Weighing Individual Versus Group Rights (Activity)

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Are there situations in which society allows the rights and well-being of the individual to be valued more than than the welfare and safety of a large group of people? What is the ethical reasoning behind this?

In this "flipped classroom" Professor David Rodin presents scenarios and reasoning that allow students to think critically about ethics. For example:

Five people lie critically ill in a hospital and will die if they do not receive immediate organ transplants. The only way to get the organs is to kill an innocent person. Clearly, it is not justifiable to murder one person in order to save five others from death. To do so would be to wrong that person in the most profound way.

Consider now the case of self-defense. One innocent person is attacked by five culpable aggressors. The only way that he can save his own life is to kill the five attackers. The victim here is not only permitted to kill in order to save life, he's permitted to kill five persons in order to save his own one life. Moreover, when he kills the aggressors, although he harms them, he does not wrong them. He does not violate their right not to be killed.

Great for argumentative writing exercises and group discussion. The "flipped classroom" video comes with a transcript and accompanying questions. All of the materials can be found on this page.

Activity
Flipped Classroom
Team-Based Learning
Video
Video Guide
Lesson tags: 
Advanced Placement (AP)
Good for Parents