However, Jim is a foreigner and is honored by the captain. Because of this special occasion, Pedro gives Jim the option to shoot and kill one Indian. If Jim accepts, the other nineteen Indians can go free, if not, Pedro will shoot all twenty like intended. The Indians beg Jim to accept the Offer and shoot one of them. Now, Jim is faced with a difficult decision whether to shoot one Indian or let Pedro shoot all of them. What should Jim do? It is not sure what the right course of action is, but four different theories could help him decide.
These theories are: the Divine Command theory, Cultural Relativism, Kantian, and Utilitarianism. In this paper, I will present these four theories and their suggestions for Jims right course of action, the faults in these theories, and how Utilitarianism is morally correct in this case. Jim can use one of the four theories to determine a morally acceptable solution to his dilemma. According to the Divine Command theory, an action is morally right if, and only if, it is permitted by God’s commands. Therefore, we behave morally and rightly when we do what God wants us to do.
As a result, the Divine Command theory suggests that Jim should ultimately do what God ants him to do, because God’s commands are most important. The story of Jim and the Indians poses a challenge to the Divine Command theory for a few reasons. Firstly, it presupposes that God exists. If Jim doesn’t believe that there is an omnipotent being, then he can’t follow this theory to come to a solution. Secondly, if we assume that God does exist, it presupposes that Jim knows what God’s commands are. This can be challenging because Jim might not know what God wants him to do in his dilemma.
God’s command could be “thou shall not kill,” which would lead Jim to refuse the shot. The problem is we don’t know how God wants us to act. The third objection to this theory, which Plato asked in Typhoons, is: ‘is something right because God commands it, or does God command it because it is right? If God does command something because it is already right, then morality is separate from religion. This would make the Divine Command theory untrue and would make it impossible for Jim to come to a solution. For all these reasons, it is unclear what the Divine Command theory would suggest Jim to do.
Another moral theory that Jim could follow is Cultural Relativism, which might seem more structured than the Divine Command theory. Cultural Relativism dates that “right” and “wrong’ are relative to culture. What is right or wrong is socially approved in a given culture and every culture has its determined set of principles. That being the case, morality is a product of culture; it is a representation of culture and social norms. Within a community with strong Cultural Relativism, it might be easy to distinguish what is considered right or wrong.
Cultural Relativism suggests that Jim should choose whether to shoot or not in compliance with what is approved in his society. This is problematic because we don’t know the culture behind Jim, therefore, we don’t know what s socially approved in that culture. The third theory to be mentioned is Kantian. Under Kantian, there are two categorical imperatives. The first categorical imperative states that all moral actions should be held universally and the action can’t be restricted by circumstances. If it can’t be held universally, then the action is not moral.
An example of this would be, “you should not lie. ” This is a moral statement that should be held at all times, no matter what the circumstance is. The second categorical imperative states that we should never treat humanity as a means to some goal or end. This imply means that people have dignity, and the value of a person can’t be the goal of our action. Kantian poses a challenge to Jims case since the first categorical imperative doesn’t give a clear answer to Jim, and the second categorical imperative is contradicting to his situation.
If Jim follows the first categorical imperative, he would have to obey the moral law no matter what his circumstance is. A possible imperative could be, “you should not kill. ” If this is the case, Jim has to refuse the shot to kill the one Indian. The second categorical imperative cannot give Jim a suggestion because it is contradicting o his situation. Jim can’t accept the offer to shoot one Indian because shooting that Indian is the goal of his action, which is to free the remaining nineteen. Not taking the shot leads to the end result of Pedro shooting.
Although Jim isn’t the one killing the Indians, he is indirectly doing so because his action has led to Pedro executing the Indians. Lastly, there is the theory Of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism has the most straightforward method of choosing what is morally right or wrong compared to the other three theories. Acting in accordance to Utilitarianism, one acts in a way that he or he creates more pleasure than pain for everyone affected by the action. This theory states that the morally acceptable actions in life are those that maximize happiness for the collective. Utilitarianism suggests a simple solution for Jim – he ought to shoot the one Indian. This outcome would maximize pleasure because one life will be taken to save nineteen, rather than taking twenty lives. In the case of Jim and the Indians, it is important to do whatever will save the most lives, because that will produce the least amount of pain. There is a clear answer for what Jim should do in regard to Utilitarianism, unlike the other theories mentioned. However, Utilitarianism can be objected and flawed as well, which is what Williams tries to argue in his article.
As Williams mentions, the problem with utilitarianism is that it can deny a person of his or her integrity or own moral beliefs. Even though the answer is definite that Jim ought to shoot the Indian, Utilitarianism cuts out Jims feelings on the situation or the psychological impact of his action. Although the pleasure is maximized for the nineteen survivors, Jim might feel terrible for the one Indian he had to murder. From the four theories, feel he one that is morally correct and most fitting for Jims situation is Utilitarianism.
The Divine Command theory, Cultural Relativism, and Kantian are all too flawed or too ambiguous to give Jim an answer. The Utilitarian answer is the most fair and comprehensible. Jim should shoot one Indian to save the lives of the nineteen others because this creates the outcome with maximum pleasure and happiness. Even though the answer is “simple” for Jim, murdering someone is still traumatic and Utilitarianism doesn’t take these feelings into account. However, it is still the best outcome when trying to follow a moral theory.