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A scenario like this presents an ethical or moral dilemma. An ethical dilemma is when moral principles and ethical responsibilities conflict in a manner that all possible solutions are intolerable. This is because the guiding moral precepts are inadequate in determining which action is wrong or right (Caroline, 1998). There are two approaches that would guide me in handling such a scenario. The first one stresses on the practical aftermaths of our choice of action; while the second one focuses on the actions that we take. The argument in the first approach is that if no harm results, the no wrong was committed; while the second approach claims that certain actions are plainly wrong. For example, my inaction would be improper. It would also be wrong if I choose to act, and my action result into avoidable damages.
I take the two strategies as complementary during the analysis and resolution of this dilemma. However, attendance to my legal duty supervenes upon any willful decision that I take. This is because the law has established a minimum on how one should act when faced with ethical dilemmas to ensure that individuals don’t neglect their legal duties for petty reasons (Orend et al, 2000). A lady with five little kids is stranded in a life threatening situation in an area where I patrol. My legal duty is to assist the members of the public who are in danger. The stuck man is also in my area of operation, but it would take more time to help him. The ten minutes window that I have to save the woman and the children wouldn’t let me help the man whose leg is stuck in a crack, and therefore I would choose to help the woman first. I would reach to such a decision quickly because my attempts to save him have a high probability of failure as it requires specialized rescuers like the personnel from the fire department and EMS. Since I am insufficiently trained to handle such cases, the best thing to do is to inform the relevant departments. Furthermore, the injury that the man has already suffered may be serious, and he may still die. This would make me feel guilty as my action would result into the death of six people.
I would therefore make every attempt to proceed with my mission of rescuing the woman with kids. Another challenge is how to drive past the man without hurting him more. My decision to drive or not to drive would depend on the distance between me and the six people I intend to save. If I feel I can manage to run to their rescue, then I would run. If the distance is long, and the man is seriously hurt and in a lot of pain; then I would choose to run him over. I would do so in a manner that, even if I happen to cause his death, he will die mercifully. It would be a difficult decision but a necessary one.
There is a variety of reasons why I would reach to that decision. Firstly, when I am faced with an ethical dilemma, I opt to take an action that results in greater good. My view is that it would be better to lose one person who is in a greater danger than to lose six people. The effort of act of picking six people is less challenging than that of attempting to assist a person who has been stuck on a cliff. The act of saving the six people would bring more happiness to the community than that of saving one person. Therefore, imaging the sorrow that the death of six people would cause in the community; my choice would be to save them first.
Secondly, the information on the six people was the first to reach me. Therefore, if an attempt to save the man fails, and the woman and the kids die; then I would be blamed for the death of the six people. I would consequently choose to follow the order of “first come, first served”. Furthermore, even if the woman would have the means of saving herself, I presume she cannot leave the kids. My availability to her has the greatest chance of having all the kids saved from danger. Lastly, children are the future of every society for their utility has not being fully exploited. Saving five children, therefore, safeguards the utility of five people. Moreover, the action of saving several people may inspire individuals to perform their duties with diligence, and this would result into greater good for the community.