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The Watchmen Dilemma

 
 
Sentience
 
  0  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:36 am
@Jebediah,
You guys seem to be missing the point, and that is the fundamental of this question. Would you kill an innocent, or a million innocent, in order to save far more innocents?

I do not believe Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings were justified, by the way, but in this scenario I would push the button.
mark noble
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:37 am
@A Lyn Fei,
Hi A Lyn,
What flavour?
Mark...
mark noble
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:39 am
@Sentience,
Hi Sentience,
I'm not doing it to kill, I am doing it to preserve my own life (self-defence). And A Lyn's - Because she's cool and has ice-cream to boot.
Mark...
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:41 am
@HexHammer,
First things first, this is a hypothetical situation. You saying that you COULD trace the bomb in my hypothetical situation is the equivalent of me walking up to Alan Moore, punching him in the jaw, and telling him Doctor Manhattan COULD see the future even with tachyons.

You're questioning the realism of something that doesn't exist. There's absolutely no point.

Not to mention you COMPLETELY missed the idea. This has nothing to do with your country, it's to create a violent third party so that whatever superpowers were originally about to bomb humanity into dust would team up and forever seek revenge against something that doesn't exist, thus nuclear warfare would be avoided.
A Lyn Fei
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:43 am
@mark noble,
I'd spring for Ben and Jerry's Half Baked for some poetic irony, and it's my favorite.

A Lyn
0 Replies
 
mark noble
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:47 am
@Sentience,
The only way the entire human-race will stand united is when it faces a "Common-Foe"!
0 Replies
 
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:48 am
@engineer,
We're not talking about the actual happenstance of the book Watchmen, I only named it that because it illustrated the dilemma. Even if it WAS in the book, it was calculated that Doctor Manhattan could only stop 99% of the bombs, and humanity would still be destroyed. Also, obviously, if the threat of a nuclear holocaust isn't a big enough deterrent I don't think anything would be.

On to your twenty million innocent vs. one thousand guilty, it's not that simple. It's let twenty million innocent die and leave one thousand alive vs. let the one thousand kill six billion as well as themselves, destroying the human race. In my opinion the lives of six billion have more value then the lives of twenty million, and if you DID press the button, the men would never become guilty in the first place.
Sentience
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:49 am
@mark noble,
This is a new take on it. Originally I was only looking at Twenty Million vs. Six Billion, but I do believe that my own life has as much value as any others. This also factors in, I guess.
0 Replies
 
Reyn
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 11:55 am
@Sentience,
Lacking the spine has nothing to do with it, and calling someone names, because they disagree with your point of view, is disrespectful.

If it was necessary to kill someone, perhaps, us, as a species should die out.

Jebediah wrote:
You think you would not, but do you agree that you should? Are you religious btw?

I know I would not.

And, no, I'm not religious in the sense that most people understand. Not that would have anything to do with it anyways.

And to those folks who would so easily "push a button" to kill so many, have you forgotten the Holocaust in WW 2? And, no, it's not different than what is suggested in this thread.

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.

Yes, exactly.
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 12:15 pm
@Reyn,
I wasn't attempting to offend you, merely playing devil's advocate as best as possible. I didn't call you spineless, as I haven't actually seen you act in such a situation. Despite what I consider morally correct, I'm honestly not sure how I would act under such a situation.

"If it was necessary to kill someone, perhaps, us, as a species should die out." This is somewhat contradictory in that many people would have to die for us to die out. We are the only species that can appreciate morality, allowing us to be destroyed by it would make it contradict it's own value of life.

Well, there goes Godwin's law. Please elaborate in how killing one to save many can be likened to the events known as the Holocaust?

I again state that this is a hypothetical situation, and YOU know that what you would do saved the human race. Are you really so selfish as to allow the entire human race die out because you don't want your moral image tarnished?
mark noble
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 12:34 pm
@Sentience,
Hi Guys,
I'd even press the button twice, NO, a hundred times, if allowed. That would wipe out about one third of the human race. In fact, I'd wipe out all of you just to save me. I've always had a last person on the planet thingy going on. But I'd use neutron bombs that leave non-organic material intact. (Is that allowed, sentience?)
Have a fantasmagorical day everybody.
Mark...
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 02:55 pm
@mark noble,
So you value things that are not sentient over things that are? For what reason? Throwing all morals straight out the window, in what way is it beneficial for you to be in solitude?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 03:14 pm
The dilemma is the same regardless of the scope.

Killing one stranger to save ten should be just as difficult (or easy) as killing 20 million to save 6 billion if all you have to do in either case is push a button without having to witness the deaths you've caused.

I'm with those who would push the button although I think I might go upstairs afterwards and blow my brains out.

I'm interested, though, whether or not the hypothical's condition of remaining hidden is essential to the decision of anyone who has indicated he or she would push the button.

What would make the decision much more difficult, I think, is the degree of certainty one had that killing 20 million would actually save 6 billion. Presumably, if the ploy didn't work the 20 million would just be the first to go and so no harm; no foul.

However, how certain could you be that without killing 20 million, 6 billion would die?

This is a far more realistic dilemma and one which , to some extent, faced Harry Truman during WWII.
farmerman
 
  0  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 03:23 pm
@Reyn,
Reyn wouldnt do it cause hes a good guy. BUT, Hed send me a PM and Id do it.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 04:22 pm
@Sentience,
OK, but my initial questions still hold true. Why can't you do it with 10 million? Or five? Can you pursue a third option? Why are you limited to the options you posit? This seems to be the same as the "would you torture someone to stop a terrorist nuclear bomb" question. You assume that a) humanity will be killed if you don't act and b) your action will prevent that death. Your killing twenty million could actually start the war you assume you will prevent. Failing to kill twenty million might not result in nuclear war. I think in real life, killing twenty million to prevent a possible war would be considered a phenomenal crime of a megalomaniac.
Krumple
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 04:29 pm
@Sentience,
Easy solution.

I would personally round up all the stupid people according to my opinion, yes my opinion and move all the others to safety then nuke the stupid people. Oh and I would toss all those who said i was being inconsiderate of the stupid people too.

I don't like these hypothetical scenarios, because they don't actually do anything at all. Do you know how many people are dying from starvation on a daily basis, yet you can sit down to dinner and chat it up with your family and friends totally nonchalant as if it's not even happening. So you can't honestly tell me that if you were faced with a situation that you would act in a certain way that was noble because i simply won't buy it, at least not until i see you taking a flight to Africa and spending a simple months salary (probably not even that much) on feeding some starving people.
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 04:29 pm
@engineer,
You misunderstand, this is not a "possible war." It is a cold war scenario, and the super powers had announced they would attack within the week. The reason you can't do it with five people is because it simply is not a high enough number to A. Be taken seriously, it'll just be another unexplained death by unknown causes, or B. to unite warring factions against a force that is now 'waging war' against them. At the most dimensional theories would be looked out again, and that field of study will last for all of a week, and then it will be wiped away like everything else.
0 Replies
 
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 04:33 pm
@Krumple,
Well, I've stated elsewhere that I'm thirteen, not going to be making month pay checks and I also have consider my life to be just as valued as any other. Why should I starve to feed another? It's the same amount of starving people in the world. Perhaps I would not push the button, but I think it's the morally correct thing to do.

Also, that's simply not how society works. I can tell you that wars are not started by stupid people, sometimes not even by evil people.
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 04:38 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

OK, but my initial questions still hold true. Why can't you do it with 10 million? Or five? Can you pursue a third option? Why are you limited to the options you posit? This seems to be the same as the "would you torture someone to stop a terrorist nuclear bomb" question. You assume that a) humanity will be killed if you don't act and b) your action will prevent that death. Your killing twenty million could actually start the war you assume you will prevent. Failing to kill twenty million might not result in nuclear war. I think in real life, killing twenty million to prevent a possible war would be considered a phenomenal crime of a megalomaniac.


Is there always a third option? People love to talk about those when given these hypothetical scenarios. Even if there were 100 better options that these two, one of them is better than the other, right? And we should be able to decide between two hard options, rather than just making up a way out for ourselves.
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 06:54 pm
@Jebediah,
The two options presented are completely arbitrary. Why not a focused attack on Washington and Moscow for example. Like I said earlier, it's the same as the "torture a terrorist"argument. Do you give up your precious, lefty feel good ideals and torture the terrorist to find where the bomb is? Like that example, you are presented with impossible certainties in order to predetermine the answer. Everyone agrees to kill the least number of people because the problem has been so constrained as to remove all uncertainty. What if you just thought it likely that there would be full out nuclear war? What if you didn't know how the world would respond to your mass-murder? Does adding real life uncertainty change your answer? What is your required probability of success for you to murder millions? If there was a 90% chance of you being right and a 9% chance of you actually causing the holocaust with a 1% chance that you just kill a lot of people when there wasn't going to be a war anyway, would you push the button? How about 80%/15%/5%? How about 51%/49%? I think those are much more meaty questions than just having an either/or proposition where the desired answer is obvious.
 

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