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Resolving ethical dilemmas

NUCLEAR FALLOUT SHELTER EXERCISE
You are trapped in a fallout shelter with the members of your Ethics in Management group. The instruments in the shelter indicate that it will not be safe for the class to leave the shelter for six months. Luckily, there is enough food, water, and other facilities to permit the class to remain in the shelter for the required six months.
A telephone in your shelter is linked to a fallout shelter in another city. One member of your group just spoke with a person who is trapped in the other shelter and reports the following information:
"There are nine people in the other shelter. After surveying their provisions, it has become apparent that there is only enough water to keep four members of that group alive the six months before it is safe to leave the shelter."
The other group realizes that five of its members will have to be put out of the shelter so that those remaining will have a chance to live. However, they have been unable to make the necessary decision as to who will be put out of their shelter.
The other group has asked your Ethics in Management group to make a decision on its behalf. It has agreed to implement your decision immediately and without question.
The group in the other shelter consists of the following people:

1. A male carpenter, 25 years old.
2. A male biologist, 50 years old.
3. A female attorney, 40 years old.
4. A male minister, 40 years old.
5. A pregnant college student, 28 years old.
6. A female college student, 18 years old.
7. A male mental patient, 48 years old.
8. A female child, six years old.
9. A male physician, 72 years old.
Your task, as a group, is to develop a list of four people who will remain in the other shelter.

Solution Preview

We can approach the issue with either the deontological or the teleological method.

Deontologically, a rule has to be set, for instance, that the elimination could be done alphabetically or by lot. But of course the question arises as to whether human beings are not being used as a means to fulfill an end which is the rule. I think that it would be more consistent with Kantian ethics to live and die together as rational beings who have absolute value. In other words, no human being could decide whether another human being should live or die, no matter the circumstances. In this particular case, deciding who should live or die cannot pass the test of the categorical imperative, no matter how it is framed. So, Kant may ...

Solution Summary

This post examines the specifi issue of an ethical bothering, literally, on life and death. Who should be allowed and should be allowed to die and on what ethical principle should that decision be made?

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