OA and OB but -C(A+B)

In other words, you ought to save Twin A and you ought to save Twin B but you do not have the capacity to save A and B together.20 In prohibition dilemmas in which all feasible options are prohibited by one or more moral principles, the equation would have a similar structure but look a little different, with N not and C can only do:

ONA and ONB but C(A or B)

Many moral philosophers feel that the actual complexity of moral dilemmas is overblown. Philippa Foot insists that the extremity of a dilemma lies in the intensity of its residue and pain, rather than in the technical difficulty of the choice itself. In most cases, a right choice can be made and justified while also acknowledging the inevitable loss and being conscious that it is a terrible choice to make. A person would be right to save one twin. A doctor would be right to triage in extremis. An agency would be right to focus on one district. And everyone involved in these choices would be right to feel sadness but not necessarily guilt at the badness of the situation. "So acting for the best in a moral dilemma, while it can entail sorrow, and in serious cases even horror, does not, if we have no doubts about the rightness of the action, make a place for regret but only explanation.”21 Foot suggests that there is no "inescapable wrongness"22 in the choice you make and so no need to feel guilty unless you have deliberately brought about the situation yourself. In an obligation dilemma like the twins, the sadness comes not from doing the wrong thing but from the tragedy that in doing one good thing you could not do both things.

This chapter has looked at the basic structure of various moral choices that typically present themselves in humanitarian work. The next chapter looks at how we understand individual and agency responsibility in making these choices.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >