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CRM/LAW C10- Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 17 pages long!)


Department
Criminology, Law and Society
Course Code
CRM/LAW C10
Professor
Teresa Dalton
Study Guide
Midterm

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UC-Irvine
CRM/LAW C10
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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1. What is the value in being able to hold conflicting thoughts in our minds at the same
time? Why is it so difficult and how can an individual improve the ability in this
regard?
Conflicting thoughts in our minds can arise when a moral dilemma confronts us with a
situation where we need to judge/decide what it is the right thing to do. There is no
universal agreement on what constitutes a just action because we all could analyze
situations in different ways and from different perspectives. However, being able to hold
conflicting thoughts in our minds at the same time help us to better analyze situations by
seeing all sides involved. However, it is not always easy to make decisions when a hard
moral question arises and there is uncertainty as to what will happen with each possible
decision. For example, considering the moral dilemma that a special force team in a mission
to Afghanistan in 2005 had to confront when deciding whether or not to kill two Afghan
farmers that happen to obstruct their operation. They only had two options: to kill the
unarmed afghan goatherds and continue with their mission or to let them go and risk the
possibility that they would inform the Taliban forces of their presence.
The moral dilemma here is that the two Afghans appeared to be unarmed innocent
civilians but there still was the likelihood that if released they would send Taliban forces to
kill them. What was the right thing to do? The special force team could not be sure of the
outcome for their two possible solutions. One of the comrades claimed that they had to kill
the Afghans because they were on duty and had a right to do everything they could to save
their lives. However, Luttrell faced a hard moral question. He expressed that he knew that
to let them go would be wrong but that his beliefs indicated him that to kill them would be
wrong as well. After Luttrell casted the deciding vote the two Afghans were released but as
predicted they sent the Taliban and killed Luttrell’s comrades and other soldiers on duty.
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Luttrell faced conflicting values in his mind but had he know the results of releasing the
Afghans his decision would have been different.
In the same manner, as reflected on the true event of the Mignonette where four sailors,
including a 17 year old cabin boy, were dying of starvation in a small lifeboat after have lost
their ship, the three oldest men killed the young boy and argued in court that they acted
upon necessity and had not killed and eaten the boy the three of them would had died. But
was killing the young, orphan and inexperience boy the right thing to do in order to save
three other man and avoid the suffering of a grater number of people? One of the sailors
reasoned that Parker should be the one killed because he was sick and unlike them he had
no family waiting for him thus his death would not affect a great number of people.
Nevertheless, some would reason that for whatever reason killing someone else is wrong.
However, how to analyze what is the right thing to do when our instincts tell us to do
conflicts with our moral values is a moral question that could make us balance out the costs
and benefits of our decisions. In the two previous examples, such a reflection provoked a
moral dilemma about the worth of sacrificing an innocent life in order to avoid greater
damage.
There will always be conflicting values in a society that will make us question our
thoughts however, an individual can improve his ability to reflect in such dilemmas. By
analyzing hypothetical scenarios we can able to examine “the force” of each proposed
decision. We also need to reason on our convictions that produce certain moral principles
in ourselves. A moral reflection should consider judgments and principles and a reflection
in one another. It is also imperative to “bring our moral intuitions and principled
commitments into alignment” and to try to expose ourselves to outside sources and
opinions from different people in order to obtain a better informed moral reflection.
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