Moral Dilemma


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1. What specifically makes me uncomfortable about this decision?

Several questions talk about 'moral obligation'.

Sociology’s self-imposed moral dilemma

In this activity, to say you are morally obliged to do something means you must do that thing in order to behave morally. When the moral obligation is 'strong', this means not doing what is obligated of you is a serious wrongdoing; when the obligation is 'weak', failing to do what is obligated of you is still a wrongdoing, but not a serious one. Finally, remember to read each moral dilemma very carefully.

You will find there are similarities between some of the scenarios. Sign up.

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A Terrible Moral Dilemma

She is able to calculate that this space has just enough oxygen for three people to survive for 36 hours, but definitely not enough for four people. The only way to save the other crew members is to refuse medical aid to the injured crew member so that there will be just enough oxygen for the rest of the crew to survive.

John R. Welch, Two Types of Moral Dilemma - PhilPapers

Should Heather allow the injured crew member to die in order to save the lives of the remaining crew members? A runaway trolley is heading down the tracks toward five workmen who will be killed if the trolley proceeds on its present course. Molly is on a footbridge over the tracks, in between the approaching trolley and the five workmen. Next to her on this footbridge is a stranger who happens to be very large. If she does nothing the trolley will proceed, causing the deaths of the five workmen.

The only way to save the lives of these workmen is to push this stranger off the bridge and onto the tracks below, where his large body will stop the trolley, causing his death. Ken is a doctor. One of his patients, whom he has diagnosed as HIV positive, is about to receive a blood transfusion prior to being released from the hospital.

He has told Ken, in the confidence of their doctor-patient relationship, that after he gets his transfusion, and his medicine from Ken, he intends to infect as many people as possible with HIV starting that evening. Because Ken is bound by doctor-patient confidentiality, there is no legal way to stop this man from carrying out his plan.

Even if Ken warned the police, they would not be able to arrest him, since his medical information is protected. It occurs to Ken that he could contaminate his medication by putting an untraceable poison in it that will kill him before he gets a chance to infect others. Tom is part of a group of ecologists who live in a remote stretch of jungle.

The entire group, which includes eight children, has been taken hostage by a group of paramilitary terrorists. One of the terrorists takes a liking to Tom. He informs Tom that his leader intends to kill him and the rest of the hostages the following morning. He is willing to help Tom and the children escape, but as an act of good faith he wants Tom to torture and kill one of his fellow hostages whom he does not like. If Tom refuses his offer, all the hostages including the children and Tom will die.

If he accepts his offer, then the others will die in the morning but Tom and the eight children will escape. Should Tom torture and kill one of his fellow hostages in order to escape from the terrorists and save the lives of the eight children? Mary is in a hospital lounge waiting to visit a sick friend. A young man sitting next to Mary explains that his father is very ill. The doctors believe that he has a week to live at most.

He explains further that his father has a substantial life insurance policy that expires at midnight. If his father dies before midnight, this young man will receive a very large sum of money. After talking with him Mary can tell this man is in desperate need of the money to feed his family. Mark is a crewperson on a marine-research submarine traveling underneath a large iceberg. An onboard explosion has damaged the ship, killed and injured several crewmembers. Additionally, it has collapsed the only access corridor between the upper and lower parts of the ship.

The upper section, where Mark and most of the others are located, does not have enough oxygen remaining for all of them to survive until Mark has reached the surface. Only one remaining crewmember is located in the lower section, where there is enough oxygen. There is an emergency access hatch between the upper and lower sections of the ship. If released by an emergency switch, it will fall to the deck and allow oxygen to reach the area where Mark and the others are. However, the hatch will crush the crewmember below, since he was knocked unconscious and is lying beneath it.

Mark and the rest of the crew are almost out of air though, and they will all die if Mark does not do this. Should Mark release the hatch and crush the crewmember below to save himself and the other crew members?


  • Ethical Dilemma?
  • 25 Moral Dilemmas.
  • Nos. 7 & 8: Limoges / Catacombs / Cum Mortuis?

They have orders to kill all remaining civilians over the age of two. Jane and some of the townspeople have sought refuge in two rooms of the cellar of a large house. Outside Jane hears the voices of soldiers who have come to search the house for valuables. If Jane turns on the noisy furnace to block the sound, the other room will become uncomfortably hot for adults and children, but deadly for infants.

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Doug is on a cruise ship when there is a fire on board, and the ship has to be abandoned. The lifeboats are carrying many more people than they were designed to carry. The seas start to get rough, and the boat begins to fill with water. A group of old people are in the water and ask Doug to throw them a rope so they can come aboard the lifeboat. It seems to Doug that the boat will sink if it takes on any more passengers.

Carrie is a doctor working in a hospital. In a certain room of the hospital are four of her patients. In another room there is one of her patients. If she does nothing the fumes will rise up into the room containing the four patients and cause their deaths. The only way to avoid the deaths of these patients is to hit a switch that will cause the fumes to bypass the room containing the four patients.

As a result of doing this, the fumes will enter the room containing the single patient against her will. If she does this, the woman will die, but the other four patients will live. 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. You are an emergency worker that has just been called to the scene of an accident.

When you arrive you see that the car belongs to your wife. Fearing the worst you rush over, only to see she is trapped in her car with another man. You reel back in shock, devastated by what you have just found out. As you step back, the wreck in front of you comes into focus. You see your wife is seriously hurt and she needs attention straight away. You look at the seat next to her and see her lover. If you attend to your wife, her lover will bleed to death, and you may not be able to save her anyway.

If you work on the lover, you can save his life, but your wife will definitely die. You are the network administrator for a rather large company. You have a young family and need your job to support them.

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