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The Rational Choice?

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Burning ghost
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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Burning ghost » October 13th, 2017, 7:53 pm

Chili -

It's a hypothetical question.

Greta -

Sound a little lazy don't you think?
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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Spectrum » October 13th, 2017, 10:50 pm

Burning ghost wrote:Which track do you take?
I can't see any rational results from the case your presented as 'several people' is too vague and there is no time limit indicated.
If you want a 'rational' answer, then your case must be very precise.

I would add the following to make it more precise;
1. Each potential murderer comes from a village with 1000 people excluding themselves.
2. Time limit is within one year.
3. Assume the decision maker is not a psychopath but an average Joe.

Since no further details, I would link the 70% of the murderer on track A to potentially 700 being killed within a year.

In the case of track %, each has the potential to kill 500 each, thus the cumulative is 1000 people dead.

Rationally, based on what is given, if no choice, I will pull lever B to get rid of the two men, i.e. the consequences of 1,000 dead over 700 dead.

Generally such casuistry [trolley] cases are raised in discussions of the Philosophy of Morality, but I believe the casuistry cases [if taken seriously] are the worst type approach to deliberate re Morality. The limitation is the possibility of the types of cases in infinite and if any one is thrown into an emergency there is no time to think, compute and rationalize.

The most effective approach to Morality & Ethics is the holistic Framework & System approach.
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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Burning ghost » October 14th, 2017, 12:46 am

Spectrum -

Seen as you've not read the repsonses PLEASE don't go back and check them over and look at this alteration first:

Simply change it to person on track A has a 70% likelihood to kill just ONE person and the two on track B EACH have a 50% likelihood to kill one person.

So now it is not a case of "several".

-- Updated October 14th, 2017, 12:49 am to add the following --
Maxcady10001 wrote:You have changed the question, asking me if I would choose, if I knew both tracks had people who would not commit murder. Would I rather kill one or two innocent people? I'm not sure, but is this question one of utilitarianism? But honestly I still would not act, as I don't believe in murder by omission. I also would not feel responsible, because I had no hand in any of the circumstances leading up to this. I also don't believe in moral responsibility. If I did I would have to spend my entire life in servitude. Have you ever heard of the drowning girl thought experiment, where a girl is drowning and if you are willing to spend the energy saving her, logically you should donate to charity? It was devised by Peter Singer. You can easily expand on that and say you should also be willing to do a lot more. Also, do you believe the people in that situation would advocate for their own lives if they could interact with you? Would the one person on track A say kill me and save them?
Not acting is an act. Not choosing is a choice.

If you knew the track you were on would kill 100 people and the other track would kill one person would you still do nothing?
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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Maxcady10001 » October 14th, 2017, 4:50 am

Not acting is an act, but it does not saddle me with the consequences of what I haven't taken action on. If it could I would be responsible for a lot since there are plenty of times when I have not taken action. Are you responsible for the homeless man who freezes to death because he does not have shelter, when you could have sheltered him?
Even if it were a hundred lives to one, how is the value of a hundred lives worth more than one? I don't believe value decisions on life can be made by numbers, unless you pushed the number up to seven billion, then I would choose by the number out of my own survival. But could the argument be made one Nietzsche is worth one hundred lives? If he was one track and a hundred people were on another could you still pull the lever? My answer is still not to do anything, choosing the track the train is on, unless it became about the human race's survival, but then you would have to change the example from a train.

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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Steve3007 » October 14th, 2017, 8:18 am

Greta:
It's more realistic to imagine that the percentages aren't known, so all one would see is three people tied to the tracks. Thus the option would be to kill one person or two.
It may be more realistic but it would spoil the trick. The point is to get distracted by the numbers into trying to calculate how many "innocent" lives you can save by killing "guilty" men, but, in so doing, forgetting the obvious fact that those men are not actually guilty of anything. The trick worked on me and RJG. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. You clearly didn't fall for it.

It partly reminds me of the moral point made by the film "Minority Report". Judging people for crimes that they haven't yet committed.

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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Burning ghost » October 14th, 2017, 9:25 am

Steve -

I don't think Greta did see it? If so then I am not sure how Greta could say there is too small a difference.

If you choose track A then there is a 100% chance of one death, a 50% chance of two deaths, and a 25% chance of three deaths.

If you choose track B then there is 0% chance of one death, 100% chance of two deaths, and 70% chance of three deaths.

For this reason I would say the differences between the two choices are quite different. Also, it requires you to jump back and forth between mathematical logic and a human perspective.

-- Updated October 14th, 2017, 10:33 am to add the following --

Could even push this problem and make it really unbelievable by saying the chance of person on track A killing is 40% and persons on track B is increased to 80% chance of killing. Strangely enough at face value the figures of 25% and 60%, for A person and B persons respectively, looks like even more of a fine line, but it isn't!

Even here taking track A would result in lowest chance of a higher death toll!
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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Chili » October 14th, 2017, 1:38 pm

This is like the "ticking bomb" scenario to justify torture.

"Ticking bomb" is SO hypothetical, and yet it will be used to comfort those who would like to act in all kinds of situations where the knowledge is *very* imperfect.

Generally, you should treat them as innocents and kill the fewest. If you personally know all of these people, and have seen with your own eyes that they go around with random-number generators, killing people or trying to, or have a "rational good reason" to believe so, then you should use mathematics & logic to decide.

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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by RJG » October 14th, 2017, 1:44 pm

If "several" = 3 or less, then Track A is best to take (less total dead people), else if "several" = 4 or more, then take Track B.

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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Maxcady10001 » October 14th, 2017, 6:27 pm

You are presented with a choice between your life and the lives of others, either you die or ten other people die. The ten people that die are chosen at random from the global population, excluding you if you choose to save yourself. How would you choose?

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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by LuckyR » October 15th, 2017, 2:34 am

Burning ghost wrote:Here is the situation (one you may be somewhat familiar with) ...

You are on a train track and can pull a lever to change tracks. No matter what you do you have to choose either track A or track B.

On track A there is a man who is 70% likely to murder several people.
On track B there are two men who are both 50% likely to murder several people.

Which track do you take?
Who cares? They're all going to die sooner or later anyway. Besides they're murderers, couldn't we find a way to kill all of them? Or maybe leave the switch alone, kill A with the train, pull out a gun, run down to B and shoot the other two guys.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Burning ghost » October 15th, 2017, 2:39 am

LuckyR wrote:
Burning ghost wrote:Here is the situation (one you may be somewhat familiar with) ...

You are on a train track and can pull a lever to change tracks. No matter what you do you have to choose either track A or track B.

On track A there is a man who is 70% likely to murder several people.
On track B there are two men who are both 50% likely to murder several people.

Which track do you take?
Who cares? They're all going to die sooner or later anyway. Besides they're murderers, couldn't we find a way to kill all of them? Or maybe leave the switch alone, kill A with the train, pull out a gun, run down to B and shoot the other two guys.
Incorrect. They are not all murderers.

That is the point and that is exactly what everyone seems to fall for every time ;)

Thanks for taking part.
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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by LuckyR » October 15th, 2017, 2:50 am

Burning ghost wrote:
LuckyR wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


Who cares? They're all going to die sooner or later anyway. Besides they're murderers, couldn't we find a way to kill all of them? Or maybe leave the switch alone, kill A with the train, pull out a gun, run down to B and shoot the other two guys.
Incorrect. They are not all murderers.

That is the point and that is exactly what everyone seems to fall for every time ;)

Thanks for taking part.
Oh, I don't know. Do you want your daughter marrying a guy who has a 50% chance of murdering someone? I don't. If you don't either, why not? Uummm... because he's a (potential) murderer. A non-conundrum.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Burning ghost » October 15th, 2017, 3:55 am

LuckyR -

"Potential" is the thing I was getting at.

It is true that "murder" is bad. So I understand that you may choose to kill those people. Like you mentioned if you added a personal context to the situation then the whole situation changes and I imagine many people would be willing to let numerous people die to save what they treasure.

The hypothetical does not address any of these points, so you're in a position where the potential murders are only potential and to measure them against other people and make assumptions about the average chance of someone committing murder may be valid.

I could refine the hypothesis to say that not killing these people may result in the deaths of others.

Someone else has pointed this out to me elsewhere. It does kind of distract from the assumed guilty prior to any action morality. What is more is that you'd be letting someone live with a higher chance of committing murder and if they had a higher chance then they'd likely be a nastier person (by your argumentation). I would rather my hypothetical daughter marry someone with a 50% chance of committing murder than a 70% chance of committing murder. Then the problem is simply about calculating the chance of my daughter marrying such a person and calculating this chance by knowing the size of the population we're living in. if two are alive in a population of 1 million I would judge it much more likely she'd meet person A or either of persons B.

So if you're making judgements compared to a real world situation based on your own daughters life then I'd still go for A because she is not likely to marry two people.

Thanks for making me think :)
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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by LuckyR » October 16th, 2017, 1:55 am

Burning ghost wrote:LuckyR -

"Potential" is the thing I was getting at.

It is true that "murder" is bad. So I understand that you may choose to kill those people. Like you mentioned if you added a personal context to the situation then the whole situation changes and I imagine many people would be willing to let numerous people die to save what they treasure.

The hypothetical does not address any of these points, so you're in a position where the potential murders are only potential and to measure them against other people and make assumptions about the average chance of someone committing murder may be valid.

I could refine the hypothesis to say that not killing these people may result in the deaths of others.

Someone else has pointed this out to me elsewhere. It does kind of distract from the assumed guilty prior to any action morality. What is more is that you'd be letting someone live with a higher chance of committing murder and if they had a higher chance then they'd likely be a nastier person (by your argumentation). I would rather my hypothetical daughter marry someone with a 50% chance of committing murder than a 70% chance of committing murder. Then the problem is simply about calculating the chance of my daughter marrying such a person and calculating this chance by knowing the size of the population we're living in. if two are alive in a population of 1 million I would judge it much more likely she'd meet person A or either of persons B.

So if you're making judgements compared to a real world situation based on your own daughters life then I'd still go for A because she is not likely to marry two people.

Thanks for making me think :)
Are you trying to present a statistics problem, a syntactical problem or an ethical problem (or a trick question)?
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Re: The Rational Choice?

Post by Burning ghost » October 16th, 2017, 5:10 am

LuckyR -

Yes :)

The point of the exercise was to see if anyone ignored the deaths of the people on the track and only concerned themselves with the lives they could save deeming the potential murderers as irrelevant.

Of course it bring up many other questions not specifically exposed by the information presented. That is the general use of a hypothetical. You turn it over and over until you feel you;ve covered the above three things you mentioned (and the semantics.)

Even now I am thinking of many other things this has uncovered. Is death at the hands of a murderer goin gto be worse then being run down by a train? Are the people hit by the train going to die instantly or suffer for days in agony? Would being killed by another human being be "better" or "worse" in every circumstance regardless if you wished to decrease suffering?

What is always apparent to me is that if the decision is confusing or vague (like life generally is) people cannot help but guess at other factors involved that are not mentioned in the original problem. If I merely said is it better to let a nice guy live his life or to brutally murder him with a machete, we'd find it quite difficult (but not absolutely impossible) to disagree.

Like I have said already, a number of posts back, I made this because someone said that emotions mostly play a negative role in rational thought, so I decided to turn the tables and make it so that a purely logical mindset ignored the human factor.

note: I amended the problem to one person being murdered from "several" after Steve's reply so he could see the issue. Elsewhere I have posted it with just "one person" being killed and still people tend to ignore the deaths of the people on the track because they are distracted by the math (one or two people see beyond the numbers.)
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