For the good of the ALL. 2 tiny questions.

Often, understanding our own core principles can shed a little light on the way we should proceed in any given situation.  I present here a couple of hypothetical questions which could be answered in any number of ways that are nuanced, but each is essentially a yes or no (black or white) interrogatory.

You have been approached by an unknown entity who places into your hands a small innocent child. You are told by a great many that if you kill this child, there are ten others who may live from his sacrifice.  It is clear that you are the only one who can make this decision.  Will you?

You are a judge. You have before you a man accused of habitual theft.  But as it turns out, the man keeps none of his proceeds.  He distributes his ill gotten goods to those who claim to have no hope of feeding themselves otherwise.  His philanthropy is legend among the needy.  Do you prosecute him?

Read into these what you will.

2 comments for “For the good of the ALL. 2 tiny questions.

  1. March 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    “The greater good” argument depends on the advocate accepting the notion that a third party should be able to pick some arbitrary point where the first party should be harmed for the benefit of others who are collectively the second party. That is to say, there is justification for a third party to play god… and that no remedies for the plight of the second party exist other than the damage to the first party. The first part of the notion requires that the third party be uncorruptable and have a higher wisdom. The second part of the notion requires that human ingenuity and effort are not available or effective. The unspoken part of the notion is that the second party is worth more than the first party. The unspoken part of the notion is the genuinely evil portion.

  2. March 13, 2009 at 8:59 am

    ****Possible Plot Spoiler for Watchmen****
    Certain movies/books seem to have this knack for painting pictures of specific political/ideological concepts. Watchmen works for the concept described in this thread perfectly it seems.

    I’m not going to describe what the movie is about (watch it, read the graphic novel, or look at wikipedia), but basically what happens at the end is a former ‘superhero’ (the story is based off the premise that these guys are all normal humans – or at least start that way…) sets up a plot – and actually executes it – to set off nuclear type explosions in New York to keep the USSR and US from nuking each other. Everyone thinks it’s Dr. Manhattan but it was really done by Adrian Veidt. Rorschach (who is extremely conservative) thinks it was bullshit and was going to tell what the real story is. Well, Veidt got Dr. Manhattan to buy his “sacrifice the few to save the many” tripe, and as a result, Manhattan kills Rorschach so he can’t spill the beans.

    You really have to watch the movie to appreciate what I’m trying to say. But still, interesting how it lines up…

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