Trolley Problem

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Forest Goose
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Re: Ly Tin Wheedle was going beside need another drink was t

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:45 am UTC

I've supplied multiple arguments, answers, and refutations - I even gave you a list to approach this from (since you don't seem to be able to understand how debate and justification work).

Even now, you aren't actually disputing anything, despite, again, that I've laid out exactly where you might challenge my argument...

I think it presents an extreme degree of intellectual childishness (and cowardliness) to stroll into an area meant for serious debate, present your views on an abstract philosophical problem, then whine and moan when people expect justification and well-reasoned replies. Have you considered that, perhaps, the real problem isn't that we're all just mean and crotchety, but, maybe, just maybe, you don't actually have any reasoning behind what you think? Maybe it's just, "I like that idea, feels right", and a vague net of half-thoughts about it because, as seems apparent, you're pretty uncomfortable when your ideas are examined (that's the hallmark of "But, but, I want to believe it, stop questioning"). Intellectual cowardice, indeed.

*The madness appears over...I wish I could keep the pink name...
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby morriswalters » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:36 am UTC

Well I hope it's over.
Cradarc wrote:This is classic.
No it isn't. I have personally fell off the earth here multiple times with imperfectly thought out ideas.

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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:40 am UTC

Forest Goose wrote:I've supplied multiple arguments, answers, and refutations - I even gave you a list to approach this from (since you don't seem to be able to understand how debate and justification work).

What gives you the right to say this but when I say it I'm just "avoiding the question"?

Here's my list, where's yours again?
Cradarc wrote:A. Morality is about intents and actions, not their outcomes.
B. Lives in jeopardy should be saved.
C. Lives not in jeopardy should not be put in jeopardy.
D. Letting someone die violates the principle given in line B.
E. Killing someone violates the principle given in line C.
F. The problem forces us to violate one of the given principles.
G. I think it is much worse to violate the principle given in line C than the principle given in line B.
H. I can't prove to you the idea conveyed in line G must be true, but you also can't prove it must be false.
Which line do you not agree with?


I think we are debating about two different things.
In your debate
Question: Is Cradarc's position the best position?
Pro: Cradarc
Con: Forest Goose

In your debate, I have the burden of proof. You don't have to defend anything, you merely have to cast doubt on any claim I make.

In my debate
Question: Should one flip the switch in the Trolley Dilemma?
Pro: Forest Goose
Con: Cradarc

In this debate, you have the burden of proof.
It just happens that I made the opening statement (because I wasn't even aware we were going to turn it into a debate). You took that opportunity to make me the one supporting a premise and you merely have to cast doubt. For the Trolley Dilemma, it is incredibly easy to cast doubt and incredibly hard to dispel it, no matter which position you take.

BTW, notice you are repeating the exact same thing you said earlier about me complaining. Perhaps now you can see why I am repetitive. Repetition is unavoidable when other people repeatedly respond to you the same way.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:50 am UTC

gmalivuk,
If I didn't want anyone to question my perspective of the problem, I would not have laid them out for everyone to see on the first post. How about you prove you are less cowardly than me by giving your responses in a similar fashion? Invite Forest Goose while you're at it.

Let's play your game:
You are very reasonable and are not afraid to lay out your viewpoints and discuss it with others. I am an arrogant, opinionated prick who just entered the thread and have no access to previous posts.
Being the nice and reasonable person you are, can you kindly tell me how you would respond to the Trolley Dilemma and the variations given in the OP?
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:59 am UTC

Why are you still so hung up on getting me to answer the rather uninteresting yes/no questions in the OP?
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:12 am UTC

Why are you so reluctant to give one? It takes you 5 minutes at most, and at the very least I would no longer bug you about it.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:16 am UTC

No, call me petulant if you like but at this point I refuse to answer those boring-ass versions because you keep bugging me about it.

I have answered several variations and I've explained which items on your lettered list I disagree with, and between that and the objections I brought up right at the start to your willingness to let 500 children die, I also feel like anyone interested enough could pretty well deduce my answers to the basic versions.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:29 am UTC

I expected as much. Remember I am supposed to be the arrogant, opinionated prick and you are the reasonable person on this thread who just wants a nice discussion.

I also feel like anyone interested enough could pretty well deduce my answers to the basic versions.

Nope, I can't seem to be able to deduce it. Your answers to the other variations seem totally irrelevant.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:53 am UTC

Wow, this is getting dumb quick, but here's a go at replying:

I think we are debating about two different things.
In your debate
Question: Is Cradarc's position the best position?
Pro: Cradarc
Con: Forest Goose

In your debate, I have the burden of proof. You don't have to defend anything, you merely have to cast doubt on any claim I make.

In my debate
Question: Should one flip the switch in the Trolley Dilemma?
Pro: Forest Goose
Con: Cradarc

In this debate, you have the burden of proof.
It just happens that I made the opening statement (because I wasn't even aware we were going to turn it into a debate). You took that opportunity to make me the one supporting a premise and you merely have to cast doubt. For the Trolley Dilemma, it is incredibly easy to cast doubt and incredibly hard to dispel it, no matter which position you take.


...I made it very clear I was expecting you to justify your position, you whined on about how I needed to state mine - I did so, and additionally pointed out that that doesn't obviate you from having to justify things.

Moreover, at bare minimum, you advanced your position, why should you not have to justify it?

BTW, notice you are repeating the exact same thing you said earlier about me complaining. Perhaps now you can see why I am repetitive. Repetition is unavoidable when other people repeatedly respond to you the same way.


What a wonderful point! You keep repeating your position, I keep asking you to justify it. You can ask around, but I'm pretty sure it'll be a landslide on which of us is being the irrational jackass here...and, by the way, what else is there to say? You're advancing no arguments, or anything else. Imagine you called a meeting of the debate club, stated your position, then refused to defend it, would you say you're in the right when everyone starts wondering what the Hell you're doing?

Invite Forest Goose while you're at it.


Blar har har har:

Spoiler:
Forest Goose wrote:It can, I would say it does, but that's a very very long debate. My best short answer is to, again, ask the question of different value systems and see what you think there; is there anything that is valuable outside of the human psyche? If you say yes to some value, then start from there.

At some point, you are going to have to take something as "given" or "intuitive", though - which is not necessarily a problem, there's plenty of such things at the basis of everything; the question is exactly how much you are taking (though not everyone will agree, obviously) and if there is anything it contradicts (and, if so, then do you accept that more so than what you are considering now? Contrived Example: your ethics requires an immortal soul that is physically real, but you know that science has measured no such thing - unless you have something real that reconciles this, then you are forced to make a choice between the two ).

It's also very good, I think, to separate out the questions "Can ethics exist outside of the human psyche" and "Can ethics have force outside of the human psyche". I would say that there is a definite should, I would not claim that it, by itself, has any power over you - in the same vein, there is a definite sense of what it means to be rational, but it, itself, cannot compel you, despite that you can be rationally compelled to believe, or ought believe something on grounds of rationality, yet you may still deign to not believe. In other words, I think it is good to start by disentangling ethics from emotional responses to ethical situations. (For an even simpler analogy: I can take my boyfriend to the symphony, an art gallery, and a play, he may select to be bored and unimpressed, but this does not seem evidence against artistic beauty - his reaction does not discredit those things as art, nor do a billion so reactions.)

Finally, I am assuming you are asking about ontology, not knowability - as in you mean, "Can there be a thing that is ethics?".

-----

In the interest of meeting in the middle, here's my answer to the original problem:

The approach of saving more people, lacking any overriding justification, seems given. I have seen no compelling basis that justifies not pulling the lever, thus, I would say that I am morally obligated to pull it.

To make clear what I am talking about, in the more interesting case of:

You are a judge in a city full of riots demanding justice for a heinous crime. The rioters tell you that if someone is not found guilty of the crime, they will turn violent; and you are full well aware that people will die as a result. You have the opportunity to find a man guilty - and he will be given the death sentence - do you find him guilty?

In this case, I would argue that sending an innocent man to jail is, indeed, overriding, it undermines the entire nature of justice itself to so act - to act unjustly, in this fashion, is directly unethical, thus, there is an ethical justification. (There is also the fact that mobs should not be able to hold the justice system ransom and the implications of what precedent that might set).


I draw a very fine line between, "These principles are correct" and "This founds the value". The subject of what brush strokes ought be used to make colours more vivid (I'm not an artist, so just assume that's a sane thing) is very different (though intimately connected) to the subject of the nature of artistic value. I would say that the ethical specifics, perhaps, may have a relation, or connection, with the human psyche (especially in terms of how they relate to us, specifically), but I would say that moral value, itself, is far more along the lines of something like "art" or "rationality" than any of the specific rules that are involved in it.

Yes, I am aware that I am not being terribly clear; I am also aware that I am not presenting any argument to accept this - to adequately define and present my feelings here would take a tremendous deal more space (and I don't think they'd be on point exactly), by saying a loose summary, above, I am in no way just taking them for granted, certainly not asking anyone to simply accept them - merely stating my ideas to an extent. (I add this disclaimer since I don't like when people present ideas of this nature, then treat them as granted by mere act of stating them).

I don't believe that I would accept that ethics is a product of society, unless you mean specifically the rules of ethics, which, even if differing could, depending on definitions, still have a status that is not rooted purely in societal fiat. In other words, I don't think that morality, itself, is grounded in society, and only society. For a crude analogy: the colour red may be pleasing to humans (assume it is) because of society and biology, the colour blue may be pleasing to Klingons for the same reason, but I wouldn't say that the notion of "pleasing", itself, is rooted in society and biology, merely what is pleasing.


Oh my! Look, I've answered the fucking question - and, what's this? You thanked me for the answer?:

Cradarc wrote:Forest Goose,
Thank you for the explicit statement of your opinion.


What's this?

Forest Goose wrote:My main points, summed up, as a response are as follows:
1.) The passive/active distinction does not seem to be justified; as such, it cannot justify not pulling the lever.
2.) The principles behind "saving the most lives" appear to be acceptable, in general (as applied to other, unrelated things), thus, it appears rather reasonable to accept them as given unless there is compelling reason not to in a case.
3.) Nothing appears to justify the special case of this problem as exempt from 2.



Is this me, in an entirely different post, summing up my position, again? It is!

What's this:

Spoiler:
Forest Goose wrote:@Elasto:

That's a wonderful variant:-)

However, I would kill the one person and do the transplants.

However, that is assuming:

1.) Transplants cannot fail
2.) I have perfect knowledge there will be no other source
3.) It is absolutely impossible they may survive on their own

In other words, if I may assume all the perfect knowledge and contraption required to make it equivalent to the trolley problem - in which case, while I applaud the added grittiness of the example, it is an emotional veneer tacked onto the original. While it is tempting to treat it like it sounds, the extra bits of perfect knowledge strip away a lot of the emotional weight - it would be horrific to do this in reality, but we don't have all that magic knowledge in reality, it's the association, not the substance, that pulls at us.

Still, I really do like that the question forces you to consider the distinction between emotion and morality; emotionally I still feel I should not harvest the organs, exactly because it is hard to emotionally accept that I am operating in a perfectly known world, unlike our own.


It's me, using my position to give answer to a related question - fancy that - amazing for someone so cowardly they can't state their position, such as myself, right?

What's this:

Let's narrow this down, what do you disagree with:

1.) Barring any overriding factors (whatever those may be) that maximizing (minimizing) is what should be done. (consider every case, not just this one - and I mean exactly "no overriding factors")

2.) There is no passive/active distinction.

3.) You may, sometimes, take a life.

4.) There is no overriding factor in the trolley problem.


Oh my! It's a list of things you might object to!

Let's just leave off the quotes where I asked you to challenge my viewpoint...and where I mentioned giving it to try and get you to object to it, in a real fashion, so I could at least pretend you were justifying yours (or see how you might be).

So, yeah, why don't you quit playing stupid games and whining and, I don't know, actually make an argument? Maybe, like someone who started a thread in a forum for "serious discussion"? And, finally, actually, once and for all, back up your damn point and stop acting like being obstinate and seemingly philosophically incapable are some sort of okay position to take. Why do I expect this, by the way? You started a thread about an abstract philosophical problem in a forum for serious debate, gave your position, etc. This isn't the "Happy time feel good, let's all share section of the forum - go talk to your friends if you're not looking to be critiqued and questioned".
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:13 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:I think we are debating about two different things.
In your debate
Question: Is Cradarc's position the best position?
Pro: Cradarc
Con: Forest Goose

In your debate, I have the burden of proof. You don't have to defend anything, you merely have to cast doubt on any claim I make.

In my debate
Question: Should one flip the switch in the Trolley Dilemma?
Pro: Forest Goose
Con: Cradarc

How would you propose to answer the question "Should one flip?" if not by evaluating answers to see if they stand up to scrutiny? What is the point of putting forward an answer to the question if you aren't actually interested in seeing if it works or not?

Suppose we had a math club, dedicated to answering the question:
Is Goldbach's conjecture true?

How could be hope to answer this question, if not by proposing proofs to it and then by examining those proofs to see whether they are sound? What good would it do us to go around the circle answering "Yes," or "No," and making little speeches about why we think our answers are right?
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 09, 2015 5:49 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:How could be hope to answer this question, if not by proposing proofs to it and then by examining those proofs to see whether they are sound? What good would it do us to go around the circle answering "Yes," or "No," and making little speeches about why we think our answers are right?

You're right.
I happened to be one of the people who think the "conjecture" is not true. I gave some good reasons for why I think so, but I conceded I have no proof. Forest Goose keep insisting that I provide a proof and I keep explaining I don't have one. As far as I can tell, Forest Goose and Gmalivuk think the conjecture is true purely because: 1) There is no compelling reason to think it is false and 2) the conjecture being true would be more beneficial for human society.
The question now is do Forest Goose and Gmalivuk have a proof? They were really intent on pointing out the fact that I cannot procure a proof, but they have made no attempt to produce one themselves. So far, their argument for the conjecture being true is as baseless (if not more baseless) than mine.

I wouldn't mind this if they weren't so condescending toward my efforts to prove my intuition. They are more interested in shooting down my position than providing a proof for theirs.

(The "conjecture" being "A moral person would flip the lever in the Trolley Problem".)
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Qaanol » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:14 am UTC

Here’s a thought, Cradarc:

Suppose you lived in a world where the basic trolley dilemma actually occurred with some regularity. Maybe about the same frequency as getting called up for jury duty. Heck, let’s say it usually has 10 people on the main track, so there are 12 people involved just like a jury. Now every day there are real people in real trolley dilemmas, and real deaths as a result.

Maybe you won’t ever be involved, just like maybe you won’t have to serve as a juror, but the odds are pretty good that someone you know will be involved. In fact, most likely a fair number of people you know will be at one time or another, because this is not a rare event.

Whenever a trolley dilemma occurs, the people involved of course find themselves in each of the possible roles at random. So a person is just as likely to be at the switch as to be the one person on the alternate track, but 10 times more likely to be one of the people on the primary track than either alternative.

If you ever found yourself as the one at the switch, you could take whatever action you wanted. That’s not where I’m going with this. You’re free to make your own personal choices as you wish.

Instead my question is, would you rather live in a part of the world where schools teach children from a young age that they should flip the switch to save 10 lives at the cost of 1, or in a part of the world where schools teach children that they should not flip the switch, thus allowing 10 to die in order that 1 may live?
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:14 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:I gave some good reasons for why I think so, but I conceded I have no proof.


That's questionable, you didn't even have the wherewithal to know that I'd posted my position - despite calling me out on it.

Forest Goose keep insisting that I provide a proof and I keep explaining I don't have one. As far as I can tell, Forest Goose and Gmalivuk think the conjecture is true purely because: 1) There is no compelling reason to think it is false


Which is explained in the multiple posts that I, supposedly, am a coward for not posting. Allow me to repeat myself: please challenge those assumptions, please, please, please feel free - I've asked you to, at least, ten times; I'm tempted to just present both arguments and be done with it.

and 2) the conjecture being true would be more beneficial for human society.


I don't recall saying that, I also don't recall using it as a premise if I did.

The question now is do Forest Goose and Gmalivuk have a proof? They were really intent on pointing out the fact that I cannot procure a proof, but they have made no attempt to produce one themselves. So far, their argument for the conjecture being true is as baseless (if not more baseless) than mine.


I have yet to see anything that looks like a reason for your position. Moreover, the logic I've used is, rather obviously, valid - so the question is if the axioms are sound. I've, yet again, tried to get you to tell me which one's you don't agree with and have that debate, but you won't. To be very clear: are you asking me to object to my own axioms, then defend them against myself? I'm not going to sit around and try to cover every possible case of everything because you can't be bothered to object to the soundness of something (which, again, I keep asking you to do).

I wouldn't mind this if they weren't so condescending toward my efforts to prove my intuition.


I have seen 0.1% effort at justifying, 99.9% effort at whining about how other people critiquing and scrutinizing in a forum for serious debate on a philosophical problem - so, yeah, it's not amazing there's some condescension when your approach is, "I think X, now don't question it - tell me what you think".

They are more interested in shooting down my position than providing a proof for theirs.


What do you disagree with? Not the conclusion, but which premise to the argument. There's only two possible cases that really matter:

1.) Max(min) is the right solution if there is no other moral principle involved.

2.) There is no other justified moral principle involved.

You admit that you can't justify your position, so 2 seems out. Thus, you must be objecting to 1. What would you say to the following:

Spoiler:
Mr.Richgoodguy, a mysterious trillionaire (he's that rich) offers to make an anonymous donation to <organization that you think is seriously awesome and wish everyone donated to>. He will donate between $1 to $500, you get to decide. How much should you donate?


I, literally, cannot accept that some other amount than $500 is right - unless someone gets crafty and says something weird about how donating more might be bad because X (but, oh my, that's a morally overriding reason).

The point?

If you don't accept the Min(Max) principle, in general (and some of your posts indicate that you do), then you need to either say $500 is no more right than $1 or you need to justify $500 on some grounds that is not "It's better because it's more", as that's the same thing.

There, that is my justification. Please, show my logic is not valid or dispute an axiom - and, please, handle the donation question.

*2 operates on the idea that I genuinely cannot find a justified moral reason, not that there isn't some absurdly complex one. In other words, the actor has no other justified moral reason, you cannot morally fault someone for something they do not know if they are acting in earnest with regards to that not knowing - you'll note that I do not object to your position on grounds of, "Ah, yes, but the person you didn't kill was tied up to prevent setting off nuclear bombs and torturing people and is really the devil in human skin, etc.", as that would be utterly absurd, you don't have that reason at hand and it's unreasonable to assume you ought.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby morriswalters » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:39 am UTC

A. Morality is about intents and actions, not their outcomes.
B. Lives in jeopardy should be saved.
C. Lives not in jeopardy should not be put in jeopardy.
D. Letting someone die violates the principle given in line B.
E. Killing someone violates the principle given in line C.
F. The problem forces us to violate one of the given principles.
G. I think it is much worse to violate the principle given in line C than the principle given in line B.
H. I can't prove to you the idea conveyed in line G must be true, but you also can't prove it must be false.
Which line do you not agree with?
The point has never been what is the answer to the trolly problem. There are only two possible answers. The point is why you choose them and a defense of your position. It isn't sufficient that you have a set of rules. That answers the first, why you chose them. Now it incumbent upon you that you defend your rules. Line H. is effectively meaningless, it is simply froth which adds to the word count since, I don't care to prove it one way or the other. What I want to understand is why you believe that line G is true. It is to me the salient line.

I disagree. I defend that by saying that since you can never know the ultimate outcome of your actions, you are left in the position of making those value judgements as a matter of fact. It may be that some action that you take may cause someone to die and that you may never know. So you have judged those people you know to be of higher relative value than those you don't since you continue to act in the world. So your rule G. only applies when you have knowledge of the choice. It isn't absolute and can't be. Because you can't have perfect knowledge.

Rule A. is suspect as well. But I will reserve my response. The normal course of the argument would be for you to attack my response and to explain why my argument may not apply to yours. And so on ad nauseum.

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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:16 am UTC

Forest Goose wrote:What do you disagree with? Not the conclusion, but which premise to the argument. There's only two possible cases that really matter:

1.) Max(min) is the right solution if there is no other moral principle involved.

2.) There is no other justified moral principle involved.

You admit that you can't justify your position, so 2 seems out. Thus, you must be objecting to 1

The conclusion doesn't follow from 1 & 2. 1 says nothing about justification, and adding it as a qualifier would beg the question.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:24 am UTC

Forest Goose wrote:Allow me to repeat myself: please challenge those assumptions, please, please, please feel free - I've asked you to, at least, ten times

I would like to see the quotes for those ten times.

Forest Goose wrote:
and 2) the conjecture being true would be more beneficial for human society.

I don't recall saying that, I also don't recall using it as a premise if I did.

Hmmm...Let's see what idea is being conveyed in this hypothetical:
Forest Goose wrote:
Spoiler:
Mr.Richgoodguy, a mysterious trillionaire (he's that rich) offers to make an anonymous donation to <organization that you think is seriously awesome and wish everyone donated to>. He will donate between $1 to $500, you get to decide. How much should you donate?

I, literally, cannot accept that some other amount than $500 is right - unless someone gets crafty and says something weird about how donating more might be bad because X (but, oh my, that's a morally overriding reason).

The point?
If you don't accept the Min(Max) principle, in general (and some of your posts indicate that you do), then you need to either say $500 is no more right than $1 or you need to justify $500 on some grounds that is not "It's better because it's more", as that's the same thing.



Forest Goose wrote:I have yet to see anything that looks like a reason for your position. Moreover, the logic I've used is, rather obviously, valid - so the question is if the axioms are sound. I've, yet again, tried to get you to tell me which one's you don't agree with and have that debate, but you won't.

Oh really, I seem to recall you constantly telling me to stop repeating myself, then saying something about me having the burden of proof. I would offer an extravagant apology if you can procure the 10 times you asked me to disprove your position.

Forest Goose wrote:To be very clear: are you asking me to object to my own axioms, then defend them against myself?

No, but it feels like that's what you are asking of me. I didn't make this thread for a debate so I originally had no intention of asking anyone to prove themselves, merely that they provide some insight into why they think one way over the other.

Forest Goose wrote:I have seen 0.1% effort at justifying, 99.9% effort at whining about how other people critiquing and scrutinizing in a forum for serious debate on a philosophical problem - so, yeah, it's not amazing there's some condescension when your approach is, "I think X, now don't question it - tell me what you think".

Using your own exaggerated statistics, 0.1% of your thoughts consisted of "That doesn't make any sense", 99.9% consisted of "Stop being so sensitive and whiny, and stop restating your position which has no logical backing".

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now to get back on topic:

First let me answer the donation question:
More money donated is better. Why?
Reason 1: There is no external side-effects to donating more money than less. (The difference lies only the money being donated)
Reason 2: Because the value of money only exists in quantity.
Money is an abstract object that exists solely to be traded and expended. It is a slave to those who control it. It has no right to exist if nobody sees a need for its existence.

Forest Goose wrote:What do you disagree with? Not the conclusion, but which premise to the argument. There's only two possible cases that really matter:
1.) Max(min) is the right solution if there is no other moral principle involved.
2.) There is no other justified moral principle involved.


1. The first problem is that you completely omitted "justified" in the first axiom, but emphasized it in the second. The lack of "justified" principles does not mean the lack of any principles. You are effectively saying a claim is true because there is no proof that it is not.
2. The second problem is that "justified" is vague. In most cases, "justified" means "having a good reason to be". So who gets to decide what is a "good reason"? This question is equally difficult to answer as the original dilemma. Just because you think my reasons are weak doesn't mean they are.

That being said, I agree completely with Axiom 1. The issue is "there is no other moral principle involved" is pretty darn hard to show, and you definitely can't assume it.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:27 am UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:The unstated conclusion (i.e. Max(min) is the right solution) doesn't follow from 1 & 2. 1 says nothing about justification, and adding it as a qualifier would beg the question.


Obviously it doesn't follow from 1 and 2, one of those is the statement.

That's why I stated, directly, that it is an axiom - I'm fully open to disputing the soundness of it, but I can't unambiguously prove that it is so (nor can you prove to me that the axioms of ZFC actually capture what a set ought to be - but you can give partial reasons for that). As far as that goes, that was the entire point of the tacked on question: is it unobjectionable that you should donate $500 and can that be established without appealing to min/max reasoning? It seems intuitive to me that you should donate $500, there appears to be no moral principle involved that isn't, "They can do more with more money, doing more is better.". If you, or anyone else, would care to debate that, I'm absolutely willing, and I'd love to see some alternatives (that would be fascinating).

I'm not trying to assume my conclusion, I'm trying to say, "This seems to be sufficiently convincing to take it as an axiom", if it is not so, then let's discuss it further.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:00 am UTC

Additional Reply to The Mighty Thesaurus:

Spoiler:
*I'm not seeing how it begs the question (the conclusion is unstated because it is immediate, and I've already stated it (as well as the argument) in this thread). "You should keep a promise (not kill) (not steal) (not be a bigot) (not commit genocide) unless there is some justified moral reason not to" is not begging the question, as far as I can see.

I don't think anyone would say "There is never a situation in which you should do X" (X any of the above), there are situations where "Do X" is not a controversial answer and there are no other apparent reasons to "Do X" aside from X itself - obviously this doesn't justify, "You should do X", but it would seem to warrant, "If there is no reason not to do X, then do X". Again, I'd love to hear of a situation without a reason not to "Keep a promise", "Not steal", "Be respectful of other's beliefs", "Not maximize good, minimize suffering", etc., yet, in which, you should not, or not should, do that thing - it seems to fall out of the notion of "You should sometimes do X", if that is true and there is a situation in which you should do X and X is the only reason involved, then why should you follow X in that situation?

To continue:

If "You should do X" is true, then "You should do X unless you have a reason not to do it" is true, since you can never have a reason not to. If "You should never do X" is true, then "You should not do X unless you have a reason to do it" is true, for the same reason. If "You should sometimes do X", then it is either the case that to do X requires a reason or you should do X unless you have a reason (and it cannot be both). So the possible objections are either:

1.) There are cases that are none of the four
2.) Additional cases for "You should sometimes do X" ("You should do X sometimes, but when is entirely arbitrary, it just is that way." ?)
3.) It is the case that you should never Max(min)
4.) It is not the case that you should donate $500
5.) There is a reason to donate $500 that is not that it would allow them to do the most good with more money, or
6.) Max(min) is not a moral action and "should" cannot be made to apply to it.

In so far as I am capable, as of the moment, the negation of those 5 seem to be the case (1 and 2 seem very unobjectionable, but maybe I missed something - if there is an issue case 5 seems the most likely, by I cannot see any additional reason and I the situation given does appear to isolate the principle of Max(min)).

As for 2:

I, earnestly, have no moral reason to pull the lever - there may be one, but I do not know it, I have not been able to come up with one, and none of the one's supplied seem reasonable. There is nothing in this thread that makes the case, "You can never take a human life", nor "You should never take a human life in this case", compellingly - every alternative to the trolley problem (the hospital/organ case) has other moral reasons involved, or becomes exactly the trolley problem when you start attaching qualifier after qualifier to remove any consequence beyond "It happened and is entirely isolated". So, if I have no reason, nothing has been reasonably justified, and I can think of no reason myself, then it is reasonable to say that there is no reason not to.

I'm talking from a moral perspective - if a friend asks me to lend them $500 and they've always been a good friend and done decent things, there is no reason not to. That friend may be planning on buying a gun to murder children with, but that is not a consequence I should be able to reasonably know from situation, nor one that compels to me to ought not give them the money despite my not knowing it. So, yes, there is a reason not to give them the money if I knew that reason - that I do not know that reason does mean there is no reason I shouldn't; I should give them the money given my information state and have every reason to do so.


Cradarc wrote:I would like to see the quotes for those ten times.


Spoiler:
1.)
I've supplied multiple arguments, answers, and refutations - I even gave you a list to approach this from (since you don't seem to be able to understand how debate and justification work).


2.)
Even now, you aren't actually disputing anything, despite, again, that I've laid out exactly where you might challenge my argument...


3.)
Let's narrow this down, what do you disagree with:

1.) Barring any overriding factors (whatever those may be) that maximizing (minimizing) is what should be done. (consider every case, not just this one - and I mean exactly "no overriding factors")

2.) There is no passive/active distinction.

3.) You may, sometimes, take a life.

4.) There is no overriding factor in the trolley problem.


4.)
and I don't think you're going to quit not answering/clarifying the salient questions asked.


5.)
If you're unwilling (or unable) to defend yours and unwilling (or unable), to dispute mine, then I'm not sure why I have to accept that you're no more wrong than me. Hell, you might be exactly right, but the conversation feels like this:


6.)
No, I didn't just arbitrarily announce that. I began by not even taking a position, but discussing yours. You objected to this. I stated my position, then continued. You objected to this. I stated my reasoning and asked you what you disagree with. You never replied to what you specifically disagree with.


7.)
2.) Which point do you disagree with of mine (I've directly asked you), can you back that disagreement up?


8.)
so let's make this simpler, can you, at least, show that I'm wrong (which I would be if you were right)? Maybe that will make your exact reasoning clearer, in general." (I've even given a list of likely places for disagreement that seem quite salient).


Yep, you're right, I only got eight - I didn't really try that hard at looking, but, I concede, I've asked you, at least, 8 times.

Hmmm...Let's see what idea is being conveyed in this hypothetical:


I took that as being a bit broader, but I'll concede on that point if that is the way you mean it.

No, but it feels like that's what you are asking of me. I didn't make this thread for a debate so I originally had no intention of asking anyone to prove themselves, merely that they provide some insight into why they think one way over the other.


I'm asking you for something justifying, I've even said that at some point things will be intuitive - that's fine. But all of your analogies, and such, either involve a lot of other added stuff (like Batman) or analogies to gifts -vs- money (which you did not answer my follow up questions to, just stated I was good at seeing where your analogies break down).

First let me answer the donation question:
More money donated is better. Why?
Reason 1: There is no external side-effects to donating more money than less. (The difference lies only the money being donated)
Reason 2: Because the value of money only exists in quantity.
Money is an abstract object that exists solely to be traded and expended. It is a slave to those who control it. It has no right to exist if nobody sees a need for its existence.


So, you seem to be saying that, "There is no reason not to donate more". I don't exactly understand what your reason 2 means - it seems to be saying you have no reason to object in the case of money. I don't, honestly, know what the "only exists in quantity" means; nothing I've said indicates that the value of life "only exists in quantity", could you clarify that?

1. The first problem is that you completely omitted "justified" in the first axiom, but emphasized it in the second. The lack of "justified" principles does not mean the lack of any principles. You are effectively saying a claim is true because there is no proof that it is not.


I didn't feel like bolding it twice, I assumed it was obviously meant in both cases - the argument doesn't even work if justified isn't meant to be there in the first case.

Here's something unjustified, "It is right to eat cheese because God lives in Kansas, therefore the lever must never be pulled" - this is why some form of reasonable justification is asked for, because loads of wrong things aren't justified either.

2. The second problem is that "justified" is vague. In most cases, "justified" means "having a good reason to be". So who gets to decide what is a "good reason"? This question is equally difficult to answer as the original dilemma. Just because you think my reasons are weak doesn't mean they are.


Yes, it is vague - so are lots of things - and this why philosophy papers don't all agree. Nonetheless, that vagueness does not disable us from deciding it in many cases.

That being said, I agree completely with Axiom 1. The issue is "there is no other moral principle involved" is pretty darn hard to show, and you definitely can't assume it.


Hence, my addendum:

*2 operates on the idea that I genuinely cannot find a justified moral reason, not that there isn't some absurdly complex one. In other words, the actor has no other justified moral reason, you cannot morally fault someone for something they do not know if they are acting in earnest with regards to that not knowing - you'll note that I do not object to your position on grounds of, "Ah, yes, but the person you didn't kill was tied up to prevent setting off nuclear bombs and torturing people and is really the devil in human skin, etc.", as that would be utterly absurd, you don't have that reason at hand and it's unreasonable to assume you ought.


Allow me to be very clear: I, personally, don't care which outcome happens, nothing in anything I've said preferences one, or the other - in the judge example I gave, I picked the equivalent of "Don't pull the lever". In short, I'm not attached to either outcome, but as far as I've seen, nothing seems to reasonably convince me that there is another moral reason; and I have great interest in seeing if there is one, or not, but I feel fairly confident that, as presented, you have not justified your position (you admitted that you did not, even). Let me reemphasize this: I have no objection to your position on grounds of "But I disagree with that conclusion" since if you are right, then my conclusion is your conclusion, by virtue of my own stated principles.

*And I just realized in my haste that, at some point, I said that I would be wrong if you were right, I did not think that one through - I kind of half-meant that with regards to various counters/questions I asked of your position, nonetheless, I retract that on grounds of my own stupidity.

**If you just want to say, "I take my position as an axiom, end of story.", I'm fine with that, but I think that it is a somewhat controversial axiom - but I'm not asking you to prove it from nothing either, surely there are some simpler principles that lead you to it? The one's you have presented, as presented, do not seem to hold up well to scrutiny do you, perhaps, have others? (notice that my backing up is just a story that seems convincing and that appears to isolate the principle, and it seems unobjectionable, that's, at least, something [again, I'd be interested to hear from anyone why we not should (yes that's intentional) say $500 or that there is some other reason to donate that amount that applies to such cases]. If you have a story that isn't muddled with other moral things and seems to make the case well, I'd like to hear it - I may not agree, I may ask for clarification, and I may follow up with other stories that object to it, but that's kind of fun, and we'll both probably learn something from doing it.)
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2015 11:51 am UTC

Forest Goose: the value in quantity thing is where Cradarc seems to think the only conceivable reason we could value 7 billion lives over 1 life is if we only care about the number of lives.

Which is more utter bullshit that he has now repeated a few times without ever backing it up or justifying it.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:30 pm UTC

@gmalivuk: Thank you, that makes much more sense.

^I misread that originally and thought they were saying something else. I don't think it is begging the question, though, nonetheless for the reasons I've listed - at least as far as I can see - I may be wrong.

A post has disappeared between mine and the one above; thus the carat and response (I'm not sure what happened, so I'll leave it in case)
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby rat4000 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:37 pm UTC

Right, the deleted post was mine. Basically I was confused about a thing, but it seems FG was confused about a thing too.

Okay, now for real, I'm not deleting this one.

I am pretty confused still. TMT's statement is neither (1) nor (2). TMT's statement does not follow from (1) and (2). TMT's statement

(3) "Max(min) is the right solution [for this case]"

is your intended conclusion.

If you agree with all of the above, why did you say (in effect) that (1) and (2) are all of the premises to a valid argument whose conclusion is (3)? And if you disagree with some of the above, what do you disagree with?

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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:49 pm UTC

I'm confused:

I do agree with 1 and 2, they do imply 3 - I don't agree that it is begging the question; I've explained why I accept both of them, neither of those explanations strikes me as immediately question begging (I'm open to an explanation - I'm open to it just being wrong too - but I don't see how it is (as in, literally, I don't see; not as in "it cannot be, or I would've seen so"); would you be able to elaborate?)

If you mean the lack of the word "Justified" in both, I already addressed that:

I didn't feel like bolding it twice, I assumed it was obviously meant in both cases - the argument doesn't even work if justified isn't meant to be there in the first case.


As for why I didn't care, "unjustified" covers all sorts of nonsense, it seemed obvious that it was meant.

3 does follow from 1 and 2 with the word "justified" in there. As for why I don't think it's question begging, I've given reasons I accept both. As for the second one specifically, as far as I have information, I have not seen anything that justifies anything else - the main contenders were "Never take a life" the best justification for it being, "Pulling the lever is different than not; life is like a cherished gift, it cannot be quantified; killing is always wrong", that may be right, but as it stands, there doesn't appear to be much of an argument other than, "I accept these" - an alternate version involving organs, which doesn't seem to be equivalent unless you strip away all the things that make it have consequence. Thus, I should pull the lever, I have no justified reason not to; I am obligated that if I encounter such a reason, then I should not, from that point, pull the lever, but I haven't seen one and cannot think of one. (Is the point that it would be "Begging the question" if I mean that there is no reason, even one's I'm not aware of? If so, that's not what I meant - I should have clarified, but I did not, it seemed obvious that no one can possibly demonstrate that unambiguously and that it would be a fairly goofy thing to proclaim. If that is not what made it question begging, then I have no idea.)
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby rat4000 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:03 pm UTC

Forest Goose wrote:1 and 2 [...] do imply 3
Right, this is the problem. Take the following statements:

(N3) Max(min) is not the right solution for this case.
(1) as in your post.
(2) as in your post.
(4) There is a moral principle involved in this case (besides Max(min)), but it's not a justified moral principle.

These four statements form a consistent set. For what it's worth, I think that (1), (2), and (N3) together imply (4). So if someone agrees with (1) and (2) but disagrees with (3), they have to agree with (4).

Still, (4) is not logical nonsense. (Unless you think that everything which is a moral principle is also logically required to be a justified moral principle.) So there is a way to disagree with (3) even if one agrees with both (1) and (2).

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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:14 pm UTC

^See my above edit (you went off line, so I figured it was safe to edit)

Essentially, since "Murder everyone and always rape children" can be a moral principle, I assumed that justification was implied; I agree that I should have said so, but since others had already posted, I clarified elsewhere, rather than edit the original since that would've been disingenuous.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:40 pm UTC

Just explicitly adding "justified" to 1 would avoid the entire issue.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby rat4000 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:46 pm UTC

Yep, I missed that line in your response to Cradarc--I apologize. I, too, have no idea what question-begging TMT is seeing, so I guess we're waiting for her.

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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:27 pm UTC

You're presupposing that max(min) is justified, then using that as the basis of your justification.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:52 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:You're presupposing that max(min) is justified, then using that as the basis of your justification.


I'm not taking it as justified - I am in the absence of anything overriding, which is not quite the same thing; and I have responded to that in a way that is reasonable of an axiom, at least as a first pass in defense of it. (and, again, I am not assuming it, because my two principles apply in cases that do not suggest max(min) as right, which would have to be the case if it was already supposed as justified.)

This is not entirely new in ethics and, in this case, I'm not seeing what is controversial - it is, seemingly, more than acceptable to allow statements such as, "You should keep a promise unless you have a reason not to" on much the grounds that I've outlined in my longer response.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby rat4000 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:01 pm UTC

I am... still kind of confused.

So, the new (1) is

(1*) Max(min) is the correct principle to follow in cases where no other justified moral principle applies.

From this, it follows that Max(min) is justified. (No other justified moral principle. And at any rate any principle which is sometimes to be followed must--I believe--be justified.) So I don't know why Forest Goose is saying that they don't suppose that Max(min) is justified -- it's right there! in the premise! And Forest Goose even spent some posts on why it was justified, why that whole premise strikes them as true. Maybe I don't understand what they mean by "justified"?

On the other hand, the argument as it stands now really seems to me to be sound. To beg the question is, as far as I know, to offer an argument whose conclusion is logically equivalent to one of the premises, which is not the case here. ((3) doesn't follow from (1*).) An argument which has a strong premise is not ipso facto fallacious.

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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:28 pm UTC

You managed to produce 8 occurrences. A majority of them occurred only after I stated you are not interested in playing defense. Only a couple of them were explicit, while the others were phrased as an attack on what I was doing. Not exactly "Please please please challenge my position".


Forest Goose wrote: I don't, honestly, know what the "only exists in quantity" means; nothing I've said indicates that the value of life "only exists in quantity", could you clarify that?

I don't expect you to, otherwise you would have understood my argument and we wouldn't be having this debate. Why does the donor have the right to give away that money? Because he owns it. What does it mean to own money? It means to have the right to dispose/make use of it as one wishes.

Let's travel back in time. Instead of money, the donor is offering slaves. Slaves are useful, just like money. The donor owns the slaves and therefore can do whatever he wants with them. Do you see the problem with this? Slavery is wrong (or you can argue otherwise I guess). It doesn't matter how many slaves you intend on trading, the fact you treat them as slaves is what's wrong.
By treating lives like money you are implying you, as the decision maker, "own "all the lives on the track. They are your slaves, and you have the authority to decide who should be "donated" and who should not. This is what I was getting at with the poker chip analogy earlier.


Forest Goose wrote: In other words, the actor has no other justified moral reason, you cannot morally fault someone for something they do not know if they are acting in earnest with regards to that not knowing

I'm not morally faulting you. The point isn't to prove you, personally, are wrong for pulling the lever. (The reason I got mad the first time is because I thought that is what you were trying to do to me.) We're having a debate about what would the "ideal" moral person would do.
You apparently think the reasons I provided could not possibly be adopted by such an "ideal" individual. I, on the other hand, think it is very plausible.

I think this is a stalemate, don't you agree?
If it is indeed a stalemate, then the only productive thing to do is to throw out other ways to look at the problem so other people can be exposed to different viewpoints. The original point of this thread is to promote thought, not to reach some definitive conclusion.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:02 pm UTC

rat4000 wrote:I am... still kind of confused.

So, the new (1) is

(1*) Max(min) is the correct principle to follow in cases where no other justified moral principle applies.

From this, it follows that Max(min) is justified. (No other justified moral principle. And at any rate any principle which is sometimes to be followed must--I believe--be justified.) So I don't know why Forest Goose is saying that they don't suppose that Max(min) is justified -- it's right there! in the premise! And Forest Goose even spent some posts on why it was justified, why that whole premise strikes them as true. Maybe I don't understand what they mean by "justified"?

On the other hand, the argument as it stands now really seems to me to be sound. To beg the question is, as far as I know, to offer an argument whose conclusion is logically equivalent to one of the premises, which is not the case here. ((3) doesn't follow from (1*).) An argument which has a strong premise is not ipso facto fallacious.


I am saying, "I am not assuming it is justified, I've offered up seemingly reasonable arguments for it's status as acceptable". In other words, my premises do not assume the conclusion, they imply it, and both of those premises appear to be supported, to some degree. We can definitely discuss the extent of that support, and to what extent it is reasonable/intuitive/etc.; but, whatever the case, the conclusion is not assumed.

As for if (1) is strong, I really don't believe that it is, (1) seems fairly weak to me (it, literally, has no compelling power at all the moment there is any justified principle in play - so, if there is any possible reason not to max(min), then you need to justify max(min) independently to do so).

Oh! I see where the disconnect is:

It is not, "max(min) is automatically justified as if by argument unless an argument is supplied for something else that fully proves that case" it is "You should do this unless there is reason to do something else, that thing being given by a justified moral principle" - it is not logical justification, it is something that is reasonable on its face. Basic trust of sense accounts operate in a somewhat analogous fashion: if I say I saw three people outside of my house last night, that is reasonable as it stands; if, however, I have a known history of dream based hallucinations when woken, then the onus is absolutely on me to either present evidence that I was wide awake at the time or that there is some other compelling reason to believe what I'm saying, such as some photos I took (I'm assuming no one lies as the point is about the data, not about additional things involving if people tell the truth). Thus, why I'm saying (2), actually, is quite a bit stronger.

For another example, I keep stating this one: "You should keep a promise unless you have a reason not to." - if this meant that "You should keep a promise" is justified unless someone proves it is not, then it would be true in all cases, or there would be contradictions any time you justified anything else; in other words, it is not saying, "It is proven" - it is saying "If nothing challenges this, this is what you should do". For example, if someone is beating on Bill's door and he, nervously, asks me to hide him from who is on the other side and I, then, promise to do so; if it turns out to be the police on the other side there to arrest Bill for crime X, I am absolutely not required to keep my promise on grounds of promising alone, there are other moral principles in play and those must be weighed and considered (and promise may fall rather minimally on that list).

And that sense does fall out of my longer reply - or, at least, it is not non-trivially apparent that it does not do so. (Though, I may be wrong, but it does seem to be a reasonable argument for adopting the principle, and there are other like principles out there).

As for (2), there is no reasonable conflicting moral thing presented - which is exactly why in every case that has any alternative morality involved, I've said that it should be considered (in such cases, one would need to present a stronger, or full, justification of max(min) comparative to whatever else might be the case). So, (1) says, ultimately, if nothing else is in play besides max(min), then do max(min) on grounds of itself (hence, the donation scenario given and my elaboration on it - it is not meant to justify the principle, it is meant to show that in cases where there is no other principle that applies except that one, you may take that one as being what you should do). So, to be fully clear: it is not, "Assume this until you can prove it wrong" it is, "In this specific case, there is no other moral principle involved in so far as I know/have seen/am capable of seeing, thus, this is acceptable as there is no reasonable other thing that I am aware of to consider acting on."

The issue is not that op has not unequivocally demonstrated their case, the issue is that they have not made any type of case at all - if their case has some form of reasonability that can hold up to minor scrutiny, then any type of max(min) needs justified beyond that reasonability (which I have not claimed it is, nor am I willing to do so without a great deal more thought). As I've said, I have yet to see anything presented that is not the ops position and does not sneak in some additional moral position not in the original (as in the organ transplant case or the case of judges and rioters). As for the op's position, no part of it seems like it has been reasonably presented, it seems to fall apart of its own accord, as presented - in other words, there is no other apparent moral principle that I have reason to believe is involved, so there is nothing that requires justifying max(min) over - it is not that max(min) wins the fight, it is that no one is fighting against max(min), its strength doesn't matter, nothing requires it, as it stands now, as far as I have seen, or know.

That is a very different thing than "max(min) is a justified moral principle", it is not being put on the grounds of "You should not throw bombs at crowds of people for fun", which - I think unequivocally - is a justified moral principle.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:04 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:By treating lives like money you are implying you, as the decision maker, "own "all the lives on the track.

No, you're not. By your own definition of ownership, treating the lives of the people on the track like you own them means treating them like you have a right to do whatever you want with them. But the switch-pullers aren't acting as if they have a right to do whatever they want with the lives on the track. They are only acting as if they have the right to take some of those lives in order to save a great number of other lives.

You seem to be reasoning, fallaciously, that because the switch-pullers treat lives "like money" in that their values can be combined and compared, they are treating them "like money" in that they can be (or in fact are) owned by the people doing the comparing. Obviously, this principle doesn't even apply to actual money: if I can rescue one of two briefcases containing my friend's money, and I pick the one with more money in it, I am not acting like I own the money.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:10 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:I think this is a stalemate, don't you agree?
If it is indeed a stalemate, then the only productive thing to do is to throw out other ways to look at the problem so other people can be exposed to different viewpoints. The original point of this thread is to promote thought, not to reach some definitive conclusion.
It's only a stalemate because you still refuse to actually engage with any of the criticisms of your underlying reasoning (or lack thereof).
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:30 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:Let's travel back in time. Instead of money, the donor is offering slaves. Slaves are useful, just like money. The donor owns the slaves and therefore can do whatever he wants with them. Do you see the problem with this? Slavery is wrong (or you can argue otherwise I guess). It doesn't matter how many slaves you intend on trading, the fact you treat them as slaves is what's wrong.
By treating lives like money you are implying you, as the decision maker, "own "all the lives on the track. They are your slaves, and you have the authority to decide who should be "donated" and who should not. This is what I was getting at with the poker chip analogy earlier.


You are making a choice what to do with those lives when you decide not to pull the lever as well - that's my whole problem, you're deciding what happens in both cases. What distinguishes active/passive? It would make sense to say, "I did not make a choice regarding whether or not I will try to build a spaceship and fly to the moon last night" if, indeed, that never came up and you never thought about it; if a friends says, "Would you like to go the movies?" and you say, "No", you have made a choice regarding that. You are selecting to do something, then doing so.

Indeed, let us not make it a choice between negatives and positives: same exact setup, but you may only pull the lever or walk away from the event - is walking away passive or active? If active, do both, now, entail that you've made slaves of the people involved? If passive, why? It is a specific activity that you selected to do. (And, notice, you don't "not pull the lever" you do something that does not involve pulling it, "You stand still", "You walk away", You do a merry jig fifty feet from the lever", whatever the case, it would appear you are doing something that you decided to do, freely, that is directly controlling the outcome for the people on the tracks).

I'm not morally faulting you. The point isn't to prove you, personally, are wrong for pulling the lever. (The reason I got mad the first time is because I thought that is what you were trying to do to me.) We're having a debate about what would the "ideal" moral person would do.
You apparently think the reasons I provided could not possibly be adopted by such an "ideal" individual. I, on the other hand, think it is very plausible.


I don't think you're morally faulting me; why would I care if you were, we don't know each other beyond this discussion and I don't agree with you (so what would said faulting mean, we have no other relation to each other). I do appreciate the effort of what you are saying, though. And, no, I'm not morally faulting you, debates should be adversarial, that's not a bad thing - and it needn't be a personal thing (again, I don't know you, I can't possibly have something against you or care to make meaningful personal attacks on what you've said (I may be a bit rude at points, I'll grant that)).

However, I wasn't talking about you faulting me, I was talking about a point, specifically, "If you are earnestly without knowledge of something, you cannot be faulted for violating it" - suppose there is a God, suppose by Will of God, it is, for some reason, absolutely immoral to eat cabbage (who knows why); if you don't know this, aren't evading knowing it, have no reasonable expectation of knowing it, then, despite that it is utterly heinous to eat cabbages, you are not morally culpable for doing so.

I think this is a stalemate, don't you agree?

If it is indeed a stalemate, then the only productive thing to do is to throw out other ways to look at the problem so other people can be exposed to different viewpoints. The original point of this thread is to promote thought, not to reach some definitive conclusion.


I don't think polling people is that productive, especially not in a forum for debating and discussing serious points (and people have the whole internet to be exposed to various viewpoints). If you mean, let's throw out points and discuss and debate those, then I'm not sure what you're suggesting be done differently, nothing precludes anyone else from jumping in to begin with. (Of course, what I say doesn't really matter, I don't own the thread, obviously - nor claim to - people can do whatever they want; indeed, I'm not even sure what your suggestion is beyond, "How about the two of us stop debating this point, specifically".)
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby morriswalters » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:41 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:You apparently think the reasons I provided could not possibly be adopted by such an "ideal" individual. I, on the other hand, think it is very plausible.
Why?

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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:46 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:Let's travel back in time. Instead of money, the donor is offering slaves. Slaves are useful, just like money. The donor owns the slaves and therefore can do whatever he wants with them. Do you see the problem with this? Slavery is wrong (or you can argue otherwise I guess). It doesn't matter how many slaves you intend on trading, the fact you treat them as slaves is what's wrong.
1) You don't need to go back in time to find slavery.
2) I accept the largest number of slaves the donor is willing to give me and then I free them. That seems like by far the most moral option immediately available to me.

By treating lives like money you are implying you, as the decision maker, "own "all the lives on the track. They are your slaves, and you have the authority to decide who should be "donated" and who should not. This is what I was getting at with the poker chip analogy earlier.
Yes, and it was a bullshit analogy then as it is now.

Caring about how many people are involved does not mean you're treating them like money.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby rat4000 » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:48 pm UTC

rat4000 wrote:Maybe I don't understand what [Forest Goose means] by "justified"?
This, yeah. You seem to be saying that if some moral principle is justified in a case then it is the principle we should follow in that case, but that's not even close to how I use the word.

Basically I'd say that "You should keep a promise" is justified, and there are other moral principles that are also justified, and in a case where "You should keep a promise" conflicts with another justified principle, we have to decide which one pulls more strongly--provides a stronger reason, if you will--in that specific case. But both principles are justified! Both of them provide some reason for some action in all cases where they apply.

If "You should keep a promise" wasn't justified in my sense, then it would never be the case that someone has a moral obligation to keep a promise.

Also, your argument about the $500 and the $1 works reasonably well as an argument that "You should maximize some sort of value" is a justified (in my sense) moral principle.

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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:59 pm UTC

rat4000 wrote:
rat4000 wrote:Maybe I don't understand what [Forest Goose means] by "justified"?
This, yeah. You seem to be saying that if some moral principle is justified in a case then it is the principle we should follow in that case, but that's not even close to how I use the word.

Basically I'd say that "You should keep a promise" is justified, and there are other moral principles that are also justified, and in a case where "You should keep a promise" conflicts with another justified principle, we have to decide which one pulls more strongly--provides a stronger reason, if you will--in that specific case. But both principles are justified! Both of them provide some reason for some action in all cases where they apply.

If "You should keep a promise" wasn't justified in my sense, then it would never be the case that someone has a moral obligation to keep a promise.

Also, your argument about the $500 and the $1 works reasonably well as an argument that "You should maximize some sort of value" is a justified (in my sense) moral principle.


A lot of the convoluted twisting is that I want to assume the bare minimum - I would go with your statement of things as being a better way to say things, and the general case of how things are dealt with. However, with a lot of hand wringing over terms, I think you can get a very very minimal system that works out for this case, but, despite requiring way more acrobatics is, actually, requiring less be agreed with (it's just really hard for me to present it well casually[in a forum post in common language] (and maybe it isn't great to begin with)).

So, yes, I am torturing concepts, but I have some form of purpose for it - also, I haven't slept in 50 some hours and can't seem to, and that was all kind of fun to type up. (flaws and all:p)

gmalivuk wrote:1) You don't need to go back in time to find slavery.
2) I accept the largest number of slaves the donor is willing to give me and then I free them. That seems like by far the most moral option immediately available to me.


I have nothing constructive to add, but that, by far, is an awesome answer.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby Qaanol » Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:22 pm UTC

Say Cradarc, did you by chance see my previous post?

It’s totally understandable if you didn’t, since Forest Goose posted at literally the same minute so my post was basically never the most recent in the thread. But if you have a moment, I’d be interested in your response.
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Re: Trolly Problem

Postby morriswalters » Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:36 pm UTC

You come across two people dying, you can save one. How do you make the decision?


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