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Good Samaritan: Moral obligation to save the drowning boy?

Roger Smith, a quite competent swimmer, is out for a leisurely stroll. During the course of his walk he passes by a deserted pier from which a teenage boy who apparently cannot swim has fallen into the water. The boy is screaming for help. Smith recognizes that there is absolutely no danger to himself if he jumps in to save the boy; he could easily succeed if he tried.

Nevertheless, he chooses to ignore the boy's cries. The water is cold and he is afraid of catching a cold -- he doesn't want to get his good clothes wet either. "Why should I inconvenience myself for this kid," Smith says to himself, and passes on.

Does Smith have a moral obligation to save the boy? If so, should he have a legal obligation ["Good Samaritan" laws] as well?
Website: http://www.friesian.com/valley/dilemmas.htm

Solution Preview

Does Smith have a moral obligation to save the boy?

Quite possibly, the moral or ethical obligation here is the only one that Roger has in this situation. Even though he may be a 'quite competent swimmer', the text/story does not state that he is a lifeguard, doctor, nurse or similar person that may be required to perform such duties as part of his 'everyday' job. So, if he had been a lifeguard or paramedic (or similar), he may not necessarily have a legal obligation (though see note in second question below), but his moral duties would ...

Solution Summary

Referring to the moral dilemma detailed on Website: http://www.friesian.com/valley/dilemmas.htm, I tackle the story of Roger Smith and whether he should have saved the boy drowning in the water.

I also include a reference that details information regarding Good Samaritan laws.

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