I wrote < I do not believe in the "no alternative", because life itself is nothing more than endless choices."
You wrote "This is a tough debate ; the dilemma proposal is not perfect but it serves to illustrate that in this life we can suddenly finds ourselves "dancing on a dime" ---caught between a rock and a hard place , if you will …..in torment over whether it would be or would have been-- better to do nothing or something in the face of seemingly very limited choices !"
My original statement was written very poorly. My apologies. What I meant to say was that I do not believe that there are many situations in real life that do not have a multitude of alternatives. When people say I did something because I had no choice they normally don't mean it.
In the context of a hypothetical questions (like the one proposed), then it is perfectly acceptable to limit the choices because thats the whole point. It is like what do you like more "Rock and Roll" or "Heavy Metal"? Maybe you answer Actually I like classical, but that wasn't the choices I gave. The question wasn't what type of music do you like most but of the choices which do you like more.
So, back to the points, the dilemma proposed is:
which do you prefer more, kill the madman, or not kill the madman for some reason (probably moral objection to the taking of life)?
As answered before, given those choices I think it is my moral responsibility to the community to kill the madman, as regretable as that might be.
On the choice between two evils : you , Jason, wrote < Do you believe that it is
"evil" to shoot the deranged man? Why? >
You wrote "It is not what I believe , it is what the dilemma presupposes ! And what some religious pacifist group will challenge : " isn't immoral to kill another human , for any reason ? Do two wrongs make a right ?"
Now here I disagree with you. A dilemma does not presuppose the quality of the choices. The quality of the choices can only come from the personal perspective of the chooser, and possibly argument for or against each choice (which affect the perspective of the chooser, of course). Some examples:
#1) "Completely legal, and tax free and with the guarentee that no harm will come because of either choice would you rather have: US$10,000 or US$1,000,000"?
Not a dilemma. The two choices have a clear quality to them. Who wouldn't take the million?
#2) "Would you tear the wings from a butterfly for $100? How about $1,000? How about $10,000? Would you do it in front of your child?" (Slightly modified from the book "A Book of Questions" - not sure on the author)
Each of these questions ask the chooser "What do you feel is the price/value of life no matter how minor, although in this case we have choosen the commonly valued beautiful butterfly?". The last asks "Would you be willing to send such a message to your child for money"?
Now, there is no quality of choice here, besides what you believe the "right" answer is.
Similarly, in this modified but equivalent question from the original scenario:
"Is it okay to kill somebody, who may be not be wholly responsible for his actions, who is killing other who are innocent of being killed by this individual?"
The answer is yes or no, but there is no quality of choice presupposed. Only what you believe the answer to be.
Therefore, with respect, I do wonder if perhaps at some level is you do believe that the original question is a choice between "two evils". Or maybe you are simply being the devil's advocate.
You wrote "Actually it has been argued that killing Hitler before he had a chance to start the war and murder all those innocents - or the man who is about to kill you- or others- is an act of compassion ….not upon the intended victims , but upon the would be killer himself !"
I find this to be quite plausible. I wonder if Hitler ever did regret the terrible outcomes of his choices. Perhaps knowing the harm he would cause maybe he would choose death over life. Then again maybe not.
Just out of curiousity, and maybe I missed it, but I haven't seen you answer the question.
Woudl you kill him or not? and most importantly why or why not?