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  • Morality questions.

    Two situations

    First:

    There is a train coming that will hit and kill 5 track workers. You can pull a lever and divert the train but it will kill another worker on the other track.


    Second:

    Same train with same five workers in danger. This time you are on a bridge a ways away. There is a guy on the bridge with you looking over the edge. If you push the guy he will fall in front of the train and the train will stop, saving the five workers.


    Which one would you do and which one would you not do? Why?


    Full story.
    Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
    - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
    - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
    - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
    - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
    - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
    - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

  • #2
    Re: Morality questions.

    Fascinating. I like the 3rd question as well.

    "There is a village hiding from soldiers who will come and kill everyone in the village. You're holding your baby, which is colicky and about to cry. You can silence him or her, but doing so will kill the baby. Do you kill the infant?"

    I believe (having never been in any such situation, I cannot be sure) that I would pull the lever and smother the child. I would like to say that I would push the man as well, but I'm not sure. Likewise, I'd like to say that I would smother the child, but I'm not sure I would. The lever, on the other hand, I believe I can safely say would be pulled.

    As to why, direct action makes the killing much more uncomfortable for me. In the case of the infant, the number of people saved outweighs the discomfort, while the lever adds an abstraction that makes it far easier. Likewise, it'd be much easier for me to press a button or trigger than it would be for me to strangle or stab someone to death.
    I can ADS using more than a 2x without significant stutter! This was a good patch.

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    • #3
      Re: Morality questions.

      I'd go with the first situation. Both options stink, but at least with the first one, you are removed by one degree of separation for the death of another person. With the second one, you are directly involved with killing someone by pushing them. Oh yeah, and the second guy is some random stranger, whereas the other guys are workers who are on the tracks anyway. That's the risk they take by having that job. I'd feel horrible, but less bad in the first scenario than the second one.
      "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Morality questions.

        I would not do either.

        As an individual, the only life you have a choice in sacrificing is your own.

        All else in life is a matter of fate. We are merely bystanders until we too meet our fate.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Morality questions.

          Originally posted by AMosely View Post
          I would not do either.

          As an individual, the only life you have a choice in sacrificing is your own.

          All else in life is a matter of fate. We are merely bystanders until we too meet our fate.
          I don't think that was an option in this scenario, though. I interpreted it as we have to pick on or the other. There's no 3rd option listed, such as do nothing or sacrifice yourself.
          "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Morality questions.

            Well, in the bridge scenario, there is the option that the fat man could throw himself off, nobly sacrificing himself to save the others. If he chose to do that, I would applaud him. If he did not choose to do that, I think it would be wrong to push him.

            (The standard scenario involves the man next to you being substantially larger than you, so he would be able to block the train but you wouldn't. Thus jumping off yourself wouldn't do anything.)

            On that line of thinking, I really like the answer provided by one of the commenters in that page about "agency":

            Originally posted by Matthew
            I think the “inner chimp” conclusion as an explanation for our mental resistance to killing someone is somewhat myopic. For me, one of the fundamental human characteristics is agency. Because we each have freedom to choose we recognize that others possess the same ability, and we respect their agency because we would want ours to be respected. Most of our laws are designed to uphold this principle.

            Our resistance to pushing the man off the bridge comes because we recognize as wrong things that take away others’ agency (murder being just one example, albeit the most extreme). When we push the man, we take away his freedom to choose (whether to jump on his own, or not). When we pull the lever, we do not take away anyone’s agency.

            This seemed like such an obvious conclusion to me. I’m surprised they didn’t discuss it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Morality questions.

              Originally posted by AMosely View Post
              I would not do either.

              As an individual, the only life you have a choice in sacrificing is your own.

              All else in life is a matter of fate. We are merely bystanders until we too meet our fate.
              Spoken like a true hero..
              |TG|ARMA Pathfinder
              ..now where did I put my keys?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Morality questions.

                Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
                Two situations

                First:

                There is a train coming that will hit and kill 5 track workers. You can pull a lever and divert the train but it will kill another worker on the other track.


                Second:

                Same train with same five workers in danger. This time you are on a bridge a ways away. There is a guy on the bridge with you looking over the edge. If you push the guy he will fall in front of the train and the train will stop, saving the five workers.


                Which one would you do and which one would you not do? Why?


                Full story.
                Perhaps the argument about 'agency' has something to do with it, but I would pull the lever. I would not, however, push a guy to fall in front of the train.

                Part of this is due to the fact that pulling the lever is simply minimizing the damage, while actively pushing someone to their death is very direct. The guy wouldn't have died if you hadn't pushed him. Not only that, but there's always the chance that the rail workers will look up and see the train at the last second and dive out of the way or something. Pulling a lever doesn't change this chance, but pushing a guy removes all doubt that someone will die and that someone would absolutely die by your hands.

                Baby and village? If the bad guys were within earshot, the baby would suffocate. That's an easy one. It's a matter of just the baby dieing or everyone dieing... I guess it tries to play off the horror of killing a child with your own hands.
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                • #9
                  Re: Morality questions.

                  I dont think I would kill a single worker to save others but may if given the chance. I would not push the guy off the bridge and I would smother the babby if required, the instinct to survive is a strong one.
                  sigpic

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                  • #10
                    Re: Morality questions.

                    There is no way I could kill my own child. Just could not, and would not, do it.

                    You guys you are saying you could look into your baby girls or boys eyes and kill them?

                    Plus if the village is not even prepared to defend itself in any way and can only survive by sacrificing an infant, good riddance.

                    But how you answer the question isn't the interesting part. Why you answer the question the way you do is.
                    Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                    - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                    - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                    - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                    - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                    - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                    - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Morality questions.

                      Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
                      There is no way I could kill my own child. Just could not, and would not, do it.

                      You guys you are saying you could look into your baby girls or boys eyes and kill them?
                      Out of interest, how many people who answered this question actually have children? I expect that anyone with children would not say they would kill the child, and people without would be more likely to say they would.
                      |TG-Irr| westyfield

                      Sig pic by Sonic, avatar by Chalcas. Thanks!
                      Irregular since 2007.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Morality questions.

                        Originally posted by El_Gringo_Grande View Post
                        Plus if the village is not even prepared to defend itself in any way and can only survive by sacrificing an infant, good riddance.
                        Man, it's getting hard to see you all the way up there on your high horse.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Morality questions.

                          If the child is carrying out an action which will inevitably lead to his own death AND your death along with him, I would think you have a duty to stop him even if the only way to do so is to smother him. Its a terrible thing, to be sure, but the alternative is so much worse.

                          *agrees with Fenix*

                          You're showing a lot of disdain for the village there, Gringo. Would you change your mind if the village was defenseless specifically because all its combat-capable men had taken up arms to fight off the invaders, and the villagers were hiding to give the army time to get back from wherever they had been stationed?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Morality questions.

                            Originally posted by TheFeniX View Post
                            Man, it's getting hard to see you all the way up there on your high horse.
                            Originally posted by Kerostasis View Post
                            You're showing a lot of disdain for the village there, Gringo. Would you change your mind if the village was defenseless specifically because all its combat-capable men had taken up arms to fight off the invaders, and the villagers were hiding to give the army time to get back from wherever they had been stationed?
                            A remark to a very hypothetical question garners that kind of response? Interesting.

                            Did you listen to the podcast? If you had you might understand what I am getting at. And you might understand your reaction a bit better as well.

                            Remember when I said the "why" of your answer is more interesting than the "what" of your answer? Really it is, go listen.
                            Iím not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
                            - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
                            - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
                            - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
                            - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
                            - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
                            - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Morality questions.

                              I've spent enough time examing the workings of my own mind that I don't really need a podcast to explain it to me (or give me false leads...)

                              I have no idea how your mind works though, so please enlighten me. Why is it that you think the village's defenselessness translates to worthlessness?

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