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The Mad Bomber Case Study

A madman who has threatened to explode several bombs in crowded areas has been apprehended. Unfortunately, he has already planted the bombs and they are scheduled to go off in a short time. It is possible that hundreds of people may die.

The authorities cannot make him divulge the location of the bombs by conventional methods. He refuses to say anything and requests a lawyer to protect his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. In exasperation, some high level official suggests torture.

This would be illegal, but the official is sure that it will make him tell the truth in time for you to find and defuse the bombs. What should you do? What if you know that the bomber can withstand torture himself, but would talk if you were to torture his innocent wife instead?

Discuss this case, using a different ethical system than you used in a previous discussion question.

  1. Identify the facts, including all parties involved. Indicate the rights and responsibilities of each party.
  2. Identify relevant values, concepts, social constraints, and any additional information necessary for an accurate understanding of the case.
  3. Identify all possible ethical dilemmas for each party involved.
  4. Decide what is the most immediate ethical issue facing the decision-making individual.
  5. Describe one ethical system.
  6. Apply that ethical system to this case. Do not use your default ethical system. Think about the ethical system you selected. How would that ethical system decide what is right and wrong in this case?
  7. Describe one concept of justice.
  8. Apply that concept of justice to this case. That is, do not default to what you think should be done to correct this situation. What would the concept of justice you selected say about how to achieve justice in this situation?
  9. Sum it up – Resolve the ethical or moral dilemma by using the ethical system and concept of justice you described. Since you’ve describe an ethical system defining right and wrong and a concept of justice defining how to remediate this situation, what should you do?
  10. Use evidence from the text, lecture, or outside sources to support your claims.

The steps above will give you practice in selecting and applying an ethical system and a concept of justice. Starting next week, your case study responses will become much more robust. Look at the upcoming assignments to make sure you are prepared.

Last Updated on August 15, 2023

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