Happy New Year! The January Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species. Discuss it now.

The February Philosophy Book of the Month is The Fourth Age by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG.)

The Rational Choice?

Use this philosophy forum to discuss and debate general philosophy topics that don't fit into one of the other categories.

This forum is NOT for factual, informational or scientific questions about philosophy (e.g. "What year was Socrates born?"); such homework-help-style questions can be asked and answered on PhiloPedia: The Philosophy Wiki. If your question is not already answered on the appropriate PhiloPedia page, then see How to Request Content on PhiloPedia to see how to ask your informational question using the wiki.
Posts: 445
Joined: September 12th, 2017, 6:03 pm

Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Maxcady10001 » October 16th, 2017, 10:57 am

I don't think you've proven your point yet. You are saying we need to be emotional to be rational, and consider the situation in its entirety, and those who do not consider the pulling of the switch as murder itself are only being logical and not rational, because they're not emotional. However, I would say only a person being emotional would look past the people on the tracks. Only an emotional person would make a decision that proclaimed someone a murderer that had yet to commit murder. It's because of our emotions that just stating the probability of someone committing murder, causes us to see them as repugnant and not consider them in pulling the switch. No, being emotional does not help in this situation (in my opinion). And only an emotional person wouldn't realize that the probability of any person committing murder is never zero.
Written 10:57 am

User avatar
Burning ghost
Posts: 2907
Joined: February 27th, 2016, 3:10 am

Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Burning ghost » October 16th, 2017, 8:58 pm

Max -

I was not actually trying to prove that point ... I thought it was already quite obvious to anyone who has studied some neuroscience. Damasio sets the position quite well in Descarte's Error and I think we can all agree we don't do anything without emotional content.

My point was to show how logic can blind us from more emotional data, just as emotion blinds us from logical data.

I don't think you answered my question about a train rushing toward 100 people. Would you just do nothing or switch the tracks and allow one person to die? Am I correct in saying you were responding to this question? You would do nothing?

Is it better for 2 people to be murdered or for 3 people to fall to their deaths off a cliff?

I don't expect you to answer, but the point of a hypothetical is to explore yourself and your sense of what is "right".

Would I die for others? I would like to think I would, but in all honestly I cannot say for certain I would. A lot would depend upon my state of mind at the time, but if I want to be that kind of person then investigating the situation like this is likely to make me act as I would want to act. "Anyone would have done what I did." is a common thing the unsung hero says. I have no real idea if I am like that, but I know I have some qualities that make me willing to put myself forward for others when things get bad. To the point of offering my life? I doubt it, but it is something I can work on. I do think I'd be more likely to die for someone younger than me because I value potential.

Emotions help keep us alive and are part of rationality. It does appear that some individuals in the population are more prone to sacrificing themselves than others. Not many people would walk past a lone crying child in the street, but there are always circumstances where they would.
AKA badgerjelly

GE Morton
Posts: 441
Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by GE Morton » November 1st, 2018, 1:10 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
October 13th, 2017, 11:49 am
Also, the two innocents who I kill with my choice were actually, individually, less likely to kill than the other guy. So, on the face of it, that makes them better? No, because we're still only talking about our perception of their likelihood to kill, that shouldn't make a difference.
In these kinds of puzzles you have to take probabilities as firm, not as guesses, estimates, or dependent upon anyone's perception.

Post Reply