View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A choice

Two people are on a plane flying during a thunderstorm.

A bolt of lightning hits the plane, killing the engine and damaging the steering controls.

The plane is spiraling down. There’s a good chance both passengers will die.

There is one parachute.

One of the passengers picks up a wrench and hits the other over the head, killing him.

The passenger then puts on the parachute and jumps.

It was a choice to save the life of one of them, right?


Blogger Patrick said...


An intrinsically immoral act purposefully done (e.g. killing an innocent person) cannot be made moral by any intent.

Are you going to ask next how this differs from simply taking the parachute and jumping (without killing the other first)? Or are you planning to make this an allegory of something else?

Also, note that according to the teaching of the Church (as I understand it), intentional killing is not intrinsically wrong (though the few cases in which it is licit are very special cases), but intentionally killing the innocent is per se intrinsically wrong.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Patrick - fair analysis. Yes, it is about something else - abortion, and the questionable position that it should be permitted to save the life of the mother.

6:22 PM  
Blogger LAmom said...

Are you talking about it being permitted in a religious sense or are you talking about what should be allowed by law? Do you think the law should allow for a person to do whatever it takes in the interest of self-preservation?

1:26 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

The person in the story was morally culpable for taking the life of the other person in order to save his own life.

In the same way, I think it is morally wrong to deliberately take the life of the baby to save the mother. Doctor's should try to save both.

There are cases in which the mother is ill and the treatment takes the life of the baby. In that case - one in which the baby's death was not the aim, but an unintended side effect - there is no moral (or legal) culpability.

I do not believe abortion should be legal to "save the life of the mother." So i am talking here about both the religious and the legal sense.

8:30 PM  
Blogger LAmom said...

So there would not be the same culpability if the person simply grabbed the parachute before the other person could get it and then bailed. In which case the death of the other is an undesired side effect.

Clearly in the case of a pregnant woman who faces a life-threatening illness, she will always be able to seek whatever treatment is available to save her. The baby won't try to stop her.

But getting back to the airplane, what if the other person is trying to stop me from getting the parachute because they want it, too? Should I be permitted to fight them for it, and do whatever seems to be necessary to subdue them in order to get the parachute?

11:32 AM  

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