In the supenseful and provocative 1957 high-seas moviedrama, Abondon Ship, the captain of a luxury liner is suddenly faced with life or death decisions when his ship sinks, leaving himself and a few survivors floating at sea in an overcrowded lifeboat that does not contain enough food, water and medical supplies to support them all. The life boat is designed for 17 but there are 25 survivors. The captain, Alec Holmes is a decent fellow, and initially intends to save everyone. But it soon becomes clear to one of the ship’s men, Frank Kelly that this is impossible. As Kelly sacrifices himself by leaping overboard and into the sea, he shouts out a warning to Holmes that it will be necessary to rid the boat of its ill passengers if the rest are to survive, as not enough food and water exists to provide for everyone. Defying the requests of his sweetheart, Nurse Julie White and his buddy and fellow officer, Will McKinley and Holmes disposes of the sick individuals on board. He initially gains the support of the rest of the passengers, but when a rescue ship finally turns up, their support turns to contempt and hostility. Discuss the following study questions. 1. Can this film be seen as a defense of utilitarianism? Explain why or why not. 2. Do you agree that it would have been a more civilized thing for all of the passengers to die together? 3. Would you have convicted Holmes of murder? 4. What was Holmes’s intention? Might a Kantian accept that as morally good? Part B It is notoriously difficult to explain the difference between act and rule utilitarian. Current events provides good examples, such as the war on terrorism and heightened domestic security measures. 1. An act utilitarian would ask, What kind of consequences would it have for the FBI getting access to phone conversations and Internet chats of current terrorism suspects? Why would an act utilitarian ask this question? 2. A rule utilitarian would have to ask, What kind of consequences might we have if we allow such procedures on a grand scale? Why would a rule utilitarian ask this question? 3. Explain the difference in these questions. Answer both the act & rule question. Where do you stand – act or rule utilitarian? Where do you stand on the issue of security. Please short answers

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