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The Watchmen Dilemma

 
 
Jebediah
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 06:58 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

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?


First things first. Is it ok to torture someone if you know they are a terrorist and know that torturing them will prevent the attack? You answer that question and then you go on. Notice that we have people saying they wouldn't push the button. People will believe in absolute kind of statements, and the purpose of the scenario is to deal with that kind of believe, not to figure out the actual percentage where it would be ok to do it.

It's a framework kind of question.

0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 07:32 pm
I disable the button.

I think it's morally wrong to commit mass murder. So I don't do it, and I act in such a way to prevent others from doing it. Which would include disabling the button, and then peace activism against nuclear war.

I'll note that I'm not much of a consequentialist.
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 07:46 pm
@Huxley,
Okay, it's morally wrong to commit mass murder, but do you not agree it's also morally wrong to let someone die? Not to mention let far more people die then you would have to kill? If there's no one to measure morals in the first place, what does it matter? The survival of our species takes priority.

Would you let your own guilt get in the way of billions of innocent lives?
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 08:21 pm
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:

I'll note that I'm not much of a consequentialist.


This a pet peeve of mine--"I wouldn't do it because I'm not a something-ist". No different than saying "I wouldn't do it because I wouldn't do it". But in reality you just allowed hundreds of millions of people to die. Get in touch with your common sense.

0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 10:03 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
This is a far more realistic dilemma and one which , to some extent, faced Harry Truman during WWII.

The biographies I've read about Truman don't indicate that he so much as blinked at using the "A-bomb". He was a former artillery officer, after all, and I think he saw the A-bomb as just a bigger bomb than the ones they were already using.

If you want to see Truman making a tough choice to sacrifice people in order to preserve the peace, look to his decision to involve the U.S. in the Korean conflict.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 10:05 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.

In the Watchmen graphic novel (and movie), the person who was faced with this choice was the smartest man ever to have lived; the OP omits the godlike ability of this person to foresee consequences.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  3  
Reply Thu 17 Jun, 2010 10:06 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
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.

I see that you're ahead of me, as usual.
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:03 am
@A Lyn Fei,
A Lyn Fei wrote:

But what about your own survival?


my survival is meaningless if i belong to a race that doesnt deserve to survive.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:10 am
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:

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.


i am not sure i would kill a guilty person to save any number of innocent people. who says who is guilty or innocent? me? you? i am not judge and executioner. i can be my brother's keeper on a certain level, but not to the point of murder.

i notice people often think this stance has something to do with a person's warm fuzzy feelgood threshhold, or as an example of other retorts, i have been accused of wanting to keep my hands lily white and clean no matter how much blood is shed. it has nothing to do with any of that, i am not considering any guilt of my own or responsibility any more than that of the fictional people in the hypothetical question, or even any real people i have known.

an ideal is an ideal and i am an idealist. hit me...i wont hit you back either.
i am not saying i would never under any circumstances kill anyone because i doubt that would be true, but this kind of question does not provide me any incentive in killing people no matter who they are. however debates of this sort are always interesting...
0 Replies
 
A Lyn Fei
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:13 am
@salima,
Perhaps you have not been very close to death, as of yet.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:17 am
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:

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?


we as a species arent really contemplating morality-certain individuals are. and i have also found as much morality in animals as human beings.

to clarify; in the part of the quote i placed in bold, does each instance of your use of the word 'it' refer to morality?going on that interpretation, i am not sure i would say morality has chosen life as having such a high value. in fact morality would give life much more value if we as a species actually practiced it.
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:19 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

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.


interesting take on the issue...
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:25 am
@Krumple,
Krumple wrote:

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.


of course they are silly questions, but the thing is when people discuss them they may get a glimpse of some feeling for morality and compassion that they might not have had.

also...what would be the noble thing to do in this one? giving up your own hope for salvation (if you were into that sort of thing) by commiting mass murder to save the human race or holding to your values and principles but allowing more people to die than would if you chose not to? i think both are noble actually if the person is doing what he believes in...and either way could cause a lot of sleepless nights...or as that other fellow said, suicide.
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:30 am
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:

Okay, it's morally wrong to commit mass murder, but do you not agree it's also morally wrong to let someone die? Not to mention let far more people die then you would have to kill? If there's no one to measure morals in the first place, what does it matter? The survival of our species takes priority.

Would you let your own guilt get in the way of billions of innocent lives?


we only give value to this species because we are a part of it. and i think it would really be hard to find a single person who was actually innocent as a newborn babe. innocent and guilty are dualities, relative and impossible to define in any way but a legal sense.

you can compare the two actions of actively killing someone and letting someone die and put a value on them using the sense of reason and logic i think. but you cannot add up people and weigh them against each other. the value of any single soul is as great as the whole species at the level of essence. trying to make a scale of value for an individual is impossible because no one can be objective about what is valuable and what is not.

0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 01:34 am
@A Lyn Fei,
A Lyn Fei wrote:

Perhaps you have not been very close to death, as of yet.


close enough to know that it isnt a big thing...my death and the death of those i loved who are now gone. death of innocents in every sense of the word...how else could i have come to such a conclusion? life and death are two sides of the same coin.

0 Replies
 
mark noble
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 08:09 am
@Sentience,
Hi Sentience,
I just added that last post to see if any would react. I would only kill to preserve - That goes for animals too. I used to hunt, trap and fish. Now I respect all livng things and do neither. For 'That' which we exact against, will be exacted upon - measure by measure.

Have a marvelous day, Sentience.
Mark...
salima
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 08:28 am
@mark noble,
mark noble wrote:

Hi Sentience,
I just added that last post to see if any would react. I would only kill to preserve - That goes for animals too. I used to hunt, trap and fish. Now I respect all livng things and do neither. For 'That' which we exact against, will be exacted upon - measure by measure.

Have a marvelous day, Sentience.
Mark...


i reacted silently...i thought you had gone mad. i considered taking you off my friends list...i considered maybe i had gone mad...

dont DO things like that!
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 09:52 am
Sentience wrote:

Okay, it's morally wrong to commit mass murder, but do you not agree it's also morally wrong to let someone die?


In the hypothetical proposed here, I do. Which is why I would try and prevent it.

Quote:

Not to mention let far more people die then you would have to kill?


You're interpreting this is a binary when it is not. One could act to stop both.

Quote:

If there's no one to measure morals in the first place, what does it matter? The survival of our species takes priority.


That sounds very much like a value judgment, myself. Which would put you in the boat of making moral measurements. This indicates that we just disagree on what makes something moral.

Quote:

Would you let your own guilt get in the way of billions of innocent lives?


Why do you assume that my motivation is guilt? I could see one feeling guilty either way.

Jebediah wrote:

This a pet peeve of mine--"I wouldn't do it because I'm not a something-ist". No different than saying "I wouldn't do it because I wouldn't do it". But in reality you just allowed hundreds of millions of people to die. Get in touch with your common sense.


I communicated my not-this to indicate where I think one has to come from in concluding in the position opposite from myself. I did, previous to that line, give an affirmative argument for my decision, and so my response wasn't just "I am not this, therefore I won't do this"

What do you take common sense to be?
0 Replies
 
HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 10:53 am
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:

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.
I'm afraid this idea lacks sever relation to reality, and assumes that all the superpowers are naive, without spy networks and are a brainchild of too much simplistic comics.

It's like saying, if we could jump 100 meters in 2 sec, then what if ..this and that?

If the question itself is unrealistic, then I can't play along, sorry.
0 Replies
 
The Joker006
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 11:09 am
@Sentience,
This is a very good scenario. I persoanally would not press the button because why kill a small fraction of the worlds population when you can just wipe it out at a touch of a button. As far as im concerned I think the human race has gone bonkers. People these days just do not have respect for eachother, some people just don't care about other people. On the other hand there are people in this world who are the opposite. So for me, if I was to press the button and kill a fraction of the worlds population this would play on my conscience , knowing that I have killed decent people and non-decent people but saying this I am against war all together. So the balance would be my conscience vs world war meltdown and to prevent any further war by destroying wins it. I mean the world eventually end so why not end it with a bang?

Peace out
Rhys
0 Replies
 
 

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