It is 1933. You are in Berlin, Germany. Somehow you find yourself in position to effortlessly steal Adolf Hitler’s wallet. This theft will not affect Hitler’s rise to power, the nature of World War II, or the Holocaust. There are no important papers in the wallet, but the act will cost Hitler forty Reichsmarks and completely ruin his evening. You do not need the money. The odds that you will be caught are less than 2% but if caught you will be executed. Are you ethically obligated to steal Hitler’s wallet?
This one’s easy — no, I’m not. He’s not going to lose anything important, and it’s not going to stop him from committing mass murder, which would be the only reason I’d feel obligated (or really be obligated) to steal the wallet. All I’d really do is just piss him off, and I guess you could argue that ruining his night would be worth it — some sort of small retaliation for what he’d do in the future, or something — but that still doesn’t make you obligated to steal it.
In case you’re new to my blog and were curious where this question came from, here’s an explanation. There’s nine questions left, and when I found the link in my e-mail today, I couldn’t just delete it — I had to finish the list.