View Poll Results: Your preferred moral system?

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  • Consequentialism

    0 0%
  • Deontology

    6 60.00%
  • Liberalism

    4 40.00%
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Thread: Your preferred moral system?

  1. #1
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Your preferred moral system?

    (Inspired by philosophyexperiments.com)

    You are a surgeon. You have five patients, each needing a different kind of transplant, who will die if they don't receive them. However, they never personally paid you for the operation. Just when all hope seemed to be lost, a foreign backpacker walks into your hospital for a little checkup. He is in perfect health, and would be able to provide for all four of your patients, saving their lives (your transplantations are always perfect). He doesn't have any friends or family in the area, and in fact, there is no one in the country who knows he exists, so no legal harm would come to you. Will you kill him? Should you kill one man to save five?

    Consequentialism: Yes. Morality aims to maximise pleasure and minimise suffering, and by simple arithmetic (considering equal happiness for everyone) we can see that there would be four times as much pleasure gained in the world if you killed the backpacker. In other words, an action can only be considered in terms of its consequences.

    Deontology: No. A human being cannot be used as a means to an end, and if everyone did such gambits and killed people to save others, we would be much worse off. An act should be an end in itself, and the maxim used to justify it should apply to everyone, any time.

    Liberalism: No. The backpacker would never consent to it. Besides, the patients never gave me any incentive to save them, and it was their responsibility to pay for their problems. The goal of morality is to maximise and individual's liberty, without infringing on others'.
    Last edited by JollyBard; 08-10-2014 at 01:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Ieilaelite pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    Hmm. The consent of the backpacker would be pretty important to me, but the ability of the patients to pay seems completely irrelevant. I sure as hell wouldn't murder the guy, but I might talk to him about it and maybe see if there was a way we could save one or more of the patients with the backpacker's consent. However, if there was some smaller way for me to infringe on the backpacker against his will and save all of the patients without hurting him too much, I might consider it. I don't really feel like I can select any of these options.

  3. #3
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Personnally, I'm really not sure, since all systems have their merits. However, it seems to me that all of them boil down to consequentialism, or even self-interested consequentialism. Deontology and Liberalism seem to me as only good rule of thumbs to generate a general satisfaction amongst people, but it comes down to pleasure. But why do we care about other people's pleasure? If it weren't for our empathy (and sense of honor), we wouldn't give two fucks about altruism.

    So it seems to me that the only truly, simply rational way to act is by self-interest. But since we aren't isolated from other people and that most of us have empathy, which enables us to feel the suffering of others, we act in order to help others. So the general happiness of everyone around us impacts our own, which gives us Consequentialism. However, we should take for granted that everyone is equally entitled to as much self-interest, and people have a strong sense of justice, which brings us to Deontology.

    So, at the core is self-interest, then Consequentialism and Deontology are added as useful abstractions, with Deontology as the ultimate system. So, I wouldn't kill the backpacker.

    Liberalism is bullshit because people don't know what they want. Also, free will is an illusion.

    Another interesting question would be this: should a being with no empathy or honor be considered legally responsible?

  4. #4
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    The backpacker may as well not exist to me, as he is irrelevant to whether the other patients live or die. That doesn't mean I wouldn't kill someone to save 5 - it would just have to be a very different scenario.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  5. #5
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    The backpacker may as well not exist, as he is irrelevant to whether the other patients live or die. That doesn't mean I wouldn't kill someone to save 5 - it would just have to be a very different scenario.
    Wait, where did you get that idea? If you kill the backpacker, you can use his organs to save the patients. They'll live.

  6. #6
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JollyBard View Post

    Liberalism is bullshit because people don't know what they want. Also, free will is an illusion.
    Once you accept that freewill isn't important, there's no point in being moral.

    The scale where morality is useful is one where you accept the proposition that there exist other agents who have interests. If you're saying neither their agency or their interests matter, why inconvenience yourself?
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

  7. #7
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JollyBard View Post
    Wait, where did you get that idea? If you kill the backpacker, you can use his organs to save the patients. They'll live.
    It's not a situation in which I would kill someone to save 5. Not that the concept is unacceptable to me per se - that's just not a circumstance I'd do it in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Heh. We've been here years now.

  8. #8
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P-O View Post
    Once you accept that freewill isn't important, there's no point in being moral.

    The scale where morality is useful is one where you accept the proposition that there exist other agents who have interests. If you're saying neither their agency or their interests matter, why inconvenience yourself?
    Free will is not the same as agency. But it seems to me that not everyone has the same amount of will, so we shouldn't expect people to do just go and do everything by themselves. Also, not everyone (or even, nobody) has the intelligence to figure out the best possible course of action. What Deontology takes for granted is that everyone is perfectly rational. They're not.

  9. #9
    asl? ;] JollyBard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    It's not a situation in which I would kill someone to save 5. Not that the concept is unacceptable to me per se - that's just not a circumstance I'd do it in.
    Why?

    Anyway, you can switch the situation for the tolley problem, but there won't be as much room for different reasonings. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

  10. #10
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JollyBard View Post
    Free will is not the same as agency.
    Can you clarify the distinction you're seeing?
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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