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The Watchmen Dilemma

 
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  3  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 11:54 am
@DrewDad,
Perhaps, but my dissatisfaction with this hypothetical is that it is too pat.

People have been attempting to manufacture additional options, but only two exist:

1) You push the button and kill 20 million, but save 6 billion.
2) You don't push the button and 6 billion die.

You don't get to not push the button and hope the 6 billion death scenario doesn't actually materialize. Other than being delusional or mentally defective there can only be two reasons not to push the button:

1) You refuse to be the direct cause of anyone's death
2) You want 6 billion people to die

Sentience is free to posit whatever dilemma he wishes, but a realistic moral dilemma would not have such certainty of outcome.

The "Torture the Terrorist" dilemma when presented, usually attempts to strip away all uncertainty so that people will be confronted with the choice of upholding a moral position they have taken in the abstract (never torture) in the face of a certain greater evil (the death of hundreds or thousands).

Frankly I never believe the people who say they wouldn't torture the terrorist, but if they are being honest, I hope they never have a position of authority anywhere in this nation.

However, the decision to torture will almost never be made in the context of such certain circumstances.

Even if the terrorist has admitted (without torture) that he has planted a bomb, there is no certainty that torture will reveal its location and with time to disarm it. There is also no certainty that he has told the truth about the bomb in the first place, that it will actually detonate or will even kill anyone.

If the recent would-be Times Square Bomber had been the featured terrorist in the dilemma, torture may have led to his revealing the location of the SUV, but ultimately it would not have made a difference. His device never detonated.

Don't get me wrong, I still would have most likely opted for torturing him, but it wouldn't have been as easy a decision as this hypothetical allows.

DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 02:53 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Perhaps, but my dissatisfaction with this hypothetical is that it is too pat.

I wholeheartedly concur.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 02:59 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
The "Torture the Terrorist" dilemma when presented, usually attempts to strip away all uncertainty so that people will be confronted with the choice of upholding a moral position they have taken in the abstract (never torture) in the face of a certain greater evil (the death of hundreds or thousands).

Yes.

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Frankly I never believe the people who say they wouldn't torture the terrorist, but if they are being honest, I hope they never have a position of authority anywhere in this nation.

However, the decision to torture will almost never be made in the context of such certain circumstances.

Even if the terrorist has admitted (without torture) that he has planted a bomb, there is no certainty that torture will reveal its location and with time to disarm it. There is also no certainty that he has told the truth about the bomb in the first place, that it will actually detonate or will even kill anyone.

Torture does not develop good intelligence. The person being tortured (especially in a "ticking bomb" scenario) has no incentive to tell the truth, and every incentive to tell the torture what the torturer wants to hear.

Torture is effective in eliciting bogus "confessions", which is how the Spanish Inquisition funded itself.
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:02 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Frankly I never believe the people who say they wouldn't torture the terrorist, but if they are being honest, I hope they never have a position of authority anywhere in this nation.


What causes your disbelief?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:33 pm
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Frankly I never believe the people who say they wouldn't torture the terrorist, but if they are being honest, I hope they never have a position of authority anywhere in this nation.


What causes your disbelief?


Cynicism to some extent, but it's also a matter of incentive, and while someone might be able to maintain a position they think of as moral, in the face of the distant death of nameless strangers, I simply do not believe they would do so if someone they loved were among those in jeopardy.

I suppose there are a relative handful of people who would rather see their loved ones die before violating one of their moral principles, but no where near the number of people who respond to the Terrorist Torture dilemma with the assured assertion that they would never give the command.

I also suppose that there are people who could never bring themselves to physically torture the terrorist themselves, even if the life of a loved one was at stake, but here I think it would less an issue of morality than physical courage and I think their refusal would likely driving them roaring mad or catatonic.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:36 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
You probably also believe a pacificist is someone who is just waiting for a shift in the wind so they can hoist the Jolly Roger.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 03:43 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:

You probably also believe a pacificist is someone who is just waiting for a shift in the wind so they can hoist the Jolly Roger.


Well I do think there are precious few real pacificists and certainly far less than the number who lay claim to the title.. Unless you are willing to die or see your loved ones die rather than kill someone, it's all just a matter of personal incentive and politics.
0 Replies
 
Eric Floyd
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Jun, 2010 09:36 pm
@Sentience,
the anwser is a smaller bomb
0 Replies
 
coolie13
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2010 10:50 am
@Sentience,
Well all this comes down to is what is more important...saving lives or taking lives? For this question, you have to think about how this would affect the future so in that case, i would say both choices are dispensable in a positive way and in a negative way. What I mean is both have there horrible consequences and there benevolent consequences. It would take much much debating to decipher the answer to such a conundrum.
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 10:33 am
@coolie13,
I disagree, simply because there are no benevolent consequences to not taking the lives and watching the human race go extinct.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:05 am
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:

I disagree, simply because there are no benevolent consequences to not taking the lives and watching the human race go extinct.

No benevolent consequences for humans.

The Earth would abide.
hue-man
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:09 am
I don't think that we're going to destroy ourselves through nuclear warfare, but it wouldn't surprise me if we did. Warfare and enhanced technology is an expression of the will to power. The desire for power is essential to the nature of life for procreation, but wouldn't it be ironic if it also causes our demise. Life is one great big tragedy and this would be no exception.
0 Replies
 
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:11 am
@DrewDad,
I do not believe that morality exists outside of humanities conceptions of it, so the benevolent consequences to other things become obsolete if humanity is destroyed.

Also, I have a very evolutionary look at morals, and it's inherent in evolution that your own species takes priority.

The 'Earth' wouldn't anything. It's not a sentient force. Without life, there would be no idea of 'benevolent,' there would simply be.
Night Ripper
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 03:55 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?


It's not that I couldn't do it. It's that I chose not to do it. If anything, I think it takes more strength to stick to your principles than it does to reach for the first solution no matter how much integrity you have to compromise.

What are you saving? Just breathing, reproducing sacks of meat? Because that's what you reduce humanity to by saying that there are no lines we shouldn't cross, there are no principles, just practicalities. I think we all want to be more than just selfish beasts clinging to whatever bit of survival we can, no matter how many faces we have to step on to get there.

We're all going to die anyways. It's inevitable. Why not die with honor? Do you value sucking air into your lungs that much? Dumb animals would kill their own mothers to get ahead. We shouldn't be like that.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 04:04 pm
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:

Sentience wrote:

I disagree, simply because there are no benevolent consequences to not taking the lives and watching the human race go extinct.

No benevolent consequences for humans.

The Earth would abide.


Hate to break it to you DD but you are a human, and as such the Earth has no relevance beyond providing your species with a place to live and flourish.

I'm sure you realize that some day you will die.

On your deathbed will you be thinking about your loved ones or snail darters?
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 04:11 pm
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:

I do not believe that morality exists outside of humanities conceptions of it, so the benevolent consequences to other things become obsolete if humanity is destroyed.

Also, I have a very evolutionary look at morals, and it's inherent in evolution that your own species takes priority.

The 'Earth' wouldn't anything. It's not a sentient force. Without life, there would be no idea of 'benevolent,' there would simply be.


Of course it doesn't.

Your hypothetical has nothing whatsoever to do with the fate of the earth unless one believes that humanity is the ultimate bane of its planet (a ridiculous but popular thought that).

I am surprised this thread continues. What is the debateable choice?

"Oh, I can't kill anyone!"

Fine, don't push the damned button and watch everyone, including yourself, die.

If it was a complex choice we wouldn't have found it expressed in a comic book!
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 04:17 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Fine, don't push the damned button and watch everyone, including yourself, die.


All of us die. Not all of us die with dignity.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 04:28 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Fine, don't push the damned button and watch everyone, including yourself, die.


All of us die. Not all of us die with dignity.


Where is the dignity in allowing humanity to be exterminated?
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 04:34 pm
Thread continues and more and more people proudly say they would allow the deaths of billions. Neville Chamberlain would roll part of the way over in his grave and then feel bad for them and roll back if he could read this.
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 04:37 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Night Ripper wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Fine, don't push the damned button and watch everyone, including yourself, die.


All of us die. Not all of us die with dignity.


Where is the dignity in allowing humanity to be exterminated?


Again, you cling to survival but there are worse things than not existing. Such as being an evil murdering prick. So what if humanity dies because we are warmongers? We had our chance and failed. Oh well.
 

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