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

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

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Scott wrote:Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?
Robert66 wrote: May 30th, 2021, 11:37 pm Sure, why not?
Interesting. Thank you for your answer. What about if instead of curing cancer you would only save 5 innocent people? Would you murder one child with your bare hands to save 5 people? What about to save only 2 people? What is the murdering to saving ratio it takes for you to murder an innocent child with your bare hands?
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

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CIN wrote: May 29th, 2021, 7:23 pm The problem I have here is that I just can't buy into the scenario. There just isn't a way in which killing one child could cure cancer. So if I was told that I had to kill a child to cure cancer, I would simply say, 'I don't believe you.' And then I would report the person who had told me to kill the child to the authorities, as a dangerous lunatic.
Can you imagine a hypothetical scenario in which murdering a child is a means to saving the lives of multiple innocent people?

Would you murder an innocent child to save many innocent people?

What about to save a few innocent people?
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"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 »

Steve3007 wrote: May 12th, 2021, 10:51 am
Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?
If I managed to become somebody who could do that, I suspect it might well not stop there. Empathy, and the protective instinct towards children, isn't something that can be turned on and off as required by a cost-benefit calculation.
That's very true, and wisely said.

Steve3007 wrote: May 12th, 2021, 10:51 am Given that we're talking about unrealistic hypothetical situations here, how about this: There's a whole load of children who are actually just about to die from cancer and a single healthy child. You can press a button to remotely kill the healthy child and you know with certainty that the result will somehow be that all those ill children are miraculously cured straightaway (we do live in an instant gratification world).

[Emphasis added.]
Assuming you replace the word "kill" with "murder" in the above scenario, such that the innocent kid is still murdered by your hand in the sense of your hand pressing the button or your hand pulling the trigger on a real gun, then indeed not using your bare hands and looking away while shooting the gun or otherwise avoiding seeing the murder one is doing with one's own eyes might make the murder more palatable from a purely selfish point of view, for both you, I, and most humans. If we ignore that selfish benefit for some reason, then honest rationality would (I think) require the answer to be the same in the remote button-pressing scenario as in the bare hand scenario, or in a trigger-pulling on a gun scenario where one has the option to look away while pulling the trigger on the gun to do the murder. I think we can agree that murder tends to be emotionally easier on the murderer if the murderer does not have to watch their victim die. That is also presumably why many people hire hitmen to do murders even though it would be much less expensive to do a DIY murder instead of hiring a shady professional who one has little reason to trust.

Granted, humans are neither rational, honest, nor unselfish. And I think it would take only one of those three things--selfishness, irrationality, or dishonesty (namely denial or self-delusion of some sort) for button-pressing or look-away trigger-pulling murder to be something someone is willing to do while bare hands murder is something one is unwilling to do.
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?

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Scott wrote: June 7th, 2021, 1:39 pm
Scott wrote:Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?
Robert66 wrote: May 30th, 2021, 11:37 pm Sure, why not?
Interesting. Thank you for your answer. What about if instead of curing cancer you would only save 5 innocent people? Would you murder one child with your bare hands to save 5 people? What about to save only 2 people? What is the murdering to saving ratio it takes for you to murder an innocent child with your bare hands?
No I won't start haggling with you. I will kill the child with my bare hands only if by doing so every cancer is cured (that is every possible kind of cancer, whether known or yet discovered - which is I assume what you meant by the words 'cure cancer'). That is my "ratio", as set down in the original contract.

I will also assume we are now living in a parallel universe governed by different laws to our familiar universe, or we have entered a biblical end time and I have become a new Abraham.

There must be a God involved, otherwise none of this makes sense.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

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I couldn't kill someone close to me, I couldn't take it.
But otherwise yeah, I could just turn off my empathy for a while (something I've finally chosen to learn how to do, after too many dealings with psychopaths), and massacre the kid. Once one turns evil, one can actually enjoy killing someone, and then rationalize the deed later. After all it was for the greater good.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Count Lucanor »

Scott wrote: June 7th, 2021, 1:37 pm
Count Lucanor wrote: May 29th, 2021, 2:51 pm
Scott wrote: May 29th, 2021, 1:25 pm
Count Lucanor wrote: May 6th, 2021, 11:19 pm 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...
I am not asking what is morally good or right and what is immoral or sinful.

I don't believe in morality.

With that noted, what is your answer? Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?
Of course one could just give a straight answer, yes or no, but other than satisfying your curiosity, I cannot see what's the point.
It's not necessary to see the point of the question, nor is it necessary for there to be a point to the question. The question doesn't need to rhetorical.

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

Count Lucanor wrote: May 29th, 2021, 2:51 pm If this is not a thought experiment about moral reasoning, then what is it?
It's a question. :)
It's a question with many holes, many possible scenarios and contextual factors, such that it is almost impossible to determine if it's my duty to do so or not. I guess that might be a hint of an answer.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by CIN »

Scott wrote: June 7th, 2021, 1:43 pm
CIN wrote: May 29th, 2021, 7:23 pm The problem I have here is that I just can't buy into the scenario. There just isn't a way in which killing one child could cure cancer. So if I was told that I had to kill a child to cure cancer, I would simply say, 'I don't believe you.' And then I would report the person who had told me to kill the child to the authorities, as a dangerous lunatic.
Can you imagine a hypothetical scenario in which murdering a child is a means to saving the lives of multiple innocent people?

Would you murder an innocent child to save many innocent people?

What about to save a few innocent people?
No, I wouldn't, for two reasons.

The first reason is that the prohibition against murder is a necessary condition for the existence of a society in which people can live reasonably happy lives. Every murder, even if it is punished, weakens everyone's confidence in the safety of the society they live in, increasing levels of fear and making it harder for people to trust each other and live happily. Since the ultimate moral good is happiness, murder works against the moral good even if at first sight it looks as if it doesn't.

The second reason is that a calculation such as you are suggesting is impossible to carry out. In effect you are suggesting that the evil of murdering the child is outweighed by the good that comes from the murder. This calculation can never be done correctly. To do it correctly, you would have to calculate the effects of murdering and the effects of not murdering right to the end of time, which can't be done.

For both of these reasons, the moral thing to do is to follow moral rules of thumb that have been shown to generally increase happiness, rather than trying to follow a basic moral principles such as 'maximise happiness,' which would require us to do a calculation that in practice no-one can do.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Sy Borg »

Imagine looking into the child's eyes before doing it. Yikes. Not as bad as having to strangle an innocent dog IMO but in the ballpark.

There's too many damn people anyway. Do we want to keep saving humans when we already have 8 billion of the critters while most other species are rapidly heading towards extinction?

This may seem harsh but, only cruel and outdated euthanasia laws make cancer one of the most awful possible deaths. With logical and reasonable end-of-life laws, a person who received the dreaded diagnosis could check out before the torturous part began. So, heck, I'm not killing anything that is cute, innocent and vulnerable (except mice and rats). Let more humans return into the Earth - it's only a matter of when, anyway. If it's me, then sucked in. So it goes.

But killing anything cute and vulnerable personally runs contrary to my soul, my sense of self. Interestingly, now that I think of it, this blend of sentimentality and ruthlessness seems to rather neatly summarise what humans are like generally.

Humans are not logical. Our priorities are not mathematical. Consider the struggles of economists from assumping that consumers respond as "rational agents" to free markets.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

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CIN wrote: June 8th, 2021, 7:11 pm
Scott wrote: June 7th, 2021, 1:43 pm
CIN wrote: May 29th, 2021, 7:23 pm The problem I have here is that I just can't buy into the scenario. There just isn't a way in which killing one child could cure cancer. So if I was told that I had to kill a child to cure cancer, I would simply say, 'I don't believe you.' And then I would report the person who had told me to kill the child to the authorities, as a dangerous lunatic.
Can you imagine a hypothetical scenario in which murdering a child is a means to saving the lives of multiple innocent people?

Would you murder an innocent child to save many innocent people?

What about to save a few innocent people?
No, I wouldn't, for two reasons.

The first reason is that the prohibition against murder is a necessary condition for the existence of a society in which people can live reasonably happy lives. Every murder, even if it is punished, weakens everyone's confidence in the safety of the society they live in, increasing levels of fear and making it harder for people to trust each other and live happily. Since the ultimate moral good is happiness, murder works against the moral good even if at first sight it looks as if it doesn't.

The second reason is that a calculation such as you are suggesting is impossible to carry out. In effect you are suggesting that the evil of murdering the child is outweighed by the good that comes from the murder. This calculation can never be done correctly. To do it correctly, you would have to calculate the effects of murdering and the effects of not murdering right to the end of time, which can't be done.

For both of these reasons, the moral thing to do is to follow moral rules of thumb that have been shown to generally increase happiness, rather than trying to follow a basic moral principles such as 'maximise happiness,' which would require us to do a calculation that in practice no-one can do.
I don't agree with all of your reasoning, but I agree with the general conclusion: I too would not murder the innocent child. I am glad we agree on that. :)
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?

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Count Lucanor wrote: June 7th, 2021, 8:13 pm
Scott wrote: June 7th, 2021, 1:37 pm
Count Lucanor wrote: May 29th, 2021, 2:51 pm
Scott wrote: May 29th, 2021, 1:25 pm
I am not asking what is morally good or right and what is immoral or sinful.

I don't believe in morality.

With that noted, what is your answer? Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?
Of course one could just give a straight answer, yes or no, but other than satisfying your curiosity, I cannot see what's the point.
It's not necessary to see the point of the question, nor is it necessary for there to be a point to the question. The question doesn't need to rhetorical.

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

Count Lucanor wrote: May 29th, 2021, 2:51 pm If this is not a thought experiment about moral reasoning, then what is it?
It's a question. :)
It's a question with many holes, many possible scenarios and contextual factors, such that it is almost impossible to determine if it's my duty to do so or not. I guess that might be a hint of an answer.
I am not asking if it is your duty to do it, but rather I am asking whether or not you would do it.

Would you murder an innocent child to save multiple other 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 »

Scott wrote: June 7th, 2021, 1:39 pm What about if instead of curing cancer you would only save 5 innocent people? Would you murder one child with your bare hands to save 5 people? What about to save only 2 people? What is the murdering to saving ratio it takes for you to murder an innocent child with your bare hands?
Robert66 wrote: June 7th, 2021, 4:24 pm No
Me neither. I am glad we agree on this. :)
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 AverageBozo »

Scott wrote: June 11th, 2021, 12:45 pm
Count Lucanor wrote: June 7th, 2021, 8:13 pm
Scott wrote: June 7th, 2021, 1:37 pm
Count Lucanor wrote: May 29th, 2021, 2:51 pm
Of course one could just give a straight answer, yes or no, but other than satisfying your curiosity, I cannot see what's the point.
It's not necessary to see the point of the question, nor is it necessary for there to be a point to the question. The question doesn't need to rhetorical.

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

Count Lucanor wrote: May 29th, 2021, 2:51 pm If this is not a thought experiment about moral reasoning, then what is it?
It's a question. :)
It's a question with many holes, many possible scenarios and contextual factors, such that it is almost impossible to determine if it's my duty to do so or not. I guess that might be a hint of an answer.
I am not asking if it is your duty to do it, but rather I am asking whether or not you would do it.

Would you murder an innocent child to save multiple other people?
Actually, you asked if someone would murder an innocent child with their bare hands to cure cancer.

That’s a little different than what you said here.

For one thing, using one’s hands isn’t the same as signing an execution order. To be sure, it is only a difference of degree and not a difference of kind, but a difference nonetheless.

Saving multiple people is different than curing cancer in that a cure for cancer will eventually be found by someone(s) and saving multiple people doesn’t suggest an ongoing occurrence ad infinitum.

Respectfully, these differences may not change any answers, but they do change the question.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by -0+ »

Count Lucanor wrote: June 7th, 2021, 8:13 pm It's a question with many holes, many possible scenarios and contextual factors, such that it is almost impossible to determine if it's my duty to do so or not. I guess that might be a hint of an answer.
A choice can be made based on what is known and what is unknown. People make choices all the time without knowing everything they would like to know about a situation. Unknowns can be part of a situation. If something unknown becomes known then this changes the situation and someone's answer may change as a result of this.
Scott wrote: June 11th, 2021, 12:45 pm I am not asking if it is your duty to do it, but rather I am asking whether or not you would do it.
How can anyone (who is not a slave to their past self) know what they would do until they find themselves in this situation? At best, people can say what they presently think / imagine they would do in this situation. What people think they would do and what they actually do can be quite different.

Regarding the trolley problem, apparently around 90% of people surveyed say they would move the switch to save five at the expense of one. However, a documentary about an experiment that realistically simulated this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sl5KJ69qiA) showed that only 2 out of 7 participants actually did this (and they did this with some difficulty).
Scott wrote: June 11th, 2021, 12:45 pm Would you murder an innocent child to save multiple other people?
Variations of this question can be formulated as: "Would you murder an innocent child to X?" (where X is a verbal phrase) ... What values of X might result in a "Yes" answer?

(If anyone says they would answer No to every value of X, someone else could suggest a value of X to test this.)
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

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-0+ wrote: June 12th, 2021, 5:44 am
Count Lucanor wrote: June 7th, 2021, 8:13 pm It's a question with many holes, many possible scenarios and contextual factors, such that it is almost impossible to determine if it's my duty to do so or not. I guess that might be a hint of an answer.
A choice can be made based on what is known and what is unknown. People make choices all the time without knowing everything they would like to know about a situation. Unknowns can be part of a situation. If something unknown becomes known then this changes the situation and someone's answer may change as a result of this.
Sure, but restraining from an action, or postponing it until one feels better informed, is also a choice. What you mean is that people act taking chances, but one thing is to take calculated chances and another taking blind chances.
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