Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Leader Resource 2: Responsibility Dilemmas

Part of Virtue Ethics

Dilemma 1

Are scientists and inventors responsible for the uses of their creations? Hilda is a scientist in a lab that sometimes accepts contracts from outside companies. While working to discover a cure for a disease, Hilda accidentally discovers a biological agent that could be very destructive in the wrong hands. Because Hilda is working under contract to Mass Destruct, Inc., the patent for the new agent belongs to them. Mass Destruct, Inc. could produce the agent and sell it to any nation or person they wish. They decide to sell the agent to the highest bidder, a country called Peaceful Land. Peaceful Land is attacked, without provocation, by Angry Land. In defense, Peaceful Land uses the agent against Angry Land, and kills thousands. Who is responsible for the deaths? Peaceful Land, for using the agent? Angry Land, for starting the war? Mass Destruct, Inc. for selling the agent? Hilda, for creating the agent?

Dilemma 2

A website was recently created that featured ugly remarks about some of the students and teachers at Learning High. Gary overheard some guys talking in the hallway and consequently knows who created the anonymous website. Everyone at school is talking about who might have posted the remarks. The principal purchases software that tells him everyone who visited the website. If the creators do not come forward, she will question every student who visited the website, in the presence of their family. What should Gary do? Does he have a responsibility to tell what he knows? If he takes responsibility, he could help the principal address the problem more efficiently, saving the principal some work and saving other students from embarrassment. Or should he let the principal take care of it her way?