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Unformatted text preview: an we are willing to undertake. By focusing on each situation of choice, we may be less likely to become disheartened by what appears to be our inability to do as much good as others or complacent at our ability to do more. At the very least, we won't be tempted to justify our behavior by pointing out that many others are doing no better. SLHS Value File Utilitarianism
IN DESPERATE SITUATIONS, CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL TO SAVE MORE LIVES. G.E.M. Anscombe, Professor of Philosophy, Cambridge University, Absolutism and Its Consequentialist Critics, ed. Joram Graf Haber, 1993, p. 46-7 In recent discussions, variations upon the following imaginary case have won a good deal of attention. A rockfall occurs, catching the first of a group of potholers who are making their way out of a cave, in which water is rising rapidly. The man caught in the rocks is not seriously injured and may expect to be rescued in a day or two by search parties. Those behind him, however, will be drowned in a few hours by the rising water unless they make a passage through the fallen rocks. They can do so, but only by blasting the rocks away with the explosives they have with them, which will cause the death of the man caught in the rocks. Of this case, Kai Nielsen has written as follows.* "If there really is no other way of unsticking our . . . man, and if plainly, without blasting him out, everyone in the cave will drown, then, innocent or not, he should be blasted out. This . . . does not reveal a callousness toward life, for the people involved are caught in a desperate situation in which, if such extreme action is not taken, many lives will be lost and far greater misery will obtain .... Surely we must choose between evils here, but is there anything more reasonable, more morally appropriate, than choosing the lesser evil when doing or allowing some evil cannot be avoided? " Nielsen's argument is twofold: first, that since it is evident that in this case the stuck potholer ought to be bl...
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This document was uploaded on 11/20/2013.
- Fall '13