Exercise 11D 1. In each of the following scenarios, explain whether the two-wrongs reasoning is legiti-mate or not. Give reasons for your decisions. a) In response to a law that restricts the immigration of South Americans, forcing many to be sent home to face possible torture and death, citizens hide in their homes people whom they believe to be genuine refugees. They argue that the law is morally wrong. This is the kind of two-wrongs argument that indicates the usefulness of this kind of reasoning when handling difficult moral dilemmas. It gives us a way to think about the issue. This argument satisfies all three conditions. There is a genuine belief on the part of the citizens who hide these people that they are trying to cancel another wrong: the torture and death of those deported. So the first condition is met. Breaking the law by harbouring illegal aliens is a civic wrong, but one that has to be seen as permissible if the alternative involves the deaths of those refugees. This meets the second condition. The third condition is always the hardest. Here, we might imagine morally preferable alter-natives like convincing the government to allow these people to stay, or petitioning the United Nations to put pressure on their homeland to change its behaviour. But are these alternatives practical? Many would argue that they are not. 2. Imagine that you wish to be exempted from a final exam in some course you are taking. You know that in the past, students have sometimes been exempted because of serious medical conditions. Explain why a two-wrongs by analogy argument could or could not be used to defend the claim that you should be exempted for the following reasons: a) Your father is very ill. For a two-wrongs-by-analogy argument to work in this case, you would have to show that the two circumstances are relevantly similar and/or have no relevant dissimilarities. That would be difficult here. The two analogues are “exemption due to a serious medical condition” and “exemption due to a sick father.” They are similar in that a sickness is involved, but not to the relevant person. Unless the sickness of the father is expected to be prolonged (which would change the circumstances), the best that might be fairly expected is a postponement of the exam. A serious medical condition in the examinee, however, warrants exemption rather than postponement. Under the circumstances, allowing the one and not the other would not be inconsistent.
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