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The trolley problem

theta_pinch
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2/12/2014 3:34:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?
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EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 3:34:04 PM, theta_pinch wrote:
There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

The most common argument against that position is the idea of murder - that, by inaction, you don't technically murder anyone. My response to this is that "evil" by inaction is still "evil." You are still making a choice by choosing inaction. If a child is drowning in a lake and you can reasonably save the child without putting yourself at risk, and you choose not to do anything, you can still be held accountable for that child's death.
theta_pinch
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2/12/2014 3:56:32 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:34:04 PM, theta_pinch wrote:
There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I agree; the track should be switched.

The most common argument against that position is the idea of murder - that, by inaction, you don't technically murder anyone. My response to this is that "evil" by inaction is still "evil." You are still making a choice by choosing inaction. If a child is drowning in a lake and you can reasonably save the child without putting yourself at risk, and you choose not to do anything, you can still be held accountable for that child's death.
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PotBelliedGeek
Posts: 4,298
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2/12/2014 4:42:54 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
In this instance, most people would pull the lever and kill the individual to save the group.

I think a more interesting twist to this question would be to say that you were standing on a bridge above the trolley track. Next to you stood another person. In order to stop the trolly, the only possible option is to throw the person off of the bridge and onto the lever., ensuring the death of the individual you throw, as well as the diversion of the trolley. You have no other options.

Do you throw the fellow to a certain death, or do nothing?
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Jack212
Posts: 572
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2/12/2014 6:29:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 3:34:04 PM, theta_pinch wrote:
There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?

There is no correct choice. This scenario is flawed because it assumes you're capable of making a rational decision while your body is flooded with adrenaline. You will act according to your instincts and prejudices, regardless of what is ethical.

For me, if it was 5 guys I didn't know vs. 1 guy I didn't know, I wouldn't switch the trolley because I don't care. If there was a woman or child, I'd switch the trolley away from them no matter how many people I killed. If I knew one of the people on the tracks, I'd switch it away from them. If there was somebody I hated on the tracks, I'd switch it towards them no matter what the collateral damage. And if there was a conflict between any of these rules, then I have no idea what the f*ck I'd do because I've never been in that situation.
ADreamOfLiberty
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2/12/2014 6:54:57 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 3:34:04 PM, theta_pinch wrote:
You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?

2

You would only be responsible for the loss of life if you intentionally caused or allowed through neglect the situation in which people were going to be killed.
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theta_pinch
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2/12/2014 10:34:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 4:42:54 PM, PotBelliedGeek wrote:
In this instance, most people would pull the lever and kill the individual to save the group.

I think a more interesting twist to this question would be to say that you were standing on a bridge above the trolley track. Next to you stood another person. In order to stop the trolly, the only possible option is to throw the person off of the bridge and onto the lever., ensuring the death of the individual you throw, as well as the diversion of the trolley. You have no other options.

Do you throw the fellow to a certain death, or do nothing?

I suppose I'd push the person.
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TheAntidoter
Posts: 4,323
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2/13/2014 2:45:49 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 6:29:26 PM, Jack212 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:34:04 PM, theta_pinch wrote:
There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?

There is no correct choice. This scenario is flawed because it assumes you're capable of making a rational decision while your body is flooded with adrenaline. You will act according to your instincts and prejudices, regardless of what is ethical.

For me, if it was 5 guys I didn't know vs. 1 guy I didn't know, I wouldn't switch the trolley because I don't care. If there was a woman or child, I'd switch the trolley away from them no matter how many people I killed. If I knew one of the people on the tracks, I'd switch it away from them. If there was somebody I hated on the tracks, I'd switch it towards them no matter what the collateral damage. And if there was a conflict between any of these rules, then I have no idea what the f*ck I'd do because I've never been in that situation.

^^^What my response would have been.
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bladerunner060
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2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:34:04 PM, theta_pinch wrote:
There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.
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TheAntidoter
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2/13/2014 3:09:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
You have no other options.

Do you throw the fellow to a certain death, or do nothing?

This is ultimltley what I hate about trollying thought experiments, that for a real world scenario, they are never real.

The only reason that it has to be a fat person is because they want to make a false dilemma when the obvious moral choice is to throw yourself in front of the trolley.
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EndarkenedRationalist
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2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:34:04 PM, theta_pinch wrote:
There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You do not have the ability to operate the lever in a way that would cause the trolley to derail without loss of life (for example, holding the lever in an intermediate position so that the trolley goes between the two sets of tracks, or pulling the lever after the front wheels pass the switch, but before the rear wheels do). You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?
bladerunner060
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2/13/2014 3:22:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?

You're supposing that each life has a quantifiable value which is identical, and that 5 of that value is therefore greater than 1. That's a subjective assessment, as there is no real "objective" way to assign value to life like that.
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Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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2/13/2014 3:41:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 3:22:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?

You're supposing that each life has a quantifiable value which is identical, and that 5 of that value is therefore greater than 1. That's a subjective assessment, as there is no real "objective" way to assign value to life like that.

I think I see where you are going, but assuming all lives were equal, why would 5>1 be subjective.
Obviously, if they were 5 meth heads vs. 1 your spouse, I think the choice is clear, but that is where subjectivity lies.
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bladerunner060
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2/13/2014 3:46:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 3:41:28 PM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:22:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?

You're supposing that each life has a quantifiable value which is identical, and that 5 of that value is therefore greater than 1. That's a subjective assessment, as there is no real "objective" way to assign value to life like that.

I think I see where you are going, but assuming all lives were equal, why would 5>1 be subjective.

Because you're assuming all lives were equal.

That is an assumption you can only support by your own subjective decision. Perhaps you decide that, since you cannot make any determination of the value of the 6 total lives, that you've got a "null" result, and cannot decided to move the trolley. That's equally as "objective" as deciding that 5 lives >1 life.
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EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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2/13/2014 4:00:47 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 3:22:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?

You're supposing that each life has a quantifiable value which is identical, and that 5 of that value is therefore greater than 1. That's a subjective assessment, as there is no real "objective" way to assign value to life like that.

I don't think that's an assumption. That's pure numbers. Anything after the number is subjective, but the number itself is not.
bladerunner060
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2/13/2014 4:17:02 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 4:00:47 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:22:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?

You're supposing that each life has a quantifiable value which is identical, and that 5 of that value is therefore greater than 1. That's a subjective assessment, as there is no real "objective" way to assign value to life like that.

I don't think that's an assumption. That's pure numbers. Anything after the number is subjective, but the number itself is not.

It presumes that the "1" is of equal value to each "1" that makes up the "5". You cannot support that except by assuming each life is equal--and doing so is a subjective choice.
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Korashk
Posts: 4,597
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2/13/2014 4:38:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

As others have pointed out, the only objective thing about this hypothetical is that the number 5 is bigger than the number 1. I barely know anything about utilitarianism, but I doubt all that matters under it is numbers.

The most common argument against that position is the idea of murder - that, by inaction, you don't technically murder anyone. My response to this is that "evil" by inaction is still "evil." You are still making a choice by choosing inaction. If a child is drowning in a lake and you can reasonably save the child without putting yourself at risk, and you choose not to do anything, you can still be held accountable for that child's death.

It's rare that a person willingly calls themselves a murderer like you just did. That's what the notion of inaction being immoral means. It means that every day you're accountable for the deaths of thousands who you could have helped but didn't.
When large numbers of otherwise-law abiding people break specific laws en masse, it's usually a fault that lies with the law. - Unknown
EndarkenedRationalist
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2/13/2014 5:24:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 4:17:02 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:00:47 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:22:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?

You're supposing that each life has a quantifiable value which is identical, and that 5 of that value is therefore greater than 1. That's a subjective assessment, as there is no real "objective" way to assign value to life like that.

I don't think that's an assumption. That's pure numbers. Anything after the number is subjective, but the number itself is not.

It presumes that the "1" is of equal value to each "1" that makes up the "5". You cannot support that except by assuming each life is equal--and doing so is a subjective choice.

In mathematics, 1 is equal to 1. You can only reach objectivity by removing every human element. In an objective state, all people are equal. 1 = 1
EndarkenedRationalist
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2/13/2014 5:26:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 4:38:15 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

As others have pointed out, the only objective thing about this hypothetical is that the number 5 is bigger than the number 1. I barely know anything about utilitarianism, but I doubt all that matters under it is numbers.

Utilitarianism runs according to whatever maximises the greatest possible happiness for the greatest number of people.

The most common argument against that position is the idea of murder - that, by inaction, you don't technically murder anyone. My response to this is that "evil" by inaction is still "evil." You are still making a choice by choosing inaction. If a child is drowning in a lake and you can reasonably save the child without putting yourself at risk, and you choose not to do anything, you can still be held accountable for that child's death.

It's rare that a person willingly calls themselves a murderer like you just did. That's what the notion of inaction being immoral means. It means that every day you're accountable for the deaths of thousands who you could have helped but didn't.

You are not given the option to save thousands of lives every day. Most people are not even given the option to save 1.
bladerunner060
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2/13/2014 5:26:54 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 5:24:36 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:17:02 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:00:47 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:22:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?

You're supposing that each life has a quantifiable value which is identical, and that 5 of that value is therefore greater than 1. That's a subjective assessment, as there is no real "objective" way to assign value to life like that.

I don't think that's an assumption. That's pure numbers. Anything after the number is subjective, but the number itself is not.

It presumes that the "1" is of equal value to each "1" that makes up the "5". You cannot support that except by assuming each life is equal--and doing so is a subjective choice.

In mathematics, 1 is equal to 1. You can only reach objectivity by removing every human element. In an objective state, all people are equal. 1 = 1

If we're going to go with math:

http://www.wolframalpha.com...
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EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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2/13/2014 5:30:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 5:26:54 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 5:24:36 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:17:02 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:00:47 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:22:16 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 3:19:04 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 2:49:15 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

I disagree--even that analysis is subjective.

5>1

How is that subjective?

You're supposing that each life has a quantifiable value which is identical, and that 5 of that value is therefore greater than 1. That's a subjective assessment, as there is no real "objective" way to assign value to life like that.

I don't think that's an assumption. That's pure numbers. Anything after the number is subjective, but the number itself is not.

It presumes that the "1" is of equal value to each "1" that makes up the "5". You cannot support that except by assuming each life is equal--and doing so is a subjective choice.

In mathematics, 1 is equal to 1. You can only reach objectivity by removing every human element. In an objective state, all people are equal. 1 = 1

If we're going to go with math:

http://www.wolframalpha.com...

Infinity as a concept does not work in this scenario. Everything around infinity is relative. Infinity is greater than 5 and 1. Doing mathematics on the scale relevant is impossible with infinity. For instance, I cannot subtract 5 from infinity and come out with a clear number. I only get 5 less than infinity. We are dealing with finite numbers.
Korashk
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2/13/2014 5:49:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 5:26:00 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:38:15 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

As others have pointed out, the only objective thing about this hypothetical is that the number 5 is bigger than the number 1. I barely know anything about utilitarianism, but I doubt all that matters under it is numbers.

Utilitarianism runs according to whatever maximises the greatest possible happiness for the greatest number of people.

The most common argument against that position is the idea of murder - that, by inaction, you don't technically murder anyone. My response to this is that "evil" by inaction is still "evil." You are still making a choice by choosing inaction. If a child is drowning in a lake and you can reasonably save the child without putting yourself at risk, and you choose not to do anything, you can still be held accountable for that child's death.

It's rare that a person willingly calls themselves a murderer like you just did. That's what the notion of inaction being immoral means. It means that every day you're accountable for the deaths of thousands who you could have helped but didn't.

You are not given the option to save thousands of lives every day. Most people are not even given the option to save 1.

Yes you are. Every day you could donate all of your extra money to charities to help keep people from starving to death or dying from treatable illnesses, or for any number of other causes and you don't. If you're responding to me from your personal computer by your logic you killed however many people could have been saved by spending the money on them instead.
When large numbers of otherwise-law abiding people break specific laws en masse, it's usually a fault that lies with the law. - Unknown
bladerunner060
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2/13/2014 6:07:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 5:30:45 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

Infinity as a concept does not work in this scenario. Everything around infinity is relative. Infinity is greater than 5 and 1. Doing mathematics on the scale relevant is impossible with infinity. For instance, I cannot subtract 5 from infinity and come out with a clear number. I only get 5 less than infinity. We are dealing with finite numbers.

Are we? Upon what grounds do you assign any concrete value to any human life? I would argue such a determination is inherently subjective, and that while accepting, say, a utilitarian framework gives you an answer, fundamentally any assignment of specific value is inherently subjective.
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EndarkenedRationalist
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2/13/2014 6:14:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 6:07:04 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 5:30:45 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

Infinity as a concept does not work in this scenario. Everything around infinity is relative. Infinity is greater than 5 and 1. Doing mathematics on the scale relevant is impossible with infinity. For instance, I cannot subtract 5 from infinity and come out with a clear number. I only get 5 less than infinity. We are dealing with finite numbers.

Are we? Upon what grounds do you assign any concrete value to any human life? I would argue such a determination is inherently subjective, and that while accepting, say, a utilitarian framework gives you an answer, fundamentally any assignment of specific value is inherently subjective.

I would agree with you once we get into reality. I'm presently positioned in a theoretical perspective. It is practically impossible to view humans objectively.

Look at it this way. Before you are two soundproofed doors. You cannot see through them. You do not know who is behind them. You have no way of knowing anything about the people behind them, not even their gender.
Before you are two levers. If you pull lever A, one person lives and the other dies. If you pull lever B, the other person lives and the other person dies. If you pull neither lever, both people die. You cannot pull both levers.

Are these two people not equal to you?
EndarkenedRationalist
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2/13/2014 6:15:18 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 5:49:58 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/13/2014 5:26:00 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:38:15 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

As others have pointed out, the only objective thing about this hypothetical is that the number 5 is bigger than the number 1. I barely know anything about utilitarianism, but I doubt all that matters under it is numbers.

Utilitarianism runs according to whatever maximises the greatest possible happiness for the greatest number of people.

The most common argument against that position is the idea of murder - that, by inaction, you don't technically murder anyone. My response to this is that "evil" by inaction is still "evil." You are still making a choice by choosing inaction. If a child is drowning in a lake and you can reasonably save the child without putting yourself at risk, and you choose not to do anything, you can still be held accountable for that child's death.

It's rare that a person willingly calls themselves a murderer like you just did. That's what the notion of inaction being immoral means. It means that every day you're accountable for the deaths of thousands who you could have helped but didn't.

You are not given the option to save thousands of lives every day. Most people are not even given the option to save 1.

Yes you are. Every day you could donate all of your extra money to charities to help keep people from starving to death or dying from treatable illnesses, or for any number of other causes and you don't. If you're responding to me from your personal computer by your logic you killed however many people could have been saved by spending the money on them instead.

I thought you might say that. But we're describing direct actions at the moment, not anything done through an intermediary.
MyDinosaurHands
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2/13/2014 6:19:13 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
What would you guys do if the five guys were prisoners?
Guess what I used to type this..

Careful! Don't laugh too hard.
bladerunner060
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2/13/2014 6:23:05 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 6:14:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

I would agree with you once we get into reality. I'm presently positioned in a theoretical perspective. It is practically impossible to view humans objectively.

But even your theoretical aspect assigns a value.

Look at it this way. Before you are two soundproofed doors. You cannot see through them. You do not know who is behind them. You have no way of knowing anything about the people behind them, not even their gender.
Before you are two levers. If you pull lever A, one person lives and the other dies. If you pull lever B, the other person lives and the other person dies. If you pull neither lever, both people die. You cannot pull both levers.

Are these two people not equal to you?

I'm saying the value is undefined and so yes, they're equally "undefined". but 1/0 is as undefined as 5/0 as 100/0.

In your hypothetical, if I do nothing, both die--so a choice is inherently better than no choice.
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Korashk
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2/13/2014 6:26:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 6:15:18 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 5:49:58 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/13/2014 5:26:00 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:38:15 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

As others have pointed out, the only objective thing about this hypothetical is that the number 5 is bigger than the number 1. I barely know anything about utilitarianism, but I doubt all that matters under it is numbers.

Utilitarianism runs according to whatever maximises the greatest possible happiness for the greatest number of people.

The most common argument against that position is the idea of murder - that, by inaction, you don't technically murder anyone. My response to this is that "evil" by inaction is still "evil." You are still making a choice by choosing inaction. If a child is drowning in a lake and you can reasonably save the child without putting yourself at risk, and you choose not to do anything, you can still be held accountable for that child's death.

It's rare that a person willingly calls themselves a murderer like you just did. That's what the notion of inaction being immoral means. It means that every day you're accountable for the deaths of thousands who you could have helped but didn't.

You are not given the option to save thousands of lives every day. Most people are not even given the option to save 1.

Yes you are. Every day you could donate all of your extra money to charities to help keep people from starving to death or dying from treatable illnesses, or for any number of other causes and you don't. If you're responding to me from your personal computer by your logic you killed however many people could have been saved by spending the money on them instead.

I thought you might say that. But we're describing direct actions at the moment, not anything done through an intermediary.

1.) I'm attacking your logic, not the scenario.
2.) On its face there is no moral distinction between helping people directly or indirectly.

Donating money to charities or other aid organizations is a direct action that has the result of saving lives. The only factor to consider is what organization helps the most people with your money.
When large numbers of otherwise-law abiding people break specific laws en masse, it's usually a fault that lies with the law. - Unknown
EndarkenedRationalist
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2/13/2014 8:18:30 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 6:23:05 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 2/13/2014 6:14:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

I would agree with you once we get into reality. I'm presently positioned in a theoretical perspective. It is practically impossible to view humans objectively.

But even your theoretical aspect assigns a value.


Look at it this way. Before you are two soundproofed doors. You cannot see through them. You do not know who is behind them. You have no way of knowing anything about the people behind them, not even their gender.
Before you are two levers. If you pull lever A, one person lives and the other dies. If you pull lever B, the other person lives and the other person dies. If you pull neither lever, both people die. You cannot pull both levers.

Are these two people not equal to you?

I'm saying the value is undefined and so yes, they're equally "undefined". but 1/0 is as undefined as 5/0 as 100/0.

In your hypothetical, if I do nothing, both die--so a choice is inherently better than no choice.

So the people are equal to you?
EndarkenedRationalist
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2/13/2014 8:19:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/13/2014 6:26:26 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/13/2014 6:15:18 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 5:49:58 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/13/2014 5:26:00 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
At 2/13/2014 4:38:15 PM, Korashk wrote:
At 2/12/2014 3:55:16 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
From an objective perspective, as well as one of utility, the correct choice is to pull the lever and save the five people. This is simply quantitative mathematics. Any factors introduced after that turn the prospective from objective to subjective.

As others have pointed out, the only objective thing about this hypothetical is that the number 5 is bigger than the number 1. I barely know anything about utilitarianism, but I doubt all that matters under it is numbers.

Utilitarianism runs according to whatever maximises the greatest possible happiness for the greatest number of people.

The most common argument against that position is the idea of murder - that, by inaction, you don't technically murder anyone. My response to this is that "evil" by inaction is still "evil." You are still making a choice by choosing inaction. If a child is drowning in a lake and you can reasonably save the child without putting yourself at risk, and you choose not to do anything, you can still be held accountable for that child's death.

It's rare that a person willingly calls themselves a murderer like you just did. That's what the notion of inaction being immoral means. It means that every day you're accountable for the deaths of thousands who you could have helped but didn't.

You are not given the option to save thousands of lives every day. Most people are not even given the option to save 1.

Yes you are. Every day you could donate all of your extra money to charities to help keep people from starving to death or dying from treatable illnesses, or for any number of other causes and you don't. If you're responding to me from your personal computer by your logic you killed however many people could have been saved by spending the money on them instead.

I thought you might say that. But we're describing direct actions at the moment, not anything done through an intermediary.

1.) I'm attacking your logic, not the scenario.
2.) On its face there is no moral distinction between helping people directly or indirectly.

Donating money to charities or other aid organizations is a direct action that has the result of saving lives. The only factor to consider is what organization helps the most people with your money.

It's not quite the same. You cannot be held accountable in a court of law for not donating to charity. In the example with the boy drowning, you can be held accountable in a court of law for doing nothing.