Applied ethics

Reflect upon a scene in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. The scenario’s plot in the clip can be described as follows:

Two large ferries are leaving Gotham: one full of criminals, the other occupied by innocent citizens. Imagine that you are on the boat full of innocent citizens. The two boats suddenly lose all power, and it becomes clear that both are wired with deadly explosives. Detonators are discovered on each ferry, and they will set off the explosives on the other ship. The Joker’s voice comes over the loudspeaker of the ferries, and he announces that he is performing a “social experiment”. One ferry’s passengers must press its detonator’s button and destroy the other boat by midnight, or else the Joker will explode both boats.

What should you do as a passenger on the boat full of innocent citizens? If one were to push the button and blow up the prisoners, what might that say about their character? Is pushing the button the morally right thing to do in this case?

Sample Solution