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Making Mortal ChoicesThree Exercises in Moral Casuistry$
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Hugo Adam Bedau

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195108774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195108774.001.0001

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Jim and the Indians in the Jungle Clearing

Jim and the Indians in the Jungle Clearing

Chapter:
(p.69) Three Jim and the Indians in the Jungle Clearing (p.70)
Source:
Making Mortal Choices
Author(s):

Hugo Adam Bedau

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195108774.003.0003

This chapter discusses a fictional case meant to show problems with utilitarianism: Jim comes upon a group of Indians held at gunpoint by soldiers, who plan to kill them to set an example. Jim is given a choice: kill one Indian and the others will live, or refuse, and all will be killed. The author notes that the utilitarian response to such a situation is not obvious; he concludes that the utilitarian could not easily provide Jim with useful advice. Pointing out that if Jim shoots a hostage he is not only killing him, but also committing murder, he notes that here, unlike the cases in the first two chapters, no one need die if certain people act the right way. After discussing principles like maximizing net benefits, rule utilitarianism, choosing the lesser evil, and the doctrine of double effect, he ultimately accepts that he has no solution.

Keywords:   utilitarianism, net benefits, rule utilitarianism, lesser evil, double effect

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