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Alley Cat
September 12th, 2011, 02:02 PM
Ahh, the study of talk good and evil, right and wrong. Where people just sit around and discuss what is and isn't okay, and why.

Now, I don't expect everyone to be well-versed in ethics, and I wouldn't say that I am. Rather, I just have a strong, well-developed sense of what I believe is right and wrong. So honestly, just discuss what you believe is right and wrong and why you believe such a crazy thing.

To start the discussion off you can(don't have to) respond to one(or more) of these moral dilemmas:

Concentration Camp
You are an inmate in a concentration camp. A sadistic guard is about to hang your son who tried to escape and wants you to pull the chair from underneath him. He says that if you don’t he will not only kill your son but some other innocent inmate as well. You don’t have any doubt that he means what he says. What should you do?

Life-Boat
You are going on a cruise. 2 days into the cruise your ship experiences technical difficulties and the captain says it needs to make an unscheduled stop. A couple of hours later the captain makes another announcement that the ships hull has been breached and that you will all need to start heading to life rafts and abandon ship. The ships life rafts are lowered as people begin to pile in and you get on board one of the life rafts.

As it is lowered however, it hits the side of the ship, putting a hole in the side of the raft, and when it hits the water it begins to sink. There are 10 people in the boat and to prevent it sinking, you quickly work out that by having 9 people working for 10 minutes while 1 person rests you can bail the water out with their hands, quick enough to keep the water at bay and preventing it from sinking, but you have to continually keep it up to ensure that the boat doesn’t sink. By being able to rest one person you are greatly able to increase the length of time you can keep the boat afloat, however if the rescue team doesn’t turn up you calculate that within 5 hours the boat will sink and you will all die.

While taking your break, you glance over to another boat and notice that a friend of yours who you met on the boat is there and has noticed your predicament. He is signaling for you to come over and join them on their boat so you don’t have to continue bailing water out. There is only just enough room for one more person. You also notice that their boat is moving away rapidly with the current, but your boat can’t keep up because the hole is affecting its buoyancy.

You estimate that if you jump ship, you will force all 9 remaining crew members to bail water continuously, which will reduce the total time they can stay afloat to just 2 hours, but will ensure that you will be able to live long enough to be rescued.

If you stay aboard, you will not have another chance to jump ship, and there’s no guarantee that the rescue will arrive in 5 hours, meaning you will drown, however by staying you give everyone a better chance of survival.
As you watch the boat with your friend drift away, you realize you have about 30 seconds to make a decision:

a) Do you stay on your current boat and help keep it afloat as long as possible and hope that the rescue will arrive in 5 hours
b) Do you go to your friends boat, ensuring your rescue, but reducing the chances of the others on the boat being rescued?

Nieces and Daughters
You and your family are going away for the weekend. Your daughter is 7 and is best friends with your niece, who is also 7. Your families are very close and your daughter asks if your niece can come with you on your holiday. You have been on holidays together before and don’t see any problem, so you agree.

You arrive at your holiday destination and the house you are staying at backs onto a beach. The girls ask if they can go for a swim. You tell them that they have to wait until you have unpacked the car, but they can play on the sand directly in front of the beach. They run down to the sand, and you begin to unpack the car. After about 5 minutes, you hear screaming coming from the direction of the beach and it sounds like the girls.

You run down to see what the matter is, and you discover that they hadn’t listened to you and have gone for a swim. There is no one else on the beach and the girls are caught in a rip.

The girls are really struggling, particularly your niece who isn’t as strong a swimmer as your daughter.

You swim out quickly, but when you get there, you realize that there is no way you will be able to get both the girls back into shore on your own. You realize that an agonizing decision will need to be made.

You need to decide which of the girls you will rescue first, you have enough strength and energy to rescue them both, but you can only do it one at a time. You look at the two girls, and your niece is really struggling to hold her head above water and you know if you take your daughter back first, there will be little or no chance that she will survive.

Your daughter is struggling also, but is much stronger in the water and you estimate that if you take your niece back to shore first, there’s probably a 50% chance that your daughter will be able to stay afloat long enough for you return, but you simply don’t know how long she will hold on for.

Anyway, the idea here is that you are to come up with stimulating enough answers for them to be discussed by the community. Come up with your own moral quandary and answer it. That's what this all for.

Expect me to be questioning everything you say, just because I can(:

Sodom
September 12th, 2011, 03:48 PM
Ooh, this is a very interesting thread, I love it.

I like to think I have a strong sense of what's right and wrong. My moral in life is to live in the way that makes me happy and not attempt in any way to restrict others from doing the same, in the hope that others will show me the same courtesy. However, when we're talking about such intense moral dilemmas as the ones you've listed, the line begins to blur as to what right and wrong really is - because simply put, there is no right outcome in any of those situations.

I honestly don't know how I would handle any of the three situations listed, but I can only speculate. I'd like to think that I could put my personal feelings and wellbeing aside and do what's best for the largest number of people involved, however I know that if I were to actually come into any of these situations that may not be the case. Even upon the threat of death of an innocent man, I'm not sure that I would have it in me to be the one that killed my own son - though if he were going to die either way, I might find it easier to live with myself later if I were to do it. There's also the question of just how innocent the other inmate truly is.

To be completely honest, I doubt very much that I would be able to stop myself from getting onto my friend's lifeboat. It would be horrible trying to live with myself afterwards knowing that I'd left a group of people to almost-certain death, but not everybody has it in them to be a hero. I'm not sure if this makes me a bad person, but I'm sure one could be forgiven for reacting so selfishly to such a life-threatening situation.

The last situation is the most interesting, because my kneejerk reaction was "save the niece". I think if this were to happen to me, that's exactly what I'd do - save the girl who was most in danger first. This could be because of my lack of paternal instincts, but I think to be pragmatic the best chance of them both surviving would be to save the niece first.

To be honest, I'd take it with a grain of salt if anybody says they see the clear moral answer in any of these questions, or that they say they know without doubt what they'd do.

Jarred0809
September 12th, 2011, 04:08 PM
Nice thread.

Concentration Camp:
I'm sure my son would agree with me pulling the chair. After all, he is doomed regardless of what I do, but we could save another person's life in the process.

Esper
September 12th, 2011, 04:37 PM
If you look at the situations dispassionately you can see some clear answers. Obviously if you're the one to pull the chair you save an innocent life. In a situation where you lives are completely at the mercy of immoral sadists there's not much to do but survive because everyone's lives are on borrowed time. When it comes to choosing one person to save first you can choose the one who you think will have the best chances of surviving (triage) or the one you yourself are best able to save or you can make a choice that will benefit you the most. So in that kind of scenario I'd say the best thing is to save whoever is closest because it would take less time and make it easier to save the other, or, if they are exactly equal distances away as I'm sure you'd suggest, then I'd say save the niece because overall there are better odds of both surviving and as far as the scenario is concerned you pretty much automatically save one of them.

Would I do these things if I were in these situations? I dunno.

The lifeboat one seems a little farfetched. I can't imagine you'd be able to know exactly how to play with a rotation and so on. I'll simplify it: you're on a sinking lifeboat with a bunch of people and there's another one passing by with only one spot and a friend who wants you to come with them. And in that kind of situation I'd ask the other boat for help in whatever way it can be given, but I wouldn't necessarily abandon it because, well, in this day and age when a big ship sinks people know about it and I would expect a relatively prompt rescue. Also, I can swim and I would assume that a good number of people on a boat would also know so we could survive in the water for a while.

Alley Cat
September 12th, 2011, 06:20 PM
Yeah, a lot of these do have the true blue moral answer. I have a strong moral sense.

I believe that I would do whatever it takes to save the most innocent people as possible, even at the expense of what I really want. But I am known to have a strong connection with my loved ones, to the point where I would do anything to ensure they were happy. So at this point I can't really say whether or not I would do the right thing should they come into the picture.

In the concentration camp one, I don't think I could kill my son. I could not look him in the eyes and be the cause of his death, and at the same time I could not look away. If he told me it was okay, that I was doing the right thing, then yeah, I might get a bit of nerve and be able to do it. But he would have to promise it's what he really wanted. Otherwise.. I just wouldn't want his last thought of me being me taking his life, even if it was for a good cause.. =/ I want to say that I would pull the chair, and I might, but it would feel wrong.

In the life boat one? Get to my friends life boat most definitely. Sorry, I have a brain. I'm gonna do what I need to do to live. People can die, it's not really my concern. Is it not better to save my life for sure than to risk death? I would feel bad about the people, but they'd understand. I wouldn't just leave them there. Maybe someone would have a band-aid or something and we could put it over the hole!:D Okay. Maybe not exactly that, but something of that nature.

For the niece daughter one? I would save who is struggling most. It'd be natural instinct to help who is in the most trouble.Then I'd go for my daughter. But I'm sure my son or wife or brother or cousin or some other person I had with me would swim out there, so... yeah.

Lalapizzame
September 12th, 2011, 06:28 PM
Concentration camp:
Kill my own son.

Life-Boat:
Rush to the friend's boat.

Nieces and daughters:
Niece first.

aruchan
September 12th, 2011, 08:13 PM
Concentration Camp
You are an inmate in a concentration camp. A sadistic guard is about to hang your son who tried to escape and wants you to pull the chair from underneath him. He says that if you don’t he will not only kill your son but some other innocent inmate as well. You don’t have any doubt that he means what he says. What should you do?

I would do it. In the best case scenario one other person survives; in the worst possible scenario they both die. There is no scenario that involves my son living. It's just the most efficient-albeit morally grey-solution.


Life-Boat
You are going on a cruise. 2 days into the cruise your ship experiences technical difficulties and the captain says it needs to make an unscheduled stop. A couple of hours later the captain makes another announcement that the ships hull has been breached and that you will all need to start heading to life rafts and abandon ship. The ships life rafts are lowered as people begin to pile in and you get on board one of the life rafts.

As it is lowered however, it hits the side of the ship, putting a hole in the side of the raft, and when it hits the water it begins to sink. There are 10 people in the boat and to prevent it sinking, you quickly work out that by having 9 people working for 10 minutes while 1 person rests you can bail the water out with their hands, quick enough to keep the water at bay and preventing it from sinking, but you have to continually keep it up to ensure that the boat doesn’t sink. By being able to rest one person you are greatly able to increase the length of time you can keep the boat afloat, however if the rescue team doesn’t turn up you calculate that within 5 hours the boat will sink and you will all die.

While taking your break, you glance over to another boat and notice that a friend of yours who you met on the boat is there and has noticed your predicament. He is signaling for you to come over and join them on their boat so you don’t have to continue bailing water out. There is only just enough room for one more person. You also notice that their boat is moving away rapidly with the current, but your boat can’t keep up because the hole is affecting its buoyancy.

You estimate that if you jump ship, you will force all 9 remaining crew members to bail water continuously, which will reduce the total time they can stay afloat to just 2 hours, but will ensure that you will be able to live long enough to be rescued.

If you stay aboard, you will not have another chance to jump ship, and there’s no guarantee that the rescue will arrive in 5 hours, meaning you will drown, however by staying you give everyone a better chance of survival.
As you watch the boat with your friend drift away, you realize you have about 30 seconds to make a decision:

a) Do you stay on your current boat and help keep it afloat as long as possible and hope that the rescue will arrive in 5 hours
b) Do you go to your friends boat, ensuring your rescue, but reducing the chances of the others on the boat being rescued?

I would estimate the chances of survival-ie being found-and if I found that the chances of rescue soon are low, I would bail ship. I'm rather economical. If they are high-i.e. we're near land-I would stay.


Nieces and Daughters
You and your family are going away for the weekend. Your daughter is 7 and is best friends with your niece, who is also 7. Your families are very close and your daughter asks if your niece can come with you on your holiday. You have been on holidays together before and don’t see any problem, so you agree.

You arrive at your holiday destination and the house you are staying at backs onto a beach. The girls ask if they can go for a swim. You tell them that they have to wait until you have unpacked the car, but they can play on the sand directly in front of the beach. They run down to the sand, and you begin to unpack the car. After about 5 minutes, you hear screaming coming from the direction of the beach and it sounds like the girls.

You run down to see what the matter is, and you discover that they hadn’t listened to you and have gone for a swim. There is no one else on the beach and the girls are caught in a rip.

The girls are really struggling, particularly your niece who isn’t as strong a swimmer as your daughter.

You swim out quickly, but when you get there, you realize that there is no way you will be able to get both the girls back into shore on your own. You realize that an agonizing decision will need to be made.

You need to decide which of the girls you will rescue first, you have enough strength and energy to rescue them both, but you can only do it one at a time. You look at the two girls, and your niece is really struggling to hold her head above water and you know if you take your daughter back first, there will be little or no chance that she will survive.

Your daughter is struggling also, but is much stronger in the water and you estimate that if you take your niece back to shore first, there’s probably a 50% chance that your daughter will be able to stay afloat long enough for you return, but you simply don’t know how long she will hold on for.

Anyway, the idea here is that you are to come up with stimulating enough answers for them to be discussed by the community. Come up with your own moral quandary and answer it. That's what this all for.

Expect me to be questioning everything you say, just because I can[B](:

I would save my niece and my daughter. I would find a way. I WOULD FIND A WAY. :)

Exile
September 13th, 2011, 11:42 AM
Concentration Camp

I'd kill my own son, he's dead either way, and while I admit it would be painful, costing someone else their life because of my own stubbornness would only create an even greater emotional burden, nor is it something I believe in. Alley Cat makes a good point with how my son would handle this, but when it all comes down to it, I think I'd do what ends up in the least amount of people being killed, not to mention the guard could potentially kill or beat me if I do not follow his orders. It'd definitely be hard, but I'd rather my son not take an innocent man down with him.

Life Boat

I value my own life too much not to go with my friend, and if I ever die, I'm hoping it isn't a long process like the one that would take place if I stayed on the raft, keeping it afloat. I'd definitely feel terrible about it, but hopefully I would get over it, and it's not like they were guaranteed to find rescue in the first place.

Nieces and Daughters

Being a competitive Pokemon player, I can't even count on 75% accurate moves such as Will O Wisp to hit when I need them to, and if there is a such thing as luck, I'm bereft of it. At any rate, I'd still save the niece, because the goal here is really to save two lives and hopefully I'd at least be able to live with doing the inherently "right" choice if my daughter did end up drowning.

Centiflora X
September 16th, 2011, 05:47 AM
Many of these scenarios can be prevented/avoided but whatever.

1. Take the chair, bash the guard with it till he's unconscious/dead, whichever comes first. If my son is only half dead when I am done, put the chair beneath him to buy time to untie him/cut him down because sadistics probably have knifes. After that, proceed beating up the guard to death if he isn't dead yet so he can't torture people emotionally again. If I died killing the guard, that innocent inmate is still safe because I took the chair, and I get to be with my son in the end.

2. Ask my friend if he has anything that can fix a boat. If not, I'll probably join him because my friend is worth more than nine other strangers.

3. Why did I mindlessly jumped in alone and prepared to rescue only one person when I know there are two people in trouble? Why did I not bring along something that can help a seven year old stay afloat? Why did I go a lonely beach? To answer the question, probably the daughter. I would most likely just accept that whoever dies in this situation is mostly my fault because I was stupid enough to allow this to happen.

twocows
September 16th, 2011, 07:26 AM
First one, I would try to resolve the situation in a way where nobody died or just myself died. Perhaps offer my life instead or try to figure out some way of escape.

Second one, I would try and patch the hole or find another way to solve the problem that didn't involve everyone dying.

You might be seeing a pattern here. I like to try to think outside the box. If it's me at the beach, I usually have life jackets available. I would first call for help, then swim out with three life jackets (wearing one) and give the other two to the girls, save the niece, then save the daughter.

I don't like moral hypotheticals because they imply that there are only a small set of solutions. A lot of times people will try to rework the hypothetical once I respond so that I have to choose between one of their solutions, making the hypothetical more and more unlikely in the process. The thing is, when you're in a situation like one of these, it's best to remain calm and assess all possible courses of action and choose whichever one will bring about the best outcome.

On a side note, I'm generally a follower of the Kantian school of moral philosophy, though I interpret it slightly differently than most people. Even if there was a situation where either one or both will die based on my choices, I will always try to come to a solution where both people survive.

Alley Cat
September 16th, 2011, 05:58 PM
Yeah, I think outside of the box too. I honestly thought the whole time on the life-ship one: Wait, a cruise ship wouldn't have patches for their lifeboat? A lot of their situations just don't make much sense, or can be solved in simple ways.

Kantianism, care to explain that a bit more?

twocows
September 17th, 2011, 07:28 AM
Yeah, I think outside of the box too. I honestly thought the whole time on the life-ship one: Wait, a cruise ship wouldn't have patches for their lifeboat? A lot of their situations just don't make much sense, or can be solved in simple ways.

Kantianism, care to explain that a bit more?
Kantian moral philosophy generally states that intention matters more than outcome when determining whether an action is morally justified. Basically, to do good, one should always treat people as an "end in themselves" as opposed to a means to some end.

Voltagenic
September 17th, 2011, 11:31 AM
I've got a sense of morality that I feel is vague when it needs to be to allow fairness, and strong in other areas.

I don't believe in good and evil in conventional terms. I believe that those two terms differ from person to person. Your definition of evil may differ from mine. Even when a definition of evil is universally agreed upon, one can still find those who do not agree.

In that same vein, issues such as political correctness, what is offensive and what isn't, verbal barriers that shouldn't be crossed, differ from person to person. This is why I'm someone who speaks his mind at all times, regardless of who it offends. Because for every one person who does not agree with my opinion, there is another who does. And who does not enjoy learning about those around him and finding like-minded individuals?

I place the highest value in thinking for oneself. It doesn't matter whether your beliefs match up with societal norms or not, just as long as you took the time to see where you stand, that's what matters to me.