I’m getting a kick out of doing this. Some of the questions out of this old Scruples game are a bit absurd and others leave too many options open for answers, but overall it’s getting interesting. Here are today’s ethical quandaries.
A friend asks you to join a demonstration for worldwide nuclear disarmament. You are busy. Do you go?
Where is it and how long does it run? If it’s at City Hall on a Sunday afternoon, I could probably swing it. Laundry could wait a few hours. If it would require weeks off work and cramped days sitting in a VW bus filled with angry sign waving hippies, I’d have to pass on it, no matter how much I might agree with them.
This isn’t news I stay abreast of, but I’ve found an opinion piece in the Toronto Star where the writer takes this position in terms of Iran.
Universal abolition of nuclear weapons is indeed a utopian ideal. As has been pointed out, it could not work in today’s international system of “a world divided into nations maintaining their full sovereignty.”
The authors of that comment were not utopians, though. They were the U.S. joint chiefs of staff. This was their judgment back in 1946, at the very dawn of the nuclear era.
Instead, we’ve gone the route of trying, by pressure and bribery, to limit nuclear weapons to respectable nations — or to weak ones (like Pakistan and North Korea). The consequence is an Iran within touching distance of gaining nuclear capability, and after it, almost anybody.
The alternative to that route would be, in essence, some form of global nuclear governance. Excruciatingly hard to accomplish, of course. But isn’t it time long overdue to have a serious discussion of that option?
And wasn’t that kind of initiative exactly the sort of thing that Canada, long ago it now seems, used to do and indeed was quite good at? Why not regain our voice?
We’ve seen the fall-out in terms of what happens in a nuclear event. Nagasaki and Hiroshima are testaments of that. No matter how bad one’s enemies are (or said to be), they’re still going to be surrounded by the innocent, those completely undeserving of the punishment. They didn’t necessarily choose their leaders and they don’t necessarily agree with them either. Those aren’t weapons anyone should use. They aren’t just enemy killers. They’re world killers.
Late one evening, your 19-year-old son asks permission for his girlfriend to stay over. Do you give it?
First, I’d be happy he asked. It shows respect for me and my house, which is cool, and if I said no, I think that means he’d abide by my decision instead of trying to sneak her in under the radar and risk disappointing me. (Or, he’s been sneaking her in for a while and finally feels some guilt about it…) While he’s nineteen and technically an adult, I’d rather know where he is and who he’s with than be up wondering why he isn’t home yet and what kind of trouble he might be getting into. If that means he has his girlfriend stay over once in a while, I think I’d probably be fine with it, so long as his girlfriend isn’t 17 or younger. I’d also be insisting on birth control, probably in some horribly embarrassing kind of way that only a parent can do.
You are a doctor. You have diagnosed a terminal illness. The family begs you to keep it from the patient. When the patient asks, do you tell him the truth?
If he asks, is it a safe bet that he probably already suspects that’s the case? I can’t see how lying to the guy would help the whole family cope with the news in the long run. I’d try to encourage them all to be open with each other and deal with the reality of the upcoming loss rather than pretend it’s not going to happen. They wouldn’t be giving their dad/grandfather/brother much credit. No doubt he’d notice a change in their behaviour towards him and know something was up. Also, how long does he have? If it’s a death that treatment could stave off for a few months, wouldn’t he want to know that option’s available sooner rather than later? At least give the whole family some time to consider the pros and cons of that.
Or, possibly the family just wants the news to come from loved ones instead of a complete stranger. Maybe they don’t intend to hide the truth from him at all, just choose the way they share it with him. In that case, I think I would have to respect their decision.
I leave the fourth open to readers:
The only available spot in the parking lot is reserved for the handicapped. You are in a hurry and won’t be very long. Do you park there?