You quickly jump in and swim out to them, thinking you can grab one, return to shore, and then swim out for the other. However, when you get to the two children, you realize you won’t be able to work so quickly, and that one of the children will inevitably be at risk of drowning. You niece is weaker, but there is only a 50 percent chance your child will survive if you take your niece first. Which child do you help first?
One morning you are on your way to work, and as usual you are running a bit late. You are in a rush, but you look down at your radio to adjust the dial, and not paying attention to the road you swerve slightly off road. You look up just in time to correct yourself, but not before you hit a large divot in the road and are spun around. The car behind you tries to hit its brakes, but ends up smacking into your car, sending you flying into another car. You come to a stop only to realize that you have been the cause of an accident that has severely damaged multiple cars. What’s worse though, is that you realize you also hit a pedestrian walking along the side of the road, and the individual looks dead. As you are dealing with the shock a woman comes up to you sobbing and screaming. You ask her what’s wrong and she points to the person you have hit and screams “I’ve killed that man!” The woman, who you discover is drunk, is under the belief that she has killed the pedestrian that you hit. The cops at this point have arrived and are walking over to the scene. The woman is ready to confess to the cops approaching you that she has hit a person, even though you are aware, that even though she was drunk, it was your car that not only caused the wreck but impacted the pedestrian. Do you correct the woman, or let her confess to the cops?