Moral dilemma: Would you kill 1 person to save 5?

Imagine a runaway boxcar heading toward five people who can't escape its path. Now imagine you had the power to reroute the boxcar onto different tracks with only one person along that route.

Would you do it?

That's the posed by a team of Michigan State University researchers in a first-of-its-kind study published in the research journal Emotion. Research participants were put in a three dimensional setting and given the power to kill one person (in this case, a realistic digital character) to save five.

The results? About 90 percent of the participants pulled a switch to reroute the boxcar, suggesting people are willing to violate a moral rule if it means minimizing harm.

"What we found is that the rule of 'Thou shalt not kill' can be overcome by considerations of the greater good," said Carlos David Navarrete, lead researcher on the project.

As an evolutionary psychologist, Navarrete explores big-picture topics such as – in other words, how do we come to our moral judgments and does our behavior follow suit?

His latest experiment offers a new twist on the "trolley problem," a moral dilemma that philosophers have contemplated for decades. But this is the first time the dilemma has been posed as a behavioral experiment in a virtual environment, "with the sights, sounds and consequences of our actions thrown into stark relief," the study says.

The research participants were presented with a 3-D simulated version of the classic dilemma though a head-mounted device. Sensors were attached to their fingertips to monitor emotional arousal.

In the virtual world, each participant was stationed at a railroad switch where two sets of tracks veered off. Up ahead and to their right, five people hiked along the tracks in a steep ravine that prevented escape. On the opposite side, a single person hiked along in the same setting.

As the boxcar approached over the horizon, the participants could either do nothing – letting the coal-filled boxcar go along its route and kill the five hikers – or pull a switch (in this case a joystick) and reroute it to the tracks occupied by the single hiker.

Of the 147 participants, 133 (or 90.5 percent) pulled the switch to divert the boxcar, resulting in the death of the one hiker. Fourteen participants allowed the boxcar to kill the five hikers (11 participants did not pull the switch, while three pulled the switch but then returned it to its original position).

The findings are consistent with past research that was not virtual-based, Navarrete said.

The study also found that participants who did not pull the switch were more emotionally aroused. The reasons for this are unknown, although it may be because people freeze up during highly anxious moments – akin to a solider failing to fire his weapon in battle, Navarrete said.

"I think humans have an aversion to harming others that needs to be overridden by something," Navarrete said. "By rational thinking we can sometimes override it – by thinking about the people we will save, for example. But for some people, that increase in anxiety may be so overpowering that they don't make the utilitarian choice, the choice for the greater good."

Related Stories

Moral dilemma scenarios prone to biases

Dec 14, 2009

Picture the following hypothetical scenario: A trolley is headed toward five helpless victims. The trolley can be redirected so that only one person's life is at stake. Psychologists and philosophers have been using moral ...

What will people do for money?

Apr 08, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- At the April 4, 2011 annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society the subject of moral dilemmas and what people would really do was addressed. In a study presented by Oriel FeldmanHall of Cambridge University shows that when it comes to ...

Are we more -- or less -- moral than we think?

Feb 22, 2011

If asked whether we'd steal, most of us would say no. Would we try to save a drowning person? That depends—perhaps on our fear of big waves. Much research has explored the ways we make moral decisions. But in the clinch, ...

Recommended for you

Suicide risk falls substantially after talk therapy

5 hours ago

Repeat suicide attempts and deaths by suicide were roughly 25 percent lower among a group of Danish people who underwent voluntary short-term psychosocial counseling after a suicide attempt, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School ...

Brains transform remote threats into anxiety

Nov 21, 2014

Modern life can feel defined by low-level anxiety swirling through society. Continual reports about terrorism and war. A struggle to stay on top of family finances and hold onto jobs. An onslaught of news ...

Mental disorders due to permanent stress

Nov 21, 2014

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells will have a damaging effect on and cause changes to the brain. This may result in mental disorders. The effects of permanent stress on the immune system are studied by the ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
Dec 01, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
kochevnik
4.4 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2011
Reducing this problem to arithmetic is an academic luxury. Who is the one hiker? The President? Your mother?
dogbert
3.3 / 5 (18) Dec 01, 2011
There is no real moral delemma in the trolly problem. The problem does not change by using a virtual environment.

The people who diverted the train directly caused the death of the person on the diversion track. The people on the tracks were there by there own choice and chose to accept the danger. Those who diverted the train killed the individual who chose the safe route.

If it had been real, it would have been murder.
rawa1
3 / 5 (6) Dec 01, 2011
I do agree, such simulations cannot be considered with solution of real situation, when the people often act illogically or cataconically, when facing common threat.
Life_is_like_that
2.7 / 5 (10) Dec 01, 2011
I don't believe in the 'no win scenario'....there must be a third alternative.
sdf_iain
4 / 5 (4) Dec 01, 2011
Legally, it would be manslaughter, not murder.

Morally it's the knowledge that inaction will result in death that places a moral burden on the person making the decision. Without that knowledge there is no moral burden, but with that knowledge the decision maker is making an informed decision to not act.

Blaming the victim(s) does not alleviate this moral burden. The decision maker is responsible for the results of their decision.
S_Bilderback
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2011
I've seen a study that made it far more personal. The subject had to make the active decision to push a heaver person leaning over a rail to trip the switch, actively killing one person to save 20.

What would you do? (You don't have enough body mass or are restricted in some way not able to trip the switch yourself)
Shabs42
5 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2011
@Dogbert - Replace people hiking with people tied onto the tracks. Nobody was given the choice, all six are kidnapped and tied down. Do you do nothing and let five die or actively kill the one by throwing the switch to save the five? That is just about the definition of a moral dilemma.

@Life_is_like_that - Life certainly has many situations where you must choose the lesser of two evils. Of course in such situations you should look for a winning alternative, but wanting it to be there doesn't make it more likely to be there.
Valentiinro
4.4 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2011
I think they should have considered the idea of pulling the switch halfway thus slamming the box car off the tracks between the two sets of tracks. At least that might be what I'd try.
Tausch
2.3 / 5 (4) Dec 01, 2011
All dilemmas and especially the researchers' fixation or focus on the "trolley problem" makes all humans feel inadequate.

The utilitarian choice itself is inadequate to alleviate what all human will feel: the feeling of inadequacy.

The researchers offer rationalization for all outcomes in the last paragraph of the article.

And all readers will find all rationalizations inadequate.

The researchers make it a point to point out human inadequacy and no reader will understand why the researchers make it point to show human inadequacy by way of dilemma.

You can gain control over someone's feeling of inadequacy.
Dilemmas are the tool of choice to gain control over someone.



Shabs42
4.5 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2011
@Tausch - Couldn't disagree more. I was asked this question in multiple classes and never felt inadequate because of it. I wasn't the one who told people to hike there or tied them up. I wasn't the one that put the train in motion. My goal in such a situation is to save as many lives as possible. Given the construct of the question, throwing the switch accomplishes this goal and I feel pretty good about myself for saving a net total of four lives.

My first response was also to say I would try wrecking the train, but if it's a passenger train then that option would be much worse than the others.

The trickier one is the one referenced above by S_Bilderback, where shoving a fat person in front of the train would stop it, otherwise it will crash and kill x people, where x is a number much larger than one. That is an active murder, but if it saves tens or hundreds of innocent lives, it may be the right thing to do. Honestly for me it would come down to if I believed I would be prosecuted.
Cave_Man
4 / 5 (4) Dec 01, 2011
The people who diverted the train directly caused the death of the person on the diversion track. The people on the tracks were there by there own choice and chose to accept the danger. Those who diverted the train killed the individual who chose the safe route.

If it had been real, it would have been murder.


I believe this is quite an accurate assessment. Yet 90% of people would chose an action that makes choosing the correct action (hiking safely) a liability.

This probably happens all too much in the real world. Where a minority chooses the correct thing to do and a majority does something incorrect and yet an outside observed chooses the majority because of number and math casing progress to be lost.

Although assuming the hikers are all clones and the situation is completely unknown to the hikers (they are all blind and dont know what train tracks are) then the correct choice is to save the 5 and kill the 1.
Tausch
3 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2011
@Shabs42
I understand. All three paragraphs all rationalizations. The most adequate outcome is no one dies. You are not allowed that outcome or the feeling of adequacy that comes with no one dying.

You saved many lives. I will simply conjecture the best outcome is an outcome where no one dies. You are not 'allowed' to bring about the 'best' solution - only the 'second best' solution. Don't you feel 'short-changed' or at least imitated by a dilemma that only allows a sub optimal solution?

The "lesser of two evils" rationalizes the loss. Any loss with any rationalization is not what any human being wants or needs. 'Unavoidable' is a rationalization. What do you feel about the loss besides the loss being 'unavoidable'? Regret?
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2011
typo: intimidated = imitated
HealingMindN
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2011
If it was me, I'd hit the switch, aim for the one hiker, then blow the horn and get on the loudspeaker, "HEY YOU! IDIOT ON THE TRACKS! RUN! GET OUT OF THE WAY! THIS IS AN 80 TON MEAT GRINDER COMIN' TO SLAUGHTER YOUR ASS!" Then I'd know at least I tried to save that hiker...
dogbert
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2011
HealingMindN,

I'd hit the switch, aim for the one hiker, then blow the horn and get on the loudspeaker, "HEY YOU! IDIOT ON THE TRACKS! RUN! GET OUT OF THE WAY! THIS IS AN 80 TON MEAT GRINDER COMIN' TO SLAUGHTER YOUR ASS!" Then I'd know at least I tried to save that hiker...


No, you would have killed that one hiker who was safely on the unselected track until you decided he would die.

You would have murdered the guy but you would have rationalized it to make yourself feel virtuous instead of evil.
jonnyboy
4 / 5 (4) Dec 01, 2011
i would pray that Vendicar was the one.
Code_Warrior
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2011
Are the 5 Conservatives? If so then they have less worth than the individual.


Is the one Decari-Tard? If so, he would blame the 5 conservatives on the other track for choosing not to follow in his footsteps and would call them stupid. Then he would set up his tent and start an occupy track movement claiming that the person in control of the switch is part of the 1%, is evil, and chose to kill him rather than share their wealth. He would leave a note with his list of demands which would include stopping the boxcar before it hits him and removing the tracks that railroaded him into his predicament.
paulthebassguy
2 / 5 (11) Dec 01, 2011
I would have done nothing and let the car continue to hit the 5 people.

The problem is that as soon as a person reroutes the boxcar then they are getting involved and the death of the one hiker is then their responsibility. Assuming the decider didn't initially start the boxcar then if they do nothing they can claim no involvement or responsibility in the 5 people.
Pirouette
1.6 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2011
In a comic book situation, you would call Superman, who would arrive in time to save all 6. But In a real situation, you could decide not to get involved, and backtrack your way returning to your starting point. It's like the news story of the young white male on the subway train who was beaten down by a bunch of thugs and nobody came to his aid. They all looked the other way except for an older man who came over and started kicking the guy while he was down.
The other people on the train made a choice. No matter what their motive was for not stopping the beating or calling the police, the thing happened anyway and they all share the guilt as accessories to the crime. So, in the case of the 6 people on the 2 train tracks, the one guy who has to make the choice would be guilty of murder one way or the other. The easy way out would be just to walk away from the situation, let fate take care of it.
hopefulbl
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2011
Who designed this? MR. SPOK? "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the ONE"
Pirouette
1 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2011
He will STILL be guilty of negligent homicide, but he might not think of it that way and it may ease his sense of whatever feelings of guilt he might have if he hears the screaming of the dying.
He COULD be brought up on charges of leaving the scene of an accident and other charges, IF someone else was there and turned him in. But he might plead innocence because he froze.
Pirouette
1 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2011
Who designed this? MR. SPOK? "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the ONE"

LOL. . . .modify the program?
Physmet
5 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
Does this scenario seem like less of a "moral decision" than some of the others setups have been? My impression, in this setting, is that I have in my power the ability to kill 5 people or 1 based on my decision. The lever is in my hand. I will either be the cause of 5 people's deaths or just one. That makes the decision easy.

You might argue that the five people were going to die anyway without me there and that the one person wouldn't have died if I hadn't been there. However, that is simply trying to avoid the blame - I am there and can either save 5 or 1. I choose to save 5.

Looked at one other way. If 5 people are going to die and nobody was on the other track, switching is a no-brainer, right? This is because if you don't, you've allowed 5 people to die. When you add one person on the other track, the only difference is that you've managed to save one fewer life.
Skepticus
not rated yet Dec 02, 2011
Thou shall not kill

Reads "Thou shall not murder." The intention makes the difference. With this distinction, most people I think will accept the decision to take the heavy moral burden.
...On the other hand, this "kill one/some to save many" rhetoric has been done to death since time immemorial to conveniently justify wars against adversaries. That is murder, not killing.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
One solution has nothing to do with morality: and everything to do with judgement and behavior.

This solution depends on your belief in probability, chance and randomness. And whether those beliefs override beliefs of morality. Morality and chance are acts of faith.

If you place your hands on the switch and close your eyes, you have no way of knowing WHEN to switch the switch.

Probability says there are only two outcomes. Both fatal. Your decision to close your eyes passes judgement over your beliefs in morality and chance and dictates your behavior. You belief and faith in chance - taking precedence over morality in a world rigged with only two outcomes. Eyes closed, you begin switching the switch as fast as you can.

This places "the greater good" at the hands of what all insurances companies call "acts of god" clauses.

Later, the judge will stand up and say:
"God doesn't play dice!"
You stand up and retort:
"Who am I to pass judgement over what is the greater good of society?"
Skepticus
not rated yet Dec 02, 2011
Later, the judge will stand up and say:
"God doesn't play dice!"
You stand up and retort:
"Who am I to pass judgement over what is the greater good of society?"

Whether invoking God or not, Man is endowed with free will. Judgment has to/will be made one way or another. Not to act is also passing a judgment (you judged that it is best to leave it for a miracle or otherwise certain death(s).
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
Invoke chance when free will is bounded by only two outcomes.
You abandoned a decision to make about life and death to chance.
You abandoned a decision not to do anything to reason.
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Dec 02, 2011
Even inaction is a choice, unless you suffer from omission bias. This is a choice between 1 and 5 people dying, and per utilitarian calculus we have to chose lesser evil. I think I would divert the train.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
We have a math choice:

You have your utilitarian calculus to dictate your outcome.
I have the probability of a chance to dictate my outcome.

Whoever dies, I had the least to say in who dies.
Whoever dies, you had the most to say in who dies.

You carry the burden labeled 'lesser evil' and the blessing of society's utilitarian calculus and survivors.

I carry the burden labeled 'chance' and the blessing of whoever survives and only a 50% chance of fulfilling society's utilitarian calculus.

And we agree from omission bias, that inaction was, is, and never will be a choice.

You will tell survivors they survived by number.
I will tell whoever survives they survived by chance.
Nerdyguy
1.3 / 5 (9) Dec 02, 2011
I would have done nothing and let the car continue to hit the 5 people.

The problem is that as soon as a person reroutes the boxcar then they are getting involved and the death of the one hiker is then their responsibility. Assuming the decider didn't initially start the boxcar then if they do nothing they can claim no involvement or responsibility in the 5 people.


I would imagine that, in real life, the consequence of that action might be a later indictment for 5 murders. Later, after the imminent plea deal would allow you to avoid jail time, you'd be looking at 6 civil suits. One from each of the families of the victims. One more from the trolley company. They'd likely sue you claiming some sort of damage to the trolley caused by your proximity to the company equipment.

I'm chuckling while I'm writing this, but I'm also thinking how realistic it sounds in light of other odd cases.
dogbert
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 02, 2011
Nerdyguy,

I would have done nothing and let the car continue to hit the 5 people.

I would imagine that, in real life, the consequence of that action might be a later indictment for 5 murders.


There is no law requiring you to intervene and you cannot be successfully convicted of a crime if you do nothing.

On the other hand, deliberately murdering someone is a crime and you can successfully be tried and convicted of murder if you murder the person who is safely on the track which is not in the path of the train.

Not only is the choice to murder someone morally repugnant, it is also illegal.
Nerdyguy
1.3 / 5 (9) Dec 02, 2011
I'm pretty certain that this was not an original idea. I think they may have stolen this from an episode of McGyver.
Nerdyguy
1.4 / 5 (9) Dec 02, 2011
Nerdyguy,

There is no law requiring you to intervene


You are mistaken about this.

and you cannot be successfully convicted of a crime if you do nothing.


And correct about this likely outcome.
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Dec 02, 2011
dogbert - this is a moral question, not legal one. I think the choice to do nothing and let greater evil happen, when presented with a choice to do something and let only lesser evil happen, is immoral.

Tausch - so your choice is rationalised by selfish motivation - to be able to hide yourself behind "chance" (btw in the dillema it says nothing about chances but certainties) even at the cost of more people dying. I dont consider that enough. And it does not prove it is actually a more moral choice, only that its better for the person that has to decide.
dogbert
1 / 5 (7) Dec 02, 2011
Nerdyguy,
There is no law requiring you to intervene

You are mistaken about this.

Please provide a link to a law requiring intervention or link to a case where someone was convicted of doing nothing.

ShotmanMasio,
I think the choice to do nothing and let greater evil happen, when presented with a choice to do something and let only lesser evil happen, is immoral.


Apparently, from the article, 90.5 % of the participants in the test agree that murder is moral.

Murder is never moral.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2011
Please provide a link to a law requiring intervention or link to a case where someone was convicted of doing nothing.


I'm not doing all your research for you. This is a complex and very boring topic, and I had to refresh my memory just to post here. Anyway, if you look into it (try: duty to assist laws, good samaritan laws, this article:http://en.wikiped...o_rescue - that'll get you started), here's what you'll find:

1) Worldwide, there are many countries where it is a felony.

2) There are MANY different degrees of "wrongness" legally speaking. It's all down to the circumstances. Things like: how close were you? Could your actions have prevented it? Etc.

3) In the U.S., there is no SINGLE law that covers it. More like dozens. Federal and state.

4) Are you unaware of the Sandusky case? Different area (sexual molestation of a minor). Same issue.

5) That's just the CRIMINAL penalties.

6) WRONGFUL DEATH in CIVIL court would be very likely.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
dogbert - murder is not killing, killing may be moral in some cases. For example, what about selfdefense or defense of others? What about defensive war? I think in such cases killing is OK.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (6) Dec 02, 2011
I forgot to add - The most interesting quote from the article I linked to above:

"These laws are rarely applied, and are generally ignored by citizens and lawmakers."
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
Tausch - so your choice is rationalised by selfish motivation - to be able to hide yourself behind "chance" (btw in the dillema it says nothing about chances but certainties) even at the cost of more people dying. - Shotmanslo


You close your eyes. You grab and pull the switch back and forth as fast as you can. The only outcome to either outcome is fatal. You have no way of knowing which of the outcomes occur with your eyes closed and pulling the switch back and forth as fast as you can.

The motivation is to give every potential victim a 50% survival chance independent of what a society's utilitarian calculus possibly offers.

The judgement and behavior you exhibit with this is independent from all morality. You subject all who are living - before the boxcar takes a path determined by chance alone - to a 50% chance to die or live.

You let society's utilitarian calculus rationalize for you - by rationalizing that "the greater good" for society is a number greater than one.

Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
I "hid" behind chance. Which has nothing to do with morale.

You "hid" behind society's utilitarian calculus. Because subjecting your decision to chance alone is not "enough" for you. That is a selfish consideration.

You find society's utilitarian calculus more consoling.
I find chance more consoling.

I did not subject those that died or survived to morality.
I subjected those that died or survived to chance.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
The people who diverted the train directly caused the death of the person on the diversion track. The people on the tracks were there by there own choice and chose to accept the danger. Those who diverted the train killed the individual who chose the safe route.
Dogbert as usual has read his own prejudgments onto the situation. Those 5 people on the tracks were railroad workers who were supposed to be there. The lout on the other track was omatumr. And in any case at the very most it would be some kind of manslaughter, not murder.
Temple
5 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
I'd be very interested to see how the choice to sacrifice the one person's life for the sake of the five would correlate with the choice to sacrifice one's own life to save the five.

I wonder if there's a connection and which way it would go...
daqman
5 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
If you leave the switch half way open you will derail the box car and save all six. The problem with non real world moral dilemma's is that they remove too much from the equation. Most people would look for a way to save everyone or avoid situations which would present the dilemma in the first place
Nerdyguy
1.8 / 5 (10) Dec 02, 2011
I propose an interesting third option: a switch setting that makes a train run down each track, killing all the individuals. It would be fascinating to see how many would choose that option.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
It's a video game. Unfortunately, that's not a realistic moral situation. How many in the study have played GTA? I mean that totally throws off your sense of realism, 3d or not. There are no actual consequences when it is not reality.

Besides isn't this what Batman, Spiderman or any other super hero is always faced with? Mary Jane or the trolley?

The hero always tries to save both parties, even if he must lay down his life to, in this case, derail the boxcar.

So it's a false dichotomy in a video game.

In reality, people will either stand there unwilling to decide for self preservation, or they will attempt to find someway to stop the boxcar altogether. Very few will flip the switch, because they can't nor do they want to make 1 vs. 5 decision.

If you took this test, the correct answer is not to flip the switch, but to pull the plug on the machine...so that the boxcar never reaches either destination.
dsl5000
not rated yet Dec 02, 2011
To throw a wrench into this decision, what if the 5 were 80 elderly people while the 1 was a newborn/toddler in a stroller.

now to add another twist, quick! what if that baby was known to grow up to become Hitler!

Lol, The daily show had a skit similar to this dilemma...indecision...

Interestingly enough, this question was also posed in the movie iRobot with the dilemma of 1v1 based on age and gender vs percent to survive (machine calculation).
Fionn_MacTool
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
I don't think the rational choice in this example is obvious at all. In fact, I would be worried about people who make a quick judgement (my gut reaction by the way would be to save the many over the few). If the question is about the lesser of two evils, who is too judge that? Imagine on one side of the track are two people you don't know, the other side your mother or brother. What about if it is just one person on one side and a family member on the other? Obviously we know it is not correct to choose one over the other, but how will an individual choose when it comes to the crunch and if it is dependant on that individuals value system? What if one person is a "normal" person and the other is down syndrome? Once you take the moral position that you can choose the lesser of two "evils" you open the door to frightening rationalisations.
FrankHerbert
2.6 / 5 (15) Dec 02, 2011
Dogbert as usual has read his own prejudgments onto the situation. Those 5 people on the tracks were railroad workers who were supposed to be there. The lout on the other track was omatumr. And in any case at the very most it would be some kind of manslaughter, not murder.

Dogbert has no need for your logic.

http://en.wikiped...d_States

A good Samaritan law may not apply in this case, but that's not what dogbert asked for.
There is no law requiring you to intervene and you cannot be successfully convicted of a crime if you do nothing.

Please provide a link to a law requiring intervention or link to a case where someone was convicted of doing nothing.

He said "a crime" not "this crime". So he's wrong. People can be forced to intervene by the law, which I believe is the main point you were challenging.
Murder is never moral.

You wouldn't abuse the Castle Doctrine if given the chance? I'll define "abuse" as killing the perp.
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2011
Legally, it would be manslaughter, not murder.

Morally it's the knowledge that inaction will result in death that places a moral burden on the person making the decision. Without that knowledge there is no moral burden, but with that knowledge the decision maker is making an informed decision to not act.

Blaming the victim(s) does not alleviate this moral burden. The decision maker is responsible for the results of their decision.


No, they are not in such cases.

At least, not subject to your black and white logic.

I am not responsible for things I neither caused nor contributed to.

Being an eye witness to an accident or catastrophe does not make one guilty of anything, legally or morally.

A person is not legally or morally bound to act to save a person or group of person's lives when doing so will place other person's lives in danger, or particularly definitely forfeit their life in such a case as this scenario.
Nanobanano
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2011
If you want to give your life to save others, that's your choice and your right.

It is not your choice nor your right to take the life of an innocent 3rd party in order to save someone else: otherwise we'd have forced blood and organ donations and eugenics and holocaust would all be acceptable practices.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2011
Then I suggest you close your eyes.
And pull the switch. Back and forth.
As fast as you can. The only burden is chance.
And everyone has a chance to live. Or die.
dweeb
not rated yet Dec 02, 2011
in this scenario w/equal culpability , 5 over 1
unequal culpability , dumb loses , regardless
JC40
not rated yet Dec 03, 2011
The utilitarian morality that makes you pull the switch is purely cognitive and is relatively easy to do when you are distant from the victims.

Now try the same experiment where you are placed at the side of the single victim, talk to him, look him in the eyes, allowing you to empathise with him. Now try throwing that damn switch. A different moral sense kicks in based on innate emotion rather than cognition, thoughtless instincts associated with care and compassion and the urge to avoid harm.

What does it prove? -That humans have a mix of moral drives that compete with each other.

Try the experiment several times on the same subjects, changing the identity of the singleton victim. First he is Iranian. Most subjects throw that switch. Second time he is American. Fewer people throw that switch........ -all which vote republican.

Reason? -a conservative moral mindset contains a stronger tribal instinct.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (6) Dec 03, 2011
First he is Iranian. Most subjects throw that switch. Second time he is American. Fewer people throw that switch........ -all which vote republican.

Reason? -a conservative moral mindset contains a stronger tribal instinct.


I was actually enjoying your -- up to this point -- rational thought process.

Then you began to make up b.s. that stinks so bad I had to hold my nose.

You have confused your (bizarre) personal opinions for some kind of actual fact.
aroc91
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 03, 2011
Oh look, another irrelevant, politically-driven Vendicar post.
S Densley
not rated yet Dec 03, 2011
Are we as responsible for inaction as for action? That is really the question here.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2011
Morality, responsibility, decision, judgement and behavior are straw men. To justify dilemmas and control from the people who need to create dilemmas and control.

I have given everyone the same equal chance to live or die.
In the same spirit that all people are create equal, all people have an equal chance to live or die. No one was given preferential treatment because of their number. My preferential treatment is to allow all people an equal chance to live or die.

O.k. continue on with your rationalizations. My rationalization is founded on and in equal chance.

If there is a question at all, I have answered the question.
JC40
5 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2011

I was actually enjoying your -- up to this point -- rational thought process.

Then you began to make up b.s. that stinks so bad I had to hold my nose.

You have confused your (bizarre) personal opinions for some kind of actual fact.

This well founded in fact. Political leaning is psychologically strongly bound to innate moral judgement (Haidt et al). Liberals tend to give more weight to the importance of an individual, compared to conservatives who instinctively also consider the importance of the "tribe" as a whole (or their family or nation) in their moral judgement. Hence extreme conservatives are more likely to be strongly patriotic or nationalist, -and more likely to feel a moral duty of care towards a compatriot than towards an alien.

This isn't BS. It's the way the human mind works. Moral instinct is very potent and predisposes moral thought.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2011

I was actually enjoying your -- up to this point -- rational thought process.

Then you began to make up b.s. that stinks so bad I had to hold my nose.

You have confused your (bizarre) personal opinions for some kind of actual fact.

This well founded in fact. Political leaning is psychologically strongly bound to innate moral judgement (Haidt et al). Liberals tend to give more weight to the importance of an individual, compared to conservatives who instinctively also consider the importance of the "tribe" as a whole (or their family or nation) in their moral judgement. Hence extreme conservatives are more likely to be strongly patriotic or nationalist, -and more likely to feel a moral duty of care towards a compatriot than towards an alien.

This isn't BS. It's the way the human mind works. Moral instinct is very potent and predisposes moral thought.


I repeat, you are making up whatever comes to the top of your head.
FrankHerbert
1.4 / 5 (9) Dec 04, 2011
Actually HE IS NOT.
But your bias denies you the metacognative ability to realize you are wrong.
(Haidt et al)

He even provided a citation you turd. Here's a video since you are probably too lazy to read about it.

http://www.ted.co...ind.html
theknifeman
3 / 5 (2) Dec 04, 2011
I would kill all six and eat them. But that's just me.
Jimbaloid
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
In the version my daughter told me she was given at school, a train full of a hundred strangers will plummet to their death unless you close a bridge (it's your job). A member of your immediate family who was visiting you, say your own child, or mother, has fallen into the bridge mechanism and there is insufficient time to go pull them out. She actually found the whole exercise a little upsetting. Not sure what they learned. Seems someone somewhere has a little too much time for thinking up these scenarios!
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
Actually HE IS NOT.
But your bias denies you the metacognative ability to realize you are wrong.


So, you're grand argument is that he's right, I'm wrong, you're right, and the reason for all this is because you're smarter than me? Wow, congrats!

(Haidt et al)

He even provided a citation you turd. Here's a video since you are probably too lazy to read about it.


Actually, that's not a citation. It's just a name. And, as usual, I'll remind you that the world does not need to be subjected to your inane attempts to ridicule. Grow up a little, come back, and try again.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html


Frank, trust me here big boy, I won't waste my time either reading OR watching anything from you.

Thanks for playing Franky. Try again!
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
In the version my daughter told me she was given at school, a train full of a hundred strangers will plummet to their death unless you close a bridge (it's your job). A member of your immediate family who was visiting you, say your own child, or mother, has fallen into the bridge mechanism and there is insufficient time to go pull them out. She actually found the whole exercise a little upsetting. Not sure what they learned. Seems someone somewhere has a little too much time for thinking up these scenarios!


I must respectfully disagree with your conclusion. There is much to be learned from examining a situation like this, particularly for a young person.

At the very least, it is an introduction to the heart-wrenching understanding that sometimes there are NO good choices, which generally only comes with a painful real-life lesson.

It's a healthy exercise to get kids out of their comfort zones and make them consider new challenges.
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
Are we as responsible for inaction as for action? That is really the question here.


Whatever the outcome chosen, I dont think the person choosing should be legaly responsible for anything. Its a choice made under pressure to save someones life either way.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
Whatever the outcome chosen, I dont think the person choosing should be legaly responsible for anything. Its a choice made under pressure to save someones life either way.


If you choose to kill someone, You are responsible -- legally and morally.
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
Whatever the outcome chosen, I dont think the person choosing should be legaly responsible for anything. Its a choice made under pressure to save someones life either way.


If you choose to kill someone, You are responsible -- legally and morally.


Not when killing in self-defense or defense of others, among other cases.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
Not when killing in self-defense or defense of others, among other cases.


The lone person on the track is not a threat to you or anyone else so defense arguments do not apply. Diverting the train to kill him is premeditated murder.
rubberman
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
Attempting to correlate emotional reaction to a hypothetical situation makes the test flawed from the outset. The participant knows no-one in the test is actually going to die and thus is left the luxury of choice without true consequence. One poster put someone he despised on the tracks and made the decision that much easier for himself. In a hypothetical situation most people do something similar to this. Reality doesn't provide these allowances.
What if Hitler was one of the 5 but the other 4 are girlguides?
FrankHerbert
1.4 / 5 (9) Dec 05, 2011
Actually HE IS NOT.
But your bias denies you the metacognative ability to realize you are wrong.


So, you're grand argument is that he's right, I'm wrong, you're right, and the reason for all this is because you're smarter than me? Wow, congrats!

(Haidt et al)

He even provided a citation you turd. Here's a video since you are probably too lazy to read about it.


Actually, that's not a citation. It's just a name. And, as usual, I'll remind you that the world does not need to be subjected to your inane attempts to ridicule. Grow up a little, come back, and try again.

http://www.ted.co...ind.html


Frank, trust me here big boy, I won't waste my time either reading OR watching anything from you.

Thanks for playing Franky. Try again!

Wow people, just look at the sophistry in this post. He claims my argument is "I'm right", then he posts my ACTUAL argument immediately beneath it. He thinks you're dumb
FrankHerbert
1 / 5 (9) Dec 05, 2011
Just to rehash (the character limited prevented such)

1) Nerdyguy claimed JC40 made up research, even though he provided the authors name and plenty of info to find the actual research (which I was able to).

2) I provided the actual research in question, which it was Nerdyguy's original point that it didn't exist, proving him wrong.

3) Nerdyguy in a reductio ad absurdum fallacy claims my argument was "LOL you're wrong." which he immediately negates by posting the information I posted proving him wrong, then saying he won't look at it.

Hey buddy, you don't have to look at it. It exists. You said it didn't. YOU ARE WRONG, LOL!
Ricochet
not rated yet Dec 05, 2011
Would the most appropriate response to this connundrum not be to just blow the whistle continuously and hope the idiots move?

In any case, responsibility for inaction would most likely be based on the following:
1. Knowledge of how to control the train (be it to stop it, divert it, etc.)
2. Physical ability to take action (being in the right place to do so, with whatever strength or endurance it would take to perform the actions required
3. Being in the proper state of mind to take action (NOT frozen in panic)
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2011
1) Nerdyguy claimed JC40 made up research, even though he provided the authors name and plenty of info to find the actual research (which I was able to).


You have fabricated here. I said he was "making things up" in response to his two posts. I said nothing about his research, nor do I propose that he did any.

2) I provided the actual research in question, which it was Nerdyguy's original point that it didn't exist, proving him wrong.


Go back to #1. Read again.

3) Nerdyguy in a reductio ad absurdum...


Look that up all by yourself?

...fallacy claims my argument was "LOL you're wrong." which he immediately negates by posting the information I posted proving him wrong, then saying he won't look at it.

Hey buddy, you don't have to look at it. It exists. You said it didn't. YOU ARE WRONG, LOL!


Franky, did you forget to take your meds again? Why don't you go make up some more fake aliases or something and let the grownups chat?
FrankHerbert
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 05, 2011
I said he was "making things up" in response to his two posts. I said nothing about his research, nor do I propose that he did any.


You're a liar.

I'll post the exact quote. I have to trim some off of JC40's due to the character limit.

This well founded in fact. Political leaning is psychologically strongly bound to innate moral judgement (Haidt et al)...
This isn't BS. It's the way the human mind works. Moral instinct is very potent and predisposes moral thought.

I repeat, you are making up whatever comes to the top of your head.


You said he was making up the research that he attributed to Haidt. This is OBVIOUS. That is demonstrably false, and since you are still peddling it, it's a lie.

You're a liar. Not to mention the lies you spread about me and all my supposed accounts. You and the physorg teabaggers spread disinformation about everyone that threatens your worldview.

If you don't want your worldview challenged go elsewhere.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Dec 05, 2011
You said he was making up the research that he attributed to Haidt. This is OBVIOUS. That is demonstrably false, and since you are still peddling it, it's a lie.

You're a liar. Not to mention the lies you spread about me and all my supposed accounts. You and the physorg teabaggers spread disinformation about everyone that threatens your worldview.

If you don't want your worldview challenged go elsewhere.


Yes, Frank, I'm spreading lies. Me and the Physorg teabaggers (wtf?). We're all out to get you.

Goodnight Franky.
FrankHerbert
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 05, 2011
Hey, you didn't address how you lied about Haidt's research not existing despite its existence.

Care to admit to that or do you plan on spreading more lies?

Also the "we're all out to get you" thing is a parody of you and your ideological brethren on this site. I'm not surprised that was lost on you as you lack the metacognitive ability to recognize your shortcomings. Every time a conservative shill gets a bad rating it must be ME on a dozen accounts voting you down and you know, not the fact the the people here recognized you have awful opinions.

Maybe it's your bedtime. Liar.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
I have well over 200 ratings exclusively from orac.
All ones. The person as 'orac' has never commented.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
This specific morale dilemma is solved easily with chance.
See previous remarks. Chance trumps morality in this case.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
This specific morale dilemma is solved easily with chance.


There is no moral dilemma to be solved. Killing someone is murder, whether done deliberately or by random intent.

Murder is never moral.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
What is "random intent"?
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
I have well over 200 ratings exclusively from orac.
All ones. The person as 'orac' has never commented.


You are not alone. This site is plagued with mentally disturbed and lonely individuals who live to screw up your meaningless ratings.

After 3 years here I had an average rating of 4.6... I got on one of these nutjobs bad side recently and within a month they took that average rating down to 2.2 or something.

The most disturbing thing is they think this actually matters, like the ratings on this website actually affect any sane person with a life and are worth devoting large amounts of their time to screw them up.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
What is "random intent"?


unintentional intent...... duh!
JC40
not rated yet Dec 06, 2011
This specific morale dilemma is solved easily with chance.
See previous remarks. Chance trumps morality in this case.

Too late.

The fact that you find yourself in a position to affect the outcome means it is out of Fortune's hands. Letting the 5 die is a positive choice that you have made. Using some kind of lottery is no better: you are still DECIDING not to choose.

Neither the law nor the layers of instinctive morality were designed (or evolved) to deal with this situation. There is only one thing that was designed for this: pure utilitarian morality, cold hearted unsentimental calculation.

Utilitarian morality is abhorrent exactly because it ignores the instinctive moral imperatives that we feel: the compulsion to protect our kin, the compulsion to care for the individual in front of us, the compulsion to comply with the rule of law, the urge to be fair to all and the urge to act humanely etc.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
The article narrowly defines the circumstances and leeway:
Just two outcomes - to switch or not to switch.

Most everyone decided to switch...the subject!
Still. Made me think more about this specific dilemma.
Until now, I had already heard everyone's solution before.
Now I have my own solution. Ironically by chance.
By reading the article and comments here by chance.

Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
You put "Fortune's hands" back in play again by closing your eyes and switching back and forth as fast as you can.

Not "better", just "fairer to all". Yes. You decided not to chose...by subjecting the outcome to chance again.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 06, 2011
The moral dilemma (and responsibility) is with the one who put you in the position of switching or not switching (i.e. the sicko put all those victims there)

Putting a gun to someone's head and having them decide whether to kill one through action or to kill 5 through inaction isn't a good ethical test.

The study also found that participants who did not pull the switch were more emotionally aroused.

Could it be that making a decision settles the issue inside the person's brain (thereby relieving the stress of having to make a decision)?

But basically. "Thou shalt not kill" (or whichever way you want to word it) is NOT a statement about the act of killing but about the value of life.

So this precept is quite compatible with acting for the 'greater good' by pulling the switch.
Those who did not pull the switch just interpreted the rule in the literal sense instead of grasping its meaning (they were law abding while the others were lawful).
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 06, 2011
You put "Fortune's hands" back in play again by closing your eyes and switching back and forth as fast as you can.

Not "better", just "fairer to all". Yes. You decided not to chose...by subjecting the outcome to chance again.


In that case you don't need to switch back and forth at all. Chance (or at least forces outside your own control and responsibility) put the lever already in one position before you were put in charge of it.

So simply turning your back and walking away is the same as allowing a chance occurence to happen.

Even if you put it in the position before any of the hikers appeared it was the same as chance since the act wasn't connected to the hikers in any way.

Since there is no 'win' position in this you should be (legally) on safe ground this way.
Tausch
not rated yet Dec 06, 2011
In my world everyone's "value" will have the same chance - to stop or continue.
If I find ever find a "greater good", I will be the first to be "lawful" or even become "law abiding".

These words of statement from me here are custom-tailored to the perversity of the minds imaginative enough to have invoke the trolley dilemma as a measure of one's morality.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
Switching back and forth alleviates 'helplessness'. You are correct. I have 'done' nothing. I wanted to show intent. No matter how futile that is.
JC40
not rated yet Dec 06, 2011
It's a really useful discussion; it will help for when I come across a boxcar running out of control towards 5 people

It reminds me of the dilemmas we used to pose each other when we were kids, like "Would you rather have an eye surgically removed or have a red hot needle shoved down the hole in your penis?", -and then seriously considered and weighed up the options. We felt we were preparing ourselves for life.

CHollman82
not rated yet Dec 06, 2011
You put "Fortune's hands" back in play again by closing your eyes and switching back and forth as fast as you can.

Not "better", just "fairer to all". Yes. You decided not to chose...by subjecting the outcome to chance again.


Someone actually suggested this? That is equivalent to turning and walking away... which is fine, you are not responsible, the event would have played out the same in your absence.
Tausch
not rated yet Dec 06, 2011
Yes. The equivalence exists. The "greater good" is not number greater than one.
If this were true, then all life (forms) more populace than the number of human beings has the "greater good".
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
[s]Someone actually suggested this? - CH
Does this mean you adhere to the greater number - when only two numbers exits?

That 'someone' is me. I suggested the equivalency of "walking away" - switching the switch back and forth - blind folded - like Justicia with the balance in her hands.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
Someone actually suggested this? - CH

Does this mean you adhere to the greater number - when only two numbers exits?

That 'someone' is me. I suggested the equivalency of "walking away" - switching the switch back and forth - blind folded - like Justicia with the balance in her hands.


And I said it was equivalent to turning and walking away and that both were fine since you were not responsible in the first place...

I don't think we disagree with each other...
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2011
AP goes further. The equivalency does not stop at walking away.
The equivalency stops when you were never there. And you never read this. And ultimately the situation never existed.

Dan and Dave (the researchers) make a good living from situations that never existed. Nor ever will.
JC40
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
Of course, it's not about the situation. It's about the absoluteness of moral values such as the idea of not killing or causing harm to others.

You could replace the boxcar situation with a dilemma, such as the queation whether or not your nation should invade a country where you suspect without any degree of certainly that the dictatorship is harbouring weapons of mass destruction that present an unquantifiable risk to your citizens, and you know with a fair degree of certainty that an invasion would result in a good 100,000 deaths, huge amount of maiming and destitution.

Some people would say your government has a moral duty to provide maximum protection for its own citizens and can therefore accept 100,000 foreign deaths as "colateral damage", and therefore invasion is the right think to do.

Others would say it is immoral to place a higher value of life on compatriots compared to aliens, and such an invasion is a moral abomination.

Purely hypothetical of course, but..
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
You want to know when and where to kill. Intentionally and/or non-intentionally. Obscured with numberless layers of rationalizations - patriotism, duty, number, trust, mistrust, etc., etc.
Absolute morals will appear to be forces outside your own control and responsibility. There are many "labels" for this:
'Acts of God', chance and Nature.

People will actually make a distinction between the following two statements:

1.)"I threw the switch as fast as possible back and forth blindfolded."

2.)"I walked away."

Why do people make a distinction between these two statements?
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
Why do people make a distinction between these two statements?

Because one is an observed random event (switch position prior to walking away) and one is an unobserved one (switching back and forth)

It's like an oral exam I once tool. The examiner had a pile of cards with the question he was going to ask me (face down) and told me to pick five. I immediately just picked the top five...which totally astonished him.
I had to prove to him that it didn't matter one way or another as to my chances of passing the test - and that I could even have told HIM to pick any five he wanted.

As Terry Pratchett puts it: "personal is not the same as important"
...which is something many people don't understand. The choice in the article is not a personal one.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
65 million books worldwide in thirty-seven languages.
Pratchett can decide which of the thirty-seven languages his favorite words come closest to "there are no better words for this - in any language." Nothing personal, just important.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
Why do people make a distinction between these two statements?

Because in the first statement, you killed no one.
In the second statement, you may have killed someone.

If you were the lone person who was safely on the tracks, you would see that distinction.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
Ethically one might also argue that it would be better to actively decide that the 5 hikers should get hit.

After all: Hikers who cross railroad tracks at a place where they cannot see far enough in either direction in order to evade any trains are stupid (under the assumption that a hiker would know what railroad tracks are for).

The species would like to most select for those who are fit. neitherthe one nor the five hikers are fit - but killing off the five hikers will shift the spcies more into the dirction of intelligence than killing off the one.
ethics is a weird thing. Personal ethics may not be what is best for the species. And the final goal of the species is survival.
Dying out because of a great set of morals does not win any prizes in this universe.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2011
Why do people make a distinction between these two statements?
Because in the first statement, you killed no one. In the second statement, you may have killed someone.

If you were the lone person who was safely on the tracks, you would see that distinction.
He wasnt there safely on the tracks. He was there to sabotage them and, if he lives, he would derail the next train and kill 50 people.

NOW what are you gonna do?
There is no moral dilemma to be solved. Killing someone is murder, whether done deliberately or by random intent.

Murder is never moral.
"13 Thou shalt not kill." exodus20

"A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death." Leviticus 20:27

More good reasons to kill for christ:
http://www.evilbi...rder.htm

"Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes." Isaiah 13
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2011
I suppose religionists would think to pray for guidance first and then make the wrong decision. But at least they wouldnt feel guilty about it. Gods will and all that.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
Heres a goody:

"Cursed be he who does the Lords work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood." Jeremiah 48:10

-And:

"34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

"'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-
36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'" matt10

-a perennial favorite.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2011
Technically it may be advantageous to kill one billion of people, if it would help to survive the rest better. And because it's effective, it may be useful to repeat this action many times, until nobody survives.. Apparently something is wrong with this utilitarian approach to morality, which is why the ethical maxims usually prohibiting it.
Nerdyguy
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 07, 2011
@FrankHerbert: PM'ing nasty messages is a clear violation of the PhysOrg policies. Just a friendly reminder.
Skepticus
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
It will be interesting to subject a robot programmed with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics to this moral test. I guess it will blow its fuses and save itself from electronic headache! :-D
CHollman82
1 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2011
@FrankHerbert: PM'ing nasty messages is a clear violation of the PhysOrg policies. Just a friendly reminder.


The guy is out of control, he is a complete mental case...
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Dec 11, 2011
Not when killing in self-defense or defense of others, among other cases.


The lone person on the track is not a threat to you or anyone else so defense arguments do not apply. Diverting the train to kill him is premeditated murder.


You can kill innocent people in self-defense, too. Thats not a crime.

The question here is, whether you can kill innocent people in defense of others or not.
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2011
You can kill innocent people in self-defense, too. Thats not a crime.


Of course it is. If you kill someone intentionally who is not a threat to you or anyone else, you are guilty of premeditated murder. The single person on the track the train was not switched toward chose a safe course. If the train is intentionally switched to kill him, it is murder.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
Of course it is. If you kill someone intentionally who is not a threat to you or anyone else, you are guilty of premeditated murder.


Again, that is false in case of self-defense. Contrary to simplified popular belief, self-defense does not always distinguish whether the person is a threat to you or not. It only matters whether you killed in self-defense or not.

For example, if you lie on tracks and there is a train coming to run over you, switching it away is self-defense and thus legally not murder, even if it kills other innocent people lying on other track.

The question in this case is, does the same logic apply in defense of others?
dogbert
1 / 5 (3) Dec 11, 2011
For example, if you lie on tracks and there is a train coming to run over you, switching it away is self-defense and thus legally not murder, even if it kills other innocent people lying on other track.


How far will you stretch your analogy?

If you are lying on the track placing yourself in danger, you have the option of removing yourself from that dangerous situation. If you choose instead to kill someone else, you are still a murderer.

If you intentionally kill another person who is not a threat to you or someone else, you are guilty of murder.

I am repeating myself, but it is one of those situations which should be self evident, but apparently is not to some people. Killing others for no good reason is murder.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
If the butterfly effect is true, then how many butterflies must you kill?
Before you are no longer held accountable for natural catastrophes.

Which exhale of breath is the breath that brings the tipping point to the point of no return in climate?

Why does Nature reign supreme over all human rationality or thought? Surely there must be a good reason.
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Dec 11, 2011
Why does Nature reign supreme over all human rationality or thought?


Nature, of course, does no such thing.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2011
Nature, of course, does no such thing.
You're supernatural?
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
If you are lying on the track placing yourself in danger, you have the option of removing yourself from that dangerous situation. If you choose instead to kill someone else, you are still a murderer.


uhm.. are you a little slow, or something? The whole point of this moral conundrum is that its either one or the other. Read the first sentence of the article. You do not have that option.

If you intentionally kill another person who is not a threat to you or someone else, you are guilty of murder.


You can legally kill innocent people in self-defense if it cant be avoided, and its not murder, period.

I am repeating myself, but it is one of those situations which should be self evident, but apparently is not to some people. Killing others for no good reason is murder.


I cant imagine better reason than self-defense. The question then is, does the same logic apply to defense of others?
dogbert
1 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2011
uhm.. are you a little slow, or something?


Perhaps you are?

In the article, there is one person on a track which is not in the path of the train. There are five people who are on a track in the path of a train. Neither set of people can escape the tracks in a short time.

If you switch the train and kill the person who chose a safe path, you have murdered that person. That person was not a threat to you or anyone else. You did not kill that person in self defense. You deliberately murdered that person.

It is not a case of self defense. He was no threat to you.
It is not a case of defense of others. He was no threat to anyone else.

It is murder, plain and simple. And it is premeditated murder because you knew when you threw the switch that your action would result in his death.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
It is not a case of defense of others. He was no threat to anyone else.


You are wrong. It is a case of defense of others, because pulling the switch was in defense of those five people. Why are you incapable of seeing this simple fact is beyond me.

dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
You are wrong. It is a case of defense of others, because pulling the switch was in defense of those five people. Why are you incapable of seeing this simple fact is beyond me.


The man you want to murder to save five others is not a threat to those others. They placed themselves in harms way. They were a threat to themselves. The other man chose the track which the train was not going to pass down.

Even though you save five idiots, you murder one person who did nothing to harm either you or the others.

It remains murder when you kill someone who is not a threat to either you or to anyone else.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
The man you want to murder to save five others is not a threat to those others. They placed themselves in harms way. They were a threat to themselves.


Irrelevant, it is still defense, even when the man is not a threat.

It remains murder when you kill someone who is not a threat to either you or to anyone else.


Then why are you legally allowed to kill people that are not a threat when acting in self-defense? You are simply wrong.
dogbert
1 / 5 (4) Dec 12, 2011
Then why see you legally allowed to kill people that are nott a threat when acting in self defense?


How is it ever self defense to kill someone who is not a threat?

Please provide cases where murder of innocent people who pose no threat has been ruled protected activity.

You obviously see no moral reason to refrain from murder. How do you expect to avoid criminal and civil liability?
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2011
How is it ever self defense to kill someone who is not a threat?


I already explained it, please read carefully.

A hypothetical case when a person is lying on tracks while a train approaches, and this person diverts the train at a group of another innocent people on other track, killing them instead. In such case, these innocent non-threatening people were killed in self-defense. So this shows that killing innocent, even non-threatening people may in some cases be justified as a self-defense.

You obviously see no moral reason to refrain from murder. How do you expect to avoid criminal and civil liability?


There should be no criminal and civil liability in cases of self-defense and possibly defense of others.
dogbert
1 / 5 (4) Dec 12, 2011
Your hypothetical case would still be murder.

Can you back your incredible claim with something in the real world? Cite a single case where it was ruled legal to murder an innocent person who represented no threat to any one.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 12, 2011
Perhaps you are?
No you are definitely the slower one.
How is it ever self defense to kill someone who is not a threat?

Please provide cases where murder of innocent people who pose no threat has been ruled protected activity.

You obviously see no moral reason to refrain from murder. How do you expect to avoid criminal and civil liability?
Case in point: In iraq there was an incident where a US guard shot up a car full of iraqi family members because it continued to approach a restricted area despite repeated warnings. Evidence suggested the driver was only confused. The soldiers were exonerated.

Sometimes others unwittingly act or threaten to act in ways which put your life or someone elses life in imminent danger, unless they are killed. As the example shows the threat may in fact be only perceived for the killing to be justified.

Like when a youth points a toy gun at a cop for instance.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 12, 2011
Another contentious example of people who had no business doing what they were doing in a place where they knew they werent supposed to be; and were killed for it.
http://www.youtub...PrfnU3G0
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
Otto,
I said:
Please provide cases where murder of innocent people who pose no threat has been ruled protected activity.


A person in a war zone who refuses to stop is a threat. Similarly, someone who threatens the police may by killed because they represent a threat.

Why not let ShotmanMaslo defend his own statements?
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 12, 2011
Oh Im sorry dog is this a private chatroom thread? I think not. You havent yet responded to my 2 hypotheticals, one of which was:
He wasnt there safely on the tracks. He was there to sabotage them and, if he lives, he would derail the next train and kill 50 people.

NOW what are you gonna do?
Give it a shot.
dogbert
1 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2011
Otto,
Why do you ask what I would do if I knew a terrorist was about to kill 50 people if I had the option to stop the terrorist? What is your point?

Foolish question. I would do what any normal person would do.

ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2011
Your hypothetical case would still be murder.


No, it would be certainly ruled self-defense. Definition of self-defense:

Self-defense, self-defence (see spelling differences) or private defense is a countermeasure that involves defending oneself, one's property or the well-being of another from physical harm.


http://en.wikiped...-defense

This definition is clearly fullfilled in my example, when the person on lying on tracks is defending himself from incoming train.

Can you back your incredible claim with something in the real world? Cite a single case where it was ruled legal to murder an innocent person who represented no threat to any one.


I did not manage to find such case, it is quite an obscure situation. Maybe you can find a counterexample, after all, it is your claim that contradicts both common sense and legal definitions of self-defense.
dogbert
1 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2011
This definition is clearly fullfilled in my example, when the person on lying on tracks is defending himself from incoming train.


No, it is not. You don't have to lie on the tracks and can simply get off the track. It is not necessary to kill someone else to prevent your own death. Just get up and walk off the track.

I did not manage to find such case...


Because it is not legal to kill people who do not represent a threat to you or others. If you kill someone who is not a threat to you or others, it is murder.
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2011
No, it is not. You don't have to lie on the tracks and can simply get off the track. It is not necessary to kill someone else to prevent your own death. Just get up and walk off the track.


Once again, I have to doubt your mental state. Please read the first sentence of the article. The WHOLE POINT of this moral conundrum is that it is either one or the other, the one person CANNOT get off the track in time, nor can those 5 people. Are you just trolling me, or what?
ShotmanMaslo
Dec 14, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
FrankHerbert
1.7 / 5 (11) Dec 14, 2011
Dogbert is pathologically intellectually dishonest as evidenced by this answer he gave:

Why do you ask what I would do if I knew a terrorist was about to kill 50 people if I had the option to stop the terrorist? What is your point?

Foolish question. I would do what any normal person would do.


He refuses to answer any morally geared question. He will dance around the topic all day and never answer it while claiming he has.

The OBVIOUS implication here is that dogbert thinks a normal person would torture a terrorist in that situation. But since he didn't actually say it he casts doubt. Intellectually dishonest.

Also his refusal to accept the parameters of the experiment and even going to the extreme of claiming different parameters is another example of his dishonesty.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
Because it is not legal to kill people who do not represent a threat to you or others. If you kill someone who is not a threat to you or others, it is murder.


You misunderstood me, I said I did not find a case relevant to our discussion, not that I did not find a case supporting my position. Feel free to provide your own example supporting your position, after all it is your claim that defies both common sense and definition on wiki.
dogbert
1 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2011
ShotmanMaslo,
Once again, I have to doubt your mental state. Please read the first sentence of the article. The WHOLE POINT of this moral conundrum is that it is either one or the other, the one person CANNOT get off the track in time, nor can those 5 people. Are you just trolling me, or what?


No, it was you who proposed to change the situation in the article to supposedly justify killing someone. Your words:
A hypothetical case when a person is lying on tracks while a train approaches, and this person diverts the train at a group of another innocent people on other track, killing them instead. In such case, these innocent non-threatening people were killed in self-defense. So this shows that killing innocent, even non-threatening people may in some cases be justified as a self-defense.


In the article, there are 5 people on one track and one on the other track. Neither group can escape death if the train goes in their direction.
continued ...

dogbert
1 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2011
continued ...
There is another person (you) who can control the switch, diverting the train from the 5 to the one.

You create the hypothetical case where the controller is lying on the track and diverts the train to kill the single person. The controller can simply get up and walk away.

You continue to say that it is legal to kill someone who is not a threat to you or anyone else. I continue to point out that that is not true.

You do not cite case law for your position because your position is bankrupt. There is no law allowing the murder of someone who is no threat to anyone.

dogbert
1 / 5 (4) Dec 14, 2011
FrankHerbert,


The OBVIOUS implication here is that dogbert thinks a normal person would torture a terrorist in that situation. But since he didn't actually say it he casts doubt. Intellectually dishonest.

Also his refusal to accept the parameters of the experiment and even going to the extreme of claiming different parameters is another example of his dishonesty.


You are being dishonest. I have not attempted to change the parameters of the thought experiment. I only pointed out that changing the parameters as ShotmanMaslo suggested does not change the legal or moral implications. You can't legally or morally kill an innocent person.

Otto asked what I would do if the single person were a terrorist who was going to kill 50 people. Any normal person would stop a terrorist who was about to kill 50 people. You fail to see that? Consider how far from normal you have to be to be so uncaring.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
"...was going to..." - Db sounds preemptive.
Even more problematic than inevitability.

"You can't legally or morally kill an innocent person." - Db
Why stop there? Take the logic to it's conclusion:
You can't legally or morally kill an guilty person.
Custodial life long treatment for the guilty is fine.

ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
You create the hypothetical case where the controller is lying on the track and diverts the train to kill the single person. The controller can simply get up and walk away.


So the root of our disagreement seems to be a misunderstanding of my hypothetical case. To clear it up, it was the controlling ability that was transfered from a third person to the one on the tracks in my example. The new controller on the tracks thus cannot walk away.

Of course, I agree that if the controller could walk away, then he should and otherwise it would be a crime.

You continue to say that it is legal to kill someone who is not a threat to you or anyone else. I continue to point out that that is not true.


Now you surely see why this is false. If the train is threatening you, you can divert it, even if the consequences include that it kills innocent non-threatening people. It would not be a crime, but self-defense.
ShotmanMaslo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2011
If the train is threatening you, you can divert it, even if the consequences include that it kills innocent non-threatening people. It would not be a crime, but self-defense.


The important question relevant to the article then is: does the same hold true in case of defense of others?
FrankHerbert
1.8 / 5 (10) Dec 14, 2011
Any normal person would stop a terrorist who was about to kill 50 people. You fail to see that? Consider how far from normal you have to be to be so uncaring.


Nah, you are intentionally conflating things. Any person would stop a terrorist in the middle of a terrorist act if he thought he could help. However you are being intentionally general.

You are trying to claim a normal person would torture information out of someone if they thought it would save 50 lives, while also claiming the same person wouldn't flip a switch to save 5.

I'd just go ahead an ask you "would you torture someone to save 50 lives" but there is no way in hell you will answer that question. I know you too well. You'll just say "I'd do what a normal person would do." Maybe you don't actually know what a normal person would do because you're a psychopath and you're just dodging the question?

I'll answer the question though.

NO, I would not torture someone to save 50 lives.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 14, 2011
Otto,
Why do you ask what I would do if I knew a terrorist was about to kill 50 people if I had the option to stop the terrorist? What is your point?

Foolish question. I would do what any normal person would do.

No more FOOLISH than your assumption that those 5 people werent supposed to be there. Right?

'A rabbi was walking down the railroad tracks one day and sees a runaway car heading toward 5 imams. He could divert it but then it would run over father o'malley... no wait! It would run over pope pius XII, yeah.'

So whats the PUNCHLINE dog? Huh??? What would GOD do??
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Dec 15, 2011
No more FOOLISH than your assumption that those 5 people werent supposed to be there. Right?


I did not say or assume any such thing. I find it interesting that you believe in an ordered reality. Who would determine whether someone was supposed to be where they were or not?

As to diverting a train and knowingly causing someone's death, that activity is murder.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.