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 59thShadeofGrey
Joined: 9/25/2012
Msg: 2
Psychotic or LogicalPage 1 of 3    (1, 2, 3)
You made an ethical decision in line with the normative ethics of Mill and Bentham - Utilitarianism.

The scenarios can be much more problematic than the ones posed.

You can save 2 children but only by cutting your own childs throat.

What do you do? Is your answer consistent with objective utilitarianism or does it cause you to call on some other ethical theory?
 justlookingvt
Joined: 5/8/2010
Msg: 5
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/10/2013 2:43:00 PM


Ahead of the train is five children tied to the track by a villain. Pressing the button will change the course of the train but the train will kill an engineer working on the track. Do you press the button?"


Why is the engineer working on the track instead of freeing the children tied to it ? What kind of engineer is that ?... logical conclusion, the "engineer" tied the kids to the track... additionally, there is a button to switch tracks but no button to stop the train ?... what kind of train is this ? (must have been designed by the engineer working on the tracks) If you can see the kids and the engineer, the train conductor should be able to see them even more clearly and stop the train.



You are standing on a platform at the station. In front of you is a large, fat man. There are five children tied to the rail by a villain further down the track. You can stop the train by shoving the large man on to the track. He will be killed by the train but the train will stop. Do you shove the stranger?"


Of course not. That's murder. First, why are people at the platform (you and the fat man) watching trains pass knowing there are 5 children tied to the tracks further down ?... you and the fat man shouldn't have been standing there, the two of you (presuming it's only the two of you) should have been freeing the children (since you knew they were there otherwise you'd have no reason to throw the fat man on the tracks.)

Furthermore, throwing a fat man on the tracks won't stop a train _unless_ the train is powered by an electric rail. In which case throwing any object that is a conductor (including a fat or skinny man) will cause a short circuit which will stop the train. No need to throw a fat man on the track (unless... keep reading)

Lastly, you have no right to throw a man (fat or skinny) on the tracks, you can let the fat man know the situation (a little late obviously) and let the fat man decide if he wishes to sacrifice his life for the kids. The decision isn't yours to make, it is his. The fat man may realize that since you knew the kids were tied and you didn't free them, he should throw you on the track to stop the train.

In this second scenario, you'd be the prime suspect for being responsible for the kids being tied down to the tracks. You somehow knew they were, yet you were at the station picking out a fat guy to throw on the tracks. The kids on the track sounds more like an excuse (bs to lay on the police) for you to get rid of a fat guy you didn't like for some reason with impunity (forced by circumstances).



What do you think? Am I alone in thinking that its a perfectly logical choice or am I lacking empathy?


I think you had a beef against an engineer and a fat man, tied 5 kids to the rails to use as an excuse to get rid off the two guys you didn't like and, make it look like you didn't have any other choice.

I wouldn't characterize any part of the scenarios nor the solutions you offered as logical. On the contrary.
 monocryl
Joined: 3/4/2013
Msg: 8
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/10/2013 3:32:19 PM
justlooking did an excellent job. Thank you!

Some people are irresistibly drawn to these completely contrived bull**** scenarios called hypotheticals in philosophy classes. It might be the sense (illusion?) of power and of being asked to make life-and-death decisions on behalf of other people, if only in our imagination.
 Rheostatic
Joined: 5/27/2011
Msg: 10
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/10/2013 4:30:52 PM
Your friend's a meatbag. Tell him I said that.
 ohwhynot46
Joined: 6/28/2009
Msg: 11
view profile
History
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/10/2013 4:45:10 PM
Your logic works, certainly, however you have left out the element of humanity. In truth, by the time most of us made such decisions, the children would be dead. In truth, without knowing the five children we can not guage the "greatest good"; 3 of the 5 may turn out to be criminals, murderers, etc. , all justifiable excuses for those who decide differently than you. Just as logical (for them) and just as valid. "For the greater good" is usually about making a decision encompassing a period of time or affectiong the masses, utilized so as to enact legislation or to gain power on an individual level. Not a decision made in a split second. The empathy felt by humans is not ruled by logic, nor directed by logic. The presentation of the scenario by your friend was not likely to provoke empathy for most, and it is more likely than not that an actual scenario would have you making a decision outside of the terms logic would dictate. Otherwise, perhaps you are a psychopath! (jk.... kinda).

btw, I don't believe that the lesser of two evils = the greater ood, relative to Utilitarianism.
 DevilfromToronto
Joined: 9/23/2012
Msg: 13
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/10/2013 5:59:52 PM
it should be the engineer's and fat man's decisions whether they want to save the kids' lives, not you OP
 Stray__Cat
Joined: 7/12/2006
Msg: 14
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/10/2013 6:05:57 PM
It's easy to push a fat guy under the train..... in theory.
In real life....
he'd shove you under the train to save the kids.

So you would be dead,
but at least...not psychotic.

:-P
 SpringMataLeao
Joined: 10/12/2012
Msg: 15
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/11/2013 3:48:35 PM
I suppose this is my answer: The engineer is willingly there, doing a job he signed up for. The children are not. To me the number of people have no reference in my choice. HOWEVER, the education of the engineer far outweighs the experience of the collective children, and if we were thrust into apocolypse that same day, the engineer would be far more useful.
 ohwhynot46
Joined: 6/28/2009
Msg: 16
view profile
History
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/11/2013 7:51:40 PM

What do you believe? For me it is rational to view outcomes in positive manners. I believe that all human behaviour is subject to a favourable outcome. Everything that we do is reward based or subject to the aversion of punishments. If you can think of another frame were this would be better understood that would be great!


Perhaps I should rephrase, as I wasn't alluding to my personal beliefs. Utilitarianism does not weigh the evil against the good, it maximizes happiness for the masses. It is an ethical theory intended to measure morality by the outcome of actions, and is usually directed at society, rather than the effect on an individual. I think your scenario would be classified as "extreme utilitarianism" and even subscribers to the theory acknowledge that taking the time to make such a (personal & self directed) decision would result in missing the opportunity to make any decision at all. If it were as simple as always choosing that which brings the greatest reward, certainly you would choose your own child, always. I guess the resulting question, as you present it, would be the greatest reward TO WHOM? Immorality is not supported by theory as a general rule, in any case.
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/11/2013 8:41:07 PM
The particular scenarios posed aside...I like to point out that in hypothetical ethical-dilemma situations where one has to make a choice between the lives of any number of people versus any number of people...if possible of course, the clincher for me is choice and prerogative on the part of those whose lives are at stake - if even a million people's lives could be saved by sacrificing one, I have problems with someone else making that decision. That one person should be allowed to make that choice for theirself. It's theirs to make, and no one else's. Again, if possible.

I do know that these kinds of situations actually take place all the time, in a sense. The ecosystem of cause-and-effect that we dwell in involves the fact that people die every day as a result of everyone's choices...very indirectly, of course, but somewhere down the line of the series of events, someone suffers no matter what. It just can't be totally avoided. And this includes the fact that, for example, there are many people charged with the national security of a nation who make all kinds of decisions on everyone else's behalf which involve at least jeopardizing one party in favor of another.

Kind of a sucky situation all around.

Otherwise, I have to admit that when presented with these scenarios, I honestly can't make a choice...can't offer an answer. This reminds me of something that I think I'll share here. Some might find it interesting...

In my youth and young-adulthood, for some odd reason I'd sometimes have a weird dream. I think it qualifies as an ethical-dilemma dream. What's weird to me is why I even ever had the dream. My big brother took some classes in psychology, and I eventually came up with the notion that he planted the darn thing in my head while I was asleep or something when I was about 9 yrs old (?) or maybe later. I personally feel that this is a stretch, but I just can't conjure up another possibility.

In the dream, I'm in a three-dimensional space surrounded on all sides by people, human bodies. I have a pistol in my hands, and somehow it is either about to go off on it's own or I have to shoot it one time. Ya'll know how dreams are, they're weird - that's just all the knowledge I had while in the dream. So, the problem I'm having is that I don't know which way to point the gun. I'm surrounded on all sides by people, completely packed in, and for whatever reason the gun is about to go off once. That's it. The dream never developed further, and that's all there ever was to it.

What I think is interesting though...is that in the dreams, because there was no cognizance, since it was a dream (not a lucid one), there was the "assumption" that I had to choose which human body to fire the bullet into...other than myself. It never dawned on me to just turn the gun on myself - it couldn't have dawned on me though because that's what kind of dream it was. But at some point, while reflecting on the dream when awake, I figured out that there's also always the option of turning the gun on myself. Problem solved. And I always had the feeling that, regardless what choice I'd make, the act alone of just conceiving of this option, or not having done so, is what might say something about a person.


HOWEVER, the education of the engineer far outweighs the experience of the collective children, and if we were thrust into apocolypse that same day, the engineer would be far more useful.


I'd beg to differ. In a post-apocalypse, I think that a few children are worth far more than one engineer. I don't think that his experience would be such a necessary supplement to mine for dealing with a post-apocalypse, nor that rare among survivors, and also not enough to outweigh how important a handfull of children's lives in a post-apocalypse would be. Those children would most definately "be the future".
 billingsmason
Joined: 2/3/2012
Msg: 18
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/11/2013 10:28:19 PM
wow- that could make a case for a subconscious inability to pull the trigger....

this is a link to a 1.5 minute test which will confirm or deny you being a psycho....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=NgZGuasi1q0&feature=fvwp

I would push the fat man, after a socially appropriate amount of consideration. I'm not a psycho or socio trail either. I passed the test.

as far as a post apocalyptic scene goes- of course you would kill the engineer first. if you killed the 5 ..... they would spoil too quickly.
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 12:30:52 AM
^ tests like that are questionable. Double blind sideways reverse psychology self fulfilling manipulative pseudo-science.
silver paperclip? black and blue penis?
 csamcsog
Joined: 4/8/2013
Msg: 20
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 6:31:31 AM
Without hesitation I said yes. I explained that the logical parameters of the scenario hadn't changed.

This apparently means I am a psycho as I didn't hesitate or even contemplate not murdering a stranger.

What do you think? Am I alone in thinking that its a perfectly logical choice or am I lacking empathy?
----------------

Yes, you're a murderous hideous unhygienic railway track litterer.

What's wrong with good-ole-fashoned suicide? You don't have to kill an innocent bistander every time when sacrifice is called to save children's lives.
 csamcsog
Joined: 4/8/2013
Msg: 21
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 6:37:48 AM
In the second scenario, the pattern of brain activation is *completely* different in normal people. If we could observe the brain activity of a normal person, you'd see the amygdala or the emotional center of the brain lighting up like a pinball machine. It's "hot empathy". So a normal person might feel forced at some point to choose either the kids or the fat man, but the experience of how they would make that choice is completely different,

Tickle me, I would not be so quick to come to this conclusion. Because the second scenario immediately followed the presentation and solving of the first scenario.

It might be not the workings of the mind of a pscyhopath, but the workings of a mind, which all human minds are, which finds a solution and to save time and energy applies that same solution to all problems that are same or similar.

The subject (OP) was presented mental problems, he was not standing on the train or on the platform. A quick solution at hand was appropriate.

Using the paradigm to find the first solution is easily applied to solve the second problem.

i f a body wants to be fair with the subject, the tester must not ask these two questions in succession.
 csamcsog
Joined: 4/8/2013
Msg: 22
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 6:45:54 AM
Ayvey... other then five participants in this thread, poeple missed the impact of the nature of the question.

this is very sad.

The saddest thing is I can't say the people who missed the nature of the question are wrong... I can't say how they interpreted of what was to be the weighty part of the question is not invalid. Their way was just different, and I believe different from the intention of what the questions want to find out. Mere differentness in interpretation is in and by itself not a sign of anything of lesser value in a person's mental processing.

Differentnesssssssss... of perception, precipitated by differentness of mental predisposition to see what's imbedded in the question.

Ay vey.

If this was a philosophy class I conducted, I'd walk to the administration building and hand in my resignation. I could not with any certainty say that the kids are stupid or that they ought not to take philosophy. Those would be two potentially wrong inferences.

But I could not stay for two more minutes in such an environment of mental perceptions of differentness.
 csamcsog
Joined: 4/8/2013
Msg: 23
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 7:04:05 AM
Someone said something there that is true and I hadn't thought of, it was a valuable insight, which had been handed to me, on a platter, thanks.

I can't find it now.

It said that the two questions are not in the realm of philosophy, but a demonstration of something or other.

Of course.

Philosophy, by and large, deals with logical relationships, which sometimes pull in facts from the real world. But the way philosophy handles facts is not via creating theories and comparing the creation with how things happen in the real wordl, to see the degree of precision in correspondence of what's expected to what happens. That is not philosophy, that is science.

Philosophy creates theories that can be destroyed by logic, not by empirical tests. Sure, sometimes empirical observations and tests are used, but the thrust is on "accepting this set of given assumtions, that set of conclusions must (or must not be) right." If a conclusion is wrong, when compared to reality, then the assumptions must be wrong, if the logic is sound. Then the thinker is not condemned as a loser.

----------------

In the two questions there is a DEMONSTRATION happening; as per the OP, and others in the thread, the test is to show psychopathic tendencies.

This is why the two scenarios, as stated, and the practical answers to them, in their multiplicity, is not philosophy but a test to separate people who are empathetic from people who are not empathetic.

In that sense, whoever gave an answer that I did not consider one of the "five", is an empathetic thinker, because they act to avoid having to make a decision in which an empathetic person would feel uncomfortable, either way he or she decides. These empaths would feel very uncomfortable with pushing the fat man, and they would feel equally as uncomfortable not pushing the fat man. Therefore these empaths would look for alternative answers, which would allow them to not have to commit to one or to another uncomfortable decision.

A person, one of us five or six, who gave a true, valid, and philosophically valid answer, is not empathetic enough. We love knowledge more than we love people. Whether that makes us psychopaths or else sociopaths, is a question for the philosophers to answer.
 monocryl
Joined: 3/4/2013
Msg: 24
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 11:06:37 AM
A person, one of us five or six, who gave a true, valid, and philosophically valid answer, is not empathetic enough. We love knowledge more than we love people.


If you say so :-)

I just don't see how empathy can be determined from computer-typed answers to hypothetical scenarios. I admit I have absolutely no empathy for the original question. It deserves to be thrown under a train. It's the kind of question that only serves to divorce philosophy from reality and from relevance (both explained very well by justlooking).
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 11:14:43 AM
So, people, what do these words really mean, beyond their negative connotations?

sociopathy
psychopathy
pathological

(what're the root words or proper spelling?)

And what other words along these lines are there?
 DevilfromToronto
Joined: 9/23/2012
Msg: 27
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 11:32:40 AM
@ monocryl

the thread question is not realistic, but it doesn't matter, OP (maybe we) just wanted to share our point of views IF we were in such cases, just set aside the unrealistic parts,

I haven't read any of the long posts here, for anyone who thought the engineer and fat guy should be sacrified, I doubt, in real life, if he/she will change their minds/actions if the one to be sacrified to save othe kids is his/her only son or parent. Anyone not related to him/her can be sacrified, better say murdered
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 12:18:39 PM
I don't know...eerr...it kinda seems that when you push someone in front of a train, or off the bridge onto the tracks, you're killing, or murdering (still not sure if I agree with a difference in the words) someone. Just because the act saves someone else, despite the number, it also seems like a situation that is exploited and used as an excuse to kill someone. You could do things every day which hurt one to save another, so what...but it seems like you're still just hurting the one, despite the justification.

While we think it comes down to saying that inaction may be as culpable as action...since it could be truthfully said that there are situations all of the time in which the blow-of-fate can be diverted onto one person away from another, it seems that when you take action, you're doing the killing, and not doing the saving. Imagine every murderer pointing out a legitimate alternative to their actions which results in another getting killed somewhere down the line of events. But then, this ^ would bring up self-defense...but this might not be so much of a problem, because if it's clear that the one intended to seriously harm the other, wouldn't that other have the right to at least make such a choice for the safety of their own person?

But then we have the inaction half of this...I wouldn't say that someone is claiming that you're not killing someone when you take an action to divert the blow-of-fate from one to the other, but are you doing so when you do nothing, and your inaction lets someone's death take place, when you knew beforehand and could have done something? I say that the inaction makes you guilty if your action wasn't to choose another's death. But if you had to choose, and both would result in someone's death...when you choose to act, maybe you are killing? But when you don't take action, you're not killing? Otherwise maybe the number of people doesn't matter so much as we'd like to think, when it comes to culpability or "least of evils". There are many other factors other than numbers. What if you could save one philanthropist by killing 5 rapists?

Consider Star Trek Insurrection. When Picard gave his righteous speech about how wrong it is to forcibly remove a few inhabitants from a planet so that billions of others could benefit...who disagreed with him?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibEJoNyDDgw

Of course, this might show that the idea that one foundation of morality should be the well-being and happiness of humanity...in a collective sense, versus individuals or small groups (?), needs to be examined and understood properly. Kind of a form of this "utilitarian" view I think.
 DevilfromToronto
Joined: 9/23/2012
Msg: 29
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 12:51:54 PM
@ the drinker.... just read one paragraph of yours


But if you had to choose, and both would result in someone's death...


sure


when you choose to act, maybe you are killing?


CORRECT if he/she decided the engineer and fat guy should be sacrified,
he/she doesn't have the right to end either the engineer's or fat guy's life


But when you don't take action, you're not killing?


why is he/she killing ?? what did he/she do ??


Otherwise maybe the number of people doesn't matter so much as we'd like to think, when it comes to culpability or "least of evils".


we don't have the right to end others' lives, they may want to live, to take care of their own kids, parents...etc
regarding "culpability or least evils", he/she can take his/her own body trying his/her own best to save the kids
 csamcsog
Joined: 4/8/2013
Msg: 30
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 3:19:36 PM
So, people, what do these words really mean, beyond their negative connotations?

sociopathy
psychopathy
pathological

(what're the root words or proper spelling?)

And what other words along these lines are there?

----------------------------

Any debate can be turned in an instant into a discussion of definitions.

I don't like that, but that's just my preference. I assume that I and my partners speak the same language. If the meanings by personal perceptions are slightly different, then people, in my humble opinion at least, have to have already learned by our age how to handle that without needing to define too many words in a debate.

I found that those who usually ask for definitions in a given group, are not quite sure because of the speed, so their questions and requests are genuine, honest, not pretentious or an attempt to slow down the talk or to divert the flow of the thoughts.
 anon.john
Joined: 2/22/2013
Msg: 32
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 6:51:35 PM
Yes, it's a perfectly logical choice and the one I'd make too. No it doesn't mean you're a "psycho" or mean you have damaged empathy. Those educated in human behavior don't use such terms so your friend is what a professional would call "an armchair psychology enthusiast twit." And considering how laughably easy psychology as a subject is, that doesn't speak highly for his potential.

Also, if POF teaches us anything, it's how many fat people we can spare. :p
 Aries_328
Joined: 10/16/2011
Msg: 33
view profile
History
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 7:05:00 PM
This is the same type of model and process used by hijackers.

How many lives are worth x. There is only one ethical answer. None. If you do it once then they will be back with an even greater challenge.

At least that's what TV taught me. This is where Superman comes flying in and saves the children and saves the day.
 ohwhynot46
Joined: 6/28/2009
Msg: 34
view profile
History
Psychotic or Logical
Posted: 4/12/2013 7:56:02 PM

Philosophy creates theories that can be destroyed by logic, not by empirical tests



Interesting... I look at philosophy as the use of logic so as to argue with oneself in order to win, no matter which side you choose. Like statistics, philosophical arguments can be skewed so as to prove opposing viewpoints. I love it so!
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