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Ethics is contextual?

There is no use or no meaning of learning introduction to ethics class unless the students apply the acquired knowledge to solve ethical dilemmas. Maybe for that reason, lecturer focused on applying the learnt knowledge to solve ethical dilemmas. In order to display how we use learned knowledge we are given the task of coping with a dilemma given as an exercise. Question is as follows: You say: “I would never touch a weapon to kill another human being.”

“Your friend says: “But if you could save 100 innocent children’s lives by picking up a gun to kill one deranged and evil person, would you shoot to kill?”

My immediate response is yes, I would. But in second thought, there are number of conditions to consider. Firstly, how do we compare the value of lives of human beings? Is there any criteria to say someone’s life if less worth living than somebody else’s life? Well, the question gives us two important definitions: lives of children and evil person. In the question the word “children” appears to force us to use gun to kill a man. But in previous classes in one of the discussions in tutorial class there was an argument which says abortion is permissible in cases when the health condition of the mother is not good because the life of the mother is more valuable than the child. But now I see the opposite situation.

Another, interesting question is how to identify an evil person. Although, generally there is no difficulty in identifying evil in people, we should be careful to categorize someone as evil. Because, for some other group of people with different understanding, the same person could be an exemplary individual. For instance, there are thousands of people who see Osama Bin laden as a great freedom warrior. After these considerations I am still confused whether it is ethical to kill a human to save other human beings. But I conclusively can state that ethics is contextual. There are always conditions which may affect or even change our decisions. Having said this, I might have been very extreme in my thought and decision makings, I can say that the lesson for myself is we have to take different aspects of the issue into consideration while taking decisions.

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