Scruples

Imagine yourself in a room with the only scientist alive who holds the knowledge of a 100% effective cure for all forms of cancer and HIV/AIDS. Also in the room with you is your beloved child and man with a gun. The gunman is in complete control of everyone else and is going to kill one of the other two people and spare your life. He says that you may choose either your child or the scientist’s life to spare, along with your own. You know for sure that the scientist is the only person alive with these cures and no one else knows the secrets that he does. You are 100% sure that the gunman will honor his word and spare whoever you choose. You are not allowed to trade places with the person you choose. Which person would you choose to save?

As a supplement, consider that you are allowed to take the place of the person you choose and be killed instead. Would you sacrifice yourself to save both of the other people?

As a secondary supplement, consider instead that your life will not be spared and that only the gunman and the one person who you choose will survive. Would you choose your child or the scientist?

As a final supplement, consider that the gunman allows only one other person than himself to survive. He leaves the choice to you. Would you choose yourself, your child or the scientist?

Priorities are a funny thing… on a universal, human and individual level. Some answers are obvious. Being forced to make those types of choices would leave a person wishing that they were dead.

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