Dear NPR Ethicist

I have a tricky question that has been bothering me for a while. Maybe I should ask NPR about it. In the video game “Halo”, the player is often accompanied by a squad of Marines that are driven by the computer and help the player out in combat situations.

These marines are actually fairly intelligent. They will provide cover fire, take cover to keep from getting killed, and also provide a wide variety of commentary on what is going on in the game.

At one particular stage in the game, you land on an enemy star ship and there is a huge fire fight in a hanger. If you lose your squad of marines, the game automatically calls in more help, and another squad arrives.

But, it can happen that a lone super-marine will survive the initial fire fight, putting you in a bad position… you need more help than one marine to get past the next wave of killer aliens, but help will not arrive as long as this super-marine manages to keep himself alive.

So, my ethical question is: should I shoot the last guy in the head so I get a new squad?

thanks Pete