It instantly made me remember a workshop at university concerning cultural differences. The teacher, a woman from England, who has already been travelling to a lot of countries doing her workshops, asked us the following question: If you knew your friend was driving way too fast with his car and the police asked you about it, would you lie and not reveal your friend’s fault? We all agreed we would in order to protect our friend, although he has been doing something wrong. Then she changed the question. It’s the same situation as before, but this time your friend killed someone because of driving too fast. This time, no one wanted to lie to the police.Apparently, this is typical for Germans. The woman told us that whenever she asks this question in another country, there are usually a few people that would still cover up for their friends. In Germany, rules and laws are usually more important. In my opinion, you can’t reduce it all to cultural differences, but I think there is a tendency due to cultural backgrounds.
Anyway, should we put laws or allegiance to a friend on the first place? If you knew your friend was doing something wrong, would you cover up for him? And does it make a difference whether there are any bad consequences due to his behaviour?
So far to this question which isn’t exactly the same as the one in the headline.
Would you break the law to save a loved one? This is also a question we discussed at university and I remember the following problem. I think there is even a popular theory behind it, but I don’t really remember the name of it. It was about stages of moral development.So, let’s say your wife/your husband is deathly sick and there is exactly one medicament that can save him/her. There is also only one pharmacist that sells this drug, BUT to a price that is absolutely exorbitant and way more than you can afford. There is no chance you will get this money soon enough. The only way to get the drug would be to steal it. Would you do it and why/why not?
Let me give you a few hints.On a very easy basis, should you not steal it because you might get into prison or should you steal it because your wife/husband is an important person to you? Should you steal it regardless of the importance of this person to you, because we should always try to help others? Should you steal it because the right to life is more important than property right? Or should you act according to law, because after all it secures our all individual rights against those who disobey them? Or should you steal the drug because the dignity of human life is above all other values? Should you not steal it because theft should never be the basis for any universal rule of action (as in the categorical imperative according to Kant)?
Finally, in your opinion, is there a difference between what you should do and what you actually would do?
I would love to hear some opinions, thoughts, ideas or answers to any or all of these questions.