Is it morally wrong to profit from other people's mistakes or stupidity?

Much depends on whether one is profiting passively or actively (taking advantage). Passive profiting is generally alright (as when you continue to enjoy the great view from your living room because your neighbor mistakenly believes that it would be illegal to build a highrise on the adjacent property). Taking advantage is generally wrong, especially when, exploiting another's stupidity, you cause her mistake (e.g., by provoking her to agree to an unwinnable bet). Somewhat less active cases are ones where you have no role in bringing about the mistake, but nonetheless do something to exploit it. This may be wrong -- as when you pick up a chunk of money another has dropped and keep it rather than try to get it back to its owner. Or it may be alright in minor cases, as when you keep some change you find in a pay phone's coin return. The moral situation changes in competitive game contexts in which such profiting is understood to be part of the game. In such a game (e.g. chess, poker, boxing), it is...

Can someone's quality of life ever be so bad that you are justified in taking care of them against their will in order to improve it? If so, how bad does it have to be?

It all depends on the mental competence of the other person. If he's not very competent (a child, perhaps, or mentally disabled), then we may interfere with him even to prevent minor harms. One should never interfere with the freedom of fully competent adults in order to improve their quality of life. Still, when a person's quality of life becomes very low, her mental competence may come into question. It is very hard to think rationally when one is in severe pain, for example. And in such cases it may be justified, then, to take care of someone against her own will. Here we still face the question of WHO is so justified. A good candidate is a family member who intimately knows the person and what she would wish if she were feeling better. A poor candidate is some stranger, driven perhaps by moral or religious values that the person does not share. So, when a normally competent adult is in such bad shape that his capacity for decision-making is impaired, then others who know him well may interfere...

I'm a medical doctor. I have had to do CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) in public, outside of the hospital, at least six times in my life. Only one time did a patient recover partly - for another two months. It is a well-known medical fact that a very small percentage of 'resuscitated' subjects recover entirely after their heart attack. If she survives, the patient will often be reduced to a vegetative state. I myself would definitely not want to be administered CPR in case of a heart attack. How does my behaviour/attitude square with the Golden Rule of doing unto others as I would have them do to me? I'm Dutch, and in Holland all medical doctors are sworn in with Hippocrates' Oath, which clearly conflicts with not administering CPR. Should I stop extramural CPR, or honour my oath in spite of myself?

You would not want to have CPR administered to yourself. And you would also not want to be treated contrary to your wishes. In order to apply the Golden Rule, we need to know which of these two desires is controlling. I would think it is the latter. If so, you should administer CPR to those who would want to have CPR administered -- thereby treating them in accordance with their wishes, just as you want to be treated in accordance with your wishes. To be sure, what a heart attack victim wants or would want is often unknown. But we can overcome this ignorance by making available some simple cards or stickers through which people can communicate their choices ("please do / do not administer CPR in the event of a heart attack"). Still, many heart attack victims have no such information on them, and this problem cannot be wholly avoided. Doctors must therefore sometimes act under uncertainty. Here, I think, the burden of decision-making should not fall upon them. Society should give clear legal...

If I own something that is essential for other people to live, like medicines, and I know that I have made it impossible for them to afford it, am I responsible for their death?

Yes you are. Your decision to deny others access to the life-savingdrug has led to their death. But how serious is your responsibilityfrom a moral point of view? That depends on the circumstances. Perhapsthe medicine was in short supply and you needed what you had for yourown survival or that of your family. In this case, I think you didnothing wrong. Or perhaps the medicine was in short supply and youchose to give it to those who could pay you the most. This way ofrationing your supply is not beyond moral criticism, but at least yourdrugs saved as many people as possible and so your conduct did notincrease the number of deaths beyond what was unavoidable. Nowconsider drug companies in the real world. They patent their medicinesand then enjoy exclusive rights to sell them at monopoly prices, whichcan be 400 times higher than the marginal cost of production. There aregeneric producers in developing countries which produce much cheaperversions of the same drug for sale to the poor. But the...