The Joys of Brainstorming During Ethics Homework

I have just discovered a wonderful ethical dilemma.

A man is hiding in your closet, and another man is standing before you in the doorway. You know that each wants to kill the other, and you suspect both are evil, but you don’t know for sure. Man number one, standing in the doorway demands to know if the other guy is in the closet. If you reply in the affirmative, he will shoot the man hiding in the closet. If you deny that man number two is hiding in the closet, he will pop out and shoot the blighter standing in the doorway.

Now, both men could be equally evil, one could be slightly eviler than the other, or one could be the evil train robber and the other a hero mounted atop a white horse. (Aside from the complete absence of handy monochromatic hats and/or quadruped transportation, that is) You just don’t know.

Assuming that it’s a binary situation, what is the best ethical choice?

In retrospect, I’m probably I’m the last person on the planet to come up with this situation, but it still amuses me.


5 Responses to “The Joys of Brainstorming During Ethics Homework”

  1. 1 Christina February 25, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Is it ethical to have a lackey pointing a gun at the closet while you threaten the guy in the doorway with your own gun and the dynamite that you have centered around your threshold?

    It’s your house, you should make *that* the subject of controversy.

  2. 2 dave February 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    I would yell YES very loudly, for a few reasons:

    1) I don’t like lying.
    2) Who hides in a closet?
    3) If I yell loud enough, I’d give the closet-hider a bit of a warning, so perhaps they’d have a shoot out.

    When it comes down to it, it’s not my fight (I assume). If I lied and the situation turned sour, I could never live with myself.

  3. 3 Ben Leggett February 25, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Duck, and hope that they shoot each other.

  4. 4 Joanna February 26, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    This sounds very Wodehouse-ish.
    Question: Why can’t they BOTH be heroes on white horses. Maybe they’re fighting over the girl.
    I agree with Christina.
    You should move your hand over the speed-dialer and threaten to call the cops if the guy doesn’t clear out. The guy in the closet will hear and run for it.
    Are you hiding this guy in the closet?

  5. 5 Brett April 4, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Sounds fun, I’ll have to try it. 😀

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