The Fat Man And Impending Doom

A fat man is leading a group of people out of a cave on the coast; he gets stuck in the mouth of the cave.  High tide is approaching and unless the fat man is unstuck, everyone inside the cave will drown except for the fat man because his head is outside of the cave.  Unfortunately or fortunately, someone is carrying a stick of dynamite with them.  They have tried every way possible to get the fat man loose, and they come to the realization that the only way to get him loose is to use the stick of dynamite which will definitely kill him.  If they do not use this stick of dynamite, the entire group, except for the fat man, will drown in the cave.  What should they do in this dilemma?  This issue becomes more acute is a pregnant women is substituted for the fat man.  Does this change what should be done?

An Insensitive Observer

A man is out for a Sunday walk along the beach.  During this walk, he passes a pier and notices a boy who appears to have fallen into the ocean.  The boy is unable to swim and is screaming for help.  The man on his walk, a capable swimmer, sees that the situation poses no danger to himself; he could easily save the boy if he tried.  However, the man ignores the boys cries for help and continues on his walk.  The man reasons that he does not want to get his nice clothing wet, nor does he want to catch a cold from the ocean water.  Does the man have a moral obligation to save this boy?  If so, should he also have a legal obligation, Good Sumaritan law?

The Overcrowded Lifeboat

In 1842, a ship struck an iceberg; more than 30 survivors crowded into a lifeboat that was only intended to hold a maximum of 7 people.  A storm approached, and it soon became clear that the lifeboat would need less weight in it in order for anyone to survive.  The captain of the ship decided that some people would need to be forced overboard to drown.  He reasoned that these individuals would have drown, had he not forced them to do this anyways.  If the captain had done nothing in this situation, then he would be responsible for the deaths of the people that he could have saved.  Some people obviously disagreed with the captain’s decision.  They argued that if nothing was done that everyone would have died, and that no one would be responsible for these deaths.  The only way that the captain could attempt to save the lives of some was by killing others, deaths that he would be responsible for.  The captain proceeded to reject this reasoning.  In order to row back to shore, the captain knew that the strongest of the group would be required.  This led him to conclude that the weakest should be throw overboard and that drawing sticks to see who lived or died was an absurb idea.  After days of hard rowing, the survivors were rescued, and the captain was tried for his actions.  If you were on the jury for this trial, how would you have found the captain in this moral dilemma?