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View Poll Results: Which is the morally correct option?
It is right to kill the one for the five in both situations, but I could not push the fat man 49 44.55%
It is right to kill the one for the five, and I could push the fat man (psychopath) 41 37.27%
It is not right to kill the one for the five in either situation 20 18.18%
Voters: 110. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-25-2012, 09:35 PM   #221
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I think attributing responsibility and morality to actions/inactions and choices between "possible worlds" is not as easy as people seem it is (like the guy who said "by neglecting to push the fat guy into the train you are responsible for the deaths of the 5 people" or something like that).


...also apparently people are talking about some unrelated stuff in this last page.
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:39 PM   #222
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I'd say I could, but I probably couldn't.
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Old 11-25-2012, 09:42 PM   #223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
I think attributing responsibility and morality to actions/inactions and choices between "possible worlds" is not as easy as people seem it is (like the guy who said "by neglecting to push the fat guy into the train you are responsible for the deaths of the 5 people" or something like that).


That would be me, and I've found it quite easy to do. Even the sir I was debating with who said it is wrong to flip the switch has agreed that inactions, such as not taking a lego away from a choking baby, are still morally wrong and irresponsible. The only argument is whether that is just as bad as flipping the switch or choking the baby yourself. I say that it is.
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:31 PM   #224
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Originally Posted by Macabre_Turtle
That would be me, and I've found it quite easy to do. In the sir I was debating with who said it is wrong to flip the switch has agreed that inactions, such as not taking a lego away from a choking baby, are still morally wrong and irresponsible. The only argument is whether that is just as bad as flipping the switch or choking the baby yourself. I say that it is.


Again it's not that easy.
You also have to take into account several factors:
-Context
-Psychology of the person
-Other psychological effects (for instance the "bystander effect", which can easily happen in your "baby choked by lego" example)
-**** basically anything else at all.

"Failing to take a lego out of a choking baby's mouth" is not a single situation. There can be million of situations in which that can happen and each one would be different and would be analyzed different, and could even have different "results".


If you are alone next to that child, you acknowledge he is choking, and there's nothing in the context to make you rush any decision, then yes failing to at least try to take the lego out is immoral.

However, imagine the child is in a dark alley in the street. You notice him but you are stressed about your work/other stuff and have to hurry to get somewhere else. You are walking pretty fast on the street, and not only that but there are plenty of people on it as well (but they don't notice the baby).

Because of your emotional stress, the fact that you think "someone else may notice him, so I don't really have to do anything", your subconscious fear of going into the dark alley (maybe because you could get mugged or something could happen to you), your subconscious desire to stick to the routine and the "schedule" your brain already devised for that day (leave home, walk, get to work, etc), and the fact that as you are trying to think about your decision you are running out of time and may feel some "bystander pressure" since there are lots of people around pushing you to move and the like, you would just keep walking and not take the lego out of the baby's mouth.
Is it immoral in that case? Again, imagining nobody else noticed the baby and the baby died.

If you say it is immoral and it's as immoral as killing the baby himself, imagine in that same scenario there was a dude, who saw a baby in the alley, sneaked past him, put the lego in his mouth and sat there in the shadows watching him die.


Go on and tell me both guys have the same responsibility for the death of the baby and their actions/inactions have the same level of immorality.

If you do then sorry to tell you, but your whole city is filled with mass-murderers, and you may even be one yourself.


Also now take the exact same scenario about the guy seeing the baby in the alley, and replace "he sees a baby in the alley choking on a lego" with "he sees a train going to kill 5 people but sees that by pushing the fat guy next to the rails the 5 could be saved" and tell me if you still think the guy is responsible for the deaths of the 5 people.
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:50 PM   #225
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You're entire post considered... it is still completely immoral to ignore the baby, yes. Perhaps a bit short of how immoral it is to choke the baby yourself, but we are also considering five compared to one, and ignoring five choking babies is certainly more evil than choking one yourself. Especially if you did it in a strange situation where choking one baby saves the other five.

Emotional stress, or being in a hurry is no excuse.
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:58 PM   #226
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What are the chances of 6 people being trapped on railtracks?
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:20 PM   #227
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Originally Posted by macaroni
What are the chances of 6 people being trapped on railtracks?


Irrelevant.
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:29 PM   #228
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Macabre_Turtle
You're entire post considered... it is still completely immoral to ignore the baby, yes.


Sorry to tell you but it happens lots of times and mostly to "normal non-evil" people.
It's just a bunch of stuff that happens that leads them to act that way.

When we try to decide moral actions, we are usually taking them from a rational point of view, like "detaching" ourselves from the situation and trying to think of it objectively.
The point is that doesn't happen at all in like 90% of the time those situation happen (yeah random number, whatever), and thus may crumble the whole "moral" analysis you made, at least in terms of attributing stuff to the person committing that action/inaction or said action/inaction itself related to that person.
Of course you could also study this in a "meta" fashion, determining how to analyze these kind of situations (for instance, how you relate the morality of an action to the person that committed it in a generic fashion, no matter the specific action)

Quote:
Perhaps a bit short of how immoral it is to choke the baby yourself, but we are also considering five compared to one, and ignoring five choking babies is certainly more evil than choking one yourself.


No it's not. Again you are trying to simplify everything.

What if ignoring those 5 choking babies prevents the whole world from exploding? It's not such an "evil" action now isn't it?
What if a bomb just rained down on you, you see the 5 babies choking/dying, but because you are scared and you want to make sure your family/friends are okay or just instinctively want to get the hell away from there you start running and leave? Are you certainly more evil than a guy that decides to choke a baby out of nowhere?

If so then most people in the Gaza region are evil monsters, since after a missile fell on top of their heads they decided to get the **** out of there into hospitals/get to see their family/etc instead of going into the rubble and save every single person ever.

Quote:
Especially if you did it in a strange situation where choking one baby saves the other five.


Actually, if saving those 5 choking babies requires you to choke one yourself then "Especially..." is not the word that you are looking for, but rather "Exceptionably..."


EDIT: Of course the Gaza example is about the people that obviously didn't go into the rubble to try and save people. Also the "most" thing may not be true, it was just an example

Last edited by gonzaw : 11-25-2012 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:44 PM   #229
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
Sorry to tell you but it happens lots of times and mostly to "normal non-evil" people.
It's just a bunch of stuff that happens that leads them to act that way.

When we try to decide moral actions, we are usually taking them from a rational point of view, like "detaching" ourselves from the situation and trying to think of it objectively.
The point is that doesn't happen at all in like 90% of the time those situation happen (yeah random number, whatever), and thus may crumble the whole "moral" analysis you made, at least in terms of attributing stuff to the person committing that action/inaction or said action/inaction itself related to that person.
Of course you could also study this in a "meta" fashion, determining how to analyze these kind of situations (for instance, how you relate the morality of an action to the person that committed it in a generic fashion, no matter the specific action)


I've already acknowledged early in this thread (and so has half of the poll) that we won't necessarily do the moral thing for other reasons. That doesn't mean it's suddenly not the moral thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
No it's not. Again you are trying to simplify everything.

What if ignoring those 5 choking babies prevents the whole world from exploding? It's not such an "evil" action now isn't it?
What if a bomb just rained down on you, you see the 5 babies choking/dying, but because you are scared and you want to make sure your family/friends are okay or just instinctively want to get the hell away from there you start running and leave? Are you certainly more evil than a guy that decides to choke a baby out of nowhere?

If so then most people in the Gaza region are evil monsters, since after a missile fell on top of their heads they decided to get the **** out of there into hospitals/get to see their family/etc instead of going into the rubble and save every single person ever.


And this is you over complicating things. We are analyzing very simple situations, and you're trying to correlate them with really complicated situations. I didn't say anything about your own life being at risk, nor anybody outside of the babies/people on the tracks. That addition makes your scenario completely incomparable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
Actually, if saving those 5 choking babies requires you to choke one yourself then "Especially..." is not the word that you are looking for, but rather "Exceptionably..."


No. I was looking for the word especially.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:17 AM   #230
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Macabre_Turtle
I've already acknowledged early in this thread (and so has half of the poll) that we won't necessarily do the moral thing for other reasons. That doesn't mean it's suddenly not the moral thing.


I think the "morality" of the action should take that into account

You could abstract "actions" as independent stuff and apply a "morality" attribute to them. But actions have actors, have a situation they were acted on, etc.
Ignoring all those issues to determine if an "action" is moral or not is not good enough for me.

Again, for instance the usual "It's immoral to murder someone".
Yes, if you meet some stranger in the street and shoot him in the head it's probably immoral.
It may not be immoral to kill someone that's threatening someone else's life for instance.
It's the same action, but different context.
Or rather...they are not the same action, but you choose to abstract them into a same category and treat them the same.

Same with what I was talking about earlier.
It may be not immoral to fail to come to the choking baby's aid in that specific scenario I presented. It may be not immoral because it's not the dude's responsibility to save the child, and the context in which that situation happened doesn't give him any "innate" responsibility to do so, at least not compared to the "innate" responsibility someone else may have, like for instance the baby's mother (EDIT: Or someone right next to the baby that's just standing there doing nothing, or someone whose job is to avoid thes kind of situations)
That may be one take of that situation (although I don't really like the dude not going to the baby's aid, I don't think I'd call it "evil" or even "immoral"; but yeah that could span other discussions about what constitutes morality.).
However, there are other situations where failing to save a choking baby may be immoral.

Since the different situations matter and it's not just "failing to save a choking baby is immoral", then those aspects of the situations should be taken into account.


Quote:
And this is you over complicating things. We are analyzing very simple situations, and you're trying to correlate them with really complicated situations. I didn't say anything about your own life being at risk, nor anybody outside of the babies/people on the tracks. That addition makes your scenario completely incomparable.


There are no simple situations.

You may decide to abstract a situation to "simplify" it for a specific analysis, if you deem the rest of the details about it as not important.
If they are, then you can't abstract it, end of point.

I think those "incomparable" things I add to the situations are important to determine the morality of an action or not. If they are then I can't ignore them and just say "Pff yeah they don't matter" and treat a whole bunch of different actions as the same, when I should be treating them differently.

Again, it'd be like saying "Stealing is immoral" or "Murdering is immoral" and that's it.
You just categorize a whole bunch of actions and analyze that categorization, when you should not.

At worst if you still want "simple" situations to analyze, then make it less abstract.
For instance differentiating "Murdering" to "Murdering someone for no reason" and "Murdering someone to save someone else" or "Murdering someone for X reason" and analyze those different categorizations (which are still more specific than the other one) instead.
By making some minor assumptions you could come up with an answer to those, or at least be able to analyze it.
If it still doesn't work, then specialize it a little bit more.

Quote:
No. I was looking for the word especially.


Wait...so if you have to kill a baby to save 5 babies it's somehow more "moral" than saving 5 babies without killing anybody?

Or the other way round: so failing to save 5 babies by killing another baby makes you certainly more evil than failing to save 5 babies without any killing involved?

Last edited by gonzaw : 11-26-2012 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:45 AM   #231
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
I think the "morality" of the action should take that into account

You could abstract "actions" as independent stuff and apply a "morality" attribute to them. But actions have actors, have a situation they were acted on, etc.
Ignoring all those issues to determine if an "action" is moral or not is not good enough for me.

Again, for instance the usual "It's immoral to murder someone".
Yes, if you meet some stranger in the street and shoot him in the head it's probably immoral.
It may not be immoral to kill someone that's threatening someone else's life for instance.
It's the same action, but different context.
Or rather...they are not the same action, but you choose to abstract them into a same category and treat them the same.


You realize that by saying that I think you should flip the lever I am agreeing that there are situation where immoral things suddenly become moral things? I'm only saying that your particular example of being tired or in a hurry or whatever it was you said, that in particular was not a good reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
Same with what I was talking about earlier.
It may be not immoral to fail to come to the choking baby's aid in that specific scenario I presented. It may be not immoral because it's not the dude's responsibility to save the child, and the context in which that situation happened doesn't give him any "innate" responsibility to do so, at least not compared to the "innate" responsibility someone else may have, like for instance the baby's mother.
That may be one take of that situation (although I don't really like the dude not going to the baby's aid, I don't think I'd call it "evil" or even "immoral"; but yeah that could span other discussions about what constitutes morality.).
However, there are other situations where failing to save a choking baby may be immoral.


I've agreed that sometimes circumstances can make a typically immoral action become moral, this is not one of those circumstances. "With great power comes great responsibility." Sorry if you don't think you should do good things just because you can, but I think these are words to live by. You have the power to save a choking baby? Then you ****ing do it. I'm sorry, but there is no situation where you are going to say "I watched a baby choke to death. I could have done something about it, at no risk to myself or others, but it wasn't my responsibility," and the person you're talking to is going to say, "gee, you're right." Its evil. [/QUOTE]

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
Since the different situations matter and it's not just "failing to save a choking baby is immoral", then those aspects of the situations should be taken into account.


As I'm sure you've caught on by now, I've noted this throughout the entire thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
There are no simple situations.

You may decide to abstract a situation to "simplify" it for a specific analysis, if you deem the rest of the details about it as not important.
If they are, then you can't abstract it, end of point.


We're talking about a thought experiment, sir. If a detail isn't there then it isn't there. If somebody says you should flip the lever, you can't just add on more nonsense like "what if that lever drowned a smaller country!?" At that point, you didn't refute anybody's argument. You've created a whole new scenario and philosophical question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
I think those "incomparable" things I add to the situations are important to determine the morality of an action or not. If they are then I can't ignore them and just say "Pff yeah they don't matter" and treat a whole bunch of different actions as the same, when I should be treating them differently.


As noted, you've created an entirely different scenario, and again, yes, I agree that the details matter of a situation matter towards what is moral or not. For instance murder is clearly wrong. But I've obviously agreed that killing one person to save five is not immoral. You're insisting that I don't care for the details, and I have clearly displayed through the entire thread that I absolutely do. I'm only saying that your particular situations details do not match up to mine, and again - it is incomparable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
Again, it'd be like saying "Stealing is immoral" or "Murdering is immoral" and that's it.
You just categorize a whole bunch of actions and analyze that categorization, when you should not.


See above again. There is no "and that's it."

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
At worst if you still want "simple" situations to analyze, then make it less abstract.
For instance differentiating "Murdering" to "Murdering someone for no reason" and "Murdering someone to save someone else" or "Murdering someone for X reason" and analyze those different categorizations (which are still more specific than the other one) instead.
By making some minor assumptions you could come up with an answer to those, or at least be able to analyze it.
If it still doesn't work, then specialize it a little bit more.


This seems to be more of having no idea what I'm trying to argue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzaw
Wait...so if you have to kill a baby to save 5 babies it's somehow more "moral" than saving 5 babies without killing anybody?

Or the other way round: so failing to save 5 babies by killing another baby makes you certainly more evil than failing to save 5 babies without any killing involved?


No, sir. It says that choking a baby to save 5 babies is more moral than choking a baby for the hell of it.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:10 AM   #232
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But the guy that you sacrificed to save the five has his own family, friends and kids that will mourn his death and it isn't fair to say that you pushed him in to save other people.

In reality, I would probably do nothing in this situation. I couldn't bring myself to push someone in/pull the switch to kill someone else, I would just let what is going to happen, happen. I'm not the one to decide who dies.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:11 AM   #233
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Consequentialism vs. Deontology 101. They're called trolley car problems. One where people differ is pushing a fat man vs flipping a switch. Or you can make the one person Hitler.

You're not a psychopath for pushing the fat man either.

For me it depends on the people, but if the folks were unknown, I'd allow the 5 to die. Who am I to decide? Doing vs. Allowing.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:16 AM   #234
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In reality, I would probably do nothing in this situation. I couldn't bring myself to push someone in/pull the switch to kill someone else.

Yeah, but who can know? I mean, we all do things in the heat of the moment that might not make sense, and say things that might not turn out to be true.
Y'know?

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Old 11-26-2012, 01:19 AM   #235
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Yeah, but who can know? I mean, we all do things in the heat of the moment that might not make sense, and say things that might not turn out to be true.
Y'know?





A better question is would you sacrifice yourself to save five people? 100 people? 1000 people?
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:20 AM   #236
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A better question yet is why have I stayed up this late?
Nighty night.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:33 AM   #237
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Originally Posted by Jostry
But the guy that you sacrificed to save the five has his own family, friends and kids that will mourn his death and it isn't fair to say that you pushed him in to save other people.

In reality, I would probably do nothing in this situation. I couldn't bring myself to push someone in/pull the switch to kill someone else, I would just let what is going to happen, happen. I'm not the one to decide who dies.


And those five people don't?

When nobody reacts, the five people die, and everybody there chose it to be that way.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:36 AM   #238
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@Macabre_Turtle: Ehmm..you are arguing that failing to save a choking baby/flipping the switch is "as evil" as killing the people yourself, and "ignoring 5 babies from being choked to death is certainly more evil than choking one yourself".

If you said the "details matter" why would you say something like the above?
Unless you think there doesn't exist any specific situation at all where that changes.

I can only think of this type of thinking as "equate inaction to prevent X with action to cause X" and "more people somehow increase the morality of the issue no matter what".
I don't see how any of these make you "agree" with the stuff I'm saying.

Quote:
"With great power comes great responsibility." Sorry if you don't think you should do good things just because you can, but I think these are words to live by. You have the power to save a choking baby? Then you ****ing do it


You have the power to drop from college, take all the money from your bank, travel to Africa and maybe save more than 100 african boys from starving which would otherwise have died if you didn't. Why aren't you ****ing doing it?

You have the power to not buy a new PC or whatever and instead give everything to charity, so why aren't you ****ing doing it? (of course if you are indeed doing it completely ignore this lol).

Again (my whole point in this whole conversation), things are not that easy to analyze. Even having "power" is relative.
Someone that chooses to be a president for instance chose to have that power, acknowledges he has that power, and may actually want to have that power. Yes, in that case you could say he has great responsibility over his "great power".
However, not all power may be willingly gained, or wanted, or even acknowledged.

For instance, did you acknowledge you had the power to travel to Africa and directly save African children? I don't think you did.
Same with any of these examples that are presented. The power to save a choking baby from death may be not acknowledged, or not processed, or not thought about (because of lack of time for instance).

However this is another discussion, although it's linked to my main point (morality and responsibility is not this easy to attribute, specially not on "simplified" situations).

Quote:
No, sir. It says that choking a baby to save 5 babies is more moral than choking a baby for the hell of it.


If you say "Especially" it means that the statement has even more meaning in that scenario. Which means that if you have to kill a baby to save other 5, then it is even "truer" that if you fail to do so it makes you certainly more evil than killing the 5 babies yourself.

The "evil" action is killing 5 babies yourself, yet in one scenario (choke 1 baby to save them) the inaction is more evil than it than in the second scenario (not choke a baby to save them).

Again since the "evil" action is the same, and one action is more evil than that one relatively to the other scenario, then it means that one action is more evil than the other one.
A = Kill 5 babies
B = Fail to (save 5 babies)
C = Fail to (kill 1 baby to save 5 babies)

A < B
A << C
-> B < C

Which makes no sense.



Also okay, you still think the guy ignoring the choking baby in the alley is immoral. I could try to come up with a more "extreme" example but meh I'm lazy.
The point is that in a specific scenario, a person doesn't start rationally thinking "Okay, I have a clear black and white choice here, X or NOT X. Which one do I choose? Okay, which one is the moral one? X? Okay then I will do X".
Decision making is not that simple, and maybe if there was a special situation where that guy could think like that, then he would choose X.
I think it's what the guy in the original video said too lol (although I didn't really listen much to what he said...damn that hair).

You are thinking of actions as independent entities in reality. An "immoral action" is immoral no matter what in your opinion, and what is immoral is this abstract thing that this person does, no matter anything else.
That's not how I think of morality of actions/inactions, specially not on situations where the action can't be rationally analyzed like stated before, which usually happens in these "extreme" scenarios people talk about.
If the action can be rationally analyzed at certain points, like deciding to rob a bank, then yes it would be easier to analyze it.

Quote:
...being tired or in a hurry or whatever it was you said, that in particular was not a good reason.


It's psychology. Any mind would not care at all if that's a "good reason" or not and decide to act on it subconsciously even.
It can happen to you as well, and happens to everybody.
If the mind is the one that makes the decisions that lead to "moral" or "immoral" actions, but the mind is "affected" by different factors that determine how it makes those decisions....then what's the point of calling those actions "moral" or "immoral" in the first place? If the mind is affected in certain ways people would do "immoral" actions anyways, and you know they would do them (if you knew what affected their minds), so why label him "evil" or "immoral" if it's not a direct rational choice of his mind?
Why not analyze it taking everything into account and then determine if it's "moral" or not?
At least that's what I think.

For instance, I don't really think the "bystander effect" is "the worst thing of humanity" or something like some people make it out to be...since it happens to everybody basically (which is also basically the example of the baby in the alley I gave).
It's just how the brains of everybody work.

You could say that I'm not actually arguing for immoral actions being moral but rather immoral actions being justified....and you may be right, but then what is the difference between an amoral action and an immoral action that's justified? Why should there be a difference?
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:37 AM   #239
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My favorite answer to letting the 5 die other than Kantian stuff is the fact that we don't need more people in the world.
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:47 AM   #240
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jostry


A better question is would you sacrifice yourself to save five people? 100 people? 1000 people?


No personally, unless the choice was black and white (like I'd know 100% that my sacrifice would save 1000 and would know 100% me living would kill those 1000) and had time to think about it.
But in the nick of the time nobody will choose that if the above doesn't happen, and if they choose it it's because of some underlying psychological/instinctual issue and not the rational decision alone (again because in reality the situation is vague and there's no clear answer and there's little time to think about it).

Last edited by gonzaw : 11-26-2012 at 01:48 AM.
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