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Old Jan 31, 2013, 04:35 PM   #1
SilentPanda
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Should you kill the fat man?

I'm bored of gun control threads. Maybe nobody will like this thread. That's okay.

So here is a philosophy quiz. Yes it deals with absolutes which can seem frustrating. But that's the point of the exercise. While these situations likely would not happen, I'd be interested in your thoughts if they did. So... if you feel compelled, post your results and we can discuss. It's not terribly long. I'll post mine after a bit if there is interest in the topic. If there's not interest, I'll just continue about my business....
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 04:51 PM   #2
LIVEFRMNYC
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I killed and tortured the fat man.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 04:55 PM   #3
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 05:07 PM   #4
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I indicated i would not kill the innocent fat man to save the five.

I would drop him on the tracks if i knew he was a saboteur of the Train.

I would torture him to find the device.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 05:35 PM   #5
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I disliked the opening questions as they seemed to ask for ones idealized/ in a perfect world view rather than ones practical/ realistic view.

Quote:
Is torture always wrong? Yes

Is morality about maximising total happiness? No

Is it always wrong to cause another person's death? No

Should you always save the lives of innocent people? No

Should Casey Jones divert the train? Yes

Should the fat man be pushed onto the track? Yes

Should the saboteur be pushed onto the track? Yes

Should the fat man be tortured? Yes
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 05:57 PM   #6
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92%. Anyone else Batman?
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 06:12 PM   #7
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Well. I did not interfere with any of the actions. So millions had a 75% chance of dying. But not by any action of mine.

This philosophy dude needs to study up some more. Too many black and white scenarios . That's not very philosophical .
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 06:26 PM   #8
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Doesn't one choose to kill 5 if they do nothing? It claims I opt for greater happiness by diverting the train and am insonsistent with my answers. However, I view choosing to kill 5 by choosing to do nothing is worse than diverting and choosing to kill 1


This is difference to me than if a bystander could hit a switch where by doing nothing, 5 die as opposed to going out of the way and dooming one to death
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 09:39 PM   #9
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I couldn't answer the second question and beyond. Who am I to say who lives and who dies, if you throw the fat man on the tracks you are committing murder. At least that's how you would look like in court of law.

What I got from this is 'The needs for the many out weigh the needs for the one'. :/

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Old Jan 31, 2013, 09:46 PM   #10
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Is torture always wrong? No

Is morality about maximising total happiness? No

Is it always wrong to cause another person's death? No

Should you always save the lives of innocent people? No

Should Casey Jones divert the train? Yes

Should the fat man be pushed onto the track? No

Should the saboteur be pushed onto the track? Yes

Should the fat man be tortured? Yes

Your moral consistency score is 100%
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 09:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technarchy View Post
Is torture always wrong? No
Yes. Torture is always wrong.

The few "what if" scenarios that could justify torture only exist in hypotheticals ... not in real life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technarchy View Post
Is morality about maximising total happiness? No
You have something against "total happiness"?

Dang. You're a tough person to please.

Edit: I read your response before going through the OP's philosophy quiz. And I have to agree with you. Morality is not about maximizing the sum total of all people's happiness. As if that sum total could ever be measured in the first place.


Last edited by citizenzen; Jan 31, 2013 at 10:11 PM.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 10:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technarchy View Post
Is torture always wrong? No

Is morality about maximising total happiness? No

Is it always wrong to cause another person's death? No

Should you always save the lives of innocent people? No

Should Casey Jones divert the train? Yes

Should the fat man be pushed onto the track? No

Should the saboteur be pushed onto the track? Yes

Should the fat man be tortured? Yes

Your moral consistency score is 100%

Same.
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 12:27 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by AhmedFaisal View Post
The thing sees inconsistency where i see nuances and also a bigger picture. In regards to torture, it's simply the notion that once you open that pandora's box and give that power to the coppers they will use it for anything. As for chosing vs track 1 or 2 vs pushing the fat man, there is a nuance there. In the first you are the train operator having only 2 bad choices. You are already involved and technically so are thenpeople on both tracks. In the second you are a bystander having to decide if you drag another bystander into the mix. Thats two very different scenarios in my book.
In the opinion of the program, I failed the consistency test because I first answered that it is always wrong to .... and then proceeded to do some instance. There is a lot of realism in these kinds of choices-- not the extreme ones in the test-- but, in real life, we often have to choose between two unhappy outcomes. Torture is always wrong, but, so is letting a million people die. What I didn't like about the torture question is the 77% or whatever chance of the success of the torture. According to the FBI, torture is not very effective.

Quote:
In all honesty the thing reads like a badly disguised justification of utilitarianism, which i since first learning of it in business school hold as a weak justification of a morally bancrupt person. The typical anything goes so long as the outcome is positive/ends justify the means ******** of business people and politicians.
You need to learn more about Utilitarianism. You don't understand it very well.
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 02:33 AM   #14
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You need to learn more about Utilitarianism. You don't understand it very well.
I think he's right about Utilitarianism. The standard form of it is the consideration in a lot of political and business decisions. 'Could this money be better spent elsewhere' for example. [Close Hospital]

To the people saying that torture is always wrong. Did you not instantly think of torturing a kidnapper of your child or wife? Have you never seen the film Taken?
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 02:42 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by niuniu View Post
To the people saying that torture is always wrong. Did you not instantly think of torturing a kidnapper of your child or wife? Have you never seen the film Taken?
What someone would do is not the same as what is right or wrong. I believe torture is wrong, even if its use would lead to saving innocent people (query how likely that is, but that's not the point now). Whether or not you or I would actually to torture someone to save our family is a seperate question.


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92%. Anyone else Batman?
100%
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 02:44 AM   #16
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What someone would do is not the same as what is right or wrong. I believe torture is wrong, even if its use would lead to saving innocent people (query how likely that is, but that's not the point now). Whether or not you or I would actually to torture someone to save our family is a seperate question.
It's the same question if I ask it.

Is torturing a kidnapper of your child [to save your child] right or wrong?
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 07:41 AM   #17
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It's the same question if I ask it.

Is torturing a kidnapper of your child [to save your child] right or wrong?
Is it wrong? Yes. Would I do it? Good chance. Should I be arrested and imprisoned for doing so? Yes.

Like I said - whether something is right and wrong is not the same as whether someone would do it.
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 07:51 AM   #18
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Is it wrong? Yes. Would I do it? Good chance. Should I be arrested and imprisoned for doing so? Yes.

Like I said - whether something is right and wrong is not the same as whether someone would do it.
Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. That's the point of it!

That's why you get scored on consistency

Don't confuse the issue with law (the arrest remark). That's going to introduce a completely different dimension. This is about morality, not law.

As a moral relativist, I don't have any sincere belief in moral standards. Which is why I can score a high rate of consistency (my 92% is actually 100%, but they downgraded me because there's no way to explain in the test why I would torture, but not murder).

So to me, what you would do is morality. Everything else is a brain fart.
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 08:36 AM   #19
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I disliked the opening questions as they seemed to ask for ones idealized/ in a perfect world view rather than ones practical/ realistic view.
They also treated the whole exercise like a bunch of black/white scenarios, which is ultimately false.

Here's how I answered:

Quote:
Is torture always wrong? Yes, but I'd do it in a heartbeat if it meant I could stop something I felt was more wrong.

Is morality about maximising total happiness? No, but sometimes morality isn't the only motivating factor in making a decision.

Is it always wrong to cause another person's death? No

Should you always save the lives of innocent people? Yes, other factors being equal.

Should Casey Jones divert the train? Yes (this is simply choosing the lesser of two evils)

Should the fat man be pushed onto the track? No (it would certainly kill him, but it would not certainly save anybody else)

Should the saboteur be pushed onto the track? No (same as above)

Should the fat man be tortured? Yes (this goes back to my first answer; torturing him is immoral, but much less so than killing a million people)
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 03:11 AM   #20
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Sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. That's the point of it!

That's why you get scored on consistency

Don't confuse the issue with law (the arrest remark). That's going to introduce a completely different dimension. This is about morality, not law.

As a moral relativist, I don't have any sincere belief in moral standards. Which is why I can score a high rate of consistency (my 92% is actually 100%, but they downgraded me because there's no way to explain in the test why I would torture, but not murder).

So to me, what you would do is morality. Everything else is a brain fart.
I'm not confusing what is legal with what is moral (as a lawyer I know that more than most!). I'm saying in that specific situation the law complies with morality, in other cases is does not.

I don't believe in objective morality. However, I think saying what someone does is moral is far too simplistic. I recognise that humans do things at times of high stress/fear/anger that they would not usually do, and after the event look back on with guilt - sometimes people do things that they know are wrong, sometimes with hindsight they realise they were wrong. A discussion of morality required a degree of 'brain fart' to come to reasoned conclusions.
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 10:31 AM   #21
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 12:08 PM   #22
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The thing sees inconsistency where i see nuances and also a bigger picture.
Agreed.

I found the whole test pretty absurd. For instances ...

The three train scenarios are really the same question: would you sacrifice 1 person to save 5 people. In all cases I said, "yes."

The most difficult choice is Scenario #2, where the fat man is an innocent bystander who you have to choose to push off the bridge, into the train to divert away from killing the five people. But the absurdity of the question makes it too easy and obvious an answer: Marty (the pusher) somehow has been granted the knowledge that the fat man would divert the train and is the only solution to saving five other people. There's no uncertainty ... no nuance.

Likewise the scenario regarding torturing the fat man. We know there's a live nuke planted in the city. We know he knows the location of it. We know a million people will be blown up if it's not defused. We know there's a 77% chance that torture will get him to reveal the location and we know there's no other way he'll reveal the information.

So the question boils down to, would I torture a man for a 77% chance to to save a million people? OMG. Of course I would.

So what does that prove?

IMO, nothing.
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 01:10 PM   #23
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If you kill the fat man who would be Jake's partner?
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 05:36 PM   #24
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I could not answer yes to the torture question because I cannot accept any claim about its efficacy. The 23% chance that it would fail (far lower than I believe it to really be in most cases) is not worth the psychological damage it would do to the torturers.

The fat man, though, he ought to take better care of his health, he will be a drag on the system, so he is expendable.
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Old Feb 2, 2013, 11:06 PM   #25
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I answered that torture is always wrong, but I would have tortured the fat man. I think the question was bad to be honest; of course you can make someone answer "yes" by taking something to such an extreme. Besides, even if torture was the "right" choice in THAT CASE, it doesn't mean that I believe torture is ever MORALLY RIGHT. In this case, we did something fundamentally wrong because millions of people may have died otherwise.

I've heard the fat man question before and I think it's a bit silly. Maybe if they used a scenario that was more likely to happen in real life they would have gotten more accurate responses.
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