To flip or not to flip?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by James R, Feb 26, 2021.

?

Read the opening post first. Do you flip the switch, or not?

  1. I believe in a god or gods and I would flip the switch.

  2. I believe in a god or gods and I would not flip the switch.

  3. I do not believe in any gods and I would flip the switch.

  4. I do not believe in any gods and I would not flip the switch.

  5. I don't want to answer the poll. Just show me what other people have said.

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Quick poll here on a classic moral dilemma.

    A runaway train is approaching a switch point in the track. As the train approaches, the switch is set so the train will continue along the main track. You are standing beside the switch and can, if you choose, flip the switch. If you flip the switch, the train will divert onto a side track.

    On the main track, a some way beyond the switch point, three railway workers are standing on the tracks.
    On the side track, one worker is standing on the track.

    If you do not flip the switch, the 3 workers on the main track will surely be hit by the train.
    If you do flip the switch, the 1 worker on the side track will surely be hit by the train.

    Assume that all the workers are strangers to you, that they are oblivious to the oncoming train, that you cannot warn them or move them off the tracks before the train hits them, etc. Considering only the factors given here, do you flip the switch, or not? You have only seconds to make your choice.​

    I'll explain why this is the in Religion forum rather than Ethics after we have some responses.
     
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    P.S. Oh, and please explain in the thread why you would choose to flip the switch, or not to flip it. [spoiler][/spoiler] tags might be useful here.

    If you haven't voted yet, please answer the poll before reading other people's reasons.

    Here's my reason:
    I would flip the switch because it would result in fewer deaths: one death instead of three. The net amount of harm that would result would be lower than if I chose to do nothing.

    In other words, the consequences of my flipping the switch would be better than the consequences of failing to flip it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    In the scenario, as written, I would not pull the lever. In reality you aren't likely to have this much information and you would just see 3 people about to get hit so you would pull the lever and hope that no one was on the other track or that you could somehow at least try to warn them.

    As written, it just boils down to human life and numbers. I'm not going to definitely cause one person, who is now safe, to die in order to save 3 people who aren't safe. Should one careful and prudent person die to save 3 drunks?

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    I'm also not going to be the one to shoot a 60 year old in the head if it's going to save a baby somehow.

    I'm not religious. A religious person might say "I'll leave it up to God". There is no God IMO but it's still not up to me to make life and death decisions regarding someone else's life just based on numbers. The people who made up God generally (or at least sometimes) made good outcomes by involving God. If it's good to mind your own business then you can say "these decisions are best left up to God". The end result is that you will just mind your own business.

    You can argue that we do that all the time with actuary tables. A vaccine may save lives but statistically it will kill a few people but it's all for the "greater good". I agree with that but to me that's not strictly the scenario in this question.

    I don't think you can distil moral judgements down to equating all human's as equal and therefore 2 is more than 1. You can do it statistically but not when it comes down to actual cases IMO.
     
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  7. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 71 years old Valued Senior Member

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    Not enough information which would be the same in real life

    Happening in reality would depend on the way I felt at that moment

    As a quiz - time to consider and give a - Not enough information - reply
    Sorry if it messes up quiz
     
  8. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Time doesn't exist.
     
  9. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 71 years old Valued Senior Member

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    Been to busy to work on the non existence of TIME (note in upper case) indicating the considering the fundimental aspect

    When I put time, lower case, I am meaning time as understood in its everyday usage, ie not in a scientific mode

    I have by accident found a short video which makes the claim gravity is caused by TIME

    Something about why if you become unban and fall over it is because your head is traveling faster than your feet, hence ageing less than your feet and this manifest as gravity

    Working, slowly, on it

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  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I think I
    would not flip the switch.

    I think I would consider that taking an action makes me directly responsible for a death, whereas not taking an action does not make me responsible for anyones death.

    That may seem self serving but that's not why I would refrain. I would refrain due to paralysis over which is the right thing to do.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    This.
     
  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Dupe
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
  13. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    What if:
    One of the three was that bastard who ran over your dog?
    Payback time?
     
  14. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    I dont have beleifs in Gods... i woud flip the switch... cant emagine a reason not to flip it
     
  15. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Personal culpability / liability?

    The family of the single dead man could sue you for wrongful death. The families of the three dead could not.
     
  16. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Killing an innocent man?
     
  17. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I remember something like this being posted on another science forum but the thread title was “Are you a psychopath?” lol Same scenario though give or take a few words.
     
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I'd flip the switch. Numbers game - and based solely on the info provided (i.e. assuming each "life" is valued equally) then losing 1 is better than 3. I'd live with the consequences knowing that what I did I absolutely considered to be the right thing. No question.
     
  19. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 71 years old Valued Senior Member

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    The one was a billionaire who supported numerous charities

    The 3 were each repeat offenders in and out of jail since their teens

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  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    That additional information wouldn't change my decision.
     
  21. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    "taking an action makes me directly responsible for a death", whereas not taking an action does not make me responsible for anyones death"

    I guess im just a "Man Of Action"... eh

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    "I would refrain due to paralysis over which is the right thing to do"

    What woud be you'r answr to the scenario JameR set up after you recovered from paralysis.???
     
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    The scenario is deliberately set up similarly to "real life". The idea is that you must make a choice (to flip or not to flip), in the absence of complete information. That is often the case when it comes to making choices in life.

    Are you saying you don't know what you'd do, in the moment? It would just be random?

    The premise is that you don't have any more information than what is given.

    While you're dithering beside the tracks, wanting more information, the train is implacably moving along its track. Somebody is going to die. What are you going to do?

    It's a perfectly valid response to say "I couldn't decide, so I'd do nothing". The result of that will be that the 3 people on the main track will die.
     
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Can you guys please take that discussion to a different thread? It is off topic for this one.
     

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