Ethical Questions
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Thread: Ethical Questions

  1. #1
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    Ethical Questions

    Here is a question from my Ethics class that I wanted to share with you.


    You and 5 friends are exploring a cave when it starts to rain. The first person who tries to climb out gets stuck and cannot be budged. You happen to have a stick of dynamite with you. If you blow him up, the rest of you will escape before the cave floods. Otherwise all of you, including the one stuck will drown.

    There is a variation to this. Everything above is the same, except the stuck person will survive because his head is above the water line.

  2. #2
    Priapistic Monk KorpDeath's Avatar
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    How would a stick of dynamite help in this situation? Wouldn't that spell disaster for everyone?

    This kinda reminds me of the old question? If three birds are sitting on a wire and you shoot one of them with a rifle, how many birds are left? Answer: None, the sound of the rifle scares away the rest of them.

    Anyway to answer the question: I'd blow him up, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Sucks for him, but I'd suggest a memorial plaque or something.....hehe
    Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.
    - Samuel Johnson

  3. #3
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    If you follow utilitarian ethics then you will blew up the guy to save the others.
    but on the long run if everyone stuck in caves starts to blew up his/her mates this could turn against you. This is a very **** case and I hope none of us will have to deal with such a case cause there is no good option to choose. It's like a story about an SS soldier: he said to a Jewish mother with two children: "choose one child to be executed, if you do not choose one we will execute them both". What should you do in such a case?

    You see: such cases suck, they really do.
    If the people in the cave that blew up the stuck guy/girl survive, what are they going to tell to the family of the blown up guy/girl?

    Although I'am writing a dissertation in the ethics field, I have no clear answer to this one.

  4. #4
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    I think the real question here is where do you put the dynamite...that would show how much you care for your fellow man! ;>
    - Jimmy Mac

    Replicants are like any technology, if there not a hazard, its not my problem....

  5. #5
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    wait a minute. if he is so stuck that he needs dynamite to get out and he is in the only escape, he would be blocking the rain from coming in so you'd be fine.
    Trappedagainbyperfectlogic.

  6. #6
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    Ah yes....another "which sin is greater" thread...








    Since nothing is black and white in the real world, why not just stick the dynamite about 25' away from him and attempt to blow another hole, only risking injury to him?





    If your friend got THAT stuck, I'd assume he's a bit chunky. Since chunky people tend to be gassy due to the diets of most of them, why not simply stick a match.....erm.........up there and see if you can save the dynamite? If he blows up, you saved a perfectly good stick of dynamite, and performed the neatest science experiment in history. At the very least you'll get a really neat light show. Who knows? Maybe that'll be enough to loosen him up and free him. Or if you want to try another experiment, hold a funnel up to his butt when you light the match and see if you can vector the thrust and get him out by rocket power!

  7. #7
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    Blow up the one guy. Death to one is smarter than death to all. That's not ethics, that's common sense.
    Why am I still here?

  8. #8
    Senior Member BrainStop's Avatar
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    Actually ... would the blast from the explosion of the stick of dynamite be enough to dislodge the guy blocking the exit?

    But yes, it's a very difficult ethical question .... killing a fellow being, even to save a number of others will never be easy.

    Cheers,

    BrainStop

    PS = Never ask ethical questions in front of engineers as they will first try to find all possible exits to avoid responding to the question ....
    "To estimate the time it takes to do a task, estimate the time you think it should take, multiply by two, and change the unit of measure to the next highest unit. Thus we allocate two days for a one-hour task." -- Westheimer's Rule

  9. #9
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    Well, I'm going to answer this question how it is, not getting into the hypotheticals by starting with the 'what if' nonsense.

    What would be the 'right' thing to do? Would it be to save as many lives as possible, or would it be to not try anything that might get someone blown away and just let it all be, hoping for the best, with the water level rising?

    I believe that in this situation, if it actually happened to someone, that most often, people wouldn't go for the option of using the dynamite, as this would guarantee the death of someone. However, the other option also states that people would die - but I just think that the death with the dynamite would be more obvious, as the rain could stop (note - this isn't a 'what if', I'm just using it to help in bringing forward my opinion). So, basically what I am saying is, because in the mind's of the people, the dynamite would certainly kill someone, I think that if this happens, they would simply wait and see what happens.

    However, following the question as how it is. Say the people DID know 100% that the water would keep coming, I think the more correct thing to do would be to use the dynamite. I believe this, as this situation would produce the most lives saved.

    It is very difficult to say which one of these actions is more correct or ethical. It's much easier to say what's a better outcome after it happens. The people who are in this situation will not know for certain what the effects of their actions will be, so it's hard for them to decide. That's why I think they wouldn't go for the dynamite.

    ...damn, I've confused myself here big time - I'm not gonna read over my response here, so sorry if there's something which is hard to understand!!

    Greg
    \"Do you know what people are most afraid of?
    What they don\'t understand.
    When we don\'t understand, we turn to our assumptions.\"
    -- William Forrester

  10. #10
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    It is never "right" to do "wrong".

    This utilitarian system of ethics has too many unintended consequences.
    It is why governments seldom respect the rights of individuals.
    They think it's OK to lie, steal, murder, start wars etc.
    They think their actions can be justified by the ethic of
    "doing the greatest good for the greatest number", but in the
    end you have a reign of terror

    It is never "right" to do "wrong".
    Do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may.
    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

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