Episode 1 – Consequences
Interviewees Peter Singer and Caroline West explore consequentialism and ask would you, could you, kill to save others?
This episode focusses on the concept of consequences as a means by which we can make ethical judgements. It considers the extent to which conscience guides our ethical decision-making, and the ‘gut-feel’ consequentialism of doing the most good for the many. Through thought experiments (the trolley problem) it critiques simple consequentialism and explores the implications of a strictly consequentialist ethical view.
Links to Ethical Capability
• Explore the extent of ethical obligation and the implications for thinking about consequences and duties in decision-making and action (VCECD017)
• Discuss the role of context and experience in ethical decision-making and actions (VCECD018)
• Discuss issues raised by thinking about consequences and duties, in approaches to decision-making and action, and arguments for and against these approaches (VCECD022)
• Investigate how different factors involved in ethical decision-making can be managed by people and groups (VCECD023)
Personal and Social Capability
VCE Legal Studies Unit 2
HSC Legal Studies
HSC Society and Culture
Questions and discussion points
- How reliable is our conscience as a means of making good ethical decisions?
- Is it always ethically justified that we should kill one person to save five? How would your decision change if it was killing a friend (or family member) to save five strangers?
- If a good act is one which causes the most good for the most people, would I sometimes be ethically obliged to act against my own self-interests (ie: to wrong myself to benefit others)?