Guess Who is Coming to Dinner
These discussion boards have been designed to explore controversial philosophical topics. Some of the questions are designed to solicit very personal responses and opinions, and these debates have the potential to become heated. In the act of creating ideas, heat can be a good thing, but not at the expense of hurt feelings or frustration. Remember that the practical aspect pf philosophy asks us to examine and perhaps even change something about ourselves. Hopefully, we will be challenged by others with a different opinion, but we need to remember that a challenge to our beliefs is not a threat. To the contrary, it should be regarded as an opportunity to re-evaluate and understand why we hold these beliefs.
Some important rules to follow:
Give some serious consideration to the topic or scenario before answering; and, then, using the questions below as a guide, write a 75-100 word initial response about the issue being discussed. Next, please take the time to respond to at least two of your classmates.
Immanuel Kant said that lying was, without exception, always wrong and that we have a moral duty to tell the truth. When posed with a dilemma in which we might be tempted to lie, he said we are still obligated to do the right thing, even if we think doing the wrong thing would produce better results.
The traditional example is of a serial murderer showing up at your front door and demanding to know the location of your family so he can kill them. You know full well that you just sent them out the back door, and most people could probably convince themselves that because they do not know the technically “exact” location, saying “I don’t know” would not be telling a lie.
Additionally, you reason that because he is a murderer, you have no real obligation to help him kill your family by telling the truth; so, you lie to him and say, “I don’t know.”
Unable to complete his plans, he leaves and is headed back to the sidewalk—just as your family is coming around the house. And, he kills them all. Had you told the murderer that the family went out the back door, that would have bought them the time they needed to escape as he ran through the house.
According to Kant, you are now responsible for their deaths because you did the wrong thing. Had you done the right thing, even if your family died, it would not have been your fault. Your lie made you morally responsible for their deaths.
Unless being honest would land you in jail, please truthfully discuss the following questions:
A hungry cannibal chieftain looks you over and declares that you will indeed make a fine dinner. Using some of the ideas from our readings, what can you say to the cannibal chieftain to convince him that cooking you would be morally wrong? (Convincing him that you won’t taste good is not enough to keep you out of the cooking pot.)
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