Exploring the ethics of a car accident

caraccidentThe Dilemma

Growing up in your sister’s shadow is never fun for a guy. It’s even worse when your sister is your twin. That’s the situation Paul has faced for years. He knows his twin, Celeste, is smarter, better looking and more popular than he is — both in school and in Venturing Crew 840. What’s more: Because she’s a girl, she pays $100 less a month for car insurance than he does — a big deal, because their parents make them pay.

Part of the reason he pays so much is he has had a couple of minor accidents this year, neither of which was his fault (or so he says). But that only makes things worse when one day he backs into a car in the school parking lot. As soon as he hears the crunch, he pulls back into his parking space, looks around to see if anyone saw what happened and then goes over to survey the damage.

The car he hit is a beater, and he can’t tell whether he actually caused one of the many dents in its fender.

What should he do next?

For Discussion

After reading the scenario with your Boy Scouts or Venturers, invite the group to list all the actions Paul could take. The list could include doing nothing, leaving a note for the other driver, waiting until the other driver shows up or calling someone — his parents, his insurance company and/or the police.

Form two smaller groups. Have one group discuss why each potential action is a good idea, and have the other discuss why each potential action is a bad idea. After a few minutes, come together and have the groups share the reasons they came up with. Discuss how each potential action aligns with the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Ask if anyone knows the definition of a red herring: “something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.”

Have the group identify any red herrings in the reasons they came up with and in the dilemma you read. (These would include all the references to his sister.)

Finally, have the Boy Scouts or Venturers decide what action(s) Paul should take. What are the possible outcomes of that action? How could Paul mitigate any negative outcomes while acting in an ethical manner? ¿

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