“Roger Smith, a quite competent swimmer, is out for a leisurely stroll. During the course of his walk he passes by a deserted pier from which a teenage boy who apparently cannot swim has fallen into the water. The boy is screaming for help. Smith recognizes that there is absolutely no danger to himself if he jumps in to save the boy; he could easily succeed if he tried. Nevertheless, he chooses to ignore the boy’s cries. The water is cold and he is afraid of catching a cold — he doesn’t want to get his good clothes wet either. ‘Why should I inconvenience myself for this kid,’ Smith says to himself, and passes on” (Grassian, 1981).
Describe your reaction to the scenario? Discuss why you had either a positive or a negative reaction.
In your opinion does Smith have a moral obligation to save the boy? Why/Why not? How does Smith’s decision not to help the boy reinforce or contradict your own moral decision in this situation?
If Kohlberg heard the response of this scenario, how would he attempt explain Roger’s decision?