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Morality Tale (a ranking question) [Feb. 1st, 2016|08:43 pm]
...and the stains drip between fingers...
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I came across the Robin Hood Morality Test and the Alligator River Morality Test lately, where the idea behind the short stories is to tease out attitudes and opinions by ranking the different characters' ethics. Who's the most moral and who's the least?

James is a forty-year-old businessman. James has been married to Marie for fifteen years. One day, James collides into a young woman wearing a waiter’s uniform in the street, Caroline. Caroline and James start talking, go on a date, and sleep together. Caroline then tells James that she is underage and she deliberately set out to blackmail him for money, or else she will tell the police and his workplace. James tells his wife Marie about the blackmail. Marie murders Caroline by poisoning her. Marie’s brother, George, is a police officer who covers up the murder.

[User Picture]From: gehayi
2016-02-01 10:37 am (UTC)
If this was a question of who I considered most blameworthy, I'd say James. Everything would have been fine if he had just kept it in his pants, but nooo.

I think that Caroline and George are tied for first place--or should that be worst place? Caroline deliberately set out to manipulate, seduce and blackmail James, while George is supposed to be an officer of the law. They both knew better (and George has a duty to enforce the law)--they just didn't give a fuck.

I suppose that Marie is the least awful. I can picture her flipping out and poisoning Caroline on the spur of the moment. But honestly, I think that they're all horrible people.

Edited at 2016-02-01 10:38 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: blueinkedpalm
2016-02-03 07:10 am (UTC)
Thanks for commenting! I posted to sum up the responses. I'm glad that everyone thought so differently.
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[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2016-02-01 10:47 am (UTC)
My offhand instincts say Caroline is the worst, as she for no good motive, ie in cold blood, set out to seduce and betray James, and blackmail is a nasty thing; and she caused the whole problem in the first place. Marie may be next worse, as murder is a serious sin; she may have a motive of protecting James from the blackmail, but it would depend on how much damage the blackmail could have done him, and how hard she tried to find another way (such as getting her brother to threaten Caroline with prosecution). James little blame, and George perhaps none at all.

Sorting these instincts out by consequence, deontology, and virtue might be fun, but I'll read others' replies first.
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[User Picture]From: blueinkedpalm
2016-02-03 07:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for your comment! I posted to sum up the responses. I liked the thoughtful analysis.
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[User Picture]From: speakr2customrs
2016-02-01 11:00 am (UTC)
George is the worst. In covering up the murder he is betraying his sworn duty as a police officer. Caroline is the next worst because she deliberately set out to manipulate James into a position where he could be blackmailed. Marie next worst, because she committed murder, but her motives for the murder mitigate the crime to some extent. James least worst - he was weak, and unfaithful, but at least he confessed to Marie. Although, really, I wouldn't spit on any of the four if they were on fire.
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[User Picture]From: blueinkedpalm
2016-02-03 07:17 am (UTC)
Thanks for leaving your thoughts! I posted to sum up the responses. It looks like George is the least favourite!
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[User Picture]From: morbane
2016-02-01 11:09 am (UTC)
Huh. Thanks for the thought exercise!

Caroline seems to spend the most time planning unethical activities that will harm others; her awful deeds appear to be the most premeditated. However, we don't know her motivation for the blackmail (could be greed; could be high duress), and her underage status also implies we should hold her less responsible for her appalling reasoning than others of age.

Marie's actions are also premeditated. They may be partly motivated by the idea of protecting James, or entirely motivated by the idea of protecting herself. It seems as though, as an adult whose spouse has money (even if she doesn't), she has many other options, which makes murder a particularly reprehensible choice.

George's actions are in every way counter to his professional ethics, and yet he seems most obviously to be acting to help someone other than himself.

James is unfaithful (for the first time? That's slightly implied but by no means given). When Caroline threatens him, he confides in the person whose trust he betrayed. It's unclear if he had any idea Caroline was underage before she told him (Did he ask or suspect? Unclear). He follows up a very unethical action with an action that may have been intended to improve the situation (depending on how he expected that Marie would react).

I guess I'd rank them, from worst to least-worse-but-still-bad: Marie, George, Caroline, James.
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[User Picture]From: blueinkedpalm
2016-02-03 07:19 am (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I posted to sum up the responses. I liked your exploration of the different possible motivations.
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