Experimental Learning Tools
Tools may be incomplete or have errors. Their purpose is to clarify the basic concept of the tool. The finished product would likely have a different appearance.
Kobayashi Maru 1
You are suddenly transported to a concrete cell with 4 other people, two women and two men. One woman carries an infant in her arms. The cell is filling with water from a large pipe in one wall. Another wall has a barred window through which you can see a door in another room. The opposite wall has an open window through which you can see a ledge some 30 feet below. Large, very heavy bowling-ball like objects are falling at random from some invisible source far above. In the room, you see a thick rope about 20 feet long and a medium weight sledge hammer.
(Note: This is only a concept test. Only the first level of this tool is finished. A completed version would not allow you to go back to access other decision paths until you have completed an entire path.)
Your first action involves:
assessing the situation -- getting more data
using the sledge hammer
using the rope
NOTE: This example is based on a wonderful exercise written by philosopher Anthony Weston in his book A 21st Century Ethical Toolbox. I asked the copyright holders for permission to reproduce the text (about one page) for use in public education. They declined. I have therefore given credit, changed the verbage used by Weston (working only from memory, avoiding any lengthy word-for-word phrases), and adapted the story for my own purposes. I believe this use is entirely within the "fair use" provision of the copyright laws. (There is no copyright on ideas -- only exact words used to express ideas). This exercise has a slightly different educational outcome and focus than Weston's.
You are the captain of a small merchant spaceship with a crew of 5. Your spaceship has crash landed on an alien planet. There is no hope of repairing the ship. You and your crew will probably be marooned on this planet until you die.
Officially, you and your crew fall under the "non-interference in alien civilizations" law (as in Star Trek). But this applies as a matter of strict law only to military personnel. As merchants, the application of the law to your case is less clear. In any case, your crew has taken matters into its own hands. They have studied and interacted with the local environment. You now know that
- The oceans (approximately 70% of the planet surface) are teeming with life. Life on this planet probably originated here.
- Ocean life forms include vertebrates (fish-like), and non-vertebrates (jellyfish-like) forms, but the most abundant form (in terms of total mass) is plant life. These floating plants provide much of the oxygen to the sea and the atmosphere.
- Your crew is most impressed with the air-breathing animals that appear to enjoy swimming and playing with humans. Intrigued by the noises these animals made, one of your crew even piped his electric guitar (yes, there was one aboard!) output into the sea. He found that the animals responded to his improvisations with improvisations of their own.
Intrinsic Worth: Value Assignment Tool
What value -- low, medium, or high -- would you assign each of the following? In a course setting, you would be able to compare your answers with others.