# 10,000,000 to 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?

Iacchus32
Originally posted by mitch bass
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?
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.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Originally posted by mitch bass
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?

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?

wimms
better modify the case so that many persons will be facing such decision after you until one of them presses the button.

heusdens
Originally posted by mitch bass
Is one life worth less than ten million?

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.

Bubonic Plague
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?

It would be "right" to me, because i only know my friend, not the other 10 million strangers.

C0mmie
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?

Zantra
better that they suffer an adverse effect, than be dead and not have any feeling at all

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Sure it's wrong. When individuals are willing to harm tens of millions for the comfort of those he knows personally, civilization breaks down.

"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"

Gold Member
I'd kill the ten million people and when the person I most love and I are reunited I'd kill her too

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

C0mmie
You are a part of the system, if you disable it you die.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Originally posted by C0mmie
You are a part of the system, if you disable it you die.

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

Name that quote.

Greetings !
Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
"I don't believe in the no win scenario"

Name that quote.
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.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Originally posted by drag
James T. Kirk (though I believe the precise words were
slightly different).

Yes this was bugging me actually.

Iacchus32
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."

pace
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.

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pace
Originally posted by Bubonic Plague
It would be "right" to me, because i only know my friend, not the other 10 million strangers.

You know that they live too though. Just like you. And where's the limit of knowing ?

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Iacchus32
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.

Bubonic Plague
You know that they live too though. Just like you. And where's the limit of knowing ?

Indeed, i do know that they exist. But i couldn't really care less whether they lived or died, simply because i have never interacted with them before, so they are just "the wind". "They brush past me but leave no impact".

pace
Originally posted by Bubonic Plague
Indeed, i do know that they exist. But i couldn't really care less whether they lived or died, simply because i have never interacted with them before, so they are just "the wind". "They brush past me but leave no impact".

A mass murder is what it would be, it's as simple as that, through a matter of just pushing a simple button. Because you would KNOW you're killing 10.000.000 people.

You KNOW you're killing uncounted people because of fewer. Who are you to judge one man over another, or 1 to 10.000.000. As you said, you don't KNOW what their worth, because YOU don't know them. Don't confuse yourself with God.

And don't say they don't leave any impact on you, we all give impact on eachother through our society structure, the buildings that's been made, the food that's been imported, etc. etc.
But this shouldn't even matter. If you kill many over a few, that's what you do.

If I had a button in front of me which would simply kill 1 guy, because I could save another, I wouldn't do it. Because I wouldn't know the other guy.
However if that other guy is a mass murder or something like that, things might have been different, but I still don't think I would do it.

And no, I didn't even like how this poll was presented. As heusdens was barely into, the poll is misguided in a strong way.

I darely hope you won't be in the military, or in an atom bomb facility with those oppinions.

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Bubonic Plague
Who are you to judge one man over another, or 1 to 10.000.000. As you said, you don't KNOW what their worth, because YOU don't know them. Don't confuse yourself with God.

Yes. You are right. Who am i to judge one man over another, or 1 to 10000000. But the very fact that this question has been posed to everyone means that i am entitled to give my answer, together with my reasons. If we all followed your reasoning, mitch bass might as well have not created this topic, since we'd all be stripped of our powers to give opinions. Also, this question inherently gives us "God-like" powers, so if i am confusing myself with God by answering it, then so are you.

And don't say they don't leave any impact on you, we all give impact on eachother through our society structure, the buildings that's been made, the food that's been imported, etc. etc.

and if the death of the ten million would have no negative effect on the button presser

Let me ask you a question. If you were walking along the edge of a cliff one day. The current that day was exceptionally strong. And you saw two people struggling in the water. One is a true friend and the other is a stranger whom you have never interacted with before. You happen to have a length of rope in your backpack. If you only had time to lower the rope down and save one person from being dragged into the ocean and drown, who would you save? Why?

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Zantra
The neeeds of the many, outweigh the needs of the few, or the one

Since we're doing quotes now To which was eventually replied:

The need of the one can outweigh the needs of the many.

There is no "right answer" to this. It's a question designed to determine the strength of your morality and convictions. To say that it is wrong to let 10,000,000 people die and it is better to sacrifice someone close to you (like your wife/ husband/brother/sister/mother/father/chilld) is an exercise in unfairness. I think the majority of us would feel equal pain either way, but me personally, I couldn't live with that choice. If I had to kill the person next to me to save millions, then it would be 9,999,999 lives saved, because I'd want to die along with that person I let die. I'm with Ivan. I don't believe in a no win scenario.

So I think I can sum up my answer as this. I wouldn't let anyone die- instead I would choose to take my loved one's place,letting them not press the button, saving 10,000,001 lives.

Greetings !
Originally posted by Zantra
It's a question designed to determine the strength of
Oh... ? Morality ? Convictions ?
If 10 million chickens are slaughtered every day to
be used as food for mankind, what is the difference ?
Why would the termination of the lives of 10 million human
beings you do not know and that will not affect you
from the outside in any negative manner bother you ?
Why doesn't the termination of the lives of the 10 million
chickens bother you ?

Why is it wrong to terminate the life of humans but not
of other creatures ? Why is it sometimes good ?
What is good and wrong and who eventually determines it ?
What's the difference, their lives will end anyway sooner
or later afterall, so ?

If you had a pet chicken for years would you rather kill
it than a person you do not know if you had to choose ?

Live long and prosper.

Zantra
Originally posted by drag
Greetings !

Oh... ? Morality ? Convictions ?
If 10 million chickens are slaughtered every day to
be used as food for mankind, what is the difference ?
Why would the termination of the lives of 10 million human
beings you do not know and that will not affect you
from the outside in any negative manner bother you ?
Why doesn't the termination of the lives of the 10 million
chickens bother you ?

Why is it wrong to terminate the life of humans but not
of other creatures ? Why is it sometimes good ?
What is good and wrong and who eventually determines it ?
What's the difference, their lives will end anyway sooner
or later afterall, so ?

If you had a pet chicken for years would you rather kill
it than a person you do not know if you had to choose ?

Live long and prosper.

Anyhow, there's a large difference between killing chickens and killing humans. In the grand scheme of things chickens are food. We are higher in the food chain, so it's natural to accept the killing of chickens because they are a lower life form.

On the other hand, killing 10 million human beings is genocide, termination of one's own species. There is apathy for chickens, but empathy for our own species for obvious reasons I don't feel like laying out. But I'll just say that if those 10 million chickens could speak, and said "hey don't kill me" you'd see a heck of a lot more vegetarians out there.

What it comes down to is empathy, emotional attachment, and prioritzing. We don't emphasize the value of the life of a chicken vs the life of a human being because of survival of the species, natural predatory instict, and acceptance that chicken is food for consumption, not being on the same level as us. I guess if you had one for a pet, you wouldn't want to kill it, but can you really value the lives of 10,000,000 people over that of a pet? Most would say no.

However, when you deal in 2 human choices, emotional attachment takes over and gut first instict is to preserve your loved one, But eventually logistics take over and you have a hard time equating 10,000,000 lives with just one. From there, it's a toss up, and it depends on the person. And that's it in a nutshell

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Greetings !
Originally posted by Zantra
On the other hand, killing 10 million human beings is genocide, termination of one's own species.
Hardly so, there are almost 6 and a half billion people
on the planet. It is much more so when you kill one out of a few
dozen lepards still left alive.
Originally posted by Zantra
What it comes down to is empathy, emotional attachment, and prioritzing. We don't emphasize the value of the life of a chicken vs the life of a human being because of survival of the species, natural predatory instict, and acceptance that chicken is food for consumption, not being on the same level as us.
Aah... But is it our natural instinct ?
Or maybe it's just a social instinct we've acquired
through society ?

For example, Nazi Germany made a different type of distinction -
human beings belonging to the arian race and all other
creatures human or not who are inferior and thus must serve
them or die. What about males killing while competing for females -
a widely accepted custom until the past few centuries.

I do think that our living in packs and many other related
evolutionary social instincts exist, but I do not think that respect/sanctity of ANY human life is our natural inborn
instinct, rather an acquired social one. Even today many
societies exist where killing of some types of human
beings is glorified and encouraged. Many animals kill
the offspring of other males including some of our closest
relatives - the chimpanzees.

Is it mostly an evolutionary instinct ? Is it mostly a social one ?
Are there, perhaps, other social and evolutionary factors
involved like a sense of fairness or numeric scale comparisson ?

Live long and prosper.

Zantra
Originally posted by drag
Greetings !

Hardly so, there are almost 6 and a half billion people
on the planet. It is much more so when you kill one out of a few
dozen lepards still left alive.

Aah... But is it our natural instinct ?
Or maybe it's just a social instinct we've acquired
through society ?

For example, Nazi Germany made a different type of distinction -
human beings belonging to the arian race and all other
creatures human or not who are inferior and thus must serve
them or die. What about males killing while competing for females -
a widely accepted custom until the past few centuries.

I do think that our living in packs and many other related
evolutionary social instincts exist, but I do not think that respect/sanctity of ANY human life is our natural inborn
instinct, rather an acquired social one. Even today many
societies exist where killing of some types of human
beings is glorified and encouraged. Many animals kill
the offspring of other males including some of our closest
relatives - the chimpanzees.

Is it mostly an evolutionary instinct ? Is it mostly a social one ?
Are there, perhaps, other social and evolutionary factors
involved like a sense of fairness or numeric scale comparisson ?

Live long and prosper.

I will concede that it may be a combination of hereditary and social practices not to take a human life. But let's take it a step further. Let's say it was indeed genocide. That instead of 10 million, it was 6.5 billion, and only you and that loved one(hopefully the opposite sex to continue the human species) would be left? How easy would that choice be then? Now you're talking about the fate of the human race vs the love of a woman(or man). Kinda seems like they're gonna have to go right? Or is your love of that person so strong that your emotions would take over and you'd bite off your nose to spite your face?

What bothers me is the simple fact that it's presented as a difficult choice intentionally, and that it's a no win situation. I don't believe in those.

pace
Bubonic, by which I corrected you that they DO leave an impact on you, this is indirectly before you make that decision. The poll was an 'after' thing. You just can't get away with that we all affect eachother in this planet through societies either in some direct or indirect manner.

I agree we are free to give an answer, but still I think we should be careful on what we say.

But still if I saw two people in the water drowning, and I know and loved the other one, the situation wouldn't make it much more easier anyway.

Let's move it one step futher. What if that button you would save to kill 10 million life was you. The picture doesn't look so sweet now anymore does it ? Surely you must love youself since you choose to spend so much time with yourself, but why should killing 10 million life for one external human be more compassionate than killing for you. At least, you know more that yourself exist, than some others. But I think you should love thyself as well.

Drag, you know the human race, and you're an human yourself, and you know how much you would like to stay alive. But how much do you know about chickens anyway ?

We all gotto kill some life in order to stay alive, that's a cycle. Now many of us kill the seemingly dumbest form of animals(life), like cows and chickens and fish because we believe (but also because we're simple food beasts) it's the best way considering the circumstances. Some of us though manage to kill less complicated life, and I say cool!

Drag, I think we all try to make the life on this planet a better place, some are more conscious or simply more active in it. Not just for humans, but also all life. Do you think it's horrible to kill chickens ? And you think it's okey to kill humans ? You think it's okey that someone would kill you now ?
Either you fight for life, or you exterminate it. It's a matter on morals as Zantra says, how much you are willing to preserver and grow live. But killing 10 millions isn't exatcly that, be it humans or even chickens.

Maybe I don't hate this poll that much now because it became more interesting.

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Iacchus32
Assimilate or be assimilated ... Isn't that part of the process of evolution?

And how can life be "precious" without a sense of purpose? Hey, maybe the Nazi's were right?

Greetings !
Originally posted by Zantra
Let's say it was indeed genocide. That instead of 10 million, it was 6.5 billion, and only you and that loved one(hopefully the opposite sex to continue the human species) would be left? How easy would that choice be then? Now you're talking about the fate of the human race vs the love of a woman(or man). Kinda seems like they're gonna have to go right? Or is your love of that person so strong that your emotions would take over and you'd bite off your nose to spite your face?
Hmm... I suppose that in this case I would probably choose mankind.
However, I can't quite say whether I want to choose mankind more due
to some survival instinct or due to, in my personal case at
least, basic intrest and fascination - I wan'na see how
mankind develops and what new things it can do. I suppose
out there of which mankind would not appear to be the
smartest and most advanced (certainly not a hard thing... )
then perhaps I would choose differently.
Originally posted by Zantra
What bothers me is the simple fact that it's presented as a difficult choice intentionally, and that it's a no win situation. I don't believe in those.
The enitial situation is difficult for those who share
some common beliefs and preferences not just to ANY person.
Of course, it is also purely hypothetical because "no negative
results" requires that nobody ever knows or even suspects
that you're the one responsible and that there's no chance
anyone would ever find out - and that's kin'na hard to do
and thus assure you that it'll be so.
Originally posted by pace
Do you think it's horrible to kill chickens ?
Horrible to whom ? Horrible - is just my personal
emotion when I view a situation, nothing more.
To answer the question - no, I have no problem with that.
Unless these are the last chickens left in which case
I would certainly not like to destroy natural variety
and totally exterminate a spicies.
Originally posted by pace
And you think it's okey to kill humans ?
When it is in my intrest, because these particuilar
humans oppose what I'd like to see as my moral principles
or survival of me and people I know or other types of intrests,
in that case the answer is certainly - yes.

Anyway, is there a fundumnetal difference ?
Why ? And what is it ?
Originally posted by pace
You think it's okey that someone would kill you now ?
No, I want to live(forever ).

Live long and prosper.

Zantra
I'd have to question someone would actually consider the extinction of the human race over some piece of A**(pardon the expression) That means they aren't considering the ramifications fully of genocide.

Bubonic Plague
Bubonic, by which I corrected you that they DO leave an impact on you, this is indirectly before you make that decision. The poll was an 'after' thing. You just can't get away with that we all affect eachother in this planet through societies either in some direct or indirect manner.

Corrected me? Or tried to change one of the parameters of the original question? The answer which i had given applies only to the question that mitch bass set. It does not apply to your question which has a different factor, a factor which states that the death of the 10000000 will affect me.

I agree we are free to give an answer, but still I think we should be careful on what we say.

I'm glad that you know that we are free to give an answer. But what are you implying by saying that "we should be careful on what we say"? I'm sorry that you find my preference of friendships over unknown lives offensive. But at least i didn't come in guns blazing with insult-tipped ammunitions.

What if that button you would save to kill 10 million life was you.

You aren't making any sense here.

It's a matter on morals as Zantra says, how much you are willing to preserver and grow live. But killing 10 millions isn't exatcly that, be it humans or even chickens.

There seems to be a problem with the definition of life itself. Chickens are made up of millions, probably billions of cells. We know that each single cell is alive. So by killing a chicken. Are we killing a life? Or are we killing lives?

pace
Originally posted by drag
Greetings !

Hardly so, there are almost 6 and a half billion people
on the planet. It is much more so when you kill one out of a few
dozen lepards still left alive.

This is also completely uncounted for. Those few who dies in a society of 6 billion would like to die as little those in a few group. Why should being less life mean that they care more ? Numbers don't mean a thing, a man cares as little for dying even if he's in a city of 10 million, or in a little village in a forest.

For example, Nazi Germany made a different type of distinction -
human beings belonging to the arian race and all other
creatures human or not who are inferior and thus must serve
them or die. What about males killing while competing for females -
a widely accepted custom until the past few centuries.

I kinda thought we had decided what the nazi's did in these cases was bad. D'uh!

I do think that our living in packs and many other related
evolutionary social instincts exist, but I do not think that respect/sanctity of ANY human life is our natural inborn
instinct, rather an acquired social one. Even today many
societies exist where killing of some types of human
beings is glorified and encouraged. Many animals kill
the offspring of other males including some of our closest
relatives - the chimpanzees.

Yes, but do they kill 10 million people in a matter of pushing a button? It's just unnessecary, and again your examples are outta hand. Because what they do in your cases is because of a system which is again designed to work the best for their system of life in their clan.

Is it mostly an evolutionary instinct ? Is it mostly a social one ?
Are there, perhaps, other social and evolutionary factors
involved like a sense of fairness or numeric scale comparisson ?

Live long and prosper.

It's just the most simple and basic form of ethics in existence, a common work for life.

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pace
Originally posted by Bubonic Plague

I'm sorry that you find my preference of friendships over unknown lives offensive. But at least i didn't come in guns blazing with insult-tipped ammunitions.

Of course I get pissed off, you contribute and spread no respect for life.

We all try to build up life. It's as instinctive as when we born and raise a child. We can't say that because someone kills, it's okay to just kill more. The morals doesn't compute.

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