Would you all be offended if I said that I was greatly amused at the answers?? Not because they were way off-base (they weren't!!), but because we are such girls! (Well, all except Paul, and I'll get to him later!) I intended this to be merely a technical scenario, and not one in which we would wonder how we would actually "feel" (although I did use the word "horrified" to indicate that you did not intend to harm her), or what our instincts would be ("I swerve even for squirrels, gophers and cats!"), or what other little details we would add (air bags, a billion kids in the back, auto-eject seats). But I really love that most of you "went there" and made it very personal! And fun! You guys rock, and I would drive on a steep mountain road with you anytime! (Well, maybe not....)
Okay, here is the question again:
You are driving up a narrow two-lane road which winds steeply around a tall mountain. There are no other cars on the road, and you are going the speed limit on a clear day. As you come around yet another tight bend, you notice a young woman standing in the middle of the road. You are horrified! You cannot brake quickly enough to avoid hitting her, but you do have time to make a decision. You can choose to swerve to your right and face severe injury or death as you fly off the cliff; you can choose to swerve to the left and face severe injury or death by slamming into the side of the mountain; or, you can choose to go forward, which will mean certain death for the innocent young woman.
Morally, what option(s) may you choose, and why?
Here is the answer:
Morally, you may choose any of the three options. I purposely made swerving to the left or to the right equally dangerous (serious injury or death either way) so that you wouldn't be confused. But clearly, for most of you, slamming into a mountain of rock is the better way to go than flying off a cliff like Thelma and Louise. Those options are morally okay because you may legitimately choose to sacrifice your own life for the life of another.
However, the third option is open to you as well. Hitting the young woman would be a moral choice in this scenario under the principle of double effect.
Here's why: The action you would be performing (i.e., continuing to drive legally on a mountain road) is moral (unlike shooting someone in the head, as in our previous scenario). You foresee the death of the woman if you keep driving, but you do not will her death; you don't want to hit her or harm her in any way. The woman's death is foreseen but unintended. And, the effects of your act are proportionate: The good effect of staying on the road is that you stay alive; the bad effect is that the woman does not stay alive. The effects are equivalent or nearly equivalent.
I gotta tell ya, if it's me on that mountain road, that woman is toast. What is she doing standing in the middle of the road anyway??? Sheesh.
Okay, it's time for the most coveted, most anticipated BUBBLE AWARDS!!!
You know you've been practicing your acceptance speech for months now, and it might be your lucky day....
The Saint and Sinner Award goes to.... Sew!! For selflessly plowing into the side of a mountain to save an innocent woman's life, then vowing to hunt down and beat the woman if she's still alive to do it.
The Good Citizen Award goes to.... Chewspam!! For rear-ending a vehicle with an Obama sticker on the trunk! (I'm sorry... I couldn't help it.)
The Shamelessly Trying to Win A Bubble Award By Using Mountaintop Yoga Humor Award goes to... Lisa!! What, do you think I'm that easily manipulated?
The Wouldn't Throwing the Car Into Neutral Just Make You Roll Off the Mountain Backwards? Award goes to... Liesl!! Who had a unique but implausible idea, much like Marcy and Walter (who somehow believe they can speed dial 911 faster than they can apply the brakes)!
Now, MANY of you got the right answer, but only ONE of you came up with the magical words: "principle of double effect"! I could not be more impressed with the smartest ex-Catholic I have ever known. That's right... Paul Rimmer, by brilliantly explaining the principle that you explicitly reject, you have won the...
GRAND PRIZE BUBBLE AWARD!!!
Which now comes with a lovely, custom-made Bubble Award icon suitable for framing (makes a nice mantlepiece), or for use on your own blog if you are not afraid of being mocked and shunned!
(Mrs. Blondies, I know you were dying for one of these icons, so you can feel free to claim it now, as can any other past Grand Prize Bubble Award winners!! Of course, I will understand if any or all of you choose to forgo this part of the honor. It is optional, if you read the fine print.)
Don't be envious, everyone else! There is always the next Doctrinal Quiz Show! Stay tuned!!