Case 2 Stealing Food
During wartime, Katia and her family have been starving because their town has been bombed and is under siege. She breaks into someone’s house, finds food in the kitchen, and steals it for her family. Is she justified in stealing in this instance? Why, or why not? Be specific. Would it make any difference if it were during peacetime but times were hard, and Katia couldn’t get a job and earn money to buy food? Why, or why not?
Case 2 Promise to a Dying Friend
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Harold and David, in their mid-twenties, are avid mountain climbers. David has been dating Harold’s sister, Doris. During a mountain-climbing expedition by just the two men, Harold is seriously injured and is dying. He begs David to promise to marry Doris, who, as Harold knows, is very much in love with David. Moreover, Harold is worried about what will happen to her when he dies. Because Harold is David’s best friend, David promises he will marry Doris. After Harold dies, David tells no one about the promise. He enjoys Doris’s company, but he doesn’t love her and breaks his promise to marry her. Did David do the right thing? If no one knows about a promise, does it have to be kept? Why or why not? Under what conditions, if any?
Case 1 Cheating on a History Test
Mike has an average of between a C+ and a B– in his history class, and the last exam he is taking could make all the difference. He has studied, but he didn’t finish one section on World War II. When he starts the test, he discovers many more questions than he expected on that section. He needs a B in this class to get into graduate school. He notices that Renee, sitting next to him, seems to know the answers to the questions he needs. She likes him a lot and has not minded his looking at her tests before. A student stops to talk to the teacher on his way out of the testing room, and Mike sees that the teacher’s vision will be blocked long enough for him to get the correct answers from Renee. Should Mike cheat or not? Consider the following questions in your deliberations:
- Would it make any difference to your answer if the test grade were not as crucial to Mike’s career? Why?
- Considering that Mike has a good chance of not being caught, why shouldn’t he cheat?
- What arguments would you give to justify Mike’s cheating or not cheating? Be specific.
Case 1 80-Year-Old Woman Whose Son Dies from a Heart Attack
Jesusita, 80 years old and with a bad heart, is living in a convalescent hospital where she is visited regularly by her 50-year-old son, along with other members of the family. Her son dies suddenly one night of a heart attack. The remaining members of the family feel that she shouldn’t be told of this because of her own weak heart, and in collusion with the hospital staff, no one tells her. After a week, Jesusita asks why her son hasn’t visited her, and the family tells her he is on a business trip, hoping she will forget about him. But the next week she asks where he is and when he will return. She also wants to know why he hasn’t called her or written a letter or postcard from where he is. The family tells her he is very busy but should be back soon. Another week passes, and Jesusita becomes very restless and upset about her son not visiting her; she becomes harder and harder to care for, and she cries a lot. The staff and family gather to discuss what to do about the situation. They wonder whether they should tell her the truth now or think up some more excuses.
- Did they do the right thing in the beginning by lying to Jesusita?
- If she were your mother or grandmother, and your brother or uncle had died, what do you think she should be told? Why or why not?
- If you had done what they did or if you were staff dealing with this situation, what would you advise? Do you feel she should be told the truth now? If so, how would you do the telling? If not, how would you suggest this situation be handled?
- Do you think it would have been better to tell her the truth in the beginning? Why or why not? Do you think not telling her in the beginning has made the situation better or worse? Why or why not? If so, in what ways?