dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 06:44 pm
Terry wrote:
To put another perspective on the question, suppose the person on the right-hand track was someone you knew.

Would you choose to kill a friend to save 5 strangers?

Would you choose to let 5 people die to avoid killing a friend?

Would your answer be different if you saw your own child standing on the track?


In my view, the least worst action in these situations is still to kill the one.

It would just be less and less likely that the driver would be able to do it, I think.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 06:47 pm
Oh - snap - same comment as Craven's re the sez me - hadna read it...
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 10:07 pm
Craven, dlowan: It is not true that all axioms, in the end, are ipse dixits ("sez me's"), at least not unless one is willing to engage in complete skepticism. Indeed, Craven was not very far from such an axiom with his formulation of "least suffering for the most people."

To put it into more common utilitarian terms, we can say that a person should act to produce the most good for the most people. And, for utilitarians, "good" is typically defined as some variation on "pleasure" (Craven's version, then, merely presents the traditional utilitarian calculus in negative terms). Now, given that pleasure and good are equated, the obvious question for the utilitarian is: why is pleasure good? A utilitarian of Craven's ilk would respond: because I say so. And that would be an ipse dixit.

But a utilitarian with a more fully formed belief system would be no more satisfied with a "sez me" than anyone else. Rather, the utilitarian would say that there is overwhelming evidence that pleasure is good (e.g. people tend to act in ways to maximize pleasure). I suppose the thorough-going skeptic would say that such evidence is yet another "sez me," but most, I think, would at least accept the evidence (if not the conclusions drawn therefrom) as something other than an ipse dixit.

In the same way, an economist might say that, in a capitalist system, one should act to maximize economic efficiency. Rather than defending such a conclusion with a "because I said so," however, the economist might point to studies of economic systems, studies modelling behavior, etc. The conclusions may be controversial, but the evidence is most certainly not an ipse dixit.

Thus, any axiom founded on an evidentiary foundation (which may be deductive, inductive, or a combination thereof, as long as the evidence is not, in itself, an ipse dixit) would not be a "sez me." In other words, if, instead of a "sez me," one can put forward a "sez me, and so sez all these other guys, and here's why we agree," and the grounds for agreement are not, in themselves, yet another "sez me," then the axiom is not a "sez me."
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 10:39 pm
Hmm - well, now I understand your definition - you are saying a rationally defensible sez me.

Now - in the end, that does entail a sez me, or at least, a sort of sez me and me friends here - but I do not think Craven, and I know I, were arguing that sez me is all there is - I do support, generally, a sort of utililitarianism, and I think you can argue quite rationally in support of such a position.

I thought YOU were reducing all to sez me.

Hmmm - is "produces less suffering" the same as "maximises pleasure"?

I tend to think there IS a difference. Nor do I think "good" necessarily = MORE pleasure - depends on your definition of pleasure, I guess.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Feb, 2004 11:48 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
Craven, dlowan: It is not true that all axioms, in the end, are ipse dixits ("sez me's"), at least not unless one is willing to engage in complete skepticism.


That's not true. One need merely to be skeptical of the particular line of reasoning until it gets to a sez me.


Quote:
But a utilitarian with a more fully formed belief system would be no more satisfied with a "sez me" than anyone else. Rather, the utilitarian would say that there is overwhelming evidence that pleasure is good (e.g. people tend to act in ways to maximize pleasure).


This does not mean pleasure is good. You are just offering rationales for one sez me.

It just moves the axiom one step back. Now the axiom is "pleasure is good". This is still a sez me. You have merely included your reasoning for the sez me. The reasoning can be disputed and is certainly not anything other than a sez me axiom itself.


Quote:
I suppose the thorough-going skeptic would say that such evidence is yet another "sez me," but most, I think, would at least accept the evidence (if not the conclusions drawn therefrom) as something other than an ipse dixit.


And in doing so they simply issue a sez me that it isn't a sez me.

An ipse dixit declaring that it's not an ipse dixit.

Quote:
In the same way, an economist might say that, in a capitalist system, one should act to maximize economic efficiency. Rather than defending such a conclusion with a "because I said so," however, the economist might point to studies of economic systems, studies modelling behavior, etc. The conclusions may be controversial, but the evidence is most certainly not an ipse dixit.


If it is subjective then the use of said evidence is a declaration of its relevance, another sez me.

Quote:
Thus, any axiom founded on an evidentiary foundation (which may be deductive, inductive, or a combination thereof, as long as the evidence is not, in itself, an ipse dixit) would not be a "sez me."


Unless the evidence proves the conclusion it's inclusion is on subjective terms and is an ipse dixit.

Quote:
In other words, if, instead of a "sez me," one can put forward a "sez me, and so sez all these other guys, and here's why we agree," and the grounds for agreement are not, in themselves, yet another "sez me," then the axiom is not a "sez me."


sez you.
0 Replies
 
gordy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 03:04 am
All things being equal. It looks to me the best choice is to kill the one person over the five. Unless my wife is in the group of five,in that case go for it Ed.

But seriously.In this day of legal liability,if Edward turns right then he is deliberately killing someone.But by doing nothing or just putting on a show of trying to stop and shout warnings etc.He might not get in to legal trouble.Edward will still have to live with his choice afterward.
0 Replies
 
Adrian
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 04:35 pm
Quote:
So, five killed intentionally is worse than one killed intentionally, but five killed through inaction is the same as killing one through inaction. How do you explain the discrepency?


No discrepency Joe. If Edward kills the one there is a definite action involved, he chooses and acts to kill one person. If he allows five to die through inaction he is basically saying "I don't want to get into this". True there is a choice being made there but there is no action. No action means no culpability... um... can't help myself... sez me. Razz
0 Replies
 
rufio
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 05:31 pm
There is no such thing as inaction.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 05:39 pm
truth
Good, Rufio.
0 Replies
 
Adrian
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 05:46 pm
Inaction is everywhere Rufio. By it's nature you don't see it, that's all.
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 06:11 pm
Adrian; in order to do nothing; I for one would have to take the action of restraining myself from instinctually saving the 5.
Joe, saving the 5 would make me feel the most "good" and should therefore be acceptable per your own examples above. That is what you come too if you break down my lesser of two evils statement.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 09:28 pm
Adrian wrote:
Quote:
So, five killed intentionally is worse than one killed intentionally, but five killed through inaction is the same as killing one through inaction. How do you explain the discrepency?


No discrepency Joe. If Edward kills the one there is a definite action involved, he chooses and acts to kill one person. If he allows five to die through inaction he is basically saying "I don't want to get into this". True there is a choice being made there but there is no action. No action means no culpability... um... can't help myself... sez me. Razz


Adrain - are you working on an assumption that "no culpability" (if I pretend to accept for a moment that I agree that no action means no culpability) is the same as "right"?
0 Replies
 
Adrian
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 10:29 pm
Quote:
Adrain - are you working on an assumption that "no culpability" (if I pretend to accept for a moment that I agree that no action means no culpability) is the same as "right"?


Not at all. I was simply making the point that if the one were killed you could argue that they were killed by Edward. If the five were killed they would've been killed by the brake failure in the trolley.

A tragedy WILL take place here. The only thing Edward gets to decide is whether or not he is involved as a witness, or as the executioner.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 10:52 pm
That's one way to put it. Another is to say he has the choice between saving life by minimizing the harm or choosing to allow a greater amount of harm.

Witness/executioner
Witness/life saver
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 11:26 pm
Adrian - I must say I think this is a real quibble thing.

Ethically, if there IS a possible choice to be made, then "not" making it is choosing one or the other option. One is actively choosing not to choose - and this action leads to an outcome.

Would you say the same if, for instance, I was driving a car, and the brakes failed, and I could either hit a child on the road in front of me - by doing nothing - or do something, and swerve into another, clear, lane?
0 Replies
 
Adrian
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 11:55 pm
Quote:
Ethically, if there IS a possible choice to be made, then "not" making it is choosing one or the other option. One is actively choosing not to choose - and this action leads to an outcome.


Granted, but if both possible outcomes are bad then "choosing not to choose" is the only valid option.

Quote:
Would you say the same if, for instance, I was driving a car, and the brakes failed, and I could either hit a child on the road in front of me - by doing nothing - or do something, and swerve into another, clear, lane?


Of course you would swerve! That is the "good" option. Edward doesn't have a "good" option available to him.

Let me pose this to you.
You are locked in a room, in front of you are five people in a cage and one person strapped to a chair. Behind you is a person who gives you a gun and tells you that unless YOU SHOOT the person in the chair, HE WILL SHOOT the five in the cage. Could you bring yourself to shoot that person?
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Feb, 2004 11:59 pm
"Could you bring yourself to shoot that person?"

Yes, IF the parameters can be taken at face value.

In reality I'd probably believe there are other options. But in a hypothetical in which killing one guarantees saving more lives I am inclined to kill the one.

In reality things work differently, and in your example there's really no guarantee that the act would save anyone, it might be part of a game.

Were there a guarantee and were those two options the only ones available (this is almost never the case in reality, in your example shooting the bad guy is an obvious option) I'd happily shoot the one.
0 Replies
 
Adrian
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 12:07 am
Quote:
I'd happily shoot the one.


Then this is getting close to being moot.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 01:03 am
I regretted the verbiage after posting it but didn't edit (I rarely will). I meant to confer the straightforwardness I saw in what I consider an impossibly straightforward situation. Not joviality or frivolity in the treatment of life.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Feb, 2004 01:34 am
Adrian - my analogy pertained only to the point that choosing not to act in a situation where there is a choice as to whether or not to act IS an action in and of itself.

If it is seen as an action in the car situation, would you concede that it is an action in the trolley situation?
0 Replies
 
 

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