Analyzing the Parable of the Sadhu

1559 Words Jan 26th, 2006 7 Pages
Egoism: Does the action promote the person's long term interest.

Here the question is what action promotes McCoy's & the hiker's interest. The main purpose of all the hikers was to travel to Nepal and have a "once in a life time experience". It is conceivable that this is consistent with everyone's best interests, while helping the Sadhu is clearly not. Action was ethical. However the fact that McCoy feels guilty reflects that he was unable to promote his long term interest. Hence it becomes ambiguous to justify his actions.

Kantian Ethics: Should abide by the following 2 principles:

*Maxim should become a universal law

*Never treat people simply as means to an end but always at the same time as ends in themselves

In the parable,
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By contriving the story into a "quandary" which can be solved by the application of a rule, these theories divorce the dilemma from the context. Consequently the analogy which McCoy draws between that context and the corporate/bureaucratic one is warped. As the story is colored by a rule-based analysis, each hiker has only an abstract moral obligation toward the Sadhu, but in McCoy's version the hikers have individual values based on a set of shared goals. One can draw their own conclusion, but we claim that McCoy's narration of how those few moments were actually lived on that icy mountain path, of how that monumental choice was made, and of its deeply troubling consequences, stands in stark rebuttal of rule-based arguments that justify the minimal actions of the hikers. Their very understanding of moral obligation fosters neglect for cooperative efforts and for inter-subjective relationships. Rule-based analysis conceptualizes a moral question as arising for a generic agent in total isolation - one who is totally context-free, character-free and who gets his or her moral clues only from his or her innate faculty of reason.

How better to understand the Parable of the Sadhu

No moral theory would have forbade the hikers from helping the Sadhu to the meager extent they did so. The relevant distinction in cases such as the Sadhu is not between actions that are right and those that are wrong, but
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