Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ethics Worksheet I

1. John (not the same John who is seeing Mary in Math Problem V, by the way) goes to Wal-Mart and picks up a frozen chicken and a hunter's knife. While there, he has the idea to go to the sporting/hunting department and use the knife to threaten a clerk, steal a gun and ammunition, and go on a murderous rampage.

John decides not to rampage on the grounds that he would probably be shot or arrested before he could leave the store, and leaves without incident.

Was John's decision moral, immoral, or neither?

2. John arrives home at his apartment, where he lives alone. He places the chicken on the counter and allows it to thaw. When it is thawed, he has intercourse with the chicken, cooks it, and eats it.

Is John's behavior moral, immoral, or neither?

3. John goes to bed. While he is asleep, a burglar enters the apartment and begins to steal John's VCR. John wakes up and enters the living room with his bedside handgun, whereupon the burglar pleads for his life and offers to leave the VCR. John, rationalizing that no one would hold him responsible for killing an intruder in his own home, shoots the intruder dead and then calls the police.

Was John's decision to shoot moral, immoral, or neither?

1 comment:

Jessi Guilford said...

My answers:

1) Immoral. Though John committed no crime, we can assume from the rationale given that he would have, if he thought he could get away with it. It was based on the fear of being caught and punished, rather than on the impropriety of killing without justification. (I might also accept "Neither.")

2) Neither. Though the act was gross, the chicken was already dead and therefore could not have suffered, and John lives by himself and ate the evidence, so there is no chance of damage to other persons either. While knowing this about John would not make you want to hang out with him (or go to his home for dinner!), being icky is not, strictly speaking, unethical.

3) Immoral. John did not have to kill the intruder, but did anyway. It is wrong to kill people when one does not have to, and therefore John's decision, though it will not result in punishment, and no other human being will ever know what happened, it was still immoral.

P.S. John is very probably a psychopath, and should be approached with caution, if at all. Plus he's kinda gross.