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The Humanitarian with the Trolley

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9 hours ago, epistemologue said:

Such will be your status morally until you learn to justify your actions, not according to those values that come from the outcomes, but according to those individual rights and moral principles that come from the metaphysical nature of man.

Insofar as rights are a political principle, violating them isn't necessarily violating virtues, if a situation isn't a political/social question. Being a tragic situation does that. I am not saying I'd act to get more people to live because I care for the greater good. I'd do this because defending values is itself virtuous and how I measure that I am in fact being virtuous. If I am able to act in such a way that provides me more value, I will do so. It's not that I am violating a principle for the sake of other people. I'd be acting for the sake of my values that my virtues enable me to find and protect. If I were to permit lesser values to outweigh greater ones, the principle I used to justify it would be sacrifice, by definition.

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the fact that these questions can be used to "stunt and confuse the minds of others toward altruism" and enforce "the premise that morality requires sacrifice", means by itself that there is sufficient value at stake to spend our time on it as Objectivists. if we are easily able to point out the "implicit premises and package deals", this can save students from falling victim to them, and is by no means sacrificial, even if we don't find the dilemmas interesting personally.

we can certainly note that there are more significant things to talk about in ethics and try to direct the conversation toward those, but if we conspicuously avoid giving answers, that indicates that we are afraid of them rather than that they are easy and trivial, and sends the opposite message of: "no Objectivist need be afraid of turning his or her mind to such things", "it does not confuse us". we show that by having an attitude of being willing and eager to deal with any moral problem that is presented.

to the extent that such questions and the people posing them are really asking: are you willing to drop context and answer moral questions completely without reference to reality?, Objectivists rightfully want to answer: no! my position here is just that this can be communicated much more effectively by participating and reframing the issue in your way with the way you answer, than it can be done by abstaining or simply complaining about the approach. it's much more powerful to take control of the discussion and reassert your view, than to simply criticize the one you are seeing presented. as in anything, the answer isn't to silence the opposition (to stop the "insidious tradition" of professors asking these loaded questions), but to out-compete them and render them harmless (deal with the questions so well that no one finds them challenging or gets tripped up anymore when they are posed).

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however, there is an even stronger reason to spend time on this when it can be valuable to your own thinking. and SL i think that is the case here:

On 10/20/2016 at 9:55 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

many ethical dilemma's are raised purposefully to uphold or criticize certain moral theories or to instill complete skepticism in morality as such.  Most appeal to emotion and how you feel to distract one from the process and exercise of reason... show how it is confusing or difficult or leads to outcomes which makes a person "feel" wrong (how can we let a poor little boy starve to death?)... the hope being that the target concludes his/her morality must be wrong or that there is no morality.

when you're admitting that the answer you would give based on reason clashes with your emotions, "feels wrong", to the point of being felt as a threat and a temptation to abandon morality altogether, that should tell you there is something "worthy of consideration", something that needs attention; the reflex should not be to push the prompt away.

you state in such a situation "one MUST choose to sacrifice one person to save a group of people in order to be moral", but you recognize that against the value to you of these complete strangers you are saving, stands the "disvalue of having caused the death of one person". i think that's very insightful, but then we should check our premises, because one of two things must be going on:

either 1. you are correct that pulling that switch is the right thing to do, but your overwhelmingly feeling something other than pride over performing that action means you don't fully grasp why it's right, so your emotions are not following as they should yet. (see Eioul above for a more consistent thought/emotion pro-switch-pulling position: "I am in fact being virtuous", "defending values")

or 2. there is an error in the conscious chain of reasoning you've used to arrive at that decision, pulling the switch really is wrong, and your emotions are still following your (correct) implicit premises as an Objectivist instead, and are pointing in the right direction.

in either case, further thinking will be useful to you.

Edited by splitprimary

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40 minutes ago, splitprimary said:

however, there is an even stronger reason to spend time on this when it can be valuable to your own thinking. and SL i think that is the case here:

when you're admitting that the answer you would give based on reason clashes with your emotions, "feels wrong", to the point of being felt as a threat and a temptation to abandon morality altogether, that should tell you there is something "worthy of consideration", something that needs attention; the reflex should not be to push the prompt away.

you state in such a situation "one MUST choose to sacrifice one person to save a group of people in order to be moral", but you recognize that against the value to you of these complete strangers you are saving, stands the "disvalue of having caused the death of one person". i think that's very insightful, but then we should check our premises, because one of two things must be going on:

either 1. you are correct that pulling that switch is the right thing to do, but your overwhelmingly feeling something other than pride over performing that action means you don't fully grasp why it's right, so your emotions are not following as they should yet. (see Eioul above for a more consistent thought/emotion pro-switch-pulling position: "I am in fact being virtuous", "defending values")

or 2. there is an error in the conscious chain of reasoning you've used to arrive at that decision, pulling the switch really is wrong, and your emotions are still following your (correct) implicit premises as an Objectivist instead, and are pointing in the right direction.

in either case, further thinking will be useful to you.

This is erroneous in so many ways I cannot   even know where to start.  I am disappointed and offended you would dare twist my words and/or so misconstrue them so as to throw their complete opposite meaning in my face.  You insult my honest efforts to engage in meaningful conversation and insult the intelligence of every other reader here.  I cannot quite bring myself to believe you would sink to bald face lies and misrepresentation so I will take it, the evidence of your words notwithstanding, that you somehow honestly misunderstood the intended substance of my posts.

I hope and assume others have not so misunderstood.

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what have i misunderstood? i was not at all trying to be offensive.

i understand that you haven't been discouraging Objectivists from answering trolley problems, which of course i think is good. and you correctly identify some frequent negative motivations people have in asking them that i agree should be kept in mind. i also think your example dialogue shows a really benevolent sense of life tendency to solve problems creatively before accepting that any even partially negative outcome, or any amount of "sacrifice", is necessary. that is the objectively best way to be: so long as there is any wiggle room in the scenario posed, any loophole left unclosed, to go for that instead.

maybe it will help if i state my own position: i am actually against pulling the switch. Eioul can imagine himself doing it without any of the mental distress that most other people anticipate, but i think that is a failure of imagination on his part, that he simply isn't projecting himself into the situation very well and that he would find out, much to his surprise, if he was ever actually in it, that he would feel terrible about it afterward.

it makes sense that i would predict this, if i think the action goes against something objective in reality or about human nature, since regardless of what beliefs one holds about it, that would be destructive ("any refusal to recognize reality has disastrous consequences", "we can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality").

but i would not agree that Eioul is guilty of endorsing collectivism by his answer. the question can be intended to pit the single person on one track, representing the Individual, against a Group or collective on the other; the questioner may want to force you to accept that as the choice in order to "illustrate carnage as an inevitable result" of individualist morality, but an Objectivist need not agree with that perspective. even in answering "save the 5", that is not something the decision can mean to us if we’re really individualists, since to us the group = 5 individuals.

i apologize if i've mistakenly credited you with being more perceptive and/or honest than Eioul, by too enthusiastically interpreting your "disvalue of having caused the death of one [innocent] person" comment and a few others more between the lines, as you noticing the effect this would have on the agent in the event.

Edited by splitprimary

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I am responding in this particular manner because your civility deserves a measured response. 

Please reread my posts and take a close look at what you alleged I personally feel, what you alleged I have stated and then if you can restate something close to reality perhaps we can talk about my actual position.

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5 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Insofar as rights are a political principle, violating them isn't necessarily violating virtues, if a situation isn't a political/social question. Being a tragic situation does that. I am not saying I'd act to get more people to live because I care for the greater good. I'd do this because defending values is itself virtuous and how I measure that I am in fact being virtuous. If I am able to act in such a way that provides me more value, I will do so. It's not that I am violating a principle for the sake of other people. I'd be acting for the sake of my values that my virtues enable me to find and protect. If I were to permit lesser values to outweigh greater ones, the principle I used to justify it would be sacrifice, by definition.

Louie, rights are a moral principle.

You said, "I'd do this because defending values is itself virtuous and how I measure that I am in fact being virtuous."

I know. That's precisely what I'm arguing against. The terms "principle" or "virtue" do not refer to the outcomes of your actions, and cannot be measured in that way. They specifically refer to the character of the action itself independent of the outcome. Roark had integrity because he followed his principles even in the face of huge threats, even in the face of huge losses. Remember the scene where Roark rejects a contract to build a skyscraper because they asked for a few minor adjustments - he was broke and this was his last hope before he would be forced to go work at the quarry. That is integrity. That is principle, that is virtue.

"It's not that I am violating a principle for the sake of other people. I'd be acting for the sake of my values that my virtues enable me to find and protect."

Theft and murder are violations of a moral principle, whether you do it for the sake of other people (which you wouldn't, I know), or for the sake of your own ends.

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I hope and assume others have not so misunderstood.

I've been rereading your posts in this thread and the other, and your position as far as I understand (and please correct me if I'm wrong), is that "This is not an easy choice but depends on the context of the chooser", and that while pulling the lever IS murder, the question is whether or not one could live with such a thing as being a murderer in exchange for saving five lives (and presumably by "live with" you mean being able to live with yourself, as in psychologically and morally, not merely in terms of the legal or social consequences you'd face from the outside).

If so, then I believe splitprimary is asking a legitimate question: if one is doing the right thing morally by killing the person, then why wouldn't they feel righteous, virtuous, and morally proud of their action? Why are you agreeing that it's murder, and that there these devastating moral and psychological consequences? If you were fully convinced it was the right thing to do wouldn't you argue that it's not murder, but rather a justified killing, and feel differently?

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31 minutes ago, epistemologue said:

I've been rereading your posts in this thread and the other, and your position as far as I understand (and please correct me if I'm wrong), is that "This is not an easy choice but depends on the context of the chooser", and that while pulling the lever IS murder, the question is whether or not one could live with such a thing as being a murderer in exchange for saving five lives (and presumably by "live with" you mean being able to live with yourself, as in psychologically and morally, not merely in terms of the legal or social consequences you'd face from the outside).

If so, then I believe splitprimary is asking a legitimate question: if one is doing the right thing morally by killing the person, then why wouldn't they feel righteous, virtuous, and morally proud of their action? Why are you agreeing that it's murder, and that there these devastating moral and psychological consequences? If you were fully convinced it was the right thing to do wouldn't you argue that it's not murder, but rather a justified killing, and feel differently?

Can you tell me that in your hierarchy of values your choice would be exactly the same no matter how many you could save ... even 30 million people ? Think of whatever contrived scenario you wish ... sufficed to say that atomic weapons are involved.

Now, what if the people you could save included all your children and your wife all your friends, your parents and 30 million other people.  Where in your value hierarchy is this single stranger compared to all of them?  

As a final example, and yes all of this silliness disgusts me, would you avoid murder even if the result of that avoidance is the death of everyone else on the planet including you?

I said the answer depends on the person as to when morally it becomes justified.  I did not say there was one right answer for everyone... they each have their own contexts of self interest to deal with.

 If you are the type who would allow all the world to die to avoid murder, then brother, you and I are simply not the same.

Luckily, this is a preposterous useless hypothetical and I need not worry about whether I am the one to be sacrificed or whether you are the one who will let all humanity come to an end.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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3 hours ago, epistemologue said:

Louie, rights are a moral principle.

What, do you measure only by one's will to be virtuous separate from their ability to accomplish their will? It isn't referring to virtue is independent of outcome when I say a specific action is virtuous. The only way an action IS virtuous is if it bears some causal relationship with reality. I wouldn't say virtue is epiphenomenal, something like a theory that consciousness is epiphenomenal. Moral action has a causal effect; our will to be moral is only realized and praiseworthy if you act.

If that's too jargony, think of it this way: we're not ghosts in a machine. Our actions can be judged, and only because actions are a result of intent. I don't know why you keep repeating that bit about outcome. Just because you think my choice is immoral doesn't mean that I -must- be arguing as a consequentialist. Virtues are FOR attaining values, not merely psychological comfort of good intentions. My answer first started with a principle "defend values", tried to ask/answer what value the people hold in regard to me, and act in a way that shows intent AND success at defending values.

You seem to be saying the principle itself supercedes a concrete value. I'm, in a way, saying virtues aren't values per se. You don't act to attain virtue like you attain money, for example. The only way for a virtue to be recognized AS virtue if you are able to point out what in reality you acted to gain or keep. Roark maintained his virtue because he acted in a way that all his values were maintained, thus assuring a spiritual value like his integrity - as embodied by his actions - are preserved.

You emphasized to me once, on another topic or in chat, that rights are a political principle. While, yes, in political contexts, you're right, does that mean ALL moral choices require political principles, too? If yes, theft is always wrong. If no, well, theft or murder is okay in some rare instances.

By the way, I'm not really answering ONLY a trolley problem. I am imagining warzones where my life is at risk, and I may need to risk lives.

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2 hours ago, epistemologue said:

 if one is doing the right thing morally by killing the person

You use the term "right thing morally" ... by what standard?  What do you mean here? Is morality to you ANYthing other than self interest?  

You ask why wouldn't one feel proud?? Are you crazy?  If in actuality you were forced into some nightmare scenario where you had to choose the lesser of two evils... a contrived forced choice for sure... like some you might see in the Saw series of films... do you actually believe you would feel pride and a sense of virtue for having killed or let die the right innocent or the right number of them?  

This discussion becomes more and more fantastical...and our differences of character and nature all the more apparent.

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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38 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This discussion becomes more and more fantastical...and our differences of character and nature all the more apparent.

The two perspectives on this seem to move from 'outside' to 'inside' the "problem". Tracinski resonated with me as viewing from 'outside' of it—this is the "problem", this is it's nature, and these are the ramifications it appears to have. (I think this was his subscriber teaser to a potential future Real Clear Future article.)

Then there is the attempt to view it from the 'inside'. Here's the "problem", now what follows if you actually try to project yourself into the problem as the actor therein?

My assessment in this thread has been from 'outside'. I shifted to 'inside' in the other thread. I tend to find trying to analyze it from the 'inside' stultifying. Yet, I watch you seemingly seamlessly shift between these two perspectives. Thank-you. Nicely done.

 

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4 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

My assessment in this thread has been from 'outside'. I shifted to 'inside' in the other thread. I tend to find trying to analyze it from the 'inside' stultifying. Yet, I watch you seemingly seamlessly shift between these two perspectives. Thank-you. Nicely done.

Err, I mean it in the nicest way possible, I think you and SL are reading into it way too much. It isn't so stultifying if you are able to abstract it to questions that matter (being faced with defending values in a tragic situation). That's what it's meant to do. It perhaps offends you to ever act to hurt a person on purpose, thus you are implicitly answering "let it go its course!" That's telling, trolley problem or not.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Err, I mean it in the nicest way possible, I think you and SL are reading into it way too much. It isn't so stultifying if you are able to abstract it to questions that matter (being faced with defending values in a tragic situation). That's what it's meant to do. It perhaps offends you to ever act to hurt a person on purpose, thus you are implicitly answering "let it go its course!" That's telling, trolley problem or not.

Eiuol, I consider some of your responses to the Micheal Brown case in Ferguson. I consider my martial arts training. I recognize the distinction between killing and murder. Bearing this in mind, I'm pretty sure that I could kill a person, but I know I could not murder someone. (Whether such a distinction would stand before a jury or not, would not alter my conviction of the difference.)

As to abstracting to the questions that matter: which is broader?—the implications of pulling a hypothetical switch or not within a hypothetical situation—or the identification of the specifics  within a particular situation—keeping in mind that both should reference the same principles (values) identified as being involved/relevant?

I don't think I'm not trying to read anything into this. The background questions in my mind as I try to delimit this are: "What is it?" and "How do I know?".

Edited by dream_weaver

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13 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If you are the type who would allow all the world to die to avoid murder, then brother, you and I are simply not the same.

 

Quote

I could say to you that you do not serve the public good - that nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices - that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the rights of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed to destruction. I could say to you that you will and can achieve nothing but universal devastation - as any looter must, when he runs out of victims. I could say it but I won't. It is not your particular policy that I challenge, but your moral premise. If it were true that men could achieve their good my means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself of the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own - I would refuse. I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being's right to exist. Let there be no misunderstanding about me. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their mood requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!" 

 

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15 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

If you are the type who would allow all the world to die to avoid murder, then brother, you and I are simply not the same.

Would you say that you're not the same as Rearden? Or do you agree with Rearden when it comes to sacrificing yourself, but not when it comes to sacrificing other people?

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16 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I don't know why you keep repeating that bit about outcome.

The reason I'm stressing outcomes and consequentialism is because that's exactly what you're suppporting. Look at the things you're saying and tell me this is not an outcome-based, consequentialist ethics:

"If a moral principle (not stealing) leads to you dying...the principle doesn't apply"

"If an action causes you to die, it's immoral."
"If an action causes you to live and flourish, it's moral."

"we want to bring about flourishing, We're able to measure flourishing by the effects it has on one's life concretely"
   
"the value of habits and virtues is from their consequences"
   
"outcomes are how to measure if something is part of [morality]"

16 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You seem to be saying the principle itself supercedes a concrete value. I'm, in a way, saying virtues aren't values per se. You don't act to attain virtue like you attain money, for example. The only way for a virtue to be recognized AS virtue if you are able to point out what in reality you acted to gain or keep.

You can recognize virtue by the values it produces in reality. Everything of value produced by man depended on his acting virtuously. But the issue of having virtue is distinct from the fruits of virtue. You can have virtue and act virtuously while losing everything.

16 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Roark maintained his virtue because he acted in a way that all his values were maintained, thus assuring a spiritual value like his integrity - as embodied by his actions - are preserved.

Roark cared more about his integrity than he did about any concrete value. He didn't measure his integrity by the concrete results, he measured it according to the standards of rational, moral principle. Refusing the commission because he wouldn't compromise his standards was an act of integrity without any concrete results. He wasn't just trying to produce the "best" concrete results that he could, he was trying to produce results that were good, according to his standards. The value he cared about wasn't in the buildings (the concrete results), it was in buildings done his way, in the integrity of their design, and in his integrity as a designer.

Roark:

Quote

"I'm not capable of suffering completely. I never have. It goes only down to a certain point and then it stops. As long as there is that untouched point, it's not really pain."

"Where does it stop?"

"Where I can think of nothing and feel nothing except that I designed that temple. I built it. Nothing else can seem very important."

"[What they are doing to it] doesn't matter. Not even that they'll destroy it. Only that it had existed."

Dominique:

Quote

"If they convict you--if they lock you in jail or put you in a chain gang--if they smear your name in every filthy headline--if they never let you design another building--if they never let me see you again--it will not matter. Not too much. Only down to a certain point."

 

Quotes from Atlas:

Quote

"I am destroying d'Anconia Copper, consciously, deliberately, by plan and by my own hand. I have to plan it as carefully and work as hard as if I were producing a fortune--in order not to let them notice it and stop me, in order not to let them seize the mines until it is too late. All the effort and energy I had hoped to spend on d'Anconia Copper, I'm spending them, only . . . only it's not to make it grow. I shall destroy every last bit of it and every last penny of my fortune and every ounce of copper that could feed the looters. I shall not leave it as I found it--I shall leave it as Sebastian d'Anconia found it--then let them try to exist without him or me!"
"Francisco!" she screamed. "How could you make yourself do it?"
"By the grace of the same love as yours," he answered quietly, "my love for d'Anconia Copper, for the spirit of which it was the shape."

 

Quote

"Dagny, we who've been called 'materialists' by the killers of the human spirit, we're the only ones who know how little value or meaning there is in material objects as such, because we're the ones who create their value and meaning. We can afford to give them up, for a short while, in order to redeem something much more precious. We are the soul, of which railroads, copper mines, steel mills and oil wells are the body--and they are living entities that beat day and night, like our hearts, in the sacred function of supporting human life, but only so long as they remain our body, only so long as they remain the expression, the reward and the property of achievement. Without us, they are corpses and their sole product is poison, not wealth or food, the poison of disintegration that turns men into hordes of scavengers."

...

"You do not have to depend on any material possessions, they depend on you, you create them, you own the one and only tool of production. Wherever you are, you will always be able to produce. But the looters--by their own stated theory--are in desperate, permanent, congenital need and at the blind mercy of matter.

...

"You don't know what is right any longer? Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last."

 

To answer your last point,

16 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You emphasized to me once, on another topic or in chat, that rights are a political principle. While, yes, in political contexts, you're right, does that mean ALL moral choices require political principles, too? If yes, theft is always wrong. If no, well, theft or murder is okay in some rare instances.

I no longer support utilitarianism as a moral philosophy*. It is inconsistent with Objectivism. Intentionally killing an innocent person is morally unjustifiable - i.e. murder - regardless of the circumstances.

* See my post in the metaphysics of death thread for some discussion of that:

 

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Epist

I don't think you have any idea what Rearden would do.  In fact you purposefully are avoiding clearly stating what you think Rearden would do.  

I'll provide you the opportunity now. To avoid murdering one stranger how many people should he let die so that he has acted in accordance with his value hierarchy and in full accordance with his rational self interest? 2 people? 1 billion?  What if all of his family and friends are in the billion?

I cannot tell you if I am like YOUR Rearden until you commit and say what HE would do.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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From PHILOSO?HY TALK, Lessons from the Trolley Problem

There is nothing morally special about trolleys, except the historical accident that around thirty years ago the great philosophers Philippa Foot and Judith Jarvis Thomson used trolleys in a series of examples, originally to help us think about moral aspects of abortion. Since that time a zillion articles have been written about the trolley problem, applying it to all sorts of moral issues.

So the Trolley Problem was conceived and ultimately given birth in order to deal with an already contentious public issue. While correlation is not necessarily causation, the observation that when it examples like these are scrutinized under the light of Rand's Ethics of Emergencies, how the protestors show up.

The rest of the discussion examines variations on the them, but leaves off with a nice closing question:

Is the Trolley Problem leading us down the wrong track?

Next I confirmed Philippa Foot as the originator, and clicked on Philosopher's Toolkit: The Trolley Problem

As epistemologue has been indicating, typical solutions use the utilitarian approach dealing with analysis of the consequences. The end of the article wraps up with something I've not encountered before:

But if we do not judge in accordance with utilitarianism, is there some principle that describes how we do judge?  A standard answer is that we judge in accordance with the Doctrine of Double Effect.

Looking this up, is pretty straight forward.

The doctrine of double effect. This doctrine says that if doing something morally good has a morally bad side-effect it's ethically OK to do it providing the bad side-effect wasn't intended. This is true even if you foresaw that the bad effect would probably happen.

These are the kinds of things people who might be asking similar questions are going to find. If the Trolley Problem has pedagogical merits, why does it require so many individuals familiar with Objectivism to try and undermine efforts to view it as part of altruism's implicit toolbox?

In the presentations so far, where can it be shown that the Trolley Problem is instrumental in helping to reach rational egoism as a firm, solid ethical system worthy of deeper consideration?

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

 

Epist

I don't think you have any idea what Rearden would do.  In fact you purposefully are avoiding clearly stating what you think Rearden would do.  

I'll provide you the opportunity now. To avoid murdering one stranger how many people should he let die so that he has acted in accordance with his value hierarchy and in full accordance with his rational self interest? 2 people? 1 billion?  What if all of his family and friends are in the billion?

I cannot tell you if I am like YOUR Rearden until you commit and say what HE would do.

In Ayn Rand's concept of egoism, whether it's in Roark, Rearden, or others, she demonstrated that sacrificing one's integrity is not rational - in principle it goes against one's own judgment, and in practice, it contradicts one's own interests.

I wouldn't deliberately act irrationally. The question is being posed as if doing something irrational would yield good results, but it can't, and even if it could, how could I know it? I can only know and act on a rational basis.

If I make a choice to refuse to take some action, because such an action is self-contradictory, then I have an indisputable reason for my choice. I will stand by that reason against anything that anyone has to say, and I will do so with a sense of complete assurance.

As for what Rearden would do, he was explicit.

Murder is a human sacrifice. It's a violation of individual rights - and the violation of one man's individual rights is a violation of all men's individual rights. If he were asked to perform such a sacrifice, he would refuse, he would reject it as the most contemptible evil. He would fight it with every power he possesses, even if the whole of mankind were against him, with full confidence in the justice of his battle and of a living being's right to exist.

How can his position be mistaken?
 

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20 minutes ago, epistemologue said:

In Ayn Rand's concept of egoism, whether it's in Roark, Rearden, or others, she demonstrated that sacrificing one's integrity is not rational - in principle it goes against one's own judgment, and in practice, it contradicts one's own interests.

I wouldn't deliberately act irrationally. The question is being posed as if doing something irrational would yield good results, but it can't, and even if it could, how could I know it? I can only know and act on a rational basis.

If I make a choice to refuse to take some action, because such an action is self-contradictory, then I have an indisputable reason for my choice. I will stand by that reason against anything that anyone has to say, and I will do so with a sense of complete assurance.

As for what Rearden would do, he was explicit.

Murder is a human sacrifice. It's a violation of individual rights - and the violation of one man's individual rights is a violation of all men's individual rights. If he were asked to perform such a sacrifice, he would refuse, he would reject it as the most contemptible evil. He would fight it with every power he possesses, even if the whole of mankind were against him, with full confidence in the justice of his battle and of a living being's right to exist.

How can his position be mistaken?
 

You evade even now from concretizing what you think he should do.  He can't fight with every power the trolley problem... remember, he is helpless,  it does require human carnage and he only has a choice.  Say it... just say what you think he should let happen to those 30 million people ... let's throw in Dagny and Galt for good measure... and allege that it is in his rational self interest to choose not to act. I want to hear you say it.

Go ahead... Say what YOUR Rearden should do.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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36 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

let's throw in Dagny and Galt for good measure

You might want to leave them out.

Not the most elegant parallel, but we know the switchman would hate his job for the rest of his life after sending the Comet from the siding onto the main track. We also know Dagny would never have permitted the spare diesel to be sequestered from the Winston station. And we have Galt's answer. He walked out of a meeting of six thousand murderers and did nothing.

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59 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

You might want to leave them out.

Not the most elegant parallel, but we know the switchman would hate his job for the rest of his life after sending the Comet from the siding onto the main track. We also know Dagny would never have permitted the spare diesel to be sequestered from the Winston station. And we have Galt's answer. He walked out of a meeting of six thousand murderers and did nothing.

Throw them in ... meaning Dagny and Galt are among the 30 million who will die if Rearden does not pull the lever.

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While we are at it consider a planetary "trolley" problem.

An asteroid is on its way to Earth.  If the asteroid hits the Earth every individual on the planet will die.  Fortunately an atomic weapon sufficient to divert the asteroid has sucessfully been planted on the asteroid.  Somehow (the dilemma is contrived after all) there is only a ten second window open in which the atomic weapon may be detonated and certain disaster for the Earth avoided.  Galt and Dagny and Rearden are on Earth. Rearden is in a room with the button which can activate the detonator to divert the asteroid and save the Earth.  The only problem is, the detonation will divert the asteroid into a collision course with a space station in which there lives a solitary man (with enough supplies to survive for the rest of his natural life should Earth be destroyed). All other humans alive are on the Earth.

Is it in Rearden's self interest to sacrifice all of his values and his very life?  What for?  By what standard would he be doing right?  Is preserving all of his values and his life "irrational" if he has chosen life and he has only the choice to press the button or not?

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