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A tough decision??
Posted: 30 January 2009 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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You awake to find yourself in a pitch black room.


  A voice comes over the speaker and says, “In a minute I’m going to show you a man and he’s going to plead for his life. I will then show you another man and he is going to plead for his life as well. Both of these men will be telling you the absolute truth as I know them both and have warned them that if they deviate from the truth then I will kill them in a most horrible and agonizing fashion. They do not know that you are going to choose one of them to die to save your own family.”

  A light comes on in a room behind the one way glass and you can see the first man. He states that he is a father of an eight year old boy and a six year old girl. His wife is disabled and stays at home. Her parents live with them and need his care to maintain their health. He is a nurse and takes care of disabled children. He believes in God and his family attends church regularly. The light goes out.

  A light comes on in an identical room on the opposite wall. The man behind the glass is the obvious twin of the first man and dressed exactly the same. He tells you that he has no family save for a twin brother whom he has never met. He was adopted at birth but his parents are now dead. He has an apartment but he’s almost never at home because his work consumes his life. He is a scientist and has just discovered a way to end heart disease forever and but he’s the only one that know about it. He does not believe in God. The light goes out.

“Who do you choose for death to save your own family and why?”

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Posted: 30 January 2009 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Don’t start the same topic in more than one place. You must have a low IQ.

I would not choose either one because I do not trust you. I think you will kill me and my family no matter what I choose. Anyone who would put another person in such a situation is a psychopath and cannot be trusted. I will not allow myself to be manipulated by you, even at the cost of death.

By the way, what is your IQ?

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Posted: 30 January 2009 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Don’t be a dick… I’m only 2 towns away from you… love your neighbor, right?

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Posted: 31 January 2009 05:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Strangel - 30 January 2009 08:44 PM

I’m only 2 towns away from you… love your neighbor, right?

Where are you? Killeen?

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Posted: 31 January 2009 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 30 January 2009 08:37 PM

By the way, what is your IQ?

Good question. But as Dennis recently pointed out, psychopaths as a population don’t have higher IQ scores than the rest of us. They may seem to, though, as they tend to lack certain typically human attributes (for instance, little or no guilt, remorse or even embarrassment after getting caught at something such as stealing, lying, torturing or murdering) that can make them more able to assess certain situations than you or me.

Bruce, keep in mind that you can easily change your forum name any time you want if you’d rather not expose your non-cyber world potentially to thousands of psychopathic fuckwits. Or does your faith preclude such a necessity for your comfort?

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 31 January 2009 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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I should have added that if you come across a psychopath in the non-cyber, non-prison world, you won’t know it right away, or perhaps ever. And if he’s well into his adult years, he’ll very likely be highly intelligent. The more average ones tend to get caught early on and spend the rest of their lives in and out of various lock-down facilities.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 31 January 2009 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Strangel - 30 January 2009 08:30 PM

You awake to find yourself in a pitch black room.


  A voice comes over the speaker and says, “In a minute I’m going to show you a man and he’s going to plead for his life. I will then show you another man and he is going to plead for his life as well. Both of these men will be telling you the absolute truth as I know them both and have warned them that if they deviate from the truth then I will kill them in a most horrible and agonizing fashion. They do not know that you are going to choose one of them to die to save your own family.”

  A light comes on in a room behind the one way glass and you can see the first man. He states that he is a father of an eight year old boy and a six year old girl. His wife is disabled and stays at home. Her parents live with them and need his care to maintain their health. He is a nurse and takes care of disabled children. He believes in God and his family attends church regularly. The light goes out.

  A light comes on in an identical room on the opposite wall. The man behind the glass is the obvious twin of the first man and dressed exactly the same. He tells you that he has no family save for a twin brother whom he has never met. He was adopted at birth but his parents are now dead. He has an apartment but he’s almost never at home because his work consumes his life. He is a scientist and has just discovered a way to end heart disease forever and but he’s the only one that know about it. He does not believe in God. The light goes out.

“Who do you choose for death to save your own family and why?”

Obviously, if I were to kill one of them, I’d kill the god-fearing family father. The scientist is more important to keep alive, since he has the means of eradicating one of the scourges of the modern world, untimely deaths from heart diseases

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Posted: 03 February 2009 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I’m a little surprised at the negative responses I’ve had from this little bit of curiosity. I’ve posted it on several forums and blogs and strangely enough the most negativity has been from the proponents of Sam Harris. You are proponents are you not?

It was actually a combination of conversations from Dan Dennett and Sam Harris that made me think of this. It was a two part question but there is no use in following it up here.

It was a simple make believe scenario but it had to be sophomoric as I was posing the exact same question to a myriad of theists as well and I wanted them to be able to understand it.

I believe I have enough serious responses from other forums, blog comments, email and such that I can draw some preliminary conclusions as to the awareness of morality and it’s differences from person to person. I had really hoped to have a more opened minded discussion on why a moral solution to a given problem is different for each individual when we can all plainly see that it is highly beneficial for all of us to react in the same manner - hopefully the most helpful. I had intended to use the results as an indicator to show which direction to head next. There’s much more to it but I feel like I’m wasting my time here.

Thanks to those of you who did take a minute to respond.

(for those of you who are obsessed with measuring intelligence - it varies between 131 and 159 depending on the test but I don’t see how that changes my question)

[ Edited: 03 February 2009 03:56 PM by Strangel]
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Posted: 03 February 2009 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Strangel - 03 February 2009 08:53 PM

(for those of you who are obsessed with measuring intelligence - it varies between 131 and 159 depending on the test but I don’t see how that changes my question)

The IQ stuff was all a joke, but you obviously qualify. Nobody’s minding the store around here, so there are lots of ad hominen remarks. I just thought I would baptize you gratuitously.

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Posted: 03 February 2009 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Strangel - 03 February 2009 08:53 PM

. . . I had really hoped to have a more opened minded discussion on why a moral solution to a given problem is different for each individual when we can all plainly see that it is highly beneficial for all of us to react in the same manner - hopefully the most helpful. . . .

What do you hope to demonstrate by asking your question and gathering responses from various people? Just curious. Are you writing something?

Also, please understand that your scenario is so artificial and contrived that it would seem to me at least not worth serious consideration. People in the actual world behave differently than ways they imagine they might behave in artificial, carefully written dilemmas.

People react to actual events according to how they’ve been raised to react. If they have time to consider options, then they react according to how they’ve been raised to react, slowed down a bit.

Please argue with me, as I welcome the challenge of discussing things with someone with your IQ. (Mine’s lower than yours.)

By the way, you sounded just a bit scary to me and perhaps to Sal. He didn’t necessarily want to hear that someone whose forum name sounds like “strangle,” who lives in a nearby town, poses an entirely gruesome choice to consider.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 06 February 2009 05:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Jefe - 03 February 2009 09:52 PM

What was the followup question?

If your family had to die along with your pick would you still pick the same man?

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Posted: 06 February 2009 05:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Salathiel - 03 February 2009 10:01 PM

I just thought I would baptize you gratuitously.

Thanks!  tongue rolleye

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Posted: 06 February 2009 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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unknown zone - 03 February 2009 11:08 PM

What do you hope to demonstrate by asking your question and gathering responses from various people? Just curious. Are you writing something?

Also, please understand that your scenario is so artificial and contrived that it would seem to me at least not worth serious consideration. People in the actual world behave differently than ways they imagine they might behave in artificial, carefully written dilemmas.

People react to actual events according to how they’ve been raised to react. If they have time to consider options, then they react according to how they’ve been raised to react, slowed down a bit.

Please argue with me, as I welcome the challenge of discussing things with someone with your IQ. (Mine’s lower than yours.)

By the way, you sounded just a bit scary to me and perhaps to Sal. He didn’t necessarily want to hear that someone whose forum name sounds like “strangle,” who lives in a nearby town, poses an entirely gruesome choice to consider.

I wanted to know why we all wouldn’t give the same answer. Before I asked I knew there would be a myriad of methods and reasons. We should, by now, be well on our way to a secular moral society. How are we going to get there if we’re not all on the same page? Is everybody right? Is everybody wrong? Half and half? The question wasn’t meant to be the meat of this conversation.

Your right about the contrived scenario in relation to an actual event. I didn’t think of it that way as this scenario wasn’t supposed to be discussed at any length. It was only the initial, trivial part of my thought process regarding morality and secular cohesion. I could hardly gather up a hundred people and put them in this scenario now could I? wink

My apologies to Sal and to anybody who was freaked out about my “love your neighbor” comment. I fully meant to make that point though. If your going to treat someone like I felt I was being treated then you should be careful of what kind of trail you leave. Sal and I have since reconciled by PM.

In my former line of work harsh words usually ended up in physical violence. Guess I don’t have much tolerance for shit talking.

My apologies, again.

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Posted: 06 February 2009 08:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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What is your former line of work, if you don’t mind telling us? And please explain how it is that all or even most secularists/atheists can be expected to agree on issues of morality and ethics. What would it accomplish if such a thing were feasible?

Back to your scenario for a moment, though I realize you’ve set it aside. I wonder about the motives of writers who come up with such things, as they appear in psychology literature from time to time. Are they supposed to point decent people toward a particular direction, or maybe shame us into thinking in a certain way? If people start accepting notions about offing some people in favor of others without regard to legal and societal precedence, I see a slippery slope that will continue to allow odd thinking to prevail at least as potently as it has in the recent past by Japanese, Nazi and other bigoted killers.

Ayn Rand had right and wrong figured out with mathematical precision. Have you been blessed by her brilliance by any chance? I hope not.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 06 February 2009 09:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Personal security.

I don’t know how we can be expected to agree - That’s what I’m getting at. How can we? Maybe it’s enough to know that we would all try our best to find a reasonable and moral way to deal with any crisis. In reflection, if such a thing were feasible as an absolute right way to exercise our moral decision making process, it would make us vulnerable as we’d be highly predictable.

My motives were only to observe. I was curious as to whether or not certain groups of people would be on the same page. Surprisingly enough it was the Christians who were the most alike although their main reason for their choice was founded in superstitious dogma, which is not surprising. I half assumed that they would be all over the place as they can never agree what their own holy text really says.

The most common answer: “I would kill the Christian because the Scientist has not had the chance to know God.” When posed with the follow up question all the subjects that gave the previous answer changed their minds. I also found it peculiar that the majority referred to the 1st man as the “Christian” and the 2nd man as the “Scientist” rather than the “Atheist.”

The most common answer from the secular majority was to save the man who could obviously save millions or billions. More than half of them did not change their answer when given the second scenario.

Overall, there were many people, from both sides of the belief coin, that would refuse to make a decision. They felt it was better to bear the burden on their own but for different reasons. The Christian majority stuck to “Thou shalt not kill” yet the secular majority felt that it was their own actions that put them in this pretend place and would not pass the buck to one of two innocents. I thought the latter was quite noble.

Again, I didn’t want to point anybody in any direction. I wanted to use this as the tip of the iceberg into a conversation that would explore a possible “moral code.” It seems that I under analyzed this scenario at first because the different answers all make perfect sense now(with respect to their authors).

To sum it up: It seemed, at first, beneficial to all have the same answer as that would lead to a zero conflict state. Of course, by this way of thinking a totalitarian type society would have to be it’s result with it’s hierarchy being a strict moral code. In the end that would bring a vulnerable predictability to a society that outside influences could exploit. It is better to be random as long as we are reasonable and moral in our actions.

I guess I could have come to these conclusions before I posted this scenario - but it sure was much more fun reading all the replies!

Funny you mention Ayn Rand… I read her books as a teen and modeled myself with her philosophy in mind. I didn’t make many friends, eventually lost my family, and ended up generally unhappy but I sure did accomplish much in my business make lots of money! Hehe.

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Posted: 07 February 2009 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Strangel, one of the problems is that morality doesn’t necessarily make sense. It’s with us to assist us with maintaining some semblance of status quo. It’s not a mathematical formula in any way, but a response to our feelings of empathy that we’re both born with and are nurtured into. Morality evolves, of course, but in general it’s a slow and gradual evolution.

Either side of the dilemma you present could be rationally argued, by the way. I could argue, as arildno did, that the heart researcher was more valuable to society. Sound argument. But I could also make the claim that until humanity learns how to rein in our tendency to over-populate, it makes no sense to continue striving to extend lifespans of individuals. I’m not particularly fond of either argument.

Also, I still don’t see the potential value of citing an extreme moral dilemma, then contemplating or arguing about how best to resolve it. It would not be possible to cite all possible moral dilemmas, or even to come close. Maybe if your invented example were more realistic and less dread-filled it would amount to something useful. But that’s what people argue about all the time: real-life moral and ethical dilemmas, as with legislatures, courts, police, teachers, parents, etc.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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