A Moral Dilemma

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In my Gender and Communication class, the class was given an ethical problem, and asked to choose the course of action -- in a small European town, a person's spouse is dying, and a certain druggist (who has invented a cure) won't sell that cure for anything less than ten times his cost to create it. The individual gathers about half that, but the druggist still won't sell the cure on a consignment basis. Should the individual steal the drug (and risk going to jail, leaving the spouse alone), or not?

Historically, there had been a gender-split where most females said "Not," and most males said "Should." I considered this, and proposed a project for my project group of revising the original to get rid of the established genders and see what happened. What happened, while the sample wasn't really big enough, is that the responses turned fifty-fifty steal / don't steal for each gender.

What does this mean? That females aren't necessarily more ethical than males -- we were just identifying with the spouse (originally "the wife"), and knowing that we wouldn't want our husband to risk getting caught and being taken away! If a female empathized with the "individual" (easier to do than empathizing with "the husband"), she often had the sense of "having to do something" and therefore urged the theft (often leaving money behind). When males have a chance to empathize with the dying spouse, they sometimes do so, saying that the individual should not steal the drug!

If anyone wants to go do this project for themselves, I'd be interested in the results.

And then there's Moonfur's solution... (Sketched because I was frustrated with the problem.)

One of my other solutions was that the wife should go and look sick on the druggist's doorstep. Guilt should never be underrated.