Case Analysis of Harriet’s Choice

Alina Misiunas, Newberry College

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Abstract: This paper examined the choice of Harriet and looks at three different formulations of Kant’s theory of deontology to show that Harriet deserves moral praise for his actions. A business scenario is then compared to the basis on which praiseworthiness was established from Harriet’s case.

Using Kant’s theory of deontology, this paper examines praiseworthiness in the case known as Harriet’s choice. The case involves two people simultaneously drowning 50 meters apart from one another and Harriet chose to save the life of the person she thought inherently most valuable. The question is, based on her choice, would Harriet be entitled to moral praise under Kant’s theory? Stansbury and Sonenshein (2011) define praiseworthiness as, “…a subset of all honorable behaviors, specifically those actions that contribute to the good life of individuals and the communities within which they live and work” (p. 7). Three questions will be asked: is it possible to make her choice into a universal law; does her choice reflect her desire to not use a human to further her own means; and was her choice hypocritical. These questions will be reviewed in the conclusion to summarize Harriet’s praiseworthiness (Kant, 1785).

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