Ethicaldilemmas belong to the realm of moral philosophy where one iscompelled by circumstances to make a choice and either option hasharmful cost. That is you are choosing between dire things hence,you have to get a hierarchy of values to guide in decision making.
Inthe car affair incident, I would quickly make a call to theparamedics and embark on stemming the flow of blood from the neck ofwife’s lover. Mean while I would continue talking to my wife tofight on, and inform her that I love her very much and have forgivenher. My actions would be driven by my strong belief in theinviolability of human life, forgiveness, and kindness.
Theutilitarianism theory proposed by Jeremy Bentham would inform myabove decisions. Utilitarianism defines morality in terms ofmaximization of net expected utility for all parties affected by adecision or action (Melden, 1987). It requires that one decides thecourse of action by evaluating the benefits or harm of the outcomesof each action without regard to the cost of the action. Since mywife is in a critical condition and stand a higher chance of dyingeven if I try to help her, it would be imperative to save the life ofthe man save at least one life instead of losing both.
Inthe “it was just a little bit” incident, as a husband and fatherto my 18-year old son, I would step forward and inform the officersthat the bag belongs to my son, who is actually an adult now. This isbecause I believe in self-responsibility by adults, honesty,integrity, and transparency. It was folly of my son to stack themarijuana in his back, yet he knew well that Bali has different druglaws to those of our country USA. In this case, he should be made toman up and stand to his mistakes. Meanwhile, we can try to explain tothe authorities and get an attorney for my son.
Mydecision, in this case, would be informed by the deontology theorywhich focuses on the consequences of one’s actions and believesthat when faced with life choices, one should be guided byresponsibility and obligation. Deontology ethics derives morals fromthe teachings of God and considers morality as a responsibility foreveryone as well as a duty. By making my son stand up to hismistakes, I was complying with the laws of the land of Bali and inthe process setting a moral precedence which should applyuniversally. I was also abiding by my duty to protect my family inparticular I protected my wife from unfair accusation.
Inthe ‘Trolley case’, if I were Molly I would not push the largestranger man from his rightfully safe chosen way into a dangerouszone on the tracks below, using him as a hurdle to the trolley, justto save lives of the five men. Instead, I would let out a scream toalert the five workmen with the hope that most of the will move outof the way and be safe. This is because I believe in the sanctity oflive and would never kill another innocent human being with my handseven if it is to save thousands of other lives.
Mydecision which would ultimately lead to the death of some of theworkmen would be enlightened by the ethical egoism theory, which is asubsidiary of consequential theory. Ethical egoism posits that theconsequences for the individual agent are taken no matter how bad orgood they are. Ethical egoism lays down actions that may be helpful,neutral or detrimental to the welfare of others. As Henry Sidgwickcontends, a certain level of egoism enhances the general welfare ofsociety (1981).
Melden,A. I. (1987). Ethical theories.
Sidgwick,H. (1981). Themethods of ethics.Hackett Publishing.