Dilemma 1: The Patty Hearst Case

Situation 1

Patty was a rich businessman’s daughter. She had the best of everything all her life. Her future would have been college, a good marriage to a successful young man, and a life of comparative luxury, except that she was kidnapped by a small band of radical extremists who sought to overthrow the government by terror, intimidation, and robbery. After being raped, beaten, and locked in a small, dark closet for many days, and continually taunted and threatened, she was told she must participate with the terrorist gang in a bank robbery.  If she didn’t, she and her family would be killed. During the course of the robbery, a bank guard was shot.  Was her action immoral? What if she had killed the guard? What if the terrorists had kidnapped her mother or father, too, and told her if she didn’t cooperate, they would kill her parents immediately?

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What would you have done in her place? [Many readers might recognize this dilemma as the Patty Hearst case. In the 1970s, the Symbionese Liberation Army, a terrorist group, kidnapped the daughter of Randolph Hearst, the tycoon of a large newspaper chain. Her subsequent capture, trial, conviction, and prison sentence have been portrayed in books and movies and provide ripe material for questions of free will and legal and moral culpability.]

Critical Analysis:

Moral Judgment:

Moral Rules:

Ethical System/s:

VERY IMPORTANT:  Do a critical analysis of Dilemma 1 in terms of Moral Judgment, Moral Rules, and Ethical Systems. You MUST have a detailed paragraph for each of the three topics: 1) Moral Judgment, 2) Moral Rules (forbid us to commit unethical/immoral acts, e.g., “Thou shall not kill.”), 3) Ethical System/s applicable to the Dilemma. Examples of ethical systems are, among many others: 1) Ethics of Virtue, Ethics of Religion, 3) Natural Law, 4) Ethical Formalism, Kantianism or Categorical Imperative, 5) Utilitarianism (Act and Rule Utilitarianism) and 6) Ethical Egoism. 

Which Ethical System or Systems would apply to the Patty Hearst case and why? You can discuss more than one Ethical System, if applicable. Whichever ethical system you choose, you MUST justify it.

Read the Patty Hearst Dilemma above and then post your dilemma analysis by clicking on  “Dilemma 1: The Patty Hearst Case” link.

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