Is it okay to kill someone if you have been lost in the wilderness and every presumes you are both dead?
This was the question posed to Charlie Holmes’ seniors enrolled in The Brothers Karamazov class. The class, referred to by students affectionately as “Brothers K.” is always a class that spurs discussion. Debates started in class are often heard continuing beyond class because they engage students so deeply and are so challenging to resolve.
For this class, Charlie told a story (fictional, don’t worry) about getting lost in the wilderness with his friend Bob. After hearing news on the radio that the search was over and both were presumed dead, and with no hope of ever returning home, Charlie asked, “Would it be wrong of me to kill Bob?”
Each student voted, and then the Charlie led the class in a long discussion with students arguing for each side. Some students said, “Of course it’s wrong! It’s always wrong to kill someone.”
“But why?” Charlie kept asking.
“Free choice is fundamental. By killing him you take away his choice.”
“But why is that wrong?” Charlie asked.
The few students on the other side of the argument held their own: Bob would have to live life thinking about the loss of his past life. “You could be doing him a favor. It could be a mercy killing.”
The debate was heated and lasted the whole class.
Chatting with Charlie after class, he let me in on the secret. “This really isn’t a literature class, but a moral philosophy class,” he said.
So if you are looking to grapple with the big, deep questions of life, be sure to enroll in Brothers K your senior year. You will not be disappointed.