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    Someone asked me this a while back and I found it a really interesting question so I thought it might make for a good discussion ytopic

    Say there was an private called Jack, and he had been ordered to rape and murder a prisoner. If he obeyed, he would be doing something disgusting but would have the opportunity to make the prisoner's suffering as minimal as possible. If he refused, the prisoner would suffer the same fate but in a much more violent manner, and he would also be shot for disobeying orders.

    What should Jack do and why? Assume that for the purposes of this experiment, Jack can only take one of the above options and doesn't do something different like shooting both himself and the prisoner.

    I'll try and include my thoughts on this in a different post

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    Assuming I'm Jack...


    I'm more inclined to say option 2 because Jack would probably suffer from psychological or mental trauma if he went forward with option 1 (rape and murder the prisoner)... Provided that he has a conscience.

    Then in a way this is very selfish as I (Jack) would be thinking about myself. (Option 2)

    The prisoner is going to die either way but then that doesn't mean he should die in such a awful way? Erm.
    If Jack is allowed to live after carrying out Option 1 then that guilt will probably stay with him for the rest of his life.

    Doing Option 1 would leave him feeling bad but he would almost be free from that possible guilt if he did Option 2 (letting the prisoner die). If I am going to be shot by letting the others carry out the 'task' then surely all of this is going to end badly anyway?



    Also, why is the prisoner there??


    This is weird, I'm almost arguing with myself. :/
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    (Original post by karmacrunch)
    Assuming I'm Jack...


    I'm more inclined to say option 2 because Jack would probably suffer from psychological or mental trauma if he went forward with option 1 (rape and murder the prisoner)... Provided that he has a conscience.

    Then in a way this is very selfish as I (Jack) would be thinking about myself. (Option 2)
    That's exactly the point, by choosing to preserve your sense of moral integrity, you're actually causing more harm than would be done otherwise. Is that a better goal than to save lives and prevent suffering?

    The prisoner is going to die either way but then that doesn't mean he should die in such a awful way? Erm.
    If Jack is allowed to live after carrying out Option 1 then that guilt will probably stay with him for the rest of his life.

    Doing Option 1 would leave him feeling bad but he would almost be free from that possible guilt if he did Option 2 (letting the prisoner die). If I am going to be shot by letting the others carry out the 'task' then surely all of this is going to end badly anyway?
    I would say that Jack can't be blamed for taking that choice as he was seeking to minimise harm. He was in a situation where both choices would be wrong in a sense and he simply chose the one that involved less suffering for the prisoner.

    Even though the action of rape and torture are fundamentally wrong, I think that Jack himself should be considered blameless. What he did would be wrong, but he wasn't wrong to do it. Can you blame him for doing the best he can?

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    (Original post by Arithmeticae)
    That's exactly the point, by choosing to preserve your sense of moral integrity, you're actually causing more harm than would be done otherwise. Is that a better goal than to save lives and prevent suffering?



    I would say that Jack can't be blamed for taking that choice as he was seeking to minimise harm. He was in a situation where both choices would be wrong in a sense and he simply chose the one that involved less suffering for the prisoner.

    Even though the action of rape and torture are fundamentally wrong, I think that Jack himself should be considered blameless. What he did would be wrong, but he wasn't wrong to do it. Can you blame him for doing the best he can?

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    But then the prisoner is going to die anyway? So him suffering in the last few moments might not change much...That sounds really bad but in a way it's true. However, if Jack goes with Option 2 he'll probably get shot. Which means that's 2 unnecessary deaths rather than just one. :/


    "Jack himself should be considered blameless."-> it depends, why is he in this situation in the first place? Is it really the best? Who are we prioritising?

    I understand your point about minimising pain for the prisoner though.

    Why is the prisoner there? Context?
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    Oh come on, option two. You've got to follow your own code in life, and if that code doesn't include "no rape", you're a pretty ****ed up person. If you're a general, you can't say you have no power in the situation, you have a senior rank, men at your command.
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    I'm going to answer in as short a way as possible.

    You entered possible doubt about whether something is very likely to happen throughout.

    When you said 'the prisoner would PROBABLY suffer the same fate' ('probably' in itself need only mean, at the very least. a tiny bit over 50% likely).

    Nothing is certain in such circumstances where something doesn't carry the full weight of universally recognisable moral, governmental, law- and the army general himself would/should recognise that. Or , with their clearly debased morality, the army general is not necessarily adverse to bribery / flattery etc anyway.

    'he would also most LIKELY be shot for disobeying orders'. (again, it need only mean, at the very least. a tiny bit over 50% likely).

    Whilst disobeying orders might, in itself, be seen to technically carry the full weight of universally recognisable governmental, law- it wouldn't in a modern world necessarily be regarded as 'moral' that it should be punished by death. The army general himself would/should recognise that. However, to have the law at all that you can shoot someone for this - and not least that the army general is asking you to rape and murder someone- does suggest that what the rest of the world might think will not necessarily be foremost in the army general's mind.

    You can't necessarily reason with people who ask you to do the terrible. Rape and murder someone and you chose to do that to someone and it cannot be turned back. But don't do it and the ball is in the army general's court. They might well have only asked you as a sick sadistic test , eithe not realitsically expecting you to do it or getting a sick thrill that you did do it anyway. Either way, your life is not necessarily safe regardless of the promise that they made - whether from the army general or from anyone known to the victim. And you will die a rapist and murderer regardless. So for goodness sake you must not do what the army general told you to do. You are not responsible for mere words spouting what they intend to happen if you don't do a certain despicable action. And your own safety shouldn't even come in to it at all. You don't have carte blanche to rape and murder someone. Unless the prisoner freely agrees for you to do it but they would be a fool to do so and you would be taking advantage of that with nothing guaranteeing your own safety after it anyway.
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    Depends on what the prisoners done to be a prisoner
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    It depends on how much mental distress Jack will go through - if he chooses Option 1, then the net suffering might actually increase over time. If he chooses Option 2, there won't be any mental anguish in the long-term as Jack will be dead, although the person who exacts the "same fate" may go through just as much mental anguish, plus the suffering will be worse on the part of the prisoner.

    I'm slightly more inclined to say Option 1, but it is an extremely difficult problem for a utilitarian such as myself.
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    Bump for relevance to 'Rape in some circumstances is understandable?' thread.

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    Since the other thread seems to be dead, I'll copy and paste the dilemma here. What would you guys do in this situation and why?

    (Original post by Arithmeticae)
    Say there was an private called Jack, and he had been ordered to rape and murder a prisoner. If he obeyed, he would be doing something disgusting but would have the opportunity to make the prisoner's suffering as minimal as possible. If he refused, the prisoner would suffer the same fate but in a much more violent manner, and he would also be shot for disobeying orders.

    What should Jack do and why? Assume that for the purposes of this experiment, Jack can only take one of the above options and doesn't do something different like shooting both himself and the prisoner.
    I'll try and include my thoughts on this in a different post

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    Thank goodness such polarised, black-and-white situations never happen in real life.
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    Option 1. It reduces the total suffering for both parties (if someone is siffering so much that they would rather be dead then they can always commit suicide, so Jacks mental issues won't be as bad as death). Also the action is morally justifyable as he was comelled to do it, under threat of death.
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    Under the law of armed conflict it is illegal to give an order to commit a war crime (torture, rape, execution)

    It is also illegal to obey an order to commit a war crime.

    So Private Jack has these 2 choices, if he obeys the order his is a war criminal, he has no defence what so ever in court and will be punished if caught. On top of this even if he is never caught he will have to live with his crime to the day he dies and if you believe in the pearly gates; atone in the afterlife.

    If he refuses to obey the order he will be killed. But he will have a clean conscience, it will be known among the unit what has happened increasing the chance that his murderer will be held to account post conflict. It will also mean 'if' the story gets out private jack will likely be proclaimed a hero of human decency, posthumourous awards, pride for his family.

    even if the story never gets out and he dies there and is forgotten, in his last moment he can hold his head high with pride and will have instantly developed a sibling bond with his would be victim, he will die with honour.

    Its all about an individuals moral compass, its not easy to be an honourable person that is why it is traditionally an admired attribute.
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    Ultimate goal must be to minimize harm caused. Based on this, when there is choice between multiple possible actions one which causes minimal harm to all involved parties must be the optimal action, since it is clear that option 2 causes more harm to both Jack (execution) and prisoner (same fate in more violent fashion); Jack should go forward with option 1.
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    It's a no brainer really, self preservation kicks in and you do it to save your own skin. Beyond that, if you want to look at it from an ethical standpoint, if the threat made for option 2 is genuine then, again, option 1 is a no brainer.
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    (Original post by Arithmeticae)
    Someone asked me this a while back and I found it a really interesting question so I thought it might make for a good discussion ytopic

    Say there was an private called Jack, and he had been ordered to rape and murder a prisoner. If he obeyed, he would be doing something disgusting but would have the opportunity to make the prisoner's suffering as minimal as possible. If he refused, the prisoner would suffer the same fate but in a much more violent manner, and he would also be shot for disobeying orders.

    What should Jack do and why? Assume that for the purposes of this experiment, Jack can only take one of the above options and doesn't do something different like shooting both himself and the prisoner.

    I'll try and include my thoughts on this in a different post

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    Minimise net harm. Option 1. Taking option 2 is equivalent to causing the prisoner excess and unnecessary suffering under the constraints of this thought experiment. It's not even justifiable on an emotional basis, never mind a logical one.

    I don't really find this that interesting, but maybe someone has a good argument for Option 2 that I'm not seeing.
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    Dear God I hope none of you ever join Britain's Armed Forces, obey that order and you have no defence no protection, legal or moral, you are a rapist and war criminal, HOWEVER you try to justify it, you are in the wrong.
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    (Original post by bubadeeboop)
    Dear God I hope none of you ever join Britain's Armed Forces, obey that order and you have no defence no protection, legal or moral, you are a rapist and war criminal, HOWEVER you try to justify it, you are in the wrong.
    I would rather be a war criminal than dead.
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    (Original post by Jammy Duel)
    I would rather be a war criminal than dead.
    everyone dies one day.
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    (Original post by bubadeeboop)
    Dear God I hope none of you ever join Britain's Armed Forces, obey that order and you have no defence no protection, legal or moral, you are a rapist and war criminal, HOWEVER you try to justify it, you are in the wrong.
    In the British army you don't get executed for not following orders. If you commit a crime under threat of death then you are not guilty, this defence was even permitted when trying nazis and soldiers just after ww2.
 
 
 
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