The philosophical question on the moral side to murder and my opinions -

Jacob Harrison

The person who discovered Britain’s true monarch
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In my summer Philosophy Class at college, I was given a homework assignment to watch this video about when murder is ok. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBdfcR-8hEY The video provided important examples. I do not think that directly murdering an innocent person is ever ok and I will explain my reasons for each of the examples.

The first example the speaker gave is that if you are a trolley driver and the driver is going super fast and the breaks are not working. There are 5 people on the tracks ahead but you have the ability as a driver to steer the trolley to go onto a side track. The side track has one person on it. Should you go on the side track and run over 1 person to save the lives of 5?

I think not because if you choose go on the side track, it is deliberately taking someone's life while running 5 people over is not deliberate.

The speaker then gave a scenario where a bunch of people are injured in a hospital and one is in a more critical condition and about to die while the others have more time to survive but if you save the life of that person, it will cause the others to die. In that situation I justify giving medical attention to the others to save their lives, because letting 1 person die is not direct murder because it is not the intent for him to die, it is an unavoidable consequence.

The speaker then mentioned the famous R v Dudley and Stephens case where they and the cabin boy Richard Parker were shipwrecked and lost at sea, and to survive, they ate Richard and when they were found, they were arrested. I think that it was wrong for them to eat him because it is still murder and his life was not less valuable than theirs.

The speaker then asked if Richard consented to getting eaten, would it be justified for them to do so? I still think it would be wrong because that argument can be used to justify euthanizing people who are suicidal.
 

mr.moon1488

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Personally, I've always thought I'd pull the lever. To me I've always viewed sins of omission, as being on the same level of sins of commission. I don't see how choosing not to do the right thing, is better than choosing to go out, and do the wrong thing.
 
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Clop

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The first example the speaker gave is that if you are a trolley driver and the driver is going super fast and the breaks are not working. There are 5 people on the tracks ahead but you have the ability as a driver to steer the trolley to go onto a side track. The side track has one person on it. Should you go on the side track and run over 1 person to save the lives of 5?
The company is going to be sued for not having working brakes on the trolley, the person who tied the people on the tracks is convicted based on how many people were killed (if five, life without parole - if one, twenty-to-life) and the social media is going to socially trash the driver no matter what they choose so their life is over either way.

If any of the people on the tracks were chaingunners, you are wholly excused.
 
The trolley problem is an old one, it keeps working though even if nobody ties people to train tracks anymore.

It's an interesting dilemma, because it makes you explore the idea of responsibility. The driver of the train isn't responsible for the people on the track, but he's responsible for the choice he makes. Not doing anything is still a choice.

From a utilitarian standpoint, the answer is simple, kill the least people possible and switch tracks.
There are lots of other viewpoints though, and usually it's less simple. Like Jacob says, if you run over the 5 technically you didn't do anything, so maybe you'd feel less responsibility in that case. Or maybe the rules of your religion mean god will hold you more responsible for one than the other.

Personally I also consider the following: The 1 dude on the inactive track might have known he was on an inactive track. The 5 idiots on the active track should have known to stay off the active track. Do I let the irresponsible behavior of 5 idiots cause me to kill the 1 guy who was smart enough to stay off the active track?

Of course in real life a lot of things already went really wrong if you're choosing between killing 1 or 5 people. But that's cheating, you just have to accept the scenario to participate in the exercise.
 
I remember being asked about the trolley question before a few years back, and I have always found it as an odd scenario. "The trolley is going super fast!" Why? What conductor/driver would go really fast through a populated zone? "The breaks don't work!" Do trolleys not have an emergency brake for that very reason? I understand that one is supposed to give the benefit of the doubt and roll with the question given, but is it not human nature to find an easy solution first to avoid a moral dilemma completely?
 

Jacob Harrison

The person who discovered Britain’s true monarch
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The trolley problem is an old one, it keeps working though even if nobody ties people to train tracks anymore.

It's an interesting dilemma, because it makes you explore the idea of responsibility. The driver of the train isn't responsible for the people on the track, but he's responsible for the choice he makes. Not doing anything is still a choice.

From a utilitarian standpoint, the answer is simple, kill the least people possible and switch tracks.
There are lots of other viewpoints though, and usually it's less simple. Like Jacob says, if you run over the 5 technically you didn't do anything, so maybe you'd feel less responsibility in that case. Or maybe the rules of your religion mean god will hold you more responsible for one than the other.

Personally I also consider the following: The 1 dude on the inactive track might have known he was on an inactive track. The 5 idiots on the active track should have known to stay off the active track. Do I let the irresponsible behavior of 5 idiots cause me to kill the 1 guy who was smart enough to stay off the active track?

Of course in real life a lot of things already went really wrong if you're choosing between killing 1 or 5 people. But that's cheating, you just have to accept the scenario to participate in the exercise.
I don’t think that the utilitarian standpoint is a good way to make moral decisions because that was also used to justify the sailor’s actions in the R v Dudley and Stephens case.

I remember being asked about the trolley question before a few years back, and I have always found it as an odd scenario. "The trolley is going super fast!" Why? What conductor/driver would go really fast through a populated zone? "The breaks don't work!" Do trolleys not have an emergency brake for that very reason? I understand that one is supposed to give the benefit of the doubt and roll with the question given, but is it not human nature to find an easy solution first to avoid a moral dilemma completely?
It could be possible that some psycho phycologists mess with the trolleys emergency breaks and tied people to the tracks to test what the drivers would do.
 

jackolasboot

{{{der ewige newfag}}}
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your premises make no sense. murder can be broadly defined as "the unjustifiable killing of another person." immorality is an essential quality of murder, so murder cannot be an inherently good action in any case. killing a dictator is an act which may have good consequences for the country he rules, and if made with the sole intent of liberating the people from an oppressive ruler, can be called "justifiable homicide" and not murder
the trolley problem isn't about murder, given the limited information. the person controlling the train has no idea who the people are on the track in front of him, and cannot be expected to know given the circumstances. his only moral option in this situation is to minimize the total amount of immediate suffering, and so directing the train toward the single person will be inherently moral because he has weighed the lives of five people against one on the only basis he has to judge them given the limited time and information: how many of them there are
yes, it is true that by killing the one man, he may end up causing a series of cascading terrible events, but these are not his fault because could not have possibly predicted them in the moment he made his decision

edit: your logic here is faulty as well
"I think not because if you choose go on the side track, it is deliberately taking someone's life while running 5 people over is not deliberate. "
in this situation, the choice to act or not are both deliberate. you cannot absolve yourself of the moral burden, because in this scenario you have the means to act. choosing not to turn the steering wheel is a deliberate action once you have considered the possibility of turning it
 
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It could be possible that some psycho phycologists mess with the trolleys emergency breaks and tied people to the tracks to test what the drivers would do.
True, but that is very assumptional. But so is mine in that sense as well. We could go all day debating the semantics of the question. However, if one was truly in a no-way-out scenario and one had to choose, it is really entirely based upon the individual's moral code. Someone who really cares about the impact of murder would most likely not actively choose to switch the track because that means they physically set in motion someone's death. Someone more logic based would go for the lesser and run the one guy over. I can not say which I would do because I've always found it funnier to let others guess what you would do.
 

dreamworks face

Model bugman
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It really comes down to utilitarianism (e.g. saving 5 lives vs. 1 live) vs. Kant's categorical imperative (e.g. you believe that murder is wrong no matter what the context.) The train problem is actually intended to poke a hole in the categorical imperative - allowing people to die through inaction is tantamount to committing the five murders personally. So in this situation, you're not really faced with a "murder/no murder" dichotomy - you can let five people die through inaction, or kill one person. I suppose the Kantian could reconcile these views by saying that there is no morally "correct" path to take in this situation - you will be doing wrong either way. One could save the five people but not kid yourself that it's a morally correct action, and that perhaps it is not always possible to always do the morally "correct" thing, as that path might not exist.
 
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Did someone give some of you the impression that there is a right answer to this? Or to philosophy in general?

That's the whole damn point. Utilitarianism sucks for making ethical and/or moral decisions because the greater good outweighs the individual. But it's the easiest logically and mathematically, and theoretically it should make for a better society.

Kant was a dumb old crank who really, really was a stickler about honesty, to the point of ridiculousness. The whole problem with "Always be 100% honest" shows up when the nazis come and ask you if you're hiding any jews under your floorboards.

But none of this is murder anyway. It's some accidental deaths. If a little kid jumps out in front of my car and I swerve to avoid him, and in the process run someone else over, you wouldn't call that a murder. You'd call it an accident.

The right answer depends on the exact question. How do we ensure the least deaths? Change tracks. How do we avoid taking an action that kills someone? Do nothing. Does intentionally taking no action make you just as responsible for the outcome as intentionally taking an action? I dunno, but either way the dead people are dead.

Thanks for not going with the whole tired "Stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family" thing...
 
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dreamworks face

Model bugman
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Did someone give some of you the impression that there is a right answer to this? Or to philosophy in general?

That's the whole damn point. Utilitarianism sucks for making ethical and/or moral decisions because the greater good outweighs the individual. But it's the easiest logically and mathematically, and theoretically it should make for a better society.

Kant was a dumb old crank who really, really was a stickler about honesty, to the point of ridiculousness. The whole problem with "Always be 100% honest" shows up when the nazis come and ask you if you're hiding any jews under your floorboards.

But none of this is murder anyway. It's some accidental deaths. If a little kid jumps out in front of my car and I swerve to avoid him, and in the process run someone else over, you wouldn't call that a murder. You'd call it an accident.

The right answer depends on the exact question. How do we ensure the least deaths? Change tracks. How do we avoid taking an action that kills someone? Do nothing. Does intentionally taking no action make you just as responsible for the outcome as intentionally taking an action? I dunno, but either way the dead people are dead.

Thanks for not going with the whole tired "Stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family" thing...
I dislike utilitarianism A lot of bullshit social policies and welfare are justified by utilitarian ideals - originally, utilitarianism (Bentham / John Stuart Mills) was trying to find solutions that produce "maximum utility." One problem that was found with this, and one that underlines social justice to this day, is that it's possible to solve this problem by making a few people really happy, and let others be miserable - so we had later thinks like Rawls try to focus on stuff like "average utility" - e.g. a society should try to operate so average utility of citizens is maximized. Other issues were that perhaps maximizing utility might not lead as good an outcome as "satisficing" (e.g. attempting to meet the most needs rather than generating the most amount of utility.) But ultimately, the biggest problem I have with using utilitarianism as a decision making criteria is that there are huge epistemic problems with utilitarianism. E.g. what if the one person walking across the street is a nobel-prize winning physicist and the five people are ex-cons? At least with Kantian ideals, the categorical imperative makes it clear what is thought to be moral or not. You may disagree with the rules of what he considers moral, but there is a clarity in deontology that I find lacking in other systems of ethics.

Reformulating the problem as a matter of accidental deaths is disingenuous - the problem posits that you are the trolley operator, you know there are five people tied to the tracks on one side and one person tied to the tracks on the other, you know what will happen if you don't throw the switch (5 people will die), and you know what will happen if you do throw the switch (1 person will die.) In the case where the outcome of inaction is known, and one has the choice being inaction and action, inaction is really a choice - hence inaction would be tantamount to murder in this scenario. I would say this is inherent to the construction of the problem - in the real world, we may not be so certain about the consequences of action/inaction.
 

Jacob Harrison

The person who discovered Britain’s true monarch
kiwifarms.net
your premises make no sense. murder can be broadly defined as "the unjustifiable killing of another person." immorality is an essential quality of murder, so murder cannot be an inherently good action in any case. killing a dictator is an act which may have good consequences for the country he rules, and if made with the sole intent of liberating the people from an oppressive ruler, can be called "justifiable homicide" and not murder
the trolley problem isn't about murder, given the limited information. the person controlling the train has no idea who the people are on the track in front of him, and cannot be expected to know given the circumstances. his only moral option in this situation is to minimize the total amount of immediate suffering, and so directing the train toward the single person will be inherently moral because he has weighed the lives of five people against one on the only basis he has to judge them given the limited time and information: how many of them there are
yes, it is true that by killing the one man, he may end up causing a series of cascading terrible events, but these are not his fault because could not have possibly predicted them in the moment he made his decision

edit: your logic here is faulty as well
"I think not because if you choose go on the side track, it is deliberately taking someone's life while running 5 people over is not deliberate. "
in this situation, the choice to act or not are both deliberate. you cannot absolve yourself of the moral burden, because in this scenario you have the means to act. choosing not to turn the steering wheel is a deliberate action once you have considered the possibility of turning it
It really comes down to utilitarianism (e.g. saving 5 lives vs. 1 live) vs. Kant's categorical imperative (e.g. you believe that murder is wrong no matter what the context.) The train problem is actually intended to poke a hole in the categorical imperative - allowing people to die through inaction is tantamount to committing the five murders personally. So in this situation, you're not really faced with a "murder/no murder" dichotomy - you can let five people die through inaction, or kill one person. I suppose the Kantian could reconcile these views by saying that there is no morally "correct" path to take in this situation - you will be doing wrong either way. One could save the five people but not kid yourself that it's a morally correct action, and that perhaps it is not always possible to always do the morally "correct" thing, as that path might not exist.
It is a difference of commission vs omission, but some people like @mr.moon1488 think that omission is just as bad, so it is less bad to run over 1 person. I thought that my original answer was the Catholic answer to this dilemma but now I am not sure. I will therefore ask the ex priest @Fagatron about this.
 
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crocodilian

K. K. K. Rool
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The trolley question is a tired one because anyone who proposes it will, 99% of the time, insist on refusing further detail. "No, you aren't allowed to ask who's on the tracks, how fast it's going, or anything else. You either select 1 person to die or let 5 people die. I am a modern day Aristotle." Real life is never so simple; there's always various details to consider when solving any problem, which makes every issue complex (but, in a way, also easier to make a decision on.) The trolley question disregards this simple facet of reality. The trolley question is the philosophical equivalent of a Reddit poster.

A better question would be something like, "is it acceptable to kill someone in a time of war?" This opens up many possible variables that encourage open-ended considerations, which benefit your critical thinking and reasoning skills. It encourages people to explore possible additional factors or details, rather than railroading them.

Basically I'm telling you to call your professor an idiot for using such a bad philosophical conundrum. If he asks what you think of murder anyway, I would just say this.
 
Reformulating the problem as a matter of accidental deaths is disingenuous - the problem posits that you are the trolley operator, you know there are five people tied to the tracks on one side and one person tied to the tracks on the other, you know what will happen if you don't throw the switch (5 people will die), and you know what will happen if you do throw the switch (1 person will die.) In the case where the outcome of inaction is known, and one has the choice being inaction and action, inaction is really a choice - hence inaction would be tantamount to murder in this scenario. I would say this is inherent to the construction of the problem - in the real world, we may not be so certain about the consequences of action/inaction.
How so? If I, through no intentional action of my own, end up in a scenario where no matter what I do someone will die, that's an accident. It's not murder. That doesn't make me less responsible for the outcome, but either way it's not murder.

You're responsible for killing 5 people or 1 person. Or, you're responsible for choosing not to kill the one person who made the right decision and unfortunately that means the 5 idiots standing on the tracks they should have known not to stand on get run over.

There's a difference between responsibility and blame. If I sell you a building, and 10 years down the line that building gets hit by a meteor and you are killed, I still have responsibility for you being in that building. But it'd be absurd to blame me for your death. I argue in that scenario the train operator has all the responsibility but bears none of the blame.

I also agree strict utilitarianism doesn't work, but I'm not sure anyone ever thought it would, it's more of a theory than anything, as I understand it.

Hey OP, have you watched the good place? It's a funny show that sort of looks at these basic philosophical problems, in a comedic context, but fairly accurately. It's also a funny show. You might find it blasphemous however...
 
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Jacob Harrison

The person who discovered Britain’s true monarch
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How so? If I, through no intentional action of my own, end up in a scenario where no matter what I do someone will die, that's an accident. It's not murder. That doesn't make me less responsible for the outcome, but either way it's not murder.

You're responsible for killing 5 people or 1 person. Or, you're responsible for choosing not to kill the one person who made the right decision and unfortunately that means the 5 idiots standing on the tracks they should have known not to stand on get run over.

There's a difference between responsibility and blame. If I sell you a building, and 10 years down the line that building gets hit by a meteor and you are killed, I still have responsibility for you being in that building. But it'd be absurd to blame me for your death. I argue in that scenario the train operator has all the responsibility but bears none of the blame.

I also agree strict utilitarianism doesn't work, but I'm not sure anyone ever thought it would, it's more of a theory than anything, as I understand it.

Hey OP, have you watched the good place? It's a funny show that sort of looks at these basic philosophical problems, in a comedic context, but fairly accurately. It's also a funny show. You might find it blasphemous however...
As I said in an earlier comment, choosing to steer the trolley on the other track is commission while not doing so is omission. The question is whether commission or omission makes you more responsible.

I heard of The Good Place and do find it blasphemous. Its afterlife is different from the Christian afterlife.
 

Ягода

Ягода малина или генрих Ягода
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what if single person on the track is your mom and five people are all members of congress?

I'm not breaking, I'm stepping on the gas. (... do trolleys have "gas"?)
 
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