Posted in Reflection

Lifeboat Ethics

As one of the “captains” for this exercise, I was forced to examine how I measured the value of life, which is a difficult topic to tackle with my own thinking. As I think about the choices I made, the first thing that becomes apparent is that I value the potential of life, or the youngest. My immediate choices to put on the boat were the three children, one thirteen months old, one eight years old, and one fourteen years old. After picking these three, I chose a parent for each one. I think my reasoning behind this, if I stick to the potential value measurement, is that their “potential for life” might not be recognized to its fullest without a parent in their life. However, this reasoning was toppled after the secrets were revealed. Though all three children remained on board (even though one was a pyromaniac), two of them ended up parentless because one had a murderer for a mother and another had a terminally ill father. They were replaced with people I viewed as “worthy” to live, as I had begun to disregard age and look at character at this point. I don’t know why I stopped thinking about age or what my parameters for a “good” person are. Why did I hesitate to kick an ex-convict off of my ship, but didn’t even think before leaving a seventy-year old woman who had a month to live? What did I use to measure someone’s “goodness?” Though I can come up with various possibilities for my reasoning, I truly believe that part of the reason it is so difficult to say is that a lot of my reasoning was “gut feelings,” or emotional responses I had to individual people.


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