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: Ethics in a Drowned World
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Feb 22nd 2010
There are a few observations I would like to make.
First, once healed, the majority of the newcomers will be able to work to immediately improve the infrastructure. In a way, the FA's avoided an ethical decision which they were divided over, in favor of an economical one. Economical decisions tend to be easier to make because they are based on generally more accepted or at least understood values. There is far less gray area.
Second, hearkening back to Redwynd's talk of babies and applying it to Whitechapel. If the 300 people of Whitechapel have limited resources such that 100 mostly able-bodied people would put too much stress on the system, do they have a right to bring more children into the world? If yes, then how many babies and who gets to have them? Like the FA's I would probably simplify it to an economical matter. If the town is strong enough, say able to support 125% of the current population for a month with only current supplies, then sure kids are fine.
Both decisions are ethically charged, to be sure. If they weren't, it would be easier to leave 100 people to die than be forced to work harder in town to make things better.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that by deferring to non-ethical criteria to make decisions, no hard and fast boundaries need to be made. The root of all this, I think, lies in values. It's easy to see the economic value in 100 more workers to farm or desalinize water, but harder to place a value on 15 babies. It gets trickier to compare the two. We could do as Redwynd did and only think of the predictable economic contributions. But what about unpredictable things like group morale, or if the babies grow up to be doctors or innovators or if the outsiders bring in disease. It's really the same issues we face every day in modern society. The difference is scale. The effects of every choice are much more obvious in a town of 300-400.
I think the value choices are what I don't envy about the FA's and also what is so compelling about the series. It's twelve 23 year olds making value judgments with not much life experience. And they have to live with the consequences every day.
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