Sometimes knowing right vs. wrong is easy, sometimes it is complicated, and sometimes we make it more difficult than it should be. The self-driving car dilemma is a modern-day example to illustrate the complexities of ethical decision-making. Let’s watch this video to learn more.
Play the following video [1:35]:
The moral dilemma of self-driving cars
Have students walk to one side of the room or another to answer the next two questions.
- Who would buy a self-driving car knowing it would sacrifice you to save many in an unlikely emergency situation? If you would, stand to the right; if not, to the left. (Allow students to elaborate on their decision. Answers will vary.)
- If you were programming these cars, would you program it to sacrifice the passenger to save many, if necessary? If yes, stand to the right; if not, to the left. (Allow students to elaborate on why they would make the decision they chose. Answers will vary.)
Allow your students to be seated. Moral dilemmas such as those are usually difficult to answer. In part, this is due to the variables that can be involved. For instance, would it be more difficult to decide what to do if your mom or baby brother or sister were your passengers and you had to sacrifice them in order to avoid hitting a chain-gang of prisoners working on the side of the road?
- If you find this question difficult, what are some other clear-cut examples of right vs. wrong? (Accept all reasonable answers. In general, students may understand that harming others in any way is wrong and that honesty, generosity, and kindness are right.)
- Have you ever been in a situation where you knew what was right, but chose to do wrong? What influenced your choice? (Answers will vary. Allow students to disclose as much or little as they feel comfortable with. Choosing wrong when you know right is often the choice of doing what is easier, more fun, or going with the crowd to be included.)
- Have you ever been in a situation where you chose right over wrong but you were in the minority? What was that like? (Answers will vary. Students may have had to abstain from something, missing out on friendships or experiences, or feeling unsupported or misunderstood. Others may have had a more neutral or positive experience, feeling good about their decision or seeing positive consequences of their choice vs. the wrong one.)
Every day we choose how to live based on what we think is right and wrong, or at the very least what is better or worse. We also have to choose whose voices will help us discern that.
Today we will see an example of knowing the right thing to do but listening to the wrong voices and watching it result in destruction. We’ll also see an example of someone demonstrating the right choice even though it was the minority opinion. Let’s dig in.