Today you will be dealing with three ethical dilemmas that came up in World War II. For each of the ethical dilemmas make sure to do each of the seven steps below.
Step 1.What is the ethical issue or problem?
Step 2.Who are the interested parties?
Step 3.What facts must be considered?
Step 4.What are the values involved?
Step 5.What are your options? List at least three. For each option consider the following questions:
•What are the best-case and worse-case scenarios if you choose this option?
• Will anyone be harmed by this decision? If so, how will they be harmed?
Step 6. Make a decision. Consider the following questions:
• Is the good brought about by your decision outweighed by the potential harm that might be done?
• Will this decision produce the greatest good (or the least amount of harm) for the greatest number of people?
• Are you choosing an option that gives priority to that which boosts the human spirit? Why or why not?
• Are you willing to make your decision a rule, policy, or precedent that you and others in your situation can follow in similar situations in the future?
Step 7. Be prepared to defend your decision.
ETHICAL DILEMMA #1
You are the president of the United States—Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Your country is at total war. Five years ago you signed an international treaty outlawing the use of poisonous gas on the battlefield. Your opponent has also signed this treaty. Now you are losing the war and facing a shortage of conventional weapons and soldiers. Intelligence reports indicate the enemy will be mounting a major offensive against your army in seven days. This greater force will have the advantage in men, vehicles, artillery, and ammunition. Your Army Chief of Staff
informs you that your army could equalize conditions on the battlefield by firing artillery shells loaded with surplus poison gas at the advancing enemy army. What would you do?
ETHICAL DILEMMA #2
You are Chief of Intelligence for OSS (the forerunner of the CIA). Your agents in the field have captured an enemy agent working deep inside your office as a double agent. You suspect that he has vital information about the enemy’s production of a nuclear bomb. The information he could provide about where the bomb is being built may allow you to destroy the factory, saving tens of thousands of lives. He refuses to answer any of your questions. What would you do?
ETHICAL DILEMMA #3
You work for the British Intelligence—MI-6. Your office has secretly cracked the German Enigma code—a program you call Ultra—which allows you to listen in on much of the secret German communication. On November 12, 1940,
you intercept German messages describing Operation Moonlight Sonata—an air raid in great strength for the night of November 14/15, 1940, against the cathedral and industrial city of Coventry. You have only days to act on the information. But anything you do will alert the Germans that you had foreknowledge of the raid—probably from breaking their Enigma code. Germany will then change the code system that will eliminate any future information being retrieved. What would you do?