Parsing moral responsibility at Arizona State University is a subtle thing.

Yes, fraternity members encouraged a classmate to drink himself to death…

On the other hand, when he started to die they dropped him at the local hospital…

Even more nobly, before they abandoned him in the lobby one student taped a piece of paper onto his body with information about how much he’d had to drink. The world will little note, nor long remember, exactly what the student wrote, but it can never forget what he did …

Similarly, after an exploding beer bottle someone threw into a bonfire badly burned two women, ASU students “helped extinguish the girls’ flaming skin.” Then they “kicked them out of the party to avoid getting into trouble.”


These are the sorts of moral scenarios philosophy professors like to use in their classrooms. They’re stories with a rich ambiguity that can provoke valuable discussion.

After cheering while a friend drinks himself to the point of death, should you

1. put him away in a room to die or sleep it off?
2. take him to the hospital?
3. put clothes on him? (he only had on a bathing suit)
4. stay long enough to talk to a doctor or nurse?
5. abandon him?
6. stick a note on him and then abandon him?

After setting off an explosion that grievously injures two people, should you

1. douse their flames?
2. throw them out into the night?

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  1. Van L. Hayhow Says:

    These are the kind of stories you would expect to see in the Onion.

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