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Re: tom's situ

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  • Chioh
    ... Tom When you say The daughter would not be a utilitarian. , i take it to mean that if the daughter makes the choice of sacrificing herself to save the
    Message 1 of 8 , Jul 30, 1999
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      At 08:00 PM 7/30/99 +0100, you wrote:
      >From: "Tom" <tjajones@...>
      >> From: Chioh <wchioh@...>
      >> Yup, i agree with jarod here -- let the existential individual make his or
      >> her own moral choice. Consequentialist ethical theories like
      >> utilitarianism, try to use rational methods to decide whether an action is
      >> right or wrong. It is up to the existential individual to decide if he or
      >> she wants to believe in such ethical theories; thus if the daughter, after
      >> being alerted of the imminent danger, is an utilitarian, she would go for
      >> option 1 of saving the passengers. It is not really a case of conflicts
      >> between existentialism and utilitarianism as tom seems to suggest.
      >The daughter would not be a utilitarian. To clear up the ambiguity, she is
      >young and naive and would probably do what her father told her unless her
      >gut feelings dissuaded her, causing her to defy. Therefore, if he was to
      >tell her to do it along with an honest depiction of the anticipated
      >scenario, then she may well still do it. This comes on to Jarod's ideas:-


      When you say "The daughter would not be a utilitarian.", i take it to mean
      that if the daughter makes the choice of sacrificing herself to save the
      passengers, she might not necessarily be a utilitarian. This, i totally
      agree. What i meant when i say "thus if the daughter ... is an utilitarian,
      she would go for option 1 of saving the passengers.", is that if the
      daughter, by choice or somehow, believes in utilitarianism as her ethical
      basis, then she would save the passengers.
      Prior to my earlier comments, i did not intend the daughter as a naive
      child, that is why i said she should be duly informed by her father and
      would be able to make her well reasoned ethical decision as a thinking
      logical existential individual. So now, if she is assumed to be naive, ie.
      lacking wisdom and judgement, the main starting point of your contrived
      situation may be the question of should the father inform the daughter of
      the passengers' predicament and her possible life-saving role in it,
      bearing in mind the daughter is naive?
      Well, i don't think there is any `wrong' or `right' answer to this, mainly
      because im inclined towards moral relativism as far as my existential
      beliefs take me. Assuming the father is a existential being, i would say he
      should base his decisions on whatever sort of ethical beliefs or system he
      has, be it kantian ethics, consequentialist ethics, christian ethics and so
      on. To some, it may seem oversimplified but to me, it is authentic as long
      as the individual chooses what he wants to become.

      >From: Jarod_Rollins@... (Jarod Rollins)
      >>It seems like most of us agree that tricking the child is out of the
      >ethical question but does the father have the
      >>right to even suggest to his daughter that she should push that button?
      >Would he be still be taking away her
      >>freedom by using his parental role to sway her decision? Since freedom is
      >deeply important to the
      >>existentialist is there a limit to which we should allow ourselves to sway
      >the decisions of others? I agree that
      >>the freedom of making mistakes is greater than a freedom from making
      >mistakes but is it "wrong" to sit idle
      >>by and let another make a mistake that ends in death?
      >Perhaps not. The question of the ethics of the father's action seems also
      >to relate to that of the train operators. It is assumed that the child is
      >not capable of making reasoned, in-depth decisions but why should it be
      >assumed that the train passengers are in a more "advanced" position? Should
      >the train passengers really be penalised for their ignorance and hence
      >probable lack of awareness of the potential risks? If the risks had never
      >even occurred to them then the train company would logically be put into a
      >similar "paternal" role. That is, the train company's obligation to ensure
      >the safety of the passengers (like that of the father for his daughter).
      >The risks may not have occured to the train company either....and so it goes
      >Why should it be assumed that the child has any more right to ignorance than
      >the train passengers? To my mind, it's just an abstract idea that suits the
      >existentialist rather than a reasonable deduction.
      >Without introducing the concept of utility doesn't the child have no more
      >rights than the passengers? The passengers have been deceived have they
      >not, much like the daughter would be deceived by her father?
      >I'll just get my calculator out and do a cost/benefit analysis :-))
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    • Tom
      ... I don t really think that the passengers are being rewarded for their ignorance. I don t see how you are formulating that idea. They are being saved and
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 1, 1999
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        > From: Jarod_Rollins@... (Jarod Rollins)
        > tom writes:
        > >Should
        > >the train passengers really be penalised for their ignorance and hence
        > >probable lack of awareness of the potential risks?

        > You could just as easily say that the passengers are being rewarded for
        > their ignorance, as they step blindly onto a massive speeding steam
        > powered beamouth only to be saved by the sacifical insighful father and
        > his puppet of a daughter. If not saving the trainfolk is punishment
        > for their ignorance why on the other hand should the father be
        > "punished" for his lack of ignorance? Ignorance is no excuse.

        I don't really think that the passengers are being rewarded for their
        ignorance. I don't see how you are formulating that idea. They are being
        saved and hence awarded continued life. Their ignorance is not directly
        related to the crashing train. Hence, the crashing train is not a direct
        result of their ignorance. My comment was to counteract the assumption that
        the train passengers are in some way less worthy of life due to their
        perceived ignorance.
        > The similarites between a father/daughter relationship and a
        > company/consumer relationship elludes me in this instance. How dare
        > anyone compare the bond of love to the bondless bond of $$$...

        I agree with you that from an emotional viewpoint, the bond between a father
        and his daughter is far more "preferable" to that of a bond of money.
        However, I hadn't used the word "bond" in relation to the train company. I
        am distancing myself from emotional response and merely seeing the
        daughter's reliance (and reliance alone) on her father to keep her safe as
        being the same as the passengers' reliance on the train company. To my
        mind, the emotions associated with those two reliances are neither here nor
        there. Neither is the amount of money exchanged. I see the "reliance" as
        being seperate from both those issues.

        However, if you do take the emotions into consideration then why is one bond
        more sacred than the bonds that may exist between the train passengers that
        would subsequently cease to exist entirely in place of the permanent
        (without considering an afterlife :-) cessation of the single
        father/daughter bond?

        > Also I belive that children have a right to
        > ignorance that adults do not (but there could be children on the train,
        > so i go on...)

        Yes, the man does not know if there are children on the train.

        > ok, so you are assuming that the passergers have been taken advantage
        > of by the train company in that they were promised a safe ride just as
        > a father promises his daughter a safe ride through life.

        There haven't necessarily been promises. I wouldn't assume that. There
        have only been assumptions. That is, the daughter has assumed the father
        will keep her safe and the passengers have assumed that the train company
        will give them a safe ride. The train company was most likely ignorant to
        the lack of safety in the train ride. I would therefore assume that the
        train company has also assumed that the journey would be safe.

        > Even under
        > such an assumption the father trying to make up for the deception of
        > the company by sacrificing his daughter to save the passengers is only
        > furthering deception. Two wrongs don't make a right. The reasonably
        > deducted existentialist thing to do would be:
        > 1. let train people die, poor deceived souls that they were
        > 2. daughter lives, perhaps scarred for life by such a tragedy, but free
        > to make her own choices/mistakes just as the passengers were
        > 3. father spends his life educating the ignorant on the dangers of
        > train travel.

        Two wrongs don't make a right? But in this case, one "wrong" makes a
        "right" as in pragmatic terms, the other wrong - or at least its effects -
        cease to exist. Statistically, train travel would seem more safe than many
        other forms. Therefore, why should the father educate people in the way you
        suggest? His educating would most likely have far less impact than the
        sacrifice of his daughter. Perhaps the sacrifice of his daughter would be
        education to the train company and future train travellers in itself?

        Further to the above, the deception does not necessarily stem entirely from
        a verifiable single source.

        Does existentialism throw pragmatism to the wind completely?

        Just one point - there is confusion between the two ways of looking at the
        situation. The first is that you are assigning the father's actions varying
        degrees of validity from the third person. The second is that you are
        imagining that you are the father. The second of course, is the only valid
        path for the existentialist. Isn't it? I'm not too sure on that.

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