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Killing one to save another

  1. Aug 7, 2003 #1
    Here are a couple questions of philosophy to let you think about.

    For all of these questions assume that you have a button ending the lives of the people you are asked to end the lives of in the various questions, although this is not real world, you could easily substitute any real world weapon into the picture, the button idea, just gets rid of the "What if you miss" or the "Long term effects of a nuclear weapon" type questions.

    1. Lets say a guy is pointing a gun at another guy and is going to shoot the weapon, do you push the button to kill the "criminal" and save the "victim."

    2. Two guys are pointing their guns at a victim, do you push the button to kill them both or save two lives and let the victim die.

    3. A million guys are pointing guns at a victim, do you kill them all to save one who appears innocent?

    In the end my question is, when does the numbers game balance out the relative guilt of the offenders, who has the right to survive in these circumstances?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2003 #2
    An even better question would be if you were the innocent bystander in a convienence store and some jerk came in with a shotgun to rob the place and considererd killing you a bonus, would you wish someone to push the button? I sure would, even if there were a million of them, that's a million less cold blooded killers in the world. In real life this scenerio is of course impossible, we can never know for sure if this is truely a criminal and truly a victim and as to rights to survive they both have a right to survive but when one person decides to kill another person by law they have forfeit their rights to freedom in a civilized world because we don't want a world full of joy killers and if in the event it is possible to prevent the certain death of the absolute victim only by means of killing the absolute murderer then I hope someone pushes the button for me.
  4. Aug 10, 2003 #3
    Really, you can never know. first off, you have to determine what your morals are, and then apply them to both the shooter and the shootie. of course by then, it is likely that the person with the gun pointed at him would be dead.

    the question of "Is killing justifiable under any circumstances?" cannot really be answered.
  5. Aug 10, 2003 #4
    You would have to determine the actual innocence of the person being targeted, and the position of the person holding the gun. If the target is a known murderer, and the person holding the gun is a cop, it gets tricky, doesn't it?
  6. Aug 10, 2003 #5

    Another God

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    My thoughhts exactly. You need to restate the question, so that there is no ambiguity. If you intended to have the ambiguity, then my answer would be no, i would not press the button on any of them, because I have no grounds to judge.

    If I knew for instance though, that the person holding the gun was going to kill the other person just for fun/for no good reason, then yes, i would press the button in all three instances.

    Why woul di do otherwise in both instances? I don't know anyone involved, I can't judge, and I am only interested in the stability of my society, and allowing people to run around killing people without good reason is detrimental to the stability of any society.
  7. Aug 10, 2003 #6
    The real question, I guess, is whether we are dumb enough to interfere in life and death with mo idea of the situation or the consequences.
  8. Aug 10, 2003 #7

    Another God

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    Another example of why it is important to know the objective, before you jump in with your subjective take.
  9. Aug 10, 2003 #8
    Exactly my point.
  10. Aug 10, 2003 #9
    If you had such a button you are ready to push, couldn't there be someone else ready to push yours? Why should you be the one who makes the final decision?
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