Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

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Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Scott »

Assume that you could cure cancer, thereby saving many innocent lives, but to do so you had to murder an innocent child with your bare hands against the child's will while the child begs to live.

For the purposes of this discussion, let's define the word 'murder' to simply mean intentional non-consensual non-defensive killing of another human being. Under that definition, even legal killing can be murder. (Under other primarily statist definitions, murder is defined in part by illegality, such that the Nazi government didn't murder any Jews since those vicious killings were legal, which is not how I would use the word.)

Imagine for whatever reason that it would be legal for you to murder the child or to not murder the child, and thus you do not need to worry about legal or other repercussions such as someone trying to kill you in revenge, regardless of what you choose.

In this hypothetical, essentially, the only thing that might stop you from murdering an innocent child with your bare hands is your human kindness, compassion, sympathy, and/or personal code of conduct (and/or your moral or religious beliefs if you have any).

Ex hypothesi, the utilitarian thing to do is to murder the child with your bare hands. If you are a utilitarian, and not a hypocrite, then it seems the answer is simple: You would murder the child with your bare hands while the child begs to live.

However, if, like me, you are not a utilitarian, then your answer is likely different.

So would you murder the child?

More simply, would you murder one innocent child with your bare hands to save multiple other innocent people?

My answer is clarified in detail in my topic, Man Is Not Fit to Govern Man. But the short version is this: I strictly choose to not engage in non-defensive non-consensual violence against my fellow human being, such as murder, rape, or slavery. Thus, I would not murder the child.

It's so simple for me, actually. No moral dilemma at all. No anxiety. No complex math. No shoulds. No oughts. No try. In that way, it's so easy to have inner peace. As long as I'm not murdering someone or such, I have inner peace. I could spot an asteroid flying towards the Earth about to kill us all with no hope of rescue for us, but as long as I know I am playing my cards the best I can (according to my simple easy-to-follow self-chosen rules such as no murdering), then I have inner peace. It's so simple, so easy, and so enjoyable to live like this. :)

I imagine for one who is willing to commit murder, it must be such an anxiety-ridden way to live--to entrust oneself with such a violent domineering responsibility, especially considering how humans like us can rarely even stick to a simple food diet. If you cannot trust yourself not to eat a cupcake, imagine trusting yourself with the power to murder. Yikes, sounds like an unpleasant way to live to me, but to each his own, I suppose. You would have to constantly worry about who to murder and not murder, and then you have to go tire yourself out murdering people, and then you have to wash the blood off your hands. To me, violent utilitarianism sounds so needlessly spiritually exhausting and worry-ridden. I don't know how one could maintain their inner peace while even partly implementing such an exhaustingly violent philosophy. One man's trash is another man's treasure, I suppose.

I prefer the beautiful modest simplicity that is being a man of peace. What about you?
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by marigold_23 »

Hey Scott, thanks for the question... I feel really dirty after thinking about it ... so thanks for that.

Ive thought about this question before. Yes, in theory, but I would probably be unable to do it. I don't know. In my opinion, a person who is empathetic and logical and consistent should do it.
If i could do it, I might die of guilt, possibly kill myself out of distress and self loathing afterwards...out of insanity maybe... But I would do it if i believed as much in the millions of lives I was saving as the life I was destroyong. The fact of the act's necessity in preserving lives is horrid in this circumstance, but the act of carrying it out is, in my opinion, a humanitarian one. It is even an empathetic act from the perspective of one who considers many lives at once rather than just one at a time, where empathy is expressed not in passivity but active manipulation of reality towards a more "empathetic" future... not for the child or for any one individual, but for the idea of many people...and relative, as all intentional acts are, to you.

I hope i could consider the logic of it, act from that relative perspective of logical appreciation and feel no regret for the act, only for the circumstance... and when i need to, appreciate the totality of things with total empathy, outside any circumstantial or logical considerations... to love things or people in themselves as they are in nature outside any need for manipulation (where suffering and death are not bad in themselves to begin with but a necessary attachment to all enjoyment and life)...but ironically, ive found this passive appreciation has very little to do with the application of empathy by logical methods... it has little to do with politics which, at minimum, is the manipulation of less desirable futures towards more desirable ones...

I cannot condone passivity in the choice between a lesser of two evils in one place but not others... we select the lesser of two evils in all of our day to day experience... we show that we believe in this methodology of interacting with our environment, and we express morality and love of things in the same way.

If you interpret a a choice before you where in one option you stay up late watching netflix and you have no energy in the morning and the other you force yourself to turn off netflix, go to sleep and wake up with energy, I would suspect anyone answering this question would see that the right choice is the 2nd one... it is more desireable, more in line with what you consider worthwhile and good...

This circumstance is the same sort of choice between two options... two futures... in one the child lives and millions more similar children and others die... if a person would use a methodology in the example i presented above but they wouldn't use it here where the stakes are so much higher, i would have to call that person if they are consistent (and myself if I couldn't do it) a coward or an idiot, a sadist, or a sociopath. Probably just an inconsistent, contradictory person...as most people are.

And with the choice considered as an option, i think you would be responsible for your passivity as though it were a selection of a future of the suffering and death of millions and a rejection of an alternative future with only one.

The intentions here in not taking the life of the child, if they are empathetic intentions, are not applied logically, and anyway, the intentions are inconsequential relative to the selection of passivity which may as well have come from a person who hates people.

(I think)
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Nick_A »

Hi Scott
Assume that you could cure cancer, thereby saving many innocent lives, but to do so you had to murder an innocent child with your bare hands against the child's will while the child begs to live.

For the purposes of this discussion, let's define the word 'murder' to simply mean intentional non-consensual non-defensive killing of another human being. Under that definition, even legal killing can be murder. (Under other primarily statist definitions, murder is defined in part by illegality, such that the Nazi government didn't murder any Jews since those vicious killings were legal, which is not how I would use the word.)

Imagine for whatever reason that it would be legal for you to murder the child or to not murder the child, and thus you do not need to worry about legal or other repercussions such as someone trying to kill you in revenge, regardless of what you choose.

In this hypothetical, essentially, the only thing that might stop you from murdering an innocent child with your bare hands is your human kindness, compassion, sympathy, and/or personal code of conduct (and/or your moral or religious beliefs if you have any).

Ex hypothesi, the utilitarian thing to do is to murder the child with your bare hands. If you are a utilitarian, and not a hypocrite, then it seems the answer is simple: You would murder the child with your bare hands while the child begs to live.

However, if, like me, you are not a utilitarian, then your answer is likely different.

So would you murder the child?
IMO it isn't a matter of being socialist, democrat, Republican, utilitarian, or whatever. It is a matter of objective conscience suppressed and normally not active in daily life. So I cannot say what I would do if I were touched by conscience as opposed to following indoctrinated justifications. I would have to take the Simone Weil test if I have the nerve. It would reveal the human thing to do.

There Comes

If you do not fight it---if you look, just
look, steadily,
upon it,

there comes
a moment when you cannot do it,
if it is evil;

if good, a moment
when you cannot
not.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by LuckyR »

Scott wrote: May 5th, 2021, 5:14 pm Assume that you could cure cancer, thereby saving many innocent lives, but to do so you had to murder an innocent child with your bare hands against the child's will while the child begs to live.

For the purposes of this discussion, let's define the word 'murder' to simply mean intentional non-consensual non-defensive killing of another human being. Under that definition, even legal killing can be murder. (Under other primarily statist definitions, murder is defined in part by illegality, such that the Nazi government didn't murder any Jews since those vicious killings were legal, which is not how I would use the word.)

Imagine for whatever reason that it would be legal for you to murder the child or to not murder the child, and thus you do not need to worry about legal or other repercussions such as someone trying to kill you in revenge, regardless of what you choose.

In this hypothetical, essentially, the only thing that might stop you from murdering an innocent child with your bare hands is your human kindness, compassion, sympathy, and/or personal code of conduct (and/or your moral or religious beliefs if you have any).

Ex hypothesi, the utilitarian thing to do is to murder the child with your bare hands. If you are a utilitarian, and not a hypocrite, then it seems the answer is simple: You would murder the child with your bare hands while the child begs to live.

However, if, like me, you are not a utilitarian, then your answer is likely different.

So would you murder the child?

More simply, would you murder one innocent child with your bare hands to save multiple other innocent people?

My answer is clarified in detail in my topic, Man Is Not Fit to Govern Man. But the short version is this: I strictly choose to not engage in non-defensive non-consensual violence against my fellow human being, such as murder, rape, or slavery. Thus, I would not murder the child.

It's so simple for me, actually. No moral dilemma at all. No anxiety. No complex math. No shoulds. No oughts. No try. In that way, it's so easy to have inner peace. As long as I'm not murdering someone or such, I have inner peace. I could spot an asteroid flying towards the Earth about to kill us all with no hope of rescue for us, but as long as I know I am playing my cards the best I can (according to my simple easy-to-follow self-chosen rules such as no murdering), then I have inner peace. It's so simple, so easy, and so enjoyable to live like this. :)

I imagine for one who is willing to commit murder, it must be such an anxiety-ridden way to live--to entrust oneself with such a violent domineering responsibility, especially considering how humans like us can rarely even stick to a simple food diet. If you cannot trust yourself not to eat a cupcake, imagine trusting yourself with the power to murder. Yikes, sounds like an unpleasant way to live to me, but to each his own, I suppose. You would have to constantly worry about who to murder and not murder, and then you have to go tire yourself out murdering people, and then you have to wash the blood off your hands. To me, violent utilitarianism sounds so needlessly spiritually exhausting and worry-ridden. I don't know how one could maintain their inner peace while even partly implementing such an exhaustingly violent philosophy. One man's trash is another man's treasure, I suppose.

I prefer the beautiful modest simplicity that is being a man of peace. What about you?
What about pulling the plug on a braindead stroke victim? What about a cute puppy? What is your borderline between what you would and wouldn't kill to cure cancer?
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Thomyum2 »

Scott wrote: May 5th, 2021, 5:14 pm Assume that you could cure cancer, thereby saving many innocent lives, but to do so you had to murder an innocent child with your bare hands against the child's will while the child begs to live.

...

So would you murder the child?

More simply, would you murder one innocent child with your bare hands to save multiple other innocent people?

My answer is clarified in detail in my topic, Man Is Not Fit to Govern Man. But the short version is this: I strictly choose to not engage in non-defensive non-consensual violence against my fellow human being, such as murder, rape, or slavery. Thus, I would not murder the child.

It's so simple for me, actually. No moral dilemma at all. No anxiety. No complex math. No shoulds. No oughts. No try. In that way, it's so easy to have inner peace. As long as I'm not murdering someone or such, I have inner peace. I could spot an asteroid flying towards the Earth about to kill us all with no hope of rescue for us, but as long as I know I am playing my cards the best I can (according to my simple easy-to-follow self-chosen rules such as no murdering), then I have inner peace. It's so simple, so easy, and so enjoyable to live like this. :)

I imagine for one who is willing to commit murder, it must be such an anxiety-ridden way to live--to entrust oneself with such a violent domineering responsibility, especially considering how humans like us can rarely even stick to a simple food diet. If you cannot trust yourself not to eat a cupcake, imagine trusting yourself with the power to murder. Yikes, sounds like an unpleasant way to live to me, but to each his own, I suppose. You would have to constantly worry about who to murder and not murder, and then you have to go tire yourself out murdering people, and then you have to wash the blood off your hands. To me, violent utilitarianism sounds so needlessly spiritually exhausting and worry-ridden. I don't know how one could maintain their inner peace while even partly implementing such an exhaustingly violent philosophy. One man's trash is another man's treasure, I suppose.

I prefer the beautiful modest simplicity that is being a man of peace. What about you?
I feel the same way you do - there is no moral dilemma here at all. When I read your post I immediately thought of the famous passage by JRR Tolkien which I think sums up my feeling well:
Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
What does it really many to 'save many innocent lives'? Saved for what? Those people whose lives would be 'saved' by curing cancer might live longer, but will still die. For what kind of life or for what greater good would their extra time serve? Would those people who were awarded that extra time even accept or allow that such a price be paid to postpone their death? Can anyone say with any certainty that the benefit that any person or people would gain from a longer life would offset the death of even a single child? Haven't many of the world's atrocities been carried out precisely because of this very kind of thinking - that the lives of some people would be better if others were eliminated?

To me, this is the main problem with utilitarianism - we can talk about the greatest good for the greatest number as an ideal, but in practice, how can our limited minds and finite knowledge ever have sufficient foresight to really quantify this in any meaningful way?
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Scott »

LuckyR wrote: May 6th, 2021, 2:14 am
Scott wrote: May 5th, 2021, 5:14 pm More simply, would you murder one innocent child with your bare hands to save multiple other innocent people?

My answer is clarified in detail in my topic, Man Is Not Fit to Govern Man. But the short version is this: I strictly choose to not engage in non-defensive non-consensual violence against my fellow human being, such as murder, rape, or slavery. Thus, I would not murder the child.
What about pulling the plug on a braindead stroke victim? What about a cute puppy? What is your borderline between what you would and wouldn't kill to cure cancer?
You pretty much hit the nail on the head for me. My borderline area--or gray area--would be roughly somewhere between a cute brainalive puppy and a permanently braindead human body.

However, to get back to the topic at hand, let's focus on brainalive humans, particularly children.

Would you murder one of those with your bare hands to save multiple other brainalive humans?
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Scott »

marigold_23 wrote: May 5th, 2021, 6:43 pm Hey Scott, thanks for the question... I feel really dirty after thinking about it [...]

Yes, in theory, but I would probably be unable to do it. I don't know. In my opinion, a person who is empathetic and logical and consistent should do it.

If i could do it, I might die of guilt, possibly kill myself out of distress and self loathing afterwards...out of insanity maybe...

[...]

I cannot condone passivity in the choice between a lesser of two evils in one place but not others...
Hi, marigold_23, thank you for your reply!

I am especially interested by your comments where you write that you think you "should" do it, whatever "should" means, but don't think you would. What does it mean for one to say something like, "I have a choice between A and B, and I should be choosing A and can choose A at any point, but I am choosing B"? What does that mean?

Is there really 'evil' and 'shoulds', or is there simply choice and also feelings such as guilt, shame, fear, etc.? The key word for me is 'is'; that's because there is a big difference between an is-statement versus an ought-statement. Feelings exist (an is-statement), but we are not our feelings. Arguments about so-called free-will aside, choices seem to exist (another is-statement), but a choice is different than a feeling. When it comes to a choice to do something one can do, no matter what one is feeling, there is always the possibility to do it anyway. For instance, I can say, "I am hungry, but I choose not to eat this cupcake." I cannot control whether I (my body) feels hunger, but I can control whether I choose to eat. If I am afraid to do something, I can choose to do it anyway. If doing something like going on the treadmill causes me great physical pain, I can do it anyway. We can say, my body feels X but I choose Y anyway. Feelings and choices are two different things.

I don't personally believe evil exists, and thus I don't believe there is ever uch a thing as a so-called choice between the lesser of two evils. Likewise, I don't believe in shoulds or oughts, at least not that are not more accurately clearly expressed through is-statements alone.

I wonder how much the belief in evil, shoulds, or oughts exacerbates feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety.

I know your mention of suicide is totally hypothetical based on the ridiculous thought experiment I created. Nonetheless, I wonder how many people have committed suicide in misery who may have not done so if they didn't believe in evil and thus couldn't believe themselves to be evil, bad, or shameworthy; the world better without them.

It's one thing to feel shame or pain, which are just feelings, essentially merely a bodily reaction much like urinating. It's very different to genuinely belief oneself to be worthy or deserving of shame, guilt, or pain, to genuinely belief oneself to be bad, evil, or naughty. To each their own, but to me that seems like it would be a hellish superstition to live under the belief such a thing was even possible let alone true. I not only don't think you are evil, but I don't think it's possible for you to be evil. I believe you and I are what we unchangeably are, and all that unchangably is can be accepted and appreciated as it is. Why resent, hate, or try to change what unchangably is?

Is is possible that, just as brave person transcends fear--noting that bravery is not fearlessness but rather the realization that fear cannot truly control you or I such that one can do very scary things while feeling great fear--so too can a person transcend shame and guilt?

Insofar as we have a choice, we never choose between two futures. Insofar as we have choice, the future is a canvass of infinite possibility. There are infinite things one can choose to do in any moment. We have to choose to not do almost all of those infinite possible things we could do, so we are like a kid in a dollar store with only a few dollars in his or her pocket, staring at aisles filled with thousands of different toys. You can choose any few of the countless toys, but only a very few. To say yes to one, is to say no to countless others. It's never really a binary choice, even though each choice can be broken into an infinite array of seemingly binary options (i.e. individual toys that you choose to buy or not buy with your very few dollars). This open canvass of infinite possibilities--on which there is arguably no wrong way to paint but only open-ended infinite choice--is what I had in mind when I wrote my topic, The artistically creative diversity of spiritual freedom.

I suspect we all have a lot more power than we tend to assume, and I suspect phrases like the lesser of two evils are symptomatic of that allegedly common alleged misconception.
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Terrapin Station »

"Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?"

Yes, without the slightest hesitation.

The "innocent" rhetoric has always seemed silly to me, by the way.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Terrapin Station »

I'd do this just to get rid of venereal diseases, by the way.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Scott »

Terrapin Station wrote: May 6th, 2021, 12:52 pm "Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?"

Yes, without the slightest hesitation.
Interesting. What about if instead of curing cancer, you would only save five innocent people.

Would you murder one innocent child with your bare hands to save the lives of five innocent people?
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Scott »

Nick_A wrote: May 5th, 2021, 7:57 pm I would have to take the Simone Weil test if I have the nerve. It would reveal the human thing to do.

There Comes

If you do not fight it---if you look, just
look, steadily,
upon it,

there comes
a moment when you cannot do it,
if it is evil;

if good, a moment
when you cannot
not.
That is a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing!
My entire political philosophy summed up in one tweet.

"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master."

I believe spiritual freedom (a.k.a. self-discipline) manifests as bravery, confidence, grace, honesty, love, and inner peace.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by marigold_23 »

Scott wrote: May 6th, 2021, 12:18 pm
Hi, marigold_23, thank you for your reply!

I am especially interested by your comments where you write that you think you "should" do it, whatever "should" means, but don't think you would. What does it mean for one to say something like, "I have a choice between A and B, and I should be choosing A and can choose A at any point, but I am choosing B"? What does that mean?

Ah yes…"should"..., sorry about that. Maybe this explanation will help.
To the extent that a person selects B knowing A as an alternative, I think they must beleive in that moment, as far as they could comprehend the selection, that it is the right selection... not universally "right" just that it is more desirable relative to their own experience than B...they betray that belief in that moment even if they come to regret it from a future perspective in retrospect.

I dont think it's possible to say and genuinely mean "I should choose A but i choose B." Because that means the same as: I desire choice A over B but I don't desire choice A over B, and that is a contradiction.

In the moment of selection, it is also impossible for the act of doing the thing to express true regret of doing it, only regret of the discomfort or strain, but not the act. However, looking at the choice before you, before making a selection (as we are doing here) you may experience conflict of perspectives if you are imaginative and chaotic enough to be inconsistent, as most people are.

The inconsistency is expressive, in my opinion, of the ability to experience exclusive, different perspectives either simultaneously relative to a reaction of the mind or in such quick succession that any desire / reaction from one perspective may be retracted and even regretted by some other perspective in the same mind...

When I say, "I should do A, but I will do B." I believe I would be expressing a contradiction, but I didn't say that exactly.
I said:, "I should do A, but I would probably do B"... in fact, I should replace that statement with this: "I should do A but I might not do it because I might not be the me that said I should do A (the me that I am now) when the choice actually arises". I don't think it is a contradiction, but more of a confession of inconsistency... it is an observation of two exclusive choices where one methodology which selects one choice has a greater or equal influence over the mind as the other methodology that selects the other choice.

The other methodology (or perspective) which is not capable of logical application but is still empathetic (and would likely take hold during the stress of the event) is that which projects onto the child...such that the conclusion becomes: "my desire is the child's desire". It is not the same as saying, "i love the child" or "the child's survival is desireable"... from these perspectives I could still kill the child logically, because any experiences of the child as something good would extend to everyone who may die from cancer… i could love flowers and cut one plant down if it is diseased to save the others… here however a perspective which is irregardless of the relative characteristics that I admire in the child would take over… i would conclude, the childs desire is literally my desire...which would also require the conclusion, I am the child, which is logically contradictory. I think it's an old instinctual reflex which doesn't rely too much on logical consideration.

I also confess that I am more considerate of logic when I am relaxed, but the stress of killing would likely cause my mind to switch to the methodology (or perspective) that desires not to kill the child. And I also confessed that I don't know for sure. I am not sure that I couldn't do it.

When I say In my opinion, a person who is empathetic and logical and consistent should do it, I mean that the condition of a person being empathatic and logical and consistent (or the condition of being consistently reactive to that methodology) is that they "would" do it. If they are not logical and/or empathetic then perhaps they wouldn't desire that selection. Or if they are only sometimes empathetic and/or sometimes logical (like myself) but not consistent, then that person (me) may also not desire to do it at some times but not others, but it isn't certain. I could have said "would" rather than "should" (old habit).

I do see selections as conceivably binary. You make a selection for which there is a specific outcome (or future)... if you had selected something else, (no matter how many selections are truly available) other than the one you selected, they all have the same thing in common, which is that they are not causitive of the outcome which your selection caused... they would have all been causitive of other outcomes... so there is always the outcome you select (as one distinct selection) and all the outcomes you didnt select as an unbroken fabric of different futures (your distinct rejection). The reality and what the reality is not.
And, in hypotheticals where there are only two options we have to see it as binary... after all we weren't asked, would you kill a kid with a hammer to cure cancer or with your bare hands to cure cancer or would you not kill the kid... we were only given two options, do it or don't. One future(s) or the other(s), but they are necessarily separate.

I don't believe in good or evil… I used the phrase "the lesser of two evils" to refer to any scenario of two choices where one is preferable to the other according to some particular methodology (or from some perspective) of evaluation… I should have been more clear. But, even though I don't believe in evil, I think being inconsistent must result in guilt or shame or regret to whatever extent you associate with your past self as your present self but don't agree with the decisions made by your past self. Also, regret is a deeply embedded instinct which is functional for learning. Shame is similar to regret, but implies a more conflicted, neurotic, less functional reaction.

I expect that shame is different than regret. Where regret implies you have changed from your past self due to the aquisition of data that, had you applied it then using the same methodology (perspective), you would have experienced less discontent, shame implies a great deal of inner conflict, neurosis… I believe it results from inconsistency between perspectives… which of course is illogical but the mind is chaotic. This experince is what could cause the illusion of self loathing and the illogical reaction of self destruction… it is illogical but still generally natural for inconsistent mechanisms (such as the brain) in highly stressful, demanding situations. Assuming unbearable physical pain or mental anguish…. Which killing a kid would probably bring about as it is associated as an ultimately undesirable act according to a perspective of projection but is associated as highly desirable from a perspective of empathetic logic. Since my mind switches often between both it would be difficult to remain sane after such a conflicted decision.

I agree that we can choose to do things which seem contrary to our immediate feelings but I think it's important to conclude there are fears and desires (deeper feelings) responsible even for those choices… we exercise for fear of infirmity, death, social disdain, and for desire of strength, energy, sex… mainly sex. Fear and pain are both a negative stimulation or association, and in this instance your mind endures the experience of pain because the associations of fear and desire outway your instinct to escape the pain.

So really I dont agree with the idea that we can act in a way that isn't traceable to our feelings or to causality… if we have free will i think it must be an unconscious decision to exist or not to exist (or to exist in some reality or another or to move forward an increment in time or back an increment), something totally irrelevant to the inner happenings of some particular existence.
And there's a limit to the extent we can say a person can act contrary to their feelings without redefining the person… if we act unconsciously or randomly, rather than intentionally, it may be un-caused by feelings but it isn't so much a choice and so it is as likely to be the environment about the self which is responsible for the action as it is the self (as far as we can tell).
We can say neither one exists and its all one thing but we can't say that and at the same time refer to feelings or selections/rejections...memories and characteristics…interactions "of" A "in" or "on" B... those kinds of statements seem to require an arbitrary distinction between what it is and what is not it.

And it wouldnt be much fun for me to answer by saying: I'll do whatever I can do and whatever that is it'll be random and spontaneous… in other words, I'll act as soon as causality is done with me, or when my hands have held the neck of the child so long that there is a planck length moment where a quantum movement in my mind would result in releasing the child just in time or holding on a moment longer to kill him… and that tiny miniscule decision, I maintain, must be a random free one which is regardless of causality… free will if you like, but not free intention or consideration… those things are only relevant to constraint and causality.


Accepting that freedom as your true identity can result in a temporary state of inner peace (like draining static from a computer), and I meditate often seeking to escape the constant context of existence…but I return and then I'm in the game completely. I don't pretend not to feel things and conceive of options. I don't try not to try. It would be a lie, unless I were in a state of deep focus.

And as soon as I wake up, there's a good chance that I'm gonna kill that kid...

Sorry this was so long
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Count Lucanor
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Count Lucanor »

This is another version of the trolley problem. I have always said the trolley problem is a pseudo-problem, not very useful to elucidate matters of moral reasoning. How does one get to the circumstance of a major benefit to mankind being dependent on one particular act of yours? Who put you in that position? Why does it have to be with your bare hands and not with a painless lethal injection? What is at stake from a moral perspective, the death of the child or the method of execution? Too many what ifs...
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by LuckyR »

Scott wrote: May 6th, 2021, 11:40 am
LuckyR wrote: May 6th, 2021, 2:14 am
Scott wrote: May 5th, 2021, 5:14 pm More simply, would you murder one innocent child with your bare hands to save multiple other innocent people?

My answer is clarified in detail in my topic, Man Is Not Fit to Govern Man. But the short version is this: I strictly choose to not engage in non-defensive non-consensual violence against my fellow human being, such as murder, rape, or slavery. Thus, I would not murder the child.
What about pulling the plug on a braindead stroke victim? What about a cute puppy? What is your borderline between what you would and wouldn't kill to cure cancer?
You pretty much hit the nail on the head for me. My borderline area--or gray area--would be roughly somewhere between a cute brainalive puppy and a permanently braindead human body.

However, to get back to the topic at hand, let's focus on brainalive humans, particularly children.

Would you murder one of those with your bare hands to save multiple other brainalive humans?
I guess I am unclear on whether you would rank the brain dead person higher or lower than the puppy.

As for me, barehandedness vs wearing gloves vs using remote killing machines don't enter into my decision making. Similarly, the age of the victim is also of so little consequence to barely impact my final decision. OTOH, what about their future? If you are okay with killing a stroke victim (based on their past medical history), what about shooting a guy who is literally in the guillotine? He's perfectly healthy right now but he is going to be dead in 30 seconds.

Would any of this change if your kid had cancer (that would be cured)?
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Terrapin Station »

Scott wrote: May 6th, 2021, 1:56 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: May 6th, 2021, 12:52 pm "Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?"

Yes, without the slightest hesitation.
Interesting. What about if instead of curing cancer, you would only save five innocent people.

Would you murder one innocent child with your bare hands to save the lives of five innocent people?
It would depend on facts about the five people--their age, how long they're likely to live, etc. (And again "innocence" has nothing to do with it, unless we're talking about whether they're literally guilty of some crime or other.)
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