Making the Virtuous Decision

In order to explore the validity of utilitarianism, Bernard Williams created the example of
Jim and the Indians.In this example, Jim becomes lost while on a botanical expedition.
He happens upon a small South American town, where he sees twenty Indians tied up
against a wall.A man informs him that the Indians engaged in several acts of protest
against the government, and are going to be killed to serve as an example to the rest of the
villagers.The man tells Jim that since he is a guest, he can have the privilege of killing one
of the Indians if he wishes.If Jim does choose to kill one of the Indians, the remaining
nineteen will go free.The Indians and some observers are begging Jim to kill one of the
Indians.At this point, Jim has three options:
1) Kill one of the Indians, allowing for the lives of the other nineteen.However,
Jim will have to live forever with the guilt of killing someone.
2)Kill no one, resulting in the deaths of all twenty Indians.However, Jim will not
be directly responsible for murdering anyone.
3)Act as though he is going to kill one Indian, and then steal the man's gun,
fighting valiantly to save all of the Indians.However, Jim knows for certain
that this attempt will be unsuccessful, and probably result in his own death as well.
Unfortunately, none of these options seem particularly appealing.Yet, Jim is
forced to make a decision. I am going to attempt to guide Jim to the most "virtuous"
decision by examining the merits of each choice through different philosophical
One way Jim could go about making this decision could be through using a
utilitarian approach.If this were so, Jim would make the choice that would bring about
the most overall happiness.Seemingly, this choice would be option number one, which
would save the most lives.There are two main downfalls to choosing option one for
One of these downfall…

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