Social Question

Facade's avatar

In the mood for a hypothetical?

Asked by Facade (22932points) October 5th, 2009

You are an extremely skilled and talented medical doctor. There is a very ill and very evil dictator who has come to your hospital to receive treatment from you. If/when he is treated and well, it is certain that he will go back to his home country and murder thousands of innocent people. The government’s hands are somehow tied.
Would you feel a duty to do your job?
Would you try to kill him yourself?
Would you treat him?

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49 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

I would kill him, even if I got the death penaltyfor it.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

eponymoushipster's avatar

As Batman said in Batman Begins:

I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.

PretentiousArtist's avatar

Best batman movie next to Batman forever

Jayne's avatar

Assuming, of course, that killing him wouldn’t cause lots of deaths in retribution, then yes,I would, without hesitation. Or, if I were the only one who could treat him, I would simply shimmer out like Jeeves.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Can anyone say House? :p

Facade's avatar

What ever do you mean?~

dpworkin's avatar

Primum non nocere

cyn's avatar

translate for @pdworkin: “given an existing problem, it may be better to do nothing than to do something that risks causing more harm than good.” (:

ZombiesRus's avatar

Isn’t this a house episode? Lmfao. Save him, if that’s my job.

holden's avatar

I would cure him. Then I would kill him.

Facade's avatar

@cyndihugs Thanks
@ZombiesRus Yes it is, now shh!
@holden How homicidal of you

Bugabear's avatar

Well this is an episode of House so I would do whatever is most entertaining. I’d figure out what was wrong with him then “cure” him but use the wrong pills and see what happens. Oh and I’d tell him he has AIDs just to scare him.

janbb's avatar

The quote pdwrokin is citing is usually translated as, “First, do no harm.” It is part of the Hippocratic Oath, the code of ethics that doctors are supposed to use. I think you would have to cure him and then try to prevent him from returning to power if you were an ethical doctor.

whatthefluther's avatar

I would force him to listen to a continous loop of Barry Manilow and Michael Bolton songs. Let the bastard kill himself. See ya….Gary/wtf

whatthefluther's avatar

Edit above to read a continuous loop of Nickelback
it dawned on me (a bit late), that you kids probably never heard of Manilow or Bolton, which is lucky for you

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I wouldn’t kill him, but no, I wouldn’t save him.

XOIIO's avatar

@Facade got this off house! I just finished watching the episode! LOL

Facade's avatar

lol, maybe they got it from me… yea… think about it

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Thanks, @whatthefluther now I know which CDs to send you for Giftmas this year.—Best of Barry Manilow and Michael Bolton Greatest Hits

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

This is the only correct answer:> “First, do no harm.” It is part of the Hippocratic Oath, the code of ethics that doctors are supposed to use. I think you would have to cure him and then try to prevent him from returning to power if you were an ethical doctor.

Jayne's avatar

I’m sorry, but I fail to see what is remotely ethical about causing the lives of thousands of people to depend upon your “trying to prevent him from returning power”, when you could save them all, at the cost of one (rather worthless) one. That isn’t ethics, that’s failure to make a necessary sacrifice of your own emotional comfort.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Somebody watched the episode of House tonight.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

I wouldn’t kill him but I would ask to be taken off the assignment.

joni1977's avatar

Reminds of the movie Wanted I just saw for the first time on HBO. Angie’s character was saying something like, ‘kill one, save the lives of thousands…’

AstroChuck's avatar

To be faithful to the Hippocratic oath I’d cure him and then I’d lobotomize him.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Okay just watched it and have to say Props to Chase (and foreman in the end there). Normally I wouldn’t say so, I don’t believe, in general, that life of one is less important than the life of many. In this specific circumstance however I stick with my props.

Dr_C's avatar

@pdworkin got it right “primum non nocere”

In the case of a physician treating ANY patient you never take your personal feelings into account. The whole point of taking the hippocratic oath is to put your feelings out of the equation and do the job you swore to do. If i were to let my feelings get in the way of saving a life i have no business being there. I may very well hate the person in front of me and everything that person stands for… and would probably tell them so after i had done my very best to save their life.

It might seem stubborn or even myopic to some, but i took an oath and to go against that negates any good I may have done in the past while performing the same function.

Having said that i hope never to be put in that situation and would further hope that if i were to help someone like that.. that there would be someone down the line who could do something about it.

whatthefluther's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra….You do, and you are getting, in return, the entire Nickelback catalogue (@sccrowell likes them).
See ya….Gary/wtf

Jayne's avatar

@Dr_C; but your actions would cause the deaths of thousands of people, which hardly seems like doing no harm to me. It’s not a matter of your hatred for the person, it’s a matter of saving many more people. You have been out in a position where you must do harm; the only way out is to to the least possible harm, which is killing/allowing the dictator to die (hypothetically, of course :)

CMaz's avatar

I would pee in his IV.

Dr_C's avatar

@Jayne i agree it seems cut and dry from an outside perspective but my oath does not let me make that distinction. The closest thing to it is the concept of “triage” in which i would prioritize patients on the imediacy of their condition and the care needed (the worse off the patient the higher the priority over others). However that concept still only applies to the patients i have in front of me.

There is something else i could do though that i hadn’t thought of. In this kind of situation where the person is known to be putting people in harm’s way and or committing any kind of act that puts others in danger he can be placed on psychiatric hold and evaluated for a period to be defined at a later time. How about doing that instead of stooping to his level and solving things with homicide?

filmfann's avatar

Save him. Keep my license so I can save others.

saraaaaaa's avatar

Lol, loving the House reference. There is a scene in that episode (spoilers) where the dictator guy tells Chase that Cam was too weak to take a stand and that he was the only onwe capable. I believe that was an incorrect statement in so many ways given the circumstances but also because by becoming a doctor, she was making a choice to abide by the hypocratic oath as you all have been discussing. Otherwise refuse to treat him, it is unfair to put the doctors in that position in the first place.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@whatthefluther: Yes on the Nickelback, he’ll off himself for sure!

Zen's avatar

DR. Dworkian was also a skilled Doctor. I’d “assist” him.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Just let somebody like me slip past his security. I’ll do your dirty work for you.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I am sure I could find sufficient seriously ill patients to care for such that I would be too busy to give this patient the adequate care to which he is no doubt entitled.

Yes this is passing the buck – shame on me!

Dr_Dredd's avatar

I would ignore the fact that he was a dictator while he was in my office. However, I’d alert the rebel forces that are no doubt planning his overthrow to come and nab him once he steps outside.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Another point: If he is “here” getting medical treatment, it’s an excellent opportunity for someone “there” to overthrow his regime. While the cat’s away, the mice will play…

EdMayhew's avatar

When a man makes an oath he cannot break it. If he does, he is no better than the dictator he tells himself he is morally superior to; you can’t fight fire with fire.


Violet's avatar

I would treat him

JeffVader's avatar

I’d anaesthetise him, then x-ray his testicles for about 6hrs….. then blame the creepy paediatrician from the 4th floor.

Coloma's avatar

I am a skilled medical doctor.

Well, lets just say my skill could result in a little ‘accident’...oops..his heart just failed under the stress of anesthesia.

mYcHeMiCaLrOmAnCe's avatar

I’d kill him, if I had the chance to do that

flutherother's avatar

What if the patient was Tony Blair or George Bush and you knew that if restored to health they would proceed with their plans to invade some other country resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and making millions of others flee their country as refugees?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Seeing this is an old question, I am not surprised the amount of answers, surely we know no one likes hypothetical questions and certainly not those that challenge one’s morals or ethics. ~~

If I were in such of a situation I would treat him. I would be required to treat him as I would want to be treated. However, I would use the situation to show him how I had mercy on him, and saved his life, that he should use the gift as an example to show more compassion less he may become ill again, and next time, whoever works on him may not do their best or even help him on to the sweet bye and bye.

Anna737's avatar

Stupid stupid question. If you cannot follow the Hippocratic Oath then you should NOT be a Dr!

Coloma's avatar

@Anna737 This isn’t a stupid question this was an exercise in imagination and human response, nothing more. Sometimes ethics need to be mitigated with an act that serves the greater good.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Anna737 If you cannot follow the Hippocratic Oath then you should NOT be a Dr!
And if you cannot follow Protect and to Serve, one should not be in law enforcement,,,,,,but we know how that goes.

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