Ethicist: It is morally right to reveal a secret only if one has a legal obligation to do so and will not harm onesel...

hatimsabir26 on March 20, 2019


I'm not sure how A is the correct answer

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tashhall81 on July 12, 2019

Are you saying because there was no legal obligation not to tell by her telling anyway she was morally wrong? Answer E goes more logically with what would be the moral thing to do legally.

Ravi on July 12, 2019


Happy to help. Let's look at (A) and (E), but before doing so, let's
make sure our diagramming is sound.

The first sentence can be diagrammed as

MRRS - >LO and Not HO

not LO or HO - >not MRRS (contrapositive)

The second sentence can be diagrammed as


not MWRS - >not PNR or not RLHO (contrapositive)

We're looking to use these principles to justify the reasoning in one
of the answer choices. In order to find the correct answer, we want to
look for a choice that concludes one of the statements that we have on
the necessary side of one of the principles, offering the
corresponding sufficient condition as its support.

(E) says, "After writing a story about a possible political scandal, a
journalist invoked her legal rights and refused to reveal the names of
her sources who had spoken on condition of anonymity. The journalist's
refusal to divulge her secret was morally right."

Using the two principles from the stimulus, we're only able to make
conclusions about what is morally wrong or what is not morally right.
(E)'s conclusion, which is one about what is morally right, is
something that we're not able to conclude based on our principles, so
we can get rid of (E).

(A) says, "Kathryn revealed a secret entrusted to her by her brother.
Kathryn did not promise not to reveal the secret and her revealing it
was likely to benefit all parties concerned. However, because she was
under no legal obligation to reveal the secret, her action was not
morally right."

In order to conclude that something wasn't morally right, we must know
that someone revealed a secret even when they weren't obligated to do
so or that revealing the secret would harm him or herself (this is
from the contrapositive of the first principle, which states not LO or
HO - >not MRRS).

Since we know that Kathryn wasn't under legal obligation, we can state
that it wasn't morally right for her to reveal the secret. Thus, (A)
is the correct answer choice.

Does this make sense? Let us know if you have any more questions!

Sabrina-O'Brien on November 20, 2019

But the 2nd part of the stimulus says there is another situation in which it is morally wrong if someone had promised to keep the secret and revealed it despite knowing it would cause harm to others.
Answer A says that Kathryn did NOT promise to keep the secret and the revelation was likely to BENEFIT others. Therefore, how can you conclude that it is morally wrong based on the principle?

shunhe on December 22, 2019

Hi Sabrina,

The important distinction here to note is one between an action's being "not morally right" and "morally wrong," which are used interchangeably in real life but have two different meanings in this case. Thus, we are not concluding that the action is morally wrong. We are simply concluding that it is not morally right for the reasons that Ravi mentioned. Hopefully this helps!