11
   

The Watchmen Dilemma

 
 
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 08:16 pm
The human race has developed weapons at an exponential rate far outpacing the development of diplomacy and ethics, and stands on the inevitable verge of a nuclear holocaust, and eventual extinction.

You have in your possession a powerful weapon, the like which could be used on multiple cities across the globe simultaneously and selectively. It has been developed to be completely untraceable towards you. Instead it will be traced towards an 'extra-dimensional' force, and neither the dimension nor the force exist in question.

You sit before the button that, upon receiving your fingerprint and minimal amounts of pressure, would instantaneously massacre twenty million people worldwide, and destroy some of the greatest cities on earth. The superpowers plan to launch their weapons in one week, and if you acted now each would have time to realize what would happened and ally against this 'new threat,' which they would never find.

Do you push the button, becoming the largest mass-murder in the history of known existence, ending the lives of millions, and all of their billions of eventual descendants? Do you bear forever on your conscious that you have ended the lives of so many people?

Or do you stand, and walk away, tears in yours eyes, knowing that you and you alone have doomed the entirety of humanity because you could not kill a fraction of it's population?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 11 • Views: 11,069 • Replies: 150

 
Reyn
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 08:50 pm
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:
... Or do you stand, and walk away, tears in yours eyes, knowing that you and you alone have doomed the entirety of humanity because you could not kill a fraction of it's population?

Why would they be doomed?
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 08:54 pm
@Reyn,
Reyn wrote:

Sentience wrote:
... Or do you stand, and walk away, tears in yours eyes, knowing that you and you alone have doomed the entirety of humanity because you could not kill a fraction of it's population?

Why would they be doomed?

Because humankind is about to go extinct by fighting nuclear warfare.
0 Replies
 
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:05 pm
@Reyn,
Nuclear holocaust, I thought that was rather obvious. It's a hypothetical situation to reveal your true moral context, except rather then "Would you kill one to save a hundred," it's "Would you kill twenty million to save six billion?"
Reyn
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:12 pm
@Sentience,
The answer to that question is simple for me:

I would not kill one, to save any amount. It's not in my nature.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:18 pm
@Sentience,
Winston Churchill faced a similar decision serveral times in the second world war.
Sentience
 
  0  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:24 pm
@Reyn,
You would let the only truly species capable of understanding the marvels of our incredible universe die out simply because you lack the spine to kill one or many?
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:26 pm
@roger,
Any person who has called for war in the name of saving others has faced this decision.
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  0  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:37 pm
The answer is obvious, and yet people get it wrong. You push the button.

Reyn wrote:

The answer to that question is simple for me:

I would not kill one, to save any amount. It's not in my nature.


You think you would not, but do you agree that you should? Are you religious btw?
roger
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:42 pm
@Jebediah,
Sure, but in real life, would it ever be so clear cut? Churchill got a lot of flack for letting Coventry be bombed into oblivion. Could he ever prove he wasn't wrong. And remember, he didn't have the anonymous, untraceable button described in the OP.
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:53 pm
@roger,
The reason for the untraceable button is so that they don't kill the guy who did it, break up, and nuke the crap out of each other. Proceed as if it didn't exist for the sake of this argument. Would you really not save humanity just for fear of being called immoral by history?
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  0  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:55 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:

Sure, but in real life, would it ever be so clear cut? Churchill got a lot of flack for letting Coventry be bombed into oblivion. Could he ever prove he wasn't wrong. And remember, he didn't have the anonymous, untraceable button described in the OP.


Yeah, I think the hiroshima and nagasaki bombings are a good example of a less clear scenario. They are still debated today.

But I think we can have clear cut examples of the ends justifying the means in real life. Like the witness protection program.
thack45
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 09:56 pm
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:

The human race has developed weapons at an exponential rate far outpacing the development of diplomacy and ethics, and stands on the inevitable verge of a nuclear holocaust, and eventual extinction.
In what way does advancenemt in waopons technology imply th
0 Replies
 
thack45
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 10:15 pm
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:

The human race has developed weapons at an exponential rate far outpacing the development of diplomacy and ethics, and stands on the inevitable verge of a nuclear holocaust, and eventual extinction.
In what way can the tangible development of weaponry be compared to the development of something so relative as diplomacy or ethics?

On what basis can one state that the advancement in weapons technology means an inevitable destruction of the human race?
0 Replies
 
HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Jun, 2010 11:07 pm
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:
It has been developed to be completely untraceable towards you
?
That's an impossible premesis so far as I know, all bomb's composition are traceable to which reactor it came from as it leaves a unique "finger print" after an explosion.

And I need a reason why to push the button, I just don't sleep walk to sit infront of a button and push it, usually such thing would be provoked by an iminent attack of similar proportion, which would only make me defend my country.
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 06:49 am
So what happens if you choose to "only" kill five million? How about three million? What cities do you choose to destroy? In order to create the crisis in the book, you have to remove the existing nuclear deterent. If you removed the blue guy thereby creating the very crisis you are now nobly killing people to solve, doesn't that just make you a clever mass murderer? Based on the premise in the book (alternate reality where Nixon is President, the cold war is proceeding and there is an over the top version of Superman defending the US) you would probably have to attack the US and the USSR, but if you need the decision makers (who created the original problem) in place to live. It that justice that 20 million mostly innocent die while the one thousand guilty live? Interesting question. My take is that you actually support and advise the blue guy as a deterent to nuclear war until economic interrelations make war so undesireable that it becomes the deterence.
mark noble
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 10:02 am
Hi Sentience,
I press the button, make a cup of coffee, go upstairs, read a while and then go to sleep.

Have a lovely day.
Mark...
0 Replies
 
A Lyn Fei
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 10:57 am
@Sentience,
I would push the button, take a deep breath, and go get some ice cream.
salima
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 10:59 am
i wouldnt press the button. any race about to exterminate itself ought to be allowed to go ahead and do so. putting it off wont help.
A Lyn Fei
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:05 am
@salima,
But what about your own survival?
 

Related Topics

is there a fundamental value that we all share? - Discussion by existential potential
The ethics of killing the dead - Discussion by joefromchicago
Theoretical Question About Extra Terrestrials - Discussion by failures art
What is your fundamental moral compass? - Discussion by Robert Gentel
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
The Trolley Problem - Discussion by joefromchicago
Keep a $900 Computer I Didn't Buy? - Question by NathanCooperJones
Killing through a dungeon - Question by satyesu
 
  1. Forums
  2. » The Watchmen Dilemma
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 07/20/2019 at 02:01:07