Task: In this assignment, you will consider one of the following


In this assignment, you will consider one of the following dilemmas (you only need to choose one). Write a very short response paper (300 words maximum) describing what choice you would make and why. In the response you need to:

  1.  Describe how this situation presents a moral dilemma.
  2.  Identify the moral principles that are in conflict in this situation.
  3.  Present arguments for how the dilemma might be resolved.

Assessment criteria:

Your responses will be graded holistically out of 15 possible points, using the following grading rubric:

 20 pointsAccurate explains how the situation presents a moral dilemma, identifies the moral principles in conflict, and presents a considered resolution to the conflict.15 pointsExplain how the situation presents a moral dilemma with some inaccuracies, fails to identify the moral principles, and does not present a considered resolution. 10 pointsWrites something.0 pointsPosts nothing.

Moral dilemmas:

  • The overcrowded lifeboat: A large passenger ship crashes at sea and only one lifeboat is available to rescue the survivors. This lifeboat has a maximum capacity of 15 people, but there are 30 survivors. Attempting to save them all, the captain and his mates load everyone into the boat. Unfortunately, as they are attempting to return to land a storm approaches. The waves begin to pick up and the captain is aware that unless he lightens the load on the boat, it will sink. He faces the following dilemma: Do I order some of the passengers on the boat off (these people will surely die) or do I allow the storm to overtake all of the passengers? Is there any fair way to choose who will be saved and who will perish? Is it better to allow all to die or force some to die in order that others will live?
  • A terrorist plot: The military becomes aware of a sophisticated terrorist plot where individuals in a city will undertake a massive action. The action is complex and requires these terrorists to move about the city frequently, coordinating plans, planting explosives, and setting up ambushes. The individuals have not been identified, but their plans could possibly be thwarted if the police implemented a severe form of martial law, requiring regular checkpoints for moving about the city, strict curfews, and random searches of people in cars or on the street. In short, the police are contemplating severely disrupting normal life and freedom of movement to potentially thwart a terrorist plot. This practice would have to be implemented for an unspecified period of time and is not guaranteed success. Should such extreme measures be taken?
  • Change final exam answers or fail: It is finals week and you have already passed all your other classes. You have one final left to take. If you can pass this class, you will be able to graduate. You have been struggling in this class all semester, your grade is low, but if you pass the final you will at least make a passing grade. With your final just a few days away, you get a call that your parent is in the hospital, nothing life threatening. You decide to go and be with your parent’s side at the hospital anyways. You try to study, but the stress of the situation and all the distractions prevent you from concentrating. You email your instructor and let him/her know your parent was in the hospital and see if you can take your final a few days later. He/she informs you that there is no extension for taking the final. The day of your final, you are very nervous, with not enough  studying, and you are cramming trying to remember everything. But just as you are about to hand in your exam sheet, you see that the professor has dropped an answer sheet on the floor with all of the correct answers. You have never cheated in your life, and you know that if you get caught you will automatically fail. But you also think it’s unlikely you will pass without some help. Would you take your chances and take the test with very little studying? Would you try and cheat, knowing the consequences if you get caught? [written by Sierra Moseley, Spring 2019]


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