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# Who amongst you can answer this? watch

1. 2,2 ...
less people killed so better right?
2. (1)1
(2)1
(Original post by High Stakes)
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There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

(1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.

(2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
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As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by putting something very heavy in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you – your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

(1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
(2) Push the fat man.
3. (Original post by z33)
2,2 ...
less people killed so better right?
Would you realistically pull the lever and push a fat man off the bridge? I want you to answer as if you were there. Do you think that if a train was going to kill 5 people in about 10-20 seconds, that you could rationally act as you have written?
4. 1) 2.
2) 2.

I'm a bit of a utilitarian ahaa
5. (Original post by High Stakes)
Would you realistically pull the lever and push a fat man off the bridge? I want you to answer as if you were there. Do you think that if a train was going to kill 5 people in about 10-20 seconds, that you could rationally act as you have written?
oh i was treating this as some kind of riddle whoops

if i was there i'd probably freeze and everyone would die x'D including me... of a heart attack and sheer panic :O
6. 2,2 - 5 lives > 1 life
7. (Original post by SiminaM)
1 and 1. I'd rather not take any action if it will result in someone's death. I'd feel less guilt if I stayed out of it as it wasn't my fault those people were tied up. Also(most probably) I'd be frozen and panicking and overthinking and I wouldn't have the time to do anything.
this.
8. (Original post by markreed)
I'm a bit of a utilitarian
Would you murder a rich old man in order to lead to a net increase in utility by sharing his wealth among many poor individuals? Utilitarianism states that you must so long as utility is maximised - the morally bankrupt theory that it is. It justifies, if not demands all sorts of cruel and wicked barbarity. For instance, utilitarianism justifies gang rape if enough satisfaction is gained by the rapists.
9. (Original post by High Stakes)
Would you realistically pull the lever and push a fat man off the bridge? I want you to answer as if you were there. Do you think that if a train was going to kill 5 people in about 10-20 seconds, that you could rationally act as you have written?
I personall would like to think i would pull the lever and push the fat man. But is difficult to know how i would act in the situation, none of us really do.
10. (Original post by george-90)
Would you murder a rich old man in order to lead to a net increase in utility by sharing his wealth among many poor individuals? Utilitarianism states that you must so long as utility is maximised - the morally bankrupt theory that it is. It justifies, if not demands all sorts of cruel and wicked barbarity. For instance, utilitarianism justifies gang rape if enough satisfaction is gained by the rapists.
I understand the concept of the whole "tyranny of the majority" thing but when I stated that I casually prescribe to Utilitarianism I meant more so Mill's Rule Util. rather than Bentham's Act Util. (sorry for not making that explicit), with the former at least trying to minimise the impact on the minority albeit not with complete success. And of course you can use Utilitarianism to justify all sorts of terrible acts but that is more of a manipulation of the theory rather than a flaw in the theory itself. For example, in your first example the old man doesn't have to be murdered; he could choose to share his wealth with individuals poorer than himself which would still align with the goal of Utilitarianism.

With your second example Mill attempts to distinguish between higher and lower pleasures, so the act of rape would be a lower pleasure and thus not a goal of a Rule Utilitarian.
11. (Original post by george-90)
Would you murder a rich old man in order to lead to a net increase in utility by sharing his wealth among many poor individuals? Utilitarianism states that you must so long as utility is maximised - the morally bankrupt theory that it is. It justifies, if not demands all sorts of cruel and wicked barbarity. For instance, utilitarianism justifies gang rape if enough satisfaction is gained by the rapists.
Could the money not just be stolen from the rich old man? By not donating his money to, say, the extreme poor around the world, the old man is responsible for allowing hundreds or even thousands of people to die. In any case, you're ironically setting out a utilitarian, or at least a consequentialist, objection here.

In real life, the gang rape example is never going to be justified on utilitarianism, so it's pretty much irrelevant - the world is as it is and in this world, utilitarianism wouldn't justify it. The suffering inflicted on the victim vastly outweighs the pleasure or preference-satisfaction gained by the rapists, particularly as, in the real world, there are alternative and non-violent methods of gaining such pleasure. Indeed, in a society of pure, rational utilitarians, such a thing would simply never occur. You also ignore the fact that such actions would have a harmful effect on society as a whole - in other words, even act utilitarians follow rules or heuristics that will tend to maximise utility. I don't see that there's really a case for rule utilitarianism in light of this. What you are doing by bringing this up is appealing to the emotions to try to score points.

It should also be said that appealing to fictitious examples matters not one jot if utilitarianism is the objectively correct moral system, which I believe it is.
12. (Original post by markreed)
I understand the concept of the whole "tyranny of the majority" thing but when I stated that I casually prescribe to Utilitarianism I meant more so Mill's Rule Util. rather than Bentham's Act Util. (sorry for not making that explicit), with the former at least trying to minimise the impact on the minority albeit not with complete success. And of course you can use Utilitarianism to justify all sorts of terrible acts but that is more of a manipulation of the theory rather than a flaw in the theory itself. For example, in your first example the old man doesn't have to be murdered; he could choose to share his wealth with individuals poorer than himself which would still align with the goal of Utilitarianism.

With your second example Mill attempts to distinguish between higher and lower pleasures, so the act of rape would be a lower pleasure and thus not a goal of a Rule Utilitarian.
Thanks for the clarification. I thought you meant in its most basic and general form, as most who claim to be utilitarian do.
13. why can't it be a fat woman ?
14. (Original post by viddy9)
Could the money not just be stolen from the rich old man? By not donating his money to, say, the extreme poor around the world, the old man is responsible for allowing hundreds or even thousands of people to die. In any case, you're ironically setting out a utilitarian, or at least a consequentialist, objection here.
I am doing no such thing. Consequentialism disregards means, therefore murder would be irrelevant in this case, which I don't think it is. Also, I'm not using utility as the basis of my moral objection, therefore it is not a utilitarian argument.

(Original post by viddy9)
In real life, the gang rape example is never going to be justified on utilitarianism, so it's pretty much irrelevant - the world is as it is and in this world, utilitarianism wouldn't justify it.
And why is this the case? What if a terminally ill patient was raped? Or what about someone who was unconscious?

(Original post by viddy9)
The suffering inflicted on the victim vastly outweighs the pleasure or preference-satisfaction gained by the rapists, particularly as, in the real world, there are alternative and non-violent methods of gaining such pleasure.
This might not be the case, as I mention above. If it was not the case, and there isn't a good reason to assert that such a case would be impossible, then utilitarianism would demand it.

(Original post by viddy9)
Indeed, in a society of pure, rational utilitarians, such a thing would simply never occur.
Now who is talking about things outside of reality? Not only is such a thing impossible, but it fails to account for the fact that people cannot know what the outcome of their actions will be in terms of utility. Rational individuals cannot make decisions based on future events or information of which they are not aware, and therefore a perfect adherence to utilitarianism may not be undergone, even by the most rational of utilitarians. It is also impossible to know whether or not the a maximisation of utility was achieved, as doing so would require knowledge of an infinite number of alternate outcomes - which is impossible. Utilitarianism also does not allow one to distinguish between different series of actions which lead to the same level of utility. It assumes no difference between +1,-1,-1,-1,+3, and simply +1, where integers are changes in arbitrary values of utility as a result of a series of events. The net outcome is the same in both instances, and therefore two alternate series of actions exist to maximise utility. Of course, this is unknowable information, and therefore additional moral philosophy must be applied, unless an arbitrary rule is applied (e.g. fewest distinct events).

(Original post by viddy9)
You also ignore the fact that such actions would have a harmful effect on society as a whole - in other words, even act utilitarians follow rules or heuristics that will tend to maximise utility.
I specifically stated that utility was maximised in my scenario. I did, in fact, account for all possible consequences.

(Original post by viddy9)
I don't see that there's really a case for rule utilitarianism in light of this. What you are doing by bringing this up is appealing to the emotions to try to score points.

It should also be said that appealing to fictitious examples matters not one jot if utilitarianism is the objectively correct moral system, which I believe it is.
I'm not trying to score points of any kind. I'm not trying to persuade anybody. All I care about is what is true and valid. I'm not appealing to emotion at all. All I am doing is giving instances where horrific acts may be justified by utilitarianism.

You have simply changed my scenarios in order to fit your argument. My scenarios are, by definition, justified by the basic philosophy of utilitarianism, as I specifically state the utility is maximised. You can talk about the likelihood of my scenarios if you want to, but that would involve questioning the intellectual validity of my argument, not distorting them in an attempt to refute my argument - which is intellectually invalid by the way, as you know.
15. (Original post by george-90)
I am doing no such thing. Consequentialism disregards means, therefore murder would be irrelevant in this case, which I don't think it is. Also, I'm not using utility as the basis of my moral objection, therefore it is not a utilitarian argument.
No, you're saying that the consequences of utilitarianism in contrived scenarios mean that it is a "morally depraved theory". You're appealing to undesirable consequences (which is logically fallacious) in order to criticise utilitarianism. You've not demonstrated that, say, killing someone is intrinsically wrong, which is what you would have to do for your criticisms to have any validity.

(Original post by george-90)
And why is this the case? What if a terminally ill patient was raped? Or what about someone who was unconscious?
On preference utilitarianism, which is what I adhere to, it would still be wrong to do both. And, as I also pointed out, in real life there are wider societal drawbacks and there are also alternative methods of gaining satisfaction for the perpetrators of these acts.

(Original post by george-90)
Now who is talking about things outside of reality? Not only is such a thing impossible, but it fails to account for the fact that people cannot know what the outcome of their actions will be in terms of utility.
People can and do evaluate the expected utility of their actions. Nobody can know anything for certain; it's about probability.
16. (Original post by george-90)
Thanks for the clarification. I thought you meant in its most basic and general form, as most who claim to be utilitarian do.
You're welcome. Basic util. can be pretty horrible morally due to the lack of boundaries and stuff.
17. 1 for both. I see no need for me to intervene, I would act as if I wasn't there.

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