1. The Aristotelian ethics of virtues cannot give a definite solution to the analyzed moral dilemma. There are two groups of virtues which support the opposite decisions on the suggested situation. Even though Aristotle considers happiness (“eudaimonia”) to be the ultimate goal of human life which is possible to reach through the virtuous development of personality, it is difficult to define this state because it deals with the theoretical and, at the same time, practical aspects of moral behavior. However, it is clear that, according to the philosopher, every person’s action has to be noble. This means that it is necessary to realize particular virtues and moral intentions of every action.
The virtues discussed in the philosopher’s writings such as bravery, generosity, magnanimity, and friendship as a significant part of the moral life are the foundations of the decision to help the drunk roommate to come back home. The most important here is the friendship as a relationship between two devoted individuals who wish each other only the best and realize the virtues of their communication. Such attitude toward another person is an argument for giving up personal interests and supporting the idea of friendship based on virtue.
At the same time, there is another virtue discussed by Aristotle – prudence, which emphasizes the necessity to act in accordance with rational reasoning. That means that every person has to consider the situation in the context of the possibility to reach happiness. The application of this virtue may lead to refusal from the altruistic act of helping the roommate because personal happiness consists of the successful performance on the exam but not of the involvement in the adventures at night.
2. Immanuel Kant, as a representative of deontological ethics, emphasizes the necessity to consider the intentions of a person’s actions that have to be the objects of moral evaluation. Following this ethical paradigm, the philosopher formulates the universal law of morality that is unconditional and fundamental for any action and interaction. Therefore, if to solve the suggested dilemma applying Kantian ethics, it is evident that the only moral decision is to save the roommate– to pick him or her up at the pointed location and not to underestimate his or her significance in comparison to GMAT.
Such single correct decision appears as the result of Kant’s formulation of the categorical imperative – the universal law of the virtuousness, which prescribes everyone to presuppose the possibility of the transformation of the maxim that guides the personal will into the universal law. Such operation has to guarantee the morality of the further person’s actions. In addition to that, another formulation of this imperative prescribes to consider other people not as the means of reaching personal goals but as values in themselves.
Therefore, if to analyze the suggested dilemma with the help of the instruments of the deontological ethics, I do not have the moral right to leave my roommate on the highway serving my selfish interest. Even though the exam is significant for me, I cannot consider it to be more important than another person. If I decide not to help my friend, I will thus violate the universality and the primacy of the categorical imperative and legitimate such immoral behavior. Furthermore, that will mean that I consciously legitimate such action as the possible universal law for everybody. However, deontological ethics emphasizes the necessity to think not only about personal intentions but also to consider them in the context of the whole humankind. Therefore, perceiving my friend in the same situation, I would not be happy to stay on the highway without help. That is why it is necessary to help a friend notwithstanding the significance of the personal matter is in the context of the Kantian ethical doctrine.
3. If to consider the suggested dilemma in the context of the utilitarian ethical doctrine, it is morally permissible and even better not to pick up the roommate and interrupt the sleep because such actions would not lead to the maximization of personal pleasure and happiness. According to utilitarianism, people have to behave so as to realize the principle of utility. That means acting in a way that is the most profitable for them in order to increase the pleasure and avoid suffering.
Therefore, such utilitarian paradigm prescribes the subjects of morality to consider the personal profit, which in the analyzed dilemma is a successful performance on GMAT so as to pursue an M.B.A. in Wharton Business School. An important condition of passing the exam is having a good rest the night before it. Therefore, it is a cogent argument against an unplanned night adventure that requires more than 3 hours of driving. Otherwise, it may hinder the realization of professional goals the next day due to the diffusion of concentration and tiredness as the result of the nocturnal efforts to help the roommate. Entering the Business School would be more probable if one does not pay attention to the request of the roommate, therefore it would bring more benefits.
Without any doubt, the ultimate goal of utilitarian ethical doctrine is the maximization of total happiness, which is the welfare of the society or a particular community. It may seem that, following this logic, it is still necessary to give up personal interests and, regardless of the possibility of successfully passing the exam, drive to the inebriated roommate so as to help another member of the community. However, such conclusion is incorrect because utilitarianism emphasizes the necessity to maximize total happiness as the result of the personal profit, which is maximizing pleasure of every individual.
4. In the context of the ethics of the social contract, there are several approaches to the analyzed dilemma. Firstly, according to the founder of the theory of the social contract, Hobbes, there is no moral obligation to help the drunk roommate to come back home. The philosopher argues that individualism is the crucial characteristic of any society which occurs as the result of the war of all against all. Thus, the social contract is the external commitment that aims to regulate the social life in a way that avoids conflicts. However, it does not oblige people to be altruistic and sacrifice their personal interests for the sake of other members of the community.
Secondly, if to apply the social contract theory of Rousseau to the suggested ethical dilemma, it is probable and natural that the necessity to help the roommate would be obvious even if it contradicted the individualistic principle. Rousseau, thus, argues that it is moral to help the roommate. According to the philosopher, the primary motivation of people’s actions is pity. This feeling enables them to contribute to the mutual good: if a person notices suffering, pity, as an unconditional impulse, encourages the person not to be indifferent and make efforts to help others to get rid of the cause of suffering. Thus, in the context of Rousseau’s theory of the social contract, I do not have the moral obligation to save my roommate but I will not be able to ignore my feeling of pity.
Finally, the modern version of the theory of the social contract represented by Rawls emphasizes the absence of moral pressure on a person due to his or her freedom to decide whether to help the roommate or not on the basis of the mutual agreement. If there is no such commitment, then there is nothing immoral in ignoring the roommate’s request. Rawls defines justice as fairness, where everybody possesses equal primary chances to achieve success. In the analyzed dilemma, both I and the roommate have equal chances to reach our goals. Therefore, the answer depends on the results of the agreement.