Critical Thinking and Ethical Decision Making Case Study

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Faced with a difficult choice: abandon a dying teammate on the mountain and descend alone or stay with a dying teammate and face almost certain death. The words of philosopher Martha Craven Nussbaum seems an appropriate preamble. She writes: “Both alternatives make a serious claim on your practical attention. You might sense that no matter how you choose, you will be left with some regret that you did not do the other thing. Sometimes you may be clear about which is the better choice, and yet feel pain over the frustration of the other significant concerns. It is extremely important to realize that the problem is not just one difficult decision, but that conflicts arise when the final decision itself is perfectly obvious.”

In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “No one can give what he does not personally possess.” As a human being, I believe in these words. As a Christian, I believe strongly in God’s words that says “…….love your friends as yourself……..” In other words, it is difficult to love others beyond the extent to which you love yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have! Based on the foregoing, my decision will be to descend the mountain alone. The hopelessness in staying with a dying teammate will make this decision relatively easier. If I stayed, both of us will most likely die – that would be double loss as against a likely single loss that would occur if I descended alone.

In the face of overwhelming odds of death, staying with a dying teammate in the hopes that the storm might clear and a rescue party will be sent does not really make any logical sense because abandoning a dying teammate and descending alone neither reduces nor increases the likelihood of such hopes. If anything, should the worst happen, descending alone actually reduces the possible number of fatality. Accepting for a fact that my dying teammate’s chance of survival is negligible - at best, and non-existent - at worst; and realizing my own limitation as a person other than to...
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