First Year Philosophers Ready to Compete

First Year Philosophers Ready to Compete

Pupils in the First Year have been busy writing their entries for the Independent Schools Religious Studies Association and Academy Learning’s competition.  They had to write a 400-word essay, which responded to the following question: ‘The moral rule ‘you must always save a human life’ is a bad rule.  Do you agree?’  The standard from across the First Year was incredibly high and we were most impressed by the quality of reasoning, use of examples and ability to think critically about a range of views.  We decided on 12 students who were shortlisted and then we had the very difficult task of putting through our top four. The competition will be adjudicated later in June so keep your fingers crossed! 

Congratulations to our finalists;

Marusia E (1W)

Orin D (1W)

Connie M (1P)

Ethan T (1K)

Congratulations also to those who were shortlisted:

Samuel D (1P)

Will C (1K)

Bjorn M (1R)

Skye W (1K)

Seth B (1W)

Louie J (1W)

Here are the finalist’s submissions:

Marusia E:

A moral.  A rule said to follow.

‘You must always save a human life, ‘in any case this would reflect how you must always think of others, put others first or maybe if it were between saving an animal or a stranger, you should always pick humans.  Could this show selfishness?  How as humans we think we are superior.  But then again we sometimes don’t care about our own lives let alone other peoples.  What is one life in a crowd of billions?  What difference would that make?  We already struggle with overpopulation.  So what is the point in saving a human life which we could live without?

We treasure our life the most (almost all the time), I don’t know many people who would give their life for someone else’s.  Implying always is a hard thing to do because then it comes down to another’s moral, is a bad person’s life worth saving?  They did a bad thing but don’t deserve prison or to be sentenced to death?  This would encourage this behaviour.  So establishing that not everyone should be saved would create some sort of peace.  The people who enforce law and have control over us to agree to not save them, so if they don’t use it, is it because it’s a bad moral?  But life can’t just be about always and never, sometimes a middle ground is needed to help get you back to reality.

Although, people think it’s important to have morals and it plays a big part in their lives, similar to religion.  We should respect this.  Certain things help to make you a good person.  Morals can help bring societies together to be nice.  So someone who agrees with acts of kindness and selflessness, thinks it’s a good rule.  It changes how you see things.  Although, do we deserve saving?

Each person should choose if they think it’s a bad rule.  But my ideology is:  why should a bunch of words determine what I do in every situation?  If I can and it doesn’t come with a cost, then I would save a human life.  But how am I supposed to know they’re a ‘good’ person, I can’t!  So do I risk it?  I shouldn’t pre-write my future and base it on saying humans deserve a chance, because we (humans) are the problem.

Orin D:

The rule “you must always save human life” is a terrible rule. For example, a dog (who isn’t vicious and has no intention of harming anyone) is in a room with a terrorist. A fire breaks out and you can only save one, who would you pick, the dog? Not only that, it isn’t very clear on whether you are supposed to protect all humans, or protect human life over animal life. This means that different people can interpret it in many ways. Moreover, not all human lives are worth saving, as you can see from my first example. Who would choose to save a terrorist’s life, even though it may be a human life? The death row in America is a prime example of this. Some people are better off not being in this world. For example, a person who has committed mass murder shouldn’t have the right to live any more. As you can see, not everyone is a good person, and therefore it isn’t right to generalise this rule and say that all human lives are worth saving. Consequently, I agree with the following statement: ‘the moral rule “you must always save human life” is a bad rule’. 

Others may disagree with me and say that all human life is worth saving because it is a human life but generalising like that isn’t right, it’s like saying all dogs are evil and vicious because of one dog attack in 2016. People may also say that every human has rights, but in my opinion, they should have their human rights stripped away from them if they commit a lot of crimes (depending on how serious they are). All human lives are worth saving at some point but some groups of individuals with certain characteristics or pasts lose that privilege and therefore not all human lives are worth saving. 

In conclusion, you should not always save human life, whether that be over an animal or over a human, as there are certain exceptions. This is because many human lives aren’t worth saving. Also, some human lives are worth saving over some other lives. I believe we should change the rule to make it more fitting, perhaps to “you must always try to save lives of people who mean no harm in this world.” 

Connie M: 

The moral you should always save a human is a rather confusing rule. In theory it should make sense but in practicality it is not so black and white.  

There are circumstances where saving say five people has a knock on effect of more people dying. For example, take this thought experiment: there is a train rushing towards five people, the driver changes to a different track but kills a hundred people in doing so. In this example the ‘cure’ was worse than the disease.  It would be better to let five people die than a hundred. A real world example could be the American civil war, nearly three quarters of a million died but I think it was worth it as countless men were saved due to the abolition of slavery. Which was the lesser evil?  Therefore, saving lives is not always the better of the two options.   

Not only can saving lives be worse, but we can’t pretend that all lives are truly equal, especially when it comes to life-threatening situations. Previously the thought experiment was balancing numbers of lives but what if it was one life versus another. Do I save my Daddy or my Uncle on the train tracks? The old woman or the young boy. The murderer or the victim? Consequently, the answer is clear: Daddy, the young boy and the victim. Obviously not all lives are equal when it is made personal.  

On the other hand, some might argue that, all lives are equal and we should never ever kill.  They may say that we went to war in Iraq, arguably to remove a dictator but it made everything worse and even more lives were lost. If we hadn’t gone to war fewer people would have died.  This may be true and only time will tell. But if they are saying that every life is truly precious then would they be willing to give up their wealth and possessions in order to donate them to a country where they’ve never been, saving people they have never met?  Of course not:  it is an unpleasant truth but lives only seem most worth saving when it is personal.  

In conclusion, the moral ‘you must always save a human life’ is not always the morally right thing to do.  

Ethan T:

Let me explain the moral rule ‘you must always save a human life.’ According to the dictionary, the definition of ‘save’ is to rescue or deliver from danger or harm and to preserve or guard from injury, destruction or loss. This means that if you rescue someone from danger, for example, if you help a robber being chased by the police, that is saving a person. When it says, ‘a human life’, it means all sorts of human life, from a police officer, a classmate, to maybe even a criminal, as they are all humans. A robber is fleeing from the police. Should you save him or not?  A child has been abandoned by their parents and he cannot survive on his own. Should you adopt him?

I think that this moral rule is a bad rule, because there are some people who do not deserve saving. For example, a robber or a murderer have done countless wrong things and deserve punishment to prevent them from making any more harm. Some people may not be able to help themselves, therefore need saving, like a homeless man, or a disabled person. But helping a robber escape from the police, as I said earlier, is not right, as robbing a bank or house is supposed to be against the law. That is illegal and wrong, even if the robber is your friend. I am not implying that this rule is totally wrong and that everyone only helps themselves. I am simply saying that some people should not be saved.   

Some people may say that you should always save a human life, as maybe they had a reason for doing these wrong things, for example that robber was a person who had no family, no food and no money. He tried being a beggar but nobody paid any attention to him. They might say that you should always save human lives as you shouldn’t care about the background of people and always save them to prevent them from danger or harm, even if it is none of your business.   

I do not agree with the other side though, as that robber had a choice not to rob and instead ask for some help. This is the reason why I think that the moral rule ‘you must always save a human life’ is a bad rule.

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