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(Scientific American)   Would you kill one person to save five others?   (scientificamerican.com ) divider line
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26872 clicks; posted to Main » on 03 Dec 2011 at 11:40 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2011-12-03 07:37:29 PM  
no
 
2011-12-03 07:42:30 PM  

heightspf1: no


Then you're in the minority.

The fun thin gabout the trolly problem is that when you alter it slightly, where in order to stop the train you push the one person onto the tracks to derail it... people tend to say no. In general people seem to think that misdirecting harm is ok, but using a person as the means to an end is not. It's the sort of thing you learn about in very early philosophy classes.
 
2011-12-03 07:45:30 PM  
I'd kill to save one. But I'm a go-getter with upper management written all over me. Plus, I'm handy with multiple weapon systems.
 
2011-12-03 07:49:25 PM  
Dunno. Probably depends on a whole world of shiat to consider in any given situation.
 
2011-12-03 07:49:53 PM  
Just RTFA... well that makes it harder. But if both tracks were perfect strangers, yeah I'd probably divert the train.

//Or shoot it with a tank. That'd stop it cold, and everybody lives. Except the engineer and anyone else on the train.
 
2011-12-03 07:54:27 PM  
4.bp.blogspot.com
 
2011-12-03 07:57:10 PM  
that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

/Vulcan logic FTW
 
2011-12-03 08:04:58 PM  
In a decent world, yes. If you were piloting a big airplane about to crash (without passengers) would you labor to change where you crash in order to aim for a farmhouse instead of a city? I suspect most pilots would do so. What if the lone casualty was you? Would you crash your car into a concrete wall to avoid a troupe of Boy Scouts hiking on the freeway? How about Girl Scouts?

But I said "in a decent world". In this world, if you touched the railroad switch in the example, you would certainly be sued by somebody regardless of your decision, and very possible charged with murder. Your fate would rest in the whim a jury and the gamesmanship of lawyers. In our world, you should stick your hands in your pockets and blame the railroad, and surely not the dumbasses who are walking in such a dangerous place.
 
2011-12-03 08:13:34 PM  

Talon: The fun thin gabout the trolly problem is that when you alter it slightly, where in order to stop the train you push the one person onto the tracks to derail it... people tend to say no. In general people seem to think that misdirecting harm is ok, but using a person as the means to an end is not. It's the sort of thing you learn about in very early philosophy classes.


One problem with a question like this is that it assumes a form of omniscience that most people don't have. "Pushing this fat guy onto the tracks will save five other people," when it might well be that pushing the guy onto the tracks will result in six dead people.

Or to put it another way, if you know enough about the situation where you could accurately makes such a decision, you probably know enough about it to have prevented it in the first place. "Hey, I don't need a fat guy, I'll just put this big rock in place in case a train comes down the track at an inconvenient time."
 
2011-12-03 08:20:04 PM  
Is this for real? Castle Laws, you break into my "Castle", you die.
 
MBK [TotalFark]
2011-12-03 08:29:28 PM  
Hmm.

In the scenario presented in the article, it leads to a lot of questions.

Did the 5 hikers know that the train track there were on was active? Did the 1 hiker know that his track was active?

I don't know if I'll be able to do it. What if the 1 hiker was doing the right thing, and the 5 others were just tempting Darwin?
 
2011-12-03 08:30:04 PM  
Lovely, what genius greened this one. Gee thanks.
 
2011-12-03 08:30:14 PM  
Hell, some people I'll kill for free.
 
2011-12-03 08:32:00 PM  
As many people have pointed out before, the pure "Trolley problem" really comes down to the question of "Would you kill one stranger in order to save five strangers, if there are no other options." When it's phrased that way, the evidence is very strong that people choose the 5 over the 1. All this study does is confirm what everyone's known for a long time.
 
MBK [TotalFark]
2011-12-03 08:32:07 PM  

GaryPDX: Lovely, what genius greened this one. Gee thanks.


Did you read the article at all? It isn't about your gun fantasy and killing someone who is robbing you.

You have a choice. You can push a button, saving 5 lives, and killing 1. Or you can do nothing, and let 5 people die and 1 live.
 
2011-12-03 08:32:32 PM  
I probably wouldn't have the courage to kill even one. Hell, studies show that many soldiers are unable to fire even when another gun is pointed at them.
 
2011-12-03 08:32:49 PM  
Depends on what I can tell about them. I mean seriously, if they're dumb enough to walk on a train track they can't get off of I'd be doing the world a favor the more of them I got.
 
2011-12-03 08:35:15 PM  

MBK: Did you read the article at all?


Did you read the name of the person you're talking to?

MBK: It isn't about your gun fantasy and killing someone who is robbing you


To him and DIA everything is about their gun fantasy and killing someone who is robbing them. Either directly and literally or because of OMG SOCIALISM. They're both skipping broken records.

Seriously, were you thinking you were addressing someone else?
 
2011-12-03 08:37:38 PM  

MBK: GaryPDX: Lovely, what genius greened this one. Gee thanks.

Did you read the article at all? It isn't about your gun fantasy and killing someone who is robbing you.

You have a choice. You can push a button, saving 5 lives, and killing 1. Or you can do nothing, and let 5 people die and 1 live.


You have NO idea what you're talking about, You have no idea what it means to carry a gun, You have no idea what it means that people want you to die.

Shut up
 
2011-12-03 08:38:16 PM  
I want to up the mindfark here. A young mother, her infant son with her, stall out on the train tracks. There are five people walking intentionally along the tracks on the other side.

Who do you kill?
 
2011-12-03 08:38:23 PM  
I would be too busy filming it with my phone to do anything useful.... but the YouTube hits would be enormous.
 
2011-12-03 08:38:30 PM  
Is there a way to derail the train so it takes them all out?
 
2011-12-03 08:39:21 PM  

GaryPDX: MBK: GaryPDX: Lovely, what genius greened this one. Gee thanks.

Did you read the article at all? It isn't about your gun fantasy and killing someone who is robbing you.

You have a choice. You can push a button, saving 5 lives, and killing 1. Or you can do nothing, and let 5 people die and 1 live.

You have NO idea what you're talking about, You have no idea what it means to carry a gun, You have no idea what it means that people want you to die.

Shut up


Timing is half of everything.

/laughing so hard I'm almost crying
 
2011-12-03 08:40:00 PM  
That's tough. I don't like the idea of switching the tracks. I mean, the tracks were arraigned that way already. And if you change it, you could be altering something that is much bigger than you know.

Intellectually, it's an interesting exercise. I don't know what I would do.
 
MBK [TotalFark]
2011-12-03 08:40:45 PM  

GaryPDX: You have NO idea what you're talking about, You have no idea what it means to carry a gun, You have no idea what it means that people want you to die.


I'm a Middle Eastern male living in America.

I think 50% of the country wants me dead.
 
2011-12-03 08:40:57 PM  
This is why Kirk>Picard.
 
2011-12-03 08:41:26 PM  
If I get to pick the one person, sure.
 
2011-12-03 08:42:01 PM  

violentsalvation: Is there a way to derail the train so it takes them all out?


Similar to the way Gary's amusing and completely off-topic gun rant derailed this thread?
 
2011-12-03 08:42:19 PM  
There's a neat little Dorothy L. Sayers problem, where, in a fiery train wreck, a character is given the choice of saving a trapped baby or a briefcase. He chooses the baby. The briefcase which was destroyed had contained a wonderful medical cure. Later on, the baby grows up to be a violent criminal.
 
2011-12-03 08:42:29 PM  

unlikely: Timing is half of everything.

/laughing so hard I'm almost crying


I actually read that imagining him as Rage Guy.
 
2011-12-03 08:43:25 PM  

GAT_00: I want to up the mindfark here. A young mother, her infant son with her, stall out on the train tracks. There are five people walking intentionally along the tracks on the other side.

Who do you kill?


Okay, but what if the infant son is Hitler?
 
2011-12-03 08:45:25 PM  
How do I choose among the three Kardashians?
 
2011-12-03 08:49:30 PM  

But Wait There's More: How do I choose among the three Kardashians?


Save fifteen people.
 
2011-12-03 08:53:33 PM  
 
2011-12-03 09:00:54 PM  

Snarfangel: Talon: The fun thin gabout the trolly problem is that when you alter it slightly, where in order to stop the train you push the one person onto the tracks to derail it... people tend to say no. In general people seem to think that misdirecting harm is ok, but using a person as the means to an end is not. It's the sort of thing you learn about in very early philosophy classes.

One problem with a question like this is that it assumes a form of omniscience that most people don't have. "Pushing this fat guy onto the tracks will save five other people," when it might well be that pushing the guy onto the tracks will result in six dead people.

Or to put it another way, if you know enough about the situation where you could accurately makes such a decision, you probably know enough about it to have prevented it in the first place. "Hey, I don't need a fat guy, I'll just put this big rock in place in case a train comes down the track at an inconvenient time."


Well yeah they're philosophical hypotheticals. They aren't meant to be absolutely realistic. The point of these hypotheticals is to do away with social pressures associated with real life issues and figure out your beliefs.

If you come right out and say "Do you support XYZ?" of course people are going to say "no, absolutely not" (or "Absolutely, of course I do!"). But hypotheticals like this give you a different insight into what a person actually believes.
 
2011-12-03 09:02:06 PM  

GAT_00: I want to up the mindfark here. A young mother, her infant son with her, stall out on the train tracks. There are five people walking intentionally along the tracks on the other side.

Who do you kill?


The hostage?
 
2011-12-03 09:03:44 PM  
I'd let the universe decide for itself what was to happen.
 
2011-12-03 09:03:55 PM  
1) The guy is called John Glover, wrote about five books on this. It's first year philosophy class.

2) Gary that was one of your most hilarious Gary pisses himself in terror moments I've ever seen, probably even better than one of your more involved 'the coming food riots' speeches. Congratulations, you've outdone yourself.
 
2011-12-03 09:10:44 PM  

GaryPDX: You have NO idea what you're talking about, You have no idea what it means to carry a gun, You have no idea what it means that people want you to die.


I work in the IT department. I know exactly what it feels like to know someone wants me dead.

vice president: 'why is the development system down!? Japan and China are screaming at us!'

me: 'well...you outsourced parts and technical support for the development system and told us to leave it alone or you'd fire us. here's a copy of the 15 memos, 3 warnings and 2 phone calls you sent to me about this issue.'

VP: 'I hate you. die in a fire.'

me: 'always document my findings, isn't that what you said last quarter? thanks man.'
 
2011-12-03 09:13:04 PM  
But then you're taking it out of "God's hands." BURN IN HELL!
 
2011-12-03 09:17:37 PM  
A single trolley problem by itself isn't all that interesting- but it IS interesting how apparently minor tweaks in the trolley problem can drastically change how many people will take a given example.

So, the large majority of people say they'd switch the tracks so that the trolley only kills one innocent person as opposed to five innocent people. And a large number of people say they would not push one fat man in front of the trolley in order to stop it and save the lives of five people. AND most people can't really explain exactly why they feel it is wrong to push the fat man in front of the trolley but not wrong to switch the tracks so the trolley hits a man. Or at least they can't explain it in any coherent sensible way.

By pure coincidence, I happen to have Steven Pinker's "The Stuff of Thought" laying on the floor next to my desk. He summarizes the theory behind this quite nicely:

"people are equipped with an evolutionarily shaped revulsion to manhandling an innocent human being, and this overwhelms any utilitarian calculus that would tally the lives saved and the lives lost. The impulse against roughing up a person would explain other examples in which people recoil from killing one to save many, such as euthanizing a hospital patient to harvest his organs and save five dying patients in need of transplants, or smothering a baby in a wartime hideaway to prevent its cries from attracting soldiers who would kill all the occupants, baby included."

Then he discusses how brain scan studies have provided some evidence for this theory, in that when you consider a "push the fat man onto the tracks" scenario, you activate more brain areas associated with emotions than you do when you're pondering a "switch the tracks" scenario.

As an aside, I really cannot recommend this book enough.

TL;DR... evolution says we feel bad about roughing up innocent people, and this emotion can overwhelm a more rational, utilitarian mode of thinking.
 
2011-12-03 09:21:30 PM  
I don't know. Ask Harry Truman.
 
2011-12-03 09:22:03 PM  
Why not? I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
 
2011-12-03 09:22:11 PM  
I don't know. You tell me, Raskolnikov.
 
2011-12-03 09:27:18 PM  

dahmers love zombie: GAT_00: I want to up the mindfark here. A young mother, her infant son with her, stall out on the train tracks. There are five people walking intentionally along the tracks on the other side.

Who do you kill?

The hostage?


::claps:: thank you!
 
2011-12-03 09:34:58 PM  
www.ghostinthemachine.net
There are always consequences.

/I'm probably in the minority, but I love that movie
 
2011-12-03 09:39:43 PM  

MBK: Hmm.

In the scenario presented in the article, it leads to a lot of questions.

Did the 5 hikers know that the train track there were on was active? Did the 1 hiker know that his track was active?

I don't know if I'll be able to do it. What if the 1 hiker was doing the right thing, and the 5 others were just tempting Darwin?


This. I'd let many dumbfarks die to protect a responsible people. Makes me think of a more common/realistic scenario of a stupid climber(s) getting stuck up in a mountain. Do I risk the lives of 5 rescuers to save the life of one dumbfark. This dilemma happens frequently in Canada like someone falling through the ice when he should have known it was unsafe.

I wonder how the Trolley question results would change if you made them all children or 5 adults and 1 child.
 
2011-12-03 09:43:00 PM  

Weaver95: I'd let the universe decide for itself what was to happen.


The universe has incorporated you into the dynamic and what you do serves the purposes of the universe. Your action/inaction, is the will of the universe.

/corny shiat like this is permitted in a philosophy thread BTW
 
2011-12-03 09:44:33 PM  

HawgWild: I don't like the idea of switching the tracks. I mean, the tracks were arraigned that way already.


That's a good point. For all you know, you could be inadvertently causing a head-on collision with another train by switching those tracks.
 
2011-12-03 09:50:16 PM  

Weaver95: I'd let the universe decide for itself what was to happen.


allaccessblog.files.wordpress.com

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice"

 
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