The January 2023 Philosophy Book of the Month is Entanglement - Quantum and Otherwise by John K Danenbarger.

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

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

Post by Scott »

Nganyi Humphrey wrote: December 16th, 2022, 1:16 am I would not indulge myself in the murder of an innocent child. First of all, the child is not in any way responsible for the existence of cancer.
I agree. This is a prefect summary of my own answer as well.

I am not a full-blown pacifist, in that I support the use of defensive force to defend against non-defensive violence. For example, I support the use of as much force as necessary, including lethal force if necessary, against a murderer to stop the murderer from committing murder.

The key difference between such defensive uses of force versus utilitarian violence is whether the victim of the force/violence is the one who initiated the non-defensive violence as opposed to being an innocent bystander.

Thus, for example, I would not intentionally murder an innocent child as a way to prevent other murders from occurring (nor to cure cancer).

Unfortunately, my view is not the norm. Most people do not oppose all forms of murder (i.e. intentional non-defensive killing) of living, breathing, brain-alive humans. That is, at least accord to my poll in the following in which 2/3rds of respondents answered that they do support murder (a.k.a. "intentional non-defensive killing") of living, breathing, brain-alive humans in some cases:

Intentional non-defensive killing [a.k.a. murder] - Do you always oppose it?
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by ilze herholdt »

This is an interesting question to say the least. To sacrifice one life so that millions of others can continue to live seems like the ethical thing to do. On the other hand humans are all born with cancer cells and therefore cancer is a natural disease that can occur to any of us. So therefore, it is selfish to murder a baby with your bare hands to cure cancer.
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PuerAzaelis
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by PuerAzaelis »

Isn't there something in The Brothers Karamazov like this - Ivan asks Alyosha whether the salvation of the world would be worth the torture of one little girl or some such?

EDIT

Here it is

"Tell me honestly, I challenge you – answer me: imagine that you are charged with building the edifice of human destiny, whose ultimate aim is to bring people happiness, to give them peace and contentment at last, but that in order to achieve this it is essential and unavoidable to torture just one little speck of creation, that same little child beating her breast with her little fists, and imagine that this edifice has to be erected on her unexpiated tears. Would you agree to be the architect under those conditions? Tell me honestly!”

“No, I wouldn’t agree,” said Alyosha quietly.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

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No, I would not murder an innocent child to cure cancer. My reason is selfish, though: I would not be able to live with the guilt. Even if I were blamed for letting countless others die, the guilt of taking another life with my bare hands would be significantly worse.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

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Samantha Barnes 3 wrote: January 27th, 2023, 9:09 am No, I would not murder an innocent child to cure cancer. My reason is selfish, though: I would not be able to live with the guilt. Even if I were blamed for letting countless others die, the guilt of taking another life with my bare hands would be significantly worse.
Would you support a sociopath doing the murder so you and your family can avoid cancer?
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

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LuckyR wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:04 pm
Samantha Barnes 3 wrote: January 27th, 2023, 9:09 am No, I would not murder an innocent child to cure cancer. My reason is selfish, though: I would not be able to live with the guilt. Even if I were blamed for letting countless others die, the guilt of taking another life with my bare hands would be significantly worse.
Would you support a sociopath doing the murder so you and your family can avoid cancer?
As long as I did not have to kill the child with my hands, then yes, I could support a sociopath doing the murder. It would be easier to distance myself from the thought of committing murder if the child was not killed by my hands.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by LuckyR »

Samantha Barnes 3 wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:25 pm
LuckyR wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:04 pm
Samantha Barnes 3 wrote: January 27th, 2023, 9:09 am No, I would not murder an innocent child to cure cancer. My reason is selfish, though: I would not be able to live with the guilt. Even if I were blamed for letting countless others die, the guilt of taking another life with my bare hands would be significantly worse.
Would you support a sociopath doing the murder so you and your family can avoid cancer?
As long as I did not have to kill the child with my hands, then yes, I could support a sociopath doing the murder. It would be easier to distance myself from the thought of committing murder if the child was not killed by my hands.
So you embrace the concept morally.
"As usual... it depends."
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Samantha Barnes 3
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Samantha Barnes 3 »

LuckyR wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:26 pm
Samantha Barnes 3 wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:25 pm
LuckyR wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:04 pm
Samantha Barnes 3 wrote: January 27th, 2023, 9:09 am No, I would not murder an innocent child to cure cancer. My reason is selfish, though: I would not be able to live with the guilt. Even if I were blamed for letting countless others die, the guilt of taking another life with my bare hands would be significantly worse.
Would you support a sociopath doing the murder so you and your family can avoid cancer?
As long as I did not have to kill the child with my hands, then yes, I could support a sociopath doing the murder. It would be easier to distance myself from the thought of committing murder if the child was not killed by my hands.
So you embrace the concept morally.
I may not have been certain at the start, but after this discussion, I believe I do. Even though I would still feel uneasy, it would be possible to embrace the concept as long as it was someone else.
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by LuckyR »

Samantha Barnes 3 wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:43 pm
LuckyR wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:26 pm
Samantha Barnes 3 wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:25 pm
LuckyR wrote: January 27th, 2023, 1:04 pm

Would you support a sociopath doing the murder so you and your family can avoid cancer?
As long as I did not have to kill the child with my hands, then yes, I could support a sociopath doing the murder. It would be easier to distance myself from the thought of committing murder if the child was not killed by my hands.
So you embrace the concept morally.
I may not have been certain at the start, but after this discussion, I believe I do. Even though I would still feel uneasy, it would be possible to embrace the concept as long as it was someone else.
You are uncommonly honest.
"As usual... it depends."
Amy Luman
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Re: Would you murder an innocent child with your bare hands to cure cancer?

Post by Amy Luman »

Nope. I couldn’t do it. There is no reason to even think of the other people. The real life that I can save is better than any number of hypothetical lives that might be saved. That’s all there is.
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