I am a paramedic and have arrived on an emergency scene. What has happened is that a group of scouts went into a cave that is filling with water. The scoutmaster, a large man, led the troops in but he is now stuck in a narrow opening while leading them out of the cave. I can see his shoulders and head protruding out of this opening. It appears that he will be able to survive since his upper torso is outside but if the boys down below can't escape they will all drown. I have checked all alternate escape routes and tried to extract the scoutmaster when I realized that the only way to save the boys is to sacrifice the scoutmaster.
What is the correct action for this case?
The correct action is to sacrifice the scoutmaster to save the boys. There are many factors that directed me towards my decision. With duty-oriented reasoning it is my duty to save as many as I can even if it means sacrificing one. This approach is based on absolute moral rules which should guide all actions. Respect and impartiality toward people is mandated.
With consequence oriented reasoning I have to put a means to an end which is sacrifice the scoutmaster to have the greatest good for the greatest number. The boys are in more need of being saved than the scoutmaster. This approach is also called a cost/benefit analysis which encourages efficiency and productivity. Profit maximization is consistent too.
With virtue-ethics reasoning I have the courage to save the boys down below. I will do what ever it takes. I love helping anyone no matter what age, color, race, or ethnic background they are. Virtues are my strengths and my beliefs. The results of virtuous practices help achieve goals which enable us to gain human quality. This kind of behavior includes attributes such as perseverance, integrity, compassion, and justice.
What might be the ultimate dilemma of ethics?
It would be the sacrifice... [continues]
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