10
   

The Watchmen Dilemma

 
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 04:53 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper wrote:

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.


I'm not clinging to anything.

I approach this dilemma with the following predicate:

The ultimate survival of humanity (not to mention 5,980,000,000 people) supecededs anyone's pretentious claim to personal dignity.

Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:01 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah wrote:

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.


Such is the stuff of anonymous hypotheticals.

What you and I, apparently, don't realize is that because a relative handful of powerful miscreants can be described as war-mongerers, all of humanity should die.

And it would allow Gaia to start all over...cool!
0 Replies
 
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:11 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Night Ripper wrote:

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.


I'm not clinging to anything.

I approach this dilemma with the following predicate:

The ultimate survival of humanity (not to mention 5,980,000,000 people) supecededs anyone's pretentious claim to personal dignity.




I'm sure you'd rape and kill your own mother if it would save the human race too.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:24 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Night Ripper wrote:

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.


I'm not clinging to anything.

I approach this dilemma with the following predicate:

The ultimate survival of humanity (not to mention 5,980,000,000 people) supecededs anyone's pretentious claim to personal dignity.




I'm sure you'd rape and kill your own mother if it would save the human race too.


If I was convinced the existence of humanity was truly in the balance, yes.

However, I don't think I could get it up in such a case so the rape part might not work out.

My personal dignity would be better served by killing myself afterwards than by allowing humanity to end.
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:35 pm
@Jebediah,
I wouldn't say "proudly" as I'm not discounting your response to the hypothetical; it's one of those questions where, as you say, we see where our conclusions on meta-ethical questions lead us. The rejection of the conclusion is only a rejection of what we consider to be absurd -- there isn't a right answer known to us at present, as there isn't a definitive proof of which ethical theory is more correct. To me, the question states why consequentialism fails: You can justify the act of murder. To you, the question states why absolute positions on the goodness/badness of actions fail: You allow the deaths of billions (which, if you interpret ethical questions consequentially, would be a reason to reject theories that allow this)
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:46 pm
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:

I wouldn't say "proudly" as I'm not discounting your response to the hypothetical; it's one of those questions where, as you say, we see where our conclusions on meta-ethical questions lead us. The rejection of the conclusion is only a rejection of what we consider to be absurd -- there isn't a right answer known to us at present, as there isn't a definitive proof of which ethical theory is more correct. To me, the question states why consequentialism fails: You can justify the act of murder. To you, the question states why absolute positions on the goodness/badness of actions fail: You allow the deaths of billions (which, if you interpret ethical questions consequentially, would be a reason to reject theories that allow this)


Well, some people would call this the naturalistic fallacy, but I think it's worth looking at how we evolved with a moral sense. Because if you deny that as a base then you are headed towards either relativism, nihilism or supernatural mandate. We have it because it functions to allow the well being of society and of the people in it. Consequentialism tends to promote that, and the more arbitrarily rule based systems have frequently committed genocide because they were taking the rule over the goal.

What do you mean by "justify the act of murder"? The word murder is used for cases that are unjustified. You should say "justifies the act of killing in certain extreme circumstances". But I'm sure you already believe that.
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 07:20 pm
@Jebediah,
I take the killing of innocents to be unjustifiable as a given. I don't think that violates an evolutionary explanation for the existence of moral reasoning.
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 07:30 pm
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:

I take the killing of innocents to be unjustifiable as a given. I don't think that violates an evolutionary explanation for the existence of moral reasoning.


So you are willing to go even further than our scenario. Killing just two innocent people to save 3 billion is unjustifiable. You take that as a given. What on earth am I supposed to say to that? Nothing, because I don't believe you for a second. People routinely claim to believe in moral rules which their actions show they don't believe in at all.
0 Replies
 
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 07:34 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
If I was convinced the existence of humanity was truly in the balance, yes.


I consider the fact that you would rape and kill your own mother under any condition a reductio ad absurdum of your theory of morality.
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 07:42 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
If I was convinced the existence of humanity was truly in the balance, yes.


I consider the fact that you would rape and kill your own mother under any condition a reductio ad absurdum of your theory of morality.


Whether someone would do it or not is irrelevant. I think very few people could do it, probably amoral people would have the easiest time of it actually. But our instincts aren't moral absolutes, that is truly the naturalistic fallacy.
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 07:49 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah wrote:

Night Ripper wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
If I was convinced the existence of humanity was truly in the balance, yes.


I consider the fact that you would rape and kill your own mother under any condition a reductio ad absurdum of your theory of morality.


Whether someone would do it or not is irrelevant. I think very few people could do it, probably amoral people would have the easiest time of it actually. But our instincts aren't moral absolutes, that is truly the naturalistic fallacy.


I didn't say they were.
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:04 am
Jebediah wrote:
So you are willing to go even further than our scenario. Killing just two innocent people to save 3 billion is unjustifiable. You take that as a given. What on earth am I supposed to say to that? Nothing, because I don't believe you for a second. People routinely claim to believe in moral rules which their actions show they don't believe in at all.


Exactly. Instead of killing innocents to save three billion people, you could try and save the three billion people from that which is threatening to destroy them.

As far as not believing me and balking at taking a given: I don't think there is anything one can do about it. To my knowledge there isn't a very good way to disprove an overall ethical stance outside of the reductio, and that just runs us back to our starting points.

So you don't take the killing of innocents being unjustifiable as a given in some cases. Specifically, if there are more innocents that are likely to be killed by taking one action it is better to take the other action. When I run my moral calculus in choosing a proper action for myself this strikes me as an absurdity in the same way that what I've stated strikes you as an absurdity. It makes more sense, to me, to just try and stop the problem itself rather than do something that I know to be morally wrong.

The question runs back to where our moral calculus begins, or in what way we answer meta-ethical questions. Further, whilst there may be a correct answer, at present our best conclusion in ethical questioning is reached by internally weighing values and choosing one by our calculus. At least at present then, I hold both answers to be correct from the point of view of judging others.

Re, Naturalistic fallacy: My understanding of the naturalistic fallacy is the claim that the belief of a hard is/ought distinction is a fallacious belief. (Or, you can derive an ought from an is if you believe in the claim of the naturalistic fallacy) Is this your understanding?
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:15 am
@Sentience,
Sentience wrote:
Also, I have a very evolutionary look at morals, and it's inherent in evolution that your own species takes priority.

Without life, there would be no idea of 'benevolent,' there would simply be.

Unless and until some other sentient species evolved.

From an evolutionary standpoint, sentience is simply an experiment. It might work out, and it might not. The fact that we can contemplate our own existence doesn't give our species any more right to exist than any other species; the universe does not care about human beings.
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 09:25 am
EDIT: I think I should specify that both answers are correct in the limit that they are arrived at with moral reasoning -- I generally emphasize the process over the conclusion.
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 10:56 am
Huxley, that sounds more like you are rejecting the scenario in the first place. And I think instinctively scenarios like that seem preposterous--we feel like there is another way. But that doesn't mean there always is another way, and that we should ever claim it's better to let millions die than to kill a few innocents.

How about this for a real world example...it's back in the day, and there's been a plague breakout. A ship comes into port, and you are deciding whether to quarantine them. They are innocent people. They might be plague free, and if you put them into the quarantine area they might get the plague from someone there and die. But if you let them into the city the plague might kill hundreds of thousands.

Your solution seems to be something like "cure the disease, or come up with a test to make sure they don't have it, or isolate them in quarantine so that they have no chance of getting the plague". All very nice. But they couldn't do any of that. It's NOT an option. I trust that you would place them in quarantine even if you knew that half of them would die as a result.
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 11:09 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah wrote:

How about this for a real world example...it's back in the day, and there's been a plague breakout. A ship comes into port, and you are deciding whether to quarantine them. They are innocent people. They might be plague free, and if you put them into the quarantine area they might get the plague from someone there and die. But if you let them into the city the plague might kill hundreds of thousands.


They either enter the port and accept the risks of quarantine or they turn around and leave.
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 11:19 am
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper wrote:

Jebediah wrote:

How about this for a real world example...it's back in the day, and there's been a plague breakout. A ship comes into port, and you are deciding whether to quarantine them. They are innocent people. They might be plague free, and if you put them into the quarantine area they might get the plague from someone there and die. But if you let them into the city the plague might kill hundreds of thousands.


They either enter the port and accept the risks of quarantine or they turn around and leave.


They would die at sea if they left. But it's ok to kill innocents if they accepted the risk? Well that's nice, because we all accepted the risk of death by nuclear weapons when we didn't elect people who said they would disarm them.
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 11:39 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah wrote:
They would die at sea if they left.


So what? How am I guilty for their deaths? If someone comes to my door and I turn him away and he freezes to death, I didn't kill him. I have no problem using force against people that use it against me first. I just don't initiate force.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-aggression_principle

Jebediah wrote:
But it's ok to kill innocents if they accepted the risk?


People have the right to risk their own lives and lose them.
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 12:40 pm
@Jebediah,
I admit that I stand somewhat leery of hypotheticals such as the ticking time bomb and those similar to it.

What's stopping someone in your scenario from setting up another quarantine separate from the other one for the new arrivals?


Let's try an abstraction, instead. Suppose you live in two-option world, where every moral problem has two possible solutions. Knowledge of the better choice is unknown with certainty by the actor, but defined by the world (there exists a certain solution to the problem. The solution is presently unknown). The actor is left to develop a calculus for decision making. Certainly we want the best of two options, but the calculus for determining which is which is left for us to develop, and at present the calculus remains underwhelming. Further, by stipulation of a hypothetical, a moral problem arises in which we know both options to be bad, we just do not know which option is worse. In such a scenario, judging phenomenologically (rather than from a God's eye perspective), is there a right answer to such a moral problem?
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 12:47 pm
@Night Ripper,
Night Ripper wrote:

Jebediah wrote:
They would die at sea if they left.


So what? How am I guilty for their deaths? If someone comes to my door and I turn him away and he freezes to death, I didn't kill him. I have no problem using force against people that use it against me first. I just don't initiate force.



Wait, really?

Suppose someone is being raped in an allyway, and you're the only one to notice it occuring. You could walk on and mind your own business (non-agression), or you could call the police and yell out. If you walk on you didn't commit rape, but you certainly allowed it to continue to happen.

To me that seems wrong. In the abstract: one can commit moral wrong by not doing something, as one is still choosing a choice out of the set of all possible choices.
 

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