Event: Inquiring Minds
Topic: Are all ethics situational?
Host: Kevin Moriarty
From an implementation perspective, it would seem easier to follow rigid, well defined rules rather than consider many other factors.
How does the history of what is/was considered ethical, influence our perspective?
Inplied in situational ethics is an awareness of the different outcomes of various actions. What about situations where the outcome is not clear cut?
When the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the plane crew were silent. Captain Lewis uttered six words, "My God, what have we done?" Three days later another one fell on Nagasaki. About 152,000 were killed, many times more were wounded and burned, to die later. The next day Japan sued for peace. When deciding whether to use "the most terrible weapon ever known" the US President appointed an Interim Committee made up of distinguished and responsible people in the government. Most but not all of its military advisors favoured using it. Top-level scientists said they could find no acceptable alternative to using it, but they were opposed by equally able scientists. After lengthy discussions, the committee decided that the lives saved by ending the war swiftly by using this weapon outweighed the lives destroyed by using it and thought that the best course of action.
Does situational ethics imply a more proactive approach? Rather than react to a situation; one may be obligated to consider multiple paths and the consequences of each; acting on the path which yields the greatest "good".
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