How do you judge what makes a certain action moral? Do you feel that morality is determined by universal rules (either determined by a deity or by general agreement) or do you feel that it is more important to consider the consequences of a decision and its affect on the greater good depending on the details of the situation?
For example, would you be willing to kill one person to save two, or ten, or a million? Most of us are probably familiar with scenarios that ask if you would be willing to pull a switch to divert a train from a track with two people on it to one with only one person. How you respond to questions like this says much about your views on morality and life in general. I think it is valuable to analyze situations like this, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. It's especially relevant to people who have escaped from the Watchtower Society where we have often been asked to do things because God or the organization says so, even though it can lead to great harm (or avoid things that could result in a lot of good).
I will present a scenario and a question that will be easy for some to answer, but will be a troubling moral dilemma for others. Then I will present an additional scenario for those who say yes and for those who say no that may be more difficult. Scenario #1: Assume that you are a doctor. You have two patients that are brothers. One needs a heart transplant. If he can get one soon, he will probably recover fully and lead a normal life. It's very unlikely that a compatible heart will become available before he dies. His brother has a terminal illness. He may live another year or two, but it will be very painful for him. He doesn't have enough strength or coordination to commit suicide. He is a compatible donor for his brother. He asks you to give him a lethal injection and give his heart to his brother and his other organs to whoever may need them. Assume that this would be completely legal in your country, but no other doctors are willing to do this. Would you be willing to end one life to save another? Scenario #2: If you said no to #1, how would you respond to this situation? You have a patient and discover that he has two terminal illnesses. One is easily treatable, but will result in a mostly painless death in less than a month if left untreated. The other illness is untreatable, but will be unlikely to display any symptoms for about five years. It will then progress rapidly causing a great amount of pain and loss of mobility and then death. You explain the situation to the patient and ask him to consent to the treatment that will extend his life for about five years. He says he really wants the extra five years to get his affairs in order and to make sure that his children are taken care of properly. However, he is absolutely terrified of dying painfully from the second illness. He says that he will consent to the treatment only if you will personally assure him that you will give him a lethal injection when he starts showing symptoms. (Assume again that this would be completely legal in your country, but no other doctors are willing to do this.) Would you let him die now, or agree to kill him to extend his life? If you agree to kill him later, would you be telling the truth? Assume you are confident that you can manage his pain effectively with new drugs. If you aren't willing to actually kill him, would you be willing to lie to him in order to extend his life? Scenario #3: If you said yes to #1, how would you respond to this situation? Two patients lie dying in the same room. One needs a new heart, the other a new liver. If either one receives a transplant, then it's likely that he will recover and have a normal life expectancy. The window of opportunity for both is about a week. Otherwise, they can expect to die within a year. You have become famous for killing one patient to save another in Scenario #1. They discover that they each have a healthy organ that can save the other's life. However, neither is willing to make that sacrifice. They propose a different solution. They are both willing to sign a contract that would have them restrained in their beds and connected to a device that can deliver a lethal injection at the press of a button. They would ask you to flip a coin. You would then push the button on the loser's machine and have the other prepped for surgery. (Assume again that this would be completely legal in your country, but no other doctors are willing to do this.) Would you agree to this? Remember that this would involve killing someone who doesn't want to die and might even be struggling to prevent it. I look forward to your comments.