Private Ryan and Ethics

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Saving Private Ryan

1. What is the moral rationale behind risking eight lives to save one? How does this relate to Kantian and Utilitarian ethic?

The moral rationale behind risking the eight lives to save one is that it is the soldier’s duty to do as they are told and to save the last remaining son of a family.

Kant feels that the eight soldiers are treating Private Ryan as a means to and for their mission so they can get back and fight the war. By treating Private Ryan as a mean of their mission he is also an end to their mission as well.

Utilitarian ethic says to ac to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number. For the eight soldiers to risk their lives for one man they are not doing the right thing according to Utilitarian. Since the greatest happiness does not come from helping one man and does not serve the greatest number, but rather putting the eight men into the war and fighting the Germans it creates the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

2. Do you think the mission would be justified only if Private Ryan subsequently contributed something outstanding to humanity?

I feel if Private Ryan created a cure for cancer or aids, something that is killing a lot of people today, then the mission could be justified because Private Ryan would save many lives instead of just having just his own life saved.

I feel my view is Utilitarian, because by saving Private Ryan you have saved thousands upon thousands of lives making the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

3. Should the Squad have attacked the Machine-gun nest or bypassed it in order to carry out their primary mission?

I feel they should have attacked the machine-gun nest and agree with what Miller says in the movie about by leaving it alone you are leaving it to ambush another group of men to be killed and severely injured.

This decision shows Utilitarian, because by destroying the...
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