There is indeed a conflict here. At least two questions come to mind. What should Stockmann do when he first suspects or learns that a problem exists with the water? What should the community do when it learns of the problem?
The first question above asks how Stockmann ought to act. It may be a moral question. We might ask for example whether Stockmann has any obligation to involve the officers of the baths at an earlier state of his investigations. That's not clear. We may want to let this issue sit for a bit.
The second question seems clearly to involve a moral issue. What ought the community to do in the light of the threat to the health of the users of the baths?
We know that some people who have used the baths have become sick, though we don't know how many, nor how sick they have become. We know that tests indicate that the waters of the baths are contaminated, though we do not know how badly, nor do we know much about the nature of the contamination, whether it is of a type that is treatable, filterable, etc.
Whose interests are at stake? First, I hope, are the interests of the visitors who use the baths. But the community and its individuals also have strong interests since the baths are a major part of the local economy. And of course the officers of the baths have special interests presumably due to the extent of their financial holdings in the baths. Stockmann has a special interest in the matter because of his medical obligations and his conscience. We might also say that his family has particular interests in the matter, although their interests are really more in how Stockmann acts than in the community's decision about how to respond to the problem.
We can't answer this one with confidence without more study of the matter, but we can at least speculate. Here are some possible actions relevant to the contamination.
Well, I think that would be actions a, c, d, and e above.
Solve the problem, one way or another, taking into consideration the costs of each approach.
How about c or d?
Anything except b.
I think that would have to be c, d, or e. Any solution which protects the users of the baths and yet allows them to remain economically viable for the community seems to promote the common good.
We must admit that we are short of data. We don't know the cost of reconstruction. We don't know if the contaminated water can be successfully treated or filtered, and we don't know the cost if it is possible. We don't know if there are alternative uses for the baths, nor do we know their value to the community. If it is possible, this would be a good time to proceed with more study and research.
If there is no time, then we should close the baths and proceed with reconstruction.
I think there is a point which hasn't been raised yet, which would be in the minds of persons of good judgment. This is that the contamination of the baths almost certainly can't be hidden. It is out in the open, and tourists are probably going to hear of it. When more cases of sickness arise, and rumors circulate about the waters, things will come to a head. If the community wants the economic value of the baths for years to come it will have to face the problem.. Denying the problem can have only a very short term benefit.
Yes, I think so. My conscience is clear, and I think that the community will feel better about this solution, once they get used to it, and be better off economically in the long run. Fixing the water supply may give us the opportunity to review the entire baths facility, perhaps update and improve it. We will have to sacrifice short term value for long term gain. This is a very common trade-off in ethical problems.
Well, we had another town meeting. People have cooled off, and have also come to understand that they couldn't in good conscience do anything else. Also, they realize that the problem couldn't be effectively hidden anyway. Dr. Stockmann has been away now for a couple of months, and a number of members of the compact majority have begun to say that he wasn't such a bad fellow after all. And, of course, the local economy has gotten a shot in the arm from the construction work going on at the baths. After observing this Peter Stockmann has quietly let it be known that in fact he had for a long time.....but that's another story, so we shall break here, and leave the town to its own devices.