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20Re: Drive

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  • Tom
    Jul 29 10:12 AM
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      ><< Is that greastest pleasure for the greatest number a worthy goal? >>
      >
      > >This requires very lengthy discussion, maybe half of a school semester,
      > >but
      > >I'll say this: Utilitarianism, as a consequentialist moral theory,
      > >holds that
      > >it is the consequences or ends of our actions that determine whether
      > >particular means to them are justified. This leads to conclusions that
      > >are
      > >contrary to "commonsense morality." For example: Wouldn't it justify
      > >punishing an innocent person, a "scapegoat," in order to prevent a
      > >great evil
      > >or promote a great good?

      > Punshing an innocent IS a great evil, and wouldn't jusify preventing
      > another great evil.

      When assessing the greater evil, the following contrived situation comes to
      mind.

      A man is walking along a bridge when he sees that a train carrying hundreds
      of passengers is almost certainly to go plumetting several hundred feet into
      a canyon below. Seeing this, he realises that he can alert the driver by
      rushing towards a nearby emergency button. Unfortunately, the button is
      only accessible by his young daughter as he is far too big to reach it
      through the tunnel in which it resides. The button, however, is situated in
      a location that will go plumetting into the canyon along with the train. He
      can choose one of two options :-

      1) Coerce his young daughter into the "game" of pushing the button even
      though he knows it will result in her certain death. The train passengers
      will most likley survive.

      2) Watch the train go plumetting into the canyon, killing hundreds. His
      daughter survives.

      If he chose (1) then he would be following the "Wouldn't it justify
      punishing an innocent person, a "scapegoat," in order to prevent a great
      evil or promote a great good?" idea. If he chose (2) then would that be a
      greater evil?

      Surely one for the existentialist deciding upon moral decision making? I'm
      damned if I can take a moral high ground! Utilitarianism would point
      towards option 1. What would the individual existentialists on this list
      choose? Maybe the nature of your philosophy dictates that it is too
      contrived to have meaning to you?

      Tom
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