Wed 3 Jul, 2013 11:06 pm
I have an ethical riddle for you. It goes as follows:
You are a wealthy and successful politician. You have a spouse and several children. Unfortunately, you also have a chronic condition that causes you constant pain. You have been using a certain painkiller drug. This particular drug is the only medication that effectively relieves your pain. It is also very scarce and in order to obtain it you have resorted to engaging in certain illegal (but victimless) activities. A certain whistleblower, named Dan, has discovered your illegal activities and has threatened to expose you if you don’t stop. At this point, there are three possible scenarios:
Scenario A: You threaten Dan with violence. As Dan is a tough, tenacious individual, he scoffs at your threat. Subsequently, you hire a couple of hooligans to beat him up. This also proves ineffective. As a last resort, you order the same hooligans to kidnap him and torture him for three days, after which he relents. Dan abandons his plan to expose you. Traumatized and humiliated, he moves to another country and you never see or hear from him again.
Scenario B: You don’t threaten Dan with violence, but you also don’t give up your illegal activities. Dan exposes you and you lose your job; your career in politics and your reputation are both ruined. Subsequent court trials and legal fees nearly bankrupt you. You find another job making considerably less money. You and your family, while not living in squalor, suffer a significant decrease in standard of living.
Scenario C: You don’t threaten Dan with violence and you decide to give up your illegal activities. Dan backs off. As you no longer have access to your precious painkiller medications, you now live everyday in almost constant pain.
Which scenario do you choose? (There is no predetermined right or wrong answer; it is all about being honest with yourself and stating what you would choose and why.)