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    Moral and Legal Culpability

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    You are selected for a jury in a trial of a 64 year-old-mother who killed her two adult sons. The two men were institutionalized and suffered from Huntington's disease, a degenerative brain disease. They were certain to die and would endure much pain and suffering brfore they did. Her husband had also died from this same disease and she had nursed him through his suffering. She took a gun into the nursing home, kissed her sons goodbye, and then shot them both through the head. She was arrested for first-degree murder. The prosecutor informs you that there is no "mercy killing" defense in the law as it is written. How would you decide this case? What punishment does she deserve? (See Ellington, K. 2003, "Justice Tempered With Mercy. Houston Chronicle, January 30, 10A. The prosecutor took a plea of guilty to assisting suicide.)
    *Respond to the above situation. Is the mother legally culpable but morally blameless, both legally and morally culpable, or some other combination? Explain your answer.*

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    Solution Preview

    Under the law, the mother is legally culpable because under the law of the state, planning to take the life of another human being, whether or not terminally ill or suffering, is still illegal under the law. However, morally, under the view of the mother, she is morally blameless. Morality is relative so someone may morally prohibit ...