To Tell Or Not To Tell Essay
, Research Paper
GTF: Tim Rohrer
essay exam #2
1. You are at a party and you see your best friend?s girl/boyfriend making
out rather intensely with someone (someone other than your friend). After a
while they get up, walking right by you without noticing you, they disappear
into a room together. Do you have a duty to tell your friend what you saw?
Do you consider the consequences of telling your friend before you decide
whether to tell them about what you saw? Does it matter what kind of person
you would be if you told/didn?t tell them?
Discuss this situation with respect to three of the theorists we have
studied-one who focuses on duty, another who focuses on the consequences,
and a third who thinks it is important to consider what kind of human being
we are/want to be. What question(s) do you think to be most important to
ask? Give reasons for your answer. (You may supply details and vary the
situation as necessary to bring out particular philosophical theories.)
To Tell Or Not To Tell?
That, Is The Question.
Quite a predicament, isn?t it? I really do not believe that there is a right
or wrong answer for this type of situation. Either way you are going to get
burned. It is just that by whom you will be burned, that is in question. I think
that everyone has probably been in a situation somewhat like this, right? I
sure know that I have. Actually, I think that I have probably been in all four
positions, that of boyfriend being cheated on, on-looking best friend of
boyfriend, cheating boyfriend, and of the boy making out with the girlfriend
of the boyfriend who happens to be the on-looking friend?s best friend.
Therefore, I must have firsthand and pretty excellent knowledge to clearly
assess and resolve the situation at hand, right? Wrong. It is quite a bit more
complicated than that. What will your best friend think of you after telling
him the horrible news? Will he not like you anymore? Should you just mind
your own business and not tell him at all? It can be dealt with by any number
of means. The innumerable amount of choices or avenues to be taken, make
the final decision hard to determine. Immanuel Kant would argue that we
must tell our friend the truth because it is our moral duty, while Bernard
Williams would have us consider how we would view ourselves before or
after we spilled the beans. Still another, John M. Taurek, would have us
consider the consequences to the parties involved if the truth was known.
Theorists and philosophers such as these have argued for centuries about
what would be the appropriate choice given situations like this.
Immanuel Kant would have me tell my friend about his girlfriend
fooling around behind his back. He believed that any action (my telling him
the truth) must come from a sense of duty and that duty is a moral necessity.
Categorical imperatives are moral requirements which are unquestionable in
terms of commanding what a person must do. The categorical imperative is
thought to be the rational action. Kant believes there is a connection between
what is moral and what is rational. This is because he believes that a moral
action must be based on good reasoning. For instance, it is the morally
correct thing to do to tell the truth because there are negative repercussions
that result from lying. Furthermore, Kant believes that a categorical
imperative must apply in all situations and for all people; to be universal or
have a universal moral law. He thinks that it is the rational thing to have
consistency in morals. So in the end I tell my friend what I saw. I do this
because it is my duty to do the right thing and to tell the truth.
?There are many people we are not in a position to help at all? (Doing
and Being, 51). This is how I feel in answering this question. There is not
one brilliant answer to this situation. John M. Taurek offers this solution to
the problem of the cheating girlfriend. He focuses on whether or not the
number of people affected counts as something to consider when presented
with a dilemma. He also states in the life-saving drug example that ?I will
save my friend.? and it is not morally wrong to do that. Taurek objects to the
utilitarian thought that treats people as objects. He instead considers his
friendship and personal feelings when assessing a situation because he does
not believe that people have ?objective value?. This leads me to believe that
he would tell his friend about his unfaithful girlfriend because he respects his
friends feelings and does not want to see him hurt any further.
It is also important to consider what kind of person I would be and
what kind of morals I would want to hold as my own if I did or did not tell
my friend of his cheating girlfriend. Bernard Williams bases his belief in
moral integrity. Take for example the case of George the biochemist. If he
takes the job in the chemical weapons factory, he is violating his own morals.
If he turns the job down then he is putting his family deeper and deeper in
debt. He thinks that it is important that a person feel harmony between the
action he is doing and the result of it. When I choose to tell or not to tell my
best friend about his cheating girlfriend, I am making a choice as to what kind
of person that I am morally. The choice that I make will inevitably say what
kind of person I am, whether I care about friends and family or whether I
choose to sit back and see them suffer.
Ultimately, I believe that I do have an obligation to let my friend know
that his girlfriend was fooling around on him behind his back, but I do not
think that I would be able to tell him face to face. If I could let him know
what was up by some sort of indirect means, then it would be much better and
to my benefit because I would not be the one to upset him. My friend could
not be mad at me for breaking his heart and his girlfriend could not hold me
responsible for their impending fight and breakup.