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Section Three Ethics Problems From Thiroux and Krasnow’s Ethics: Theory and Practice 11th Edition

Section Three Ethics Problems

From Thiroux and Krasnow’s Ethics: Theory and Practice 11th Edition

Choose ONE of the following Ethics Problems and answer it to the very best of your ability. These questions are fairly complex, and will require a
minimum of 4
full pages (double spaced, not including the title/header) pages to answer completely.

Chapter 9 – Is suicide always wrong? The suicide of Admiral Nimitz

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Jr. was the son and namesake of the famous WWII naval hero Chester Nimitz. Admiral Nimitz Sr. was victorious in the historic battle of Midway. In this battle, his naval pilots sunk four of the aircraft carriers that led the attack on Pearl Harbor and effectively eliminated Japanese naval power as a major factor in the war.

Admiral Nimitz Jr. was also a hero, as a submarine commander. Tragically, his name made headlines years later when he and his wife ended their lives in a double suicide. Reportedly, the admiral’s final statement read:

Our decision was made over a considerable period of time and was not carried out in acute depression. Nor is it the expression of mental illness. We have consciously, rationally, deliberately and of our own free will taken measures to end our lives today because of the physical limitations on our quality of life placed upon us by age, failing vision, osteoporosis, back and painful orthopedic problems.[footnoteRef:1] [1: Buchanon, Patrick j. “The Sad Suicide of Admiral Nimitz,” World Net Daily January 18, 2002.]

He was 86 and his wife was 89 when they ended their lives with an overdose of sleeping pills.

The Nimitz’s had made it known at least a decade earlier that when the time came they would control their final days. The Admiral was in constant pain, had lost 30 pounds due to gastrointestinal complications, and was suffering from congestive heart disease. He could no longer drive, and his vision was failing. Nimitz’s wife was blind, and had no desire to live alone.

It is reported that neither believed in God or an afterlife, and they had no religious affiliation.

Does old age make suicide ethical? Was Admiral Nimitz justified in his decision to end his own life? Is suicide always wrong? Provide reasons for your point of view.

Chapter 10 – Did Medical Personnel Kill Patients in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

Were dozens of patent’s deaths the result of mercy killings at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center? The ferocious hurricane, plus poor responses from city, state, and FEMA officials led to a disastrous evacuation of the medical facility. According to one news source, “By the third day without water, sanitation and power to run medical equipment; dwindling food supplies; and temperatures reaching 110 degrees, caregivers began debating among themselves about euthanasia.”[footnoteRef:2] The hospital was surrounded by flood waters, and many of the patients and staff were evacuated by helicopter or boat. The sickest patients were left behind with staff who planned to stay until help arrived. But help as not forthcoming, and those in the hospital were on their own. It has been alleged that doctors and nurses administered lethal doses of medication to up to 34 people in the aftermath of Katrina. Legally, this is second degree murder. [2: “Euthanasia in Katrina aftermath?” World Net Daily, October 13, 2005.]

What should be done in cases of forced abandonment? What obligations do doctors have to patients? If indeed these were mercy killings, given the circumstances, did the doctors and nurse act compassionately or did they kill their patients? Review the sections on mercy death and mercy killing, and do an internet search on the Katrina situation. Take a position on this issues, have reasons to support your views, and discuss.

Chapter 11 – Fictional counterexamples and Abortion

Philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson (1929- ) has created three fictitious counterexamples in order to provide moral justification for and help us think about abortion in cases of rape, danger to the mother’s health, and failed birth control.[footnoteRef:3] For the sake of argument, Thompson is willing to concede that the fetus is, in fact, an innocent human being with a right to life. Research her counterexamples of the concert violinist, the big baby, and people seeds. Discuss the structure of the arguments and whether Thompson has made her case. [3: Judith Jarvis Thompson, “A Defense of Abortion” Philosophy and Public Affairs 1, no. 1 (Fall, 1971; 47-66]

Chapter 12 – Bullying – Cheating, Kinda Cheating, Collaboration, or Creative Ethical Problem


Maggie stares at the clock. She has been working on the same math problem for over one-half hour and cannot solve it. She
must pass this test. Although mathematics is not her strongest subject, she has studied hard for this exam and knows all the formulas. Right now she is suffering from math and test-taking anxiety because she can’t seem to solve this high value problem.

She is sitting next to her friend Rod. She likes Rod, he laughs at all her jokes and makes her feel good,
and Rod is good at math. Seated behind Maggie is Stewart, a soccer player who is also good at math and likes Maggie.

Scenario #1: When the teacher turns his back, Maggie leans left tan takes a quick glance at Rod’s test. He is using a different formula on the troublesome problem. Maggie uses the other formula on the problem and is able to solve it correctly showing all her work.

Scenario #2: Maggie is about to lean left and look at Rod’s paper when Stewart, who sensed Maggie’s frustration and looked at her test, Taps her on the shoulder. “Maggie,” he whispers almost loud enough for the professor to hear, “Use the other formula!” Maggie heeds Stewart’s advice and uses a different formula. She is able to solve the problem correctly and show all of her work.

Did Maggie cheat? Or, was this acceptable collaboration or even creative problem solving? In both scenarios, Maggie knew how to use the formula correctly and did all the work herself. Was this just “kinda” cheating? Or, were Maggie’s actions acceptable? Do you see any relevant differences between scenario #1 and scenario #2? What should Maggie have done? What would you have done? Discuss and give reasons to support your answers.

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