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10,000,000 to 1

  1. Jul 17, 2003 #1
    [SOLVED] 10,000,000 to 1

    If there was a button that you could press that would save the life of the one you loved the most but would cause the death of ten million strangers, and if the death of the ten million would have no negative effect on the button presser, is it wrong to press the button? Is one life worth less than ten million?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 17, 2003 #2
    It's hard to say, every life is important, especially to he/she who owns it.

    Was the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima totally unnecessary? It all depends on who you ask.

    And, while I think the "noble" thing to do would be to make the sacrifice, that doesn't always guarantee it will happen.
     
  4. Jul 17, 2003 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    I find it difficult to answer such a broad question in isolation. Why is this the situation?[reflexive question]. I might imagine either result possible. But on the whole, to answer in a vacuum of information, I would hope that I could save the 10,000,000. I think it would be easier to not act, than to act. So the result may be different depending on how you wire your button.

    Also, for every reason that you can give me to save the one, I can give you 10,000,000 reasons to save the many. How can we ignore the math? I suspect also that many of those loved one's may try to stop you from pushing the button. Would it matter if they begged you not to push the button?
     
  5. Jul 17, 2003 #4
    better modify the case so that many persons will be facing such decision after you until one of them presses the button.
     
  6. Jul 17, 2003 #5
    That is the wrong question. The question should read: is one life more valuable then that of 10.000.000 other lives?

    Since the answer is no, both the button should not be pressed, and the one who puts you into the dilemma and wiring that button, should be punished severely.
     
  7. Jul 17, 2003 #6
    It would be "right" to me, because i only know my friend, not the other 10 million strangers.
     
  8. Jul 17, 2003 #7
    I have a hard time imagining how killing 10 million strangers would have no adverse effect on you.

    1. Surely, your friend's friend's friend's friend must know someone in that 10 million, and that would have some adverse effect.

    2. Would guilt not be considered an adverse effect, even though you knew no one in that group?
     
  9. Jul 17, 2003 #8
    better that they suffer an adverse effect, than be dead and not have any feeling at all
     
  10. Jul 17, 2003 #9

    Hurkyl

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    Sure it's wrong. When individuals are willing to harm tens of millions for the comfort of those he knows personally, civilization breaks down.
     
  11. Jul 17, 2003 #10
    "When may someone favor members of one's family, or one's community, over other randomly chosen human beings?" Anybody who thinks that there are well-grounded theoretical answers to this sort of question - algorithms for solving moral dilemmas of this sort - is still, in his heart, a theologian or metaphysician.

    Richard Rorty, "Contingency, irony, and solidarity"
     
  12. Jul 17, 2003 #11

    jcsd

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    I'd kill the ten million people and when the person I most love and I are reunited I'd kill her too
     
  13. Jul 17, 2003 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    I should point out that everyone has missed the obvious choice for any physicist: I would disable the system.

    :wink:
     
  14. Jul 17, 2003 #13
    You are a part of the system, if you disable it you die.
     
  15. Jul 17, 2003 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    "I don't believe in the no win scenario"

    Name that quote.
     
  16. Jul 18, 2003 #15

    drag

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    Greetings !
    James T. Kirk (though I believe the precise words were
    slightly different).

    As for the question posed in this thread - my answer is yes.
    I'd press the button without a moment's hasitation.

    Live long and prosper.
     
  17. Jul 18, 2003 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes this was bugging me actually. :wink:
     
  18. Jul 19, 2003 #17
    Sanctity of the Individual

    And yet all you have to do is compromise one individual, and it spells insanity for the rest. Consider what happens when you split the atom? And indeed, all it takes is one disgruntled individual. Hmm ... I wonder if Hitler was given this choice?

    Or, just like in the body. If "one cell" succumbs to a virus, chances are the rest of the body will follow suit.

    This is a horrible choice to put on people, because sooner or later somebody is going to fail. Perhaps society shouldn't put so much emphasis on "conformity," but learn to embrace the individual instead?

    Because comformity spells hypocrisy. Hypocrisy spells rebellion. Rebellion spells chaos. Chaos spells insanity. And insanity spells the end -- "of everything."
     
  19. Jul 19, 2003 #18
    LoL I could never live with myself with killing 10.000.000 persons. I think if (almost) anyone would come to the situation they wouldn't do it either.

    This reminds me of Immanuel Kant's 'Instrumental Evil', where you do evil on others simply because you want good for yourself. Only add 10.000.000 lives.

    It makes me afraid and sad to see those here deciding to do just that.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2003
  20. Jul 19, 2003 #19
    You know that they live too though. Just like you. And where's the limit of knowing ?
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2003
  21. Jul 19, 2003 #20
    Of course if you had a community of 10,000,000 Borgs, what would be the point? Better off stamping out the "collective community" of one (as if it were a single individual), for the sake of yourself, rather than have it assimilate you and take over everything else. Perhaps the 10,000,000 is not worth saving?

    Now where have I heard this before? Hmm ... Seems like it had something to do with Lot and God and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
     
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