Let a thousand guilty men go to save 1 innocent person

Would you find him guilty or not-guilty

13 vote(s)
59.1%

7 vote(s)
31.8%
3. Other (chickening out eh?)

2 vote(s)
9.1%
1. Nov 10, 2005

Pengwuino

Now, most people would say that they would rather have a thousand guilty men go then jail one innocent man. But would you be able to do it if you are given the choice and you must make it?

Hypothetical Situation:

You wake up one day and you're in the middle of a courtroom. An all-knowing, all-powerful being approaches you and confronts you with a situation. The man on trial is about to be found guilty but he is actually innocent. This all-powerful being then gives you a list of 1,000 guilty men who are currently in federal prisons around the country. Their charges range from drug production to murder to rape to counterfeighting. He tells you that you must decide, will this person be found guilty and the 1,000 men will remain in jail, or will this person be found not-guilty and the 1,000 men released into the public with their charges pardoned?

Oh yah, and if you don't make a decision, they are all released and the innocent man goes to jail.

How important is it that you don't have to feel like you sent someone away that is innocent?
Are you willing to take the chances with the 1,000 felons being released?
Do you feel like it is your fault if these 1,000 felons do anything bad?

Last edited: Nov 10, 2005
2. Nov 10, 2005

z-component

You say the innocent man will go to jail, not for a life term or to be executed, so I don't see letting 1,000 felons free to save some person a few months in jail anyway.

The circumstance would be different if this innocent person was to be killed for something he/she didn't do, I think. :)

3. Nov 10, 2005

Staff Emeritus
The saying doesn't imply your test; it's a constraint on rules of evidence and judgement.

4. Nov 10, 2005

Pengwuino

It's all all-knowing all-powerful being tellen you what to do, its obvious what the evidence points to :) Quit derailing my thread!

5. Nov 11, 2005

tomfitzyuk

He would be found guilty, the 1,000 felons will stay locked up
He will be found not-guilty, the 1,000 felons will be released into the public

Is this right?

Surely it should be:
He would be found guilty, the 1,000 felons will be released into the public
He will be found not-guilty, the 1,000 felons will stay locked up

Anyway,
I would send him to prison, it's likely of the 1,000 "felons" that at least one would be innocent.

6. Nov 11, 2005

scott1

I whould let the him go to jail.He'll probally whould of die(I'am going to assume he knows the person who cominted the crime and is still in the public or he's one of the 1,000) if let the 1,000 mauders get out of prison; so he get's to live when he goes to prison(If he dosn't get the death penelty).

Last edited: Nov 11, 2005
7. Nov 11, 2005

Pengwuino

No because the choice woudl be incredibly obvious, let him be found not-guilty (because he is) and let the 1000 felons stay locked up.

And no, none of the felons are innocent, an omnipotent power tells you that they are all guilty and he is not lieing, that is the premise for this argument.

8. Nov 11, 2005

Smurf

I put other, which would be "Let everyone go free, and stop arresting people in the first place"
don't you mean omniscient?

9. Nov 11, 2005

First, by what logic do you suppose my actions to vote yes or no on the life of one man would then require the courts to free 1000 ? This is a nonsense hypothetical situation, thus requires a nonsense response, which I provide.
Of course the poor man must go to jail, and shame on the all-powerful all-knowing being for letting him get into such a mess to the very end of his trial, for not bringing forth the evidence in a dream to the defense lawyer so that he could go free. I would sleep well at night knowing that 1000 "known" criminals were not free, and pray that the all-powerful being confess his sin for allowing the innocent man to be put in jail...for what on the face of it looks like motivation to test my morality for his evil non-action. Thus of course this being you refer to is clearly Lucifer, correct ?

10. Nov 11, 2005

Smurf

I think it was an analogy... Rade.

To do with the whole "Individual vs. Society" debate. What's more valuable, the rights of an individual, or the safety of society?

11. Nov 12, 2005

PerennialII

If this is to be taken as a lay down of principles of the judicial system, let the fella(s) walk.

12. Nov 12, 2005

VikingF

I voted: "He will be found not-guilty, the 1,000 felons will be released into the public", and then we can change the system, so that these kinds of incidents don't happen again. A man's freedom is as important as 1,000,000 men's freedom - atleast for that one. :)

13. Nov 12, 2005

Loren Booda

"Can God build a mountain so heavy that He cannot lift it?"

Paucity of information is no reason for addressing a non sequitur.

14. Nov 13, 2005

Pengwuino

Its a hypothetical situation, deal with it. Just because you can't handle the reality of such ideological meaningless sayings such as the one presented doesn't mean you can't share what you would actually do.

15. Nov 13, 2005

OK, then the answer is simple, there is no such concept as "the rights of society", rights only belong to the individual. In this case, 1000 individuals are known to be guilty and in jail, and society is very save indeed. And yes, non-guilty people get put in jail all the time, always will, that is the nature of the beast. So, yes, the poor fellow must go to jail, unless this so-called all powerful whatever brings forth new information that can set him free. I can grasp that we are dealing with an analogy, but the form of this one is nonsensical, 1000 criminals are not set free to protect the "rights of one individual". Would the US military release 1000 prisoners to save the life of one innocent US Marine held hostage ?...of course not. The dumb cluck had his time to worry about his rights, he should have spent the  and got OJ's lawyers.

16. Nov 13, 2005

Pengwuino

It's about dealing with some peoples view of justice damn it! It may make no sense but it's all about practical justice. Can people really live up to the philisophical/ideological ideal of never wanting an innocent man going to jail no matter what. If they were somehow faced with a situation where this ideal comes into question, what will they do and are they willing to take the responsibility.

I mean what the hell, why create hypothetical situations if people are afraid of answering them if its simply to question their practical views on life.

17. Nov 13, 2005

Smurf

If I had the power over 1001 men's freedom I'm sure I'd do what every one with that power would do. I'd send him to jail. Thus is the flaw of "leadership".

18. Nov 14, 2005

WhiteWolf

Well, I wont be snide about this post. I understand it purpose perfectly well I think. Although it is kinda a gut wrentcher to send an innocent man to prison for under any circumstances, I thought about it, and those 1000 felons, a certian percentage would probably be murderers, yes? If they are released, then they might kill again. So looking at it from this perspective, it can boil down to would you kill 1 innocent man or 100 innocent men? (Or women)

Although no innocent person should ever go through any kind of punishment in a practical system, since that convicted felons would never be released under similar circumstances, this is not questioning a practical system, yes? So given the circumstances, it would be better to sacrifice one person then 100 people. It is a troublesome situation either way, but I think this is the route to take.

19. Nov 14, 2005

Loren Booda

The U.S. penal system assumes the death penalty to be adjudicated perfectly, or otherwise at least one innocent person will suffer the ultimate punishment. As it stands, a lot of people sentenced and put to death have later been found not guilty of the charges that led them there.

20. Nov 14, 2005

VikingF

And in a system where you can buy yourself free, there is more likely that an innocent man with few or no resources (e.g. money and/or background) is sentenced to death than a guilty man with a lot of resources.
Let's face it - corruption happens everywhere! :uhh:
And with that in mind, I think death penalty is wrong.

But that was off topic. I'm sorry!