There is a local bully, Thomas, who has been taunting children as they walk home from school and has been known to create a fearful environment for other children in the neighborhood. One day as he is troubling a group of innocent girls, Willy, a fellow classmate was fed up and punched the bully repeatedly. The bully was badly harmed and taken to hospital to get stitches, his parents are now asking who did this to him.
Questions to the Applicant
1. What should you do?
In this situation, I am in a difficult position because I do not want Willy to get into trouble for standing up for himself, but at the same time his actions were wrong. I would have to encourage Willy to go forward to report what he did. If he refuses, I would tell him that it is my ethical responsibility to report him. However, to seek justice for all the bullied students, and hopefully reduce the penalties Willy may face, I would get every student who has been bullied by Thomas to sign a petition or come forward, so that Thomas may face some consequences for his negative behaviors, and hopefully change his behavior.
2. Is it acceptable for someone to do bad things for a good reason?
No. Sometimes people are put in a difficult situation that may tempt them to respond in an unethical way, for example, a mother stealing to feed her hungry child, but the reality remains that their actions are still unethical. In such situations, I believe the penalty one should receive must reflect their extenuating circumstances, because though their behavior was wrong, their intent was not malicious. Additionally, social services need to be made available, so that good people in bad situations have somewhere to turn so that they never feel like unethical behavior is the only option.
3. What are your thoughts on the philosophy, “one needs to have a taste of your own medicine”?
There are many situations in life in which a wrong-doer learns from experiencing the pain they inflict on others, however, there are many angles to consider. One advantage of this philosophy is that if an individual suffers what they make others endure, they are more likely to realize the extent of their wrongdoing and are less likely to be a repeat offender. However, one disadvantage is that doing wrong to someone who does you wrong does not make it right, and there are some situations in which it is not even possible to do so. For example, some wrong-doers, like dictators, are highly protected and in many cases, there is no way to give them “a taste of their own medicine”. Overall, I think it is wrong to give people a taste of their own medicine, I believe legal avenues should be taken to hold accountable people who do wrong.
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