• TheMadFool
    26
    Everybody knows the story of a rather interesting dilemma involving Protagoras (the sophist?) and a student of his by then name of Euathlus. Google will take you to the relevant webpages. Here's a good reference :point: Protagoras Paradox

    Come now to two important dilemmas involving consequentialism and Kantian ethics.

    The dilemma of consequentialism (the trolley problem): If you pull the lever, you kill one innocent person (bad) and if you don't pull the lever, you let many innocent people die (bad). No matter what you do, it's bad.

    The Protagorian solution: If you pull the lever, you save many innocent people (good) and if you don't pull the lever, you don't kill one innocent person (good). Do what you want, it's all good.

    The dilemma of Kantian ethics (The murderer who wants to know the whereabouts of your friend): If you tell the truth, your friend dies (bad) and if you lie (bad). Either choice is bad.

    The Protagorian solution: If you tell the truth (good) and if you lie, your friend survives (good). Either choice is good.

    The Protagorian technique is, if memory serves, called the counterdilemma and it seems to, in a sense, "solve" the classic moral dilemmas crafted to attack the two major ethical theories around viz. consequentialism and Kantian ethics. It might even be good for other dilemmas, especially of the ethical kind because the usual deal is there's moral ambiguity, the perfect conditions to set up counterdilemmas.

    What say you?
  • tim wood
    8
    The dilemma of Kantian ethics (The murderer who wants to know the whereabouts of your friend): If you tell the truth, your friend dies (bad) and if you lie (bad).TheMadFool

    Except this is a complete failure to understand what that scenario is as presented. Here for elucidation:
    http://philosophical.space/f325/KantLies.pdf
  • magritte
    2
    Everybody knows the story of a rather interesting dilemma involving Protagoras (the sophist?) and a student of his by then name of Euathlus. Google will take you to the relevant webpages. Here's a good reference :point: Protagoras ParadoxTheMadFool

    The story is related by the Latin author Aulus Gellius in Attic Nights. ... The paradox is often cited for humorous purposesProtagoras Paradox

    Protagoras never said that anything goes, or all choices are the same, or even that morality is relative. Protagoras was a moral subjectivist. Expanding spherically starting with myself, first, morality is what is good for me, second, morality is what is good for us, third, morality is what is good for our culture. (i.e. screw all others.)

    I think this sums up about 99% of the practical world. Naturally, Socrates had something more ethereal in mind. Socrates, against repeated protestations, twists the argument away from anything sensible to his own unattainable binary ideal Good.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    Except this is a complete failure to understand what that scenario is as presented. Here for elucidation:
    http://philosophical.space/f325/KantLies.pdf
    tim wood

    I humby disagree. You know the heart of the issues is dilemmas of moral ambiguity, perfect settings for counterdilemmas of the Protagorain kind.

    Protagoras never said that anything goes, or all choices are the same, or even that morality is relative. Protagoras was a moral subjectivist. Expanding spherically starting with myself, first, morality is what is good for me, second, morality is what is good for us, third, morality is what is good for our culture. (i.e. screw all others.)

    I think this sums up about 99% of the practical world. Naturally, Socrates had something more ethereal in mind. Socrates, against repeated protestations, twists the argument away from anything sensible to his own unattainable binary ideal Good.
    magritte

    Ignoratio elenchi. Protagoras' technique (counterdilemma) is my focus; nothing about his moral views is relevant.
  • tim wood
    8
    I humby disagree.TheMadFool
    Mine only about Kant and the liar. And on that there is no room for disagreement. You can riff on it and offer what-ifs, but the thing itself is a matter of fact that can be determined by inspection.

    And I've yet to meet a paradox not soluble in requisite care with words. It's also the case that courts don't have to resolve seeming paradoxes, and when presented with seeming, have simply punted saying paradox resolution not their business.

    A famous case was of a man, John Astor, who through quirks of state and Mexican law, ended up seemingly legally married to multiple women. He was rich, although not that rich. They wanted money and he finally went to court to ask the court to determine which was his "real" wife, it not being legal for him to have more than one. The court's reply was that as he had tied the various knots, it was not the court's duty or obligation or business to untie them, and, mixing metaphors, as he had made his own bed, so he must lie in it. Their several claims for money thus would stand.

    Paradoxes then more apparent than real, and in the eye of the beholder.
  • magritte
    2
    Ignoratio elenchi. Protagoras' technique (counterdilemma) is my focus; nothing about his moral views is relevant.TheMadFool

    No. What Protagoras really said, and what he was accused of having said by contemporary and later pundits becomes relevant when you repeat or emphasize certain unimaginable conclusions in his name to support either an argument, or in this case, the format of an argument.

    For example, in the Protagoras, Plato's Socrates forces poor dead Protagoras to adopt a dialectical form of argumentation which suits a middle-period semantic Plato (or later Aristotle] but is a method inappropriate and inapplicable to any part of Protagorean ethics. Either-or dialectic questioning or setting up binary dilemmas and paradoxes avoids the crux of real-world problems. (The problems of becoming were considered unmanageable exactly because Parmenidean logic was inapplicable to continua. Plato, as great as he was, was fully aware of what his Socrates was up to and specifically implies so, but unfortunately, thanks to Aristotle and followers, we are not.

    The upshot is, or so I imagine, is in the setup of your dilemma. Take the trolley problem. According to Protagoras, in the real world, the identity and closeness of that one person as against who the others are makes all the difference. Are these real people or just numbers? If they are just numbers then ethics is for computers.

    No?
  • TheMadFool
    26
    You haven't really addressed any of the points I made. Nonetheless, thanks for relating the interesting story of a Mr. John Astor. G'day.

    No. What Protagoras really said, and what he was accused of having said by contemporary and later pundits becomes relevant when you repeat or emphasize certain unimaginable conclusions in his name to support either an argument, or in this case, the format of an argument.magritte

    Again, you're barking up the wrong tree. As you should've already noticed, I'm talking about the trolley problem in consequentialism and the murderer at the door in Kantian deontological ethics. Protagoras' views on ethics is irrelevant.

    Where he comes in though is his ingenious method of responding to dilemmas, here moral ones, with counterdilemmas. That's the extent of Protagoras' involvement in this thread about moral conundrums.

    According to Protagoras, in the real world, the identity and closeness of that one person as against who the others are makes all the difference.magritte

    If you mean to say there's an asymmetry in the choices, there are none. That's why they're dilemmas in the first place.
  • tim wood
    8
    You haven't really addressed any of the points I made.... and the murderer at the door in Kantian deontological ethics.TheMadFool
    Nor did I try to. All that I did was disqualify on the basis of failure to understand your particular example from Kant. Which lack of understanding, it being pointed out to you with a reference for correction you apparently ignored, has had zero effect on you. This does not disqualify the rest of your argument; it just makes it suspect.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    Nor did I try to. All that I did was disqualify on the basis of failure to understand your particular example from Kant. Which lack of understanding, it being pointed out to you with a reference for correction you apparently ignored, has had zero effect on you. This does not disqualify the rest of your argument; it just makes it suspect.tim wood

    All that I know and you haven't been able to refute it is there's moral ambiguity - telling the truth is good but letting a murderer know where faer next victim is is bad (good and bad). On the flip side, lying is bad but concealing your friend from a murderer is good (good and bad). This peculiar state of affairs is just the kind of situations where Protagoras' counterdilemma techinque is cut out for. That's all there is to my argument.
  • magritte
    2
    Where he comes in though is his ingenious method of responding to dilemmas, here moral ones, with counterdilemmas. That's the extent of Protagoras' involvement in this thread about moral conundrums.TheMadFool

    You're missing your point. If you read an analysis of the dilemma it points to logical argumentation of the kind that was taught to would-be lawyers by Prodicus, Protagoras and other ancient rhetorician, and by Plato too, and is still taught in law schools. Proficiently arguing either side of a case is essential in today's legal profession. There is no ethical point made there by either side, it's just formal argumentation. Therefore your Protagorean ethical conclusions are just your own inventions.

    Prior to addressing the ethical problems of the trolley and the murderer at the door the pretense to pure logical argumentation from both sides of issues should be clarified and removed.
  • tim wood
    8
    telling the truth is good but letting a murderer know where faer next victim is is bad (good and bad). On the flip side, lying is bad but concealing your friend from a murderer is good (good and bad).TheMadFool

    Great, but this neither Kant's case not his argument.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    You're missing your point. If you read an analysis of the dilemma it points to logical argumentation of the kind that was taught to would-be lawyers by Prodicus, Protagoras and other ancient rhetorician, and by Plato too, and is still taught in law schools. Proficiently arguing either side of a case is essential in today's legal profession. There is no ethical point made there by either side, it's just formal argumentation. Therefore your Protagorean ethical conclusions are just your own inventions.magritte

    First off, thanks for filling me in in the details of Protagoras' technique (counterdilemma) - I didn't know Protagoras was part of the legal curriculum back then.

    Secondly, yes, you seem to be right about the Protagorian counterdilemma being applied to ethical issues as "...your (my) own inventions" - I've never encountered it before.

    That, however, doesn't make it wrong!

    Great, but this neither Kant's case not his argument.tim wood

    :chin: You're kidding, right?
  • khaled
    5
    What makes a moral dilemma a moral dilemma is that we don't know what to do, not that both options are good/bad. If you compare "kill 100 people" with "kill 10 people in the exact same way" that wouldn't be a moral dilemma. Because clearly killing 10 is better than killing 100 in the exact same way, even though both are bad.

    So rephrasing the problem as choosing between two good options as opposed to two bad ones does nothing to tell us which we should actually choose. It doesn't make it not a dilemma.

    If you pull the lever, you save many innocent people (good) and if you don't pull the lever, you don't kill one innocent person (good).TheMadFool

    Ok but which should I do though? This doesn't help.

    Do what you want, it's all good.TheMadFool

    This makes as much sense as resolving the trolley problem by saying "Do what you want, it's all bad".
  • TheMadFool
    26
    What makes a moral dilemma a moral dilemma is that we don't know what to do, not that both options are good/bad.khaled

    That's exactly why we don't know what to do - moral ambiguity. Two options are provided and both seem equally bad and good.

    Ok but which should I do though? This doesn't help.khaled

    Protagoras paradox makes it a clear as crystal. Please read through my previous posts.

    This makes as much sense as resolving the trolley problem by saying "Do what you want, it's all bad".khaled

    Exactly!
  • khaled
    5
    That's exactly why we don't know what to do - moral ambiguity.TheMadFool

    Ok so we don't know what to do.

    Ok but which should I do though? This doesn't helpkhaled

    So I ask what we should do.

    Protagoras paradox makes it a clear as crystal.TheMadFool

    And now we know what do do "as clear as crystal"

    I'm confused.

    Please read through my previous posts.TheMadFool

    I read the whole thread.

    This makes as much sense as resolving the trolley problem by saying "Do what you want, it's all bad".
    — khaled

    Exactly!
    TheMadFool

    Resolving the trolley problem by saying "Do what you want, it's all bad" makes no sense. That's the point. So saying:

    Do what you want, it's all good.TheMadFool

    Makes no sense either.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    I'm confused.khaled

    That's part of the process.

    Resolving the trolley problem by saying "Do what you want, it's all bad" makes no sense.khaled

    It does and that's why I don't believe you,

    read the whole thread.khaled

    Makes no sense either.khaled

    Try harder. Reread what I said and it should become clearer.

    For your benefit, I'll repeat what I said.

    The Trolley problem:

    Pull the lever, one innocent dies (bad). Don't pull the lever, many die (bad). This is the meat and potatoes of the trolley problem.

    It's both bad.

    The Protagorian solution: Pull the lever, many are saved (good). Don't pull the lever, one innocent survives (good).

    It's both good.

    A similar argument applies to Kantian ethic in re the murderer at the door thought experiment.
  • tim wood
    8
    You're kidding, right?TheMadFool
    No. It's a short read, a few paragraphs, although not-so-easy. And not-so-easy to sum up in a sentence. Which, after some thought, I will not attempt. One aspect, one point Kant makes, is that at the time of answering, the location of the prospective victim is not known. The lie to save the victim, then, could instead kill him!
  • Cheshire
    12
    The dilemma of Kantian ethics (The murderer who wants to know the whereabouts of your friend): If you tell the truth, your friend dies (bad) and if you lie (bad). Either choice is bad.TheMadFool
    Pretty sure this is one of the most misunderstood talking points regarding Kant. Kant wouldn't suggest you have a duty to honesty with a murderer. The point is you aren't legally liable for telling the truth.
  • khaled
    5
    For the last time since you seem to not want to have an actual conversation, and would just keep redirecting me to the same posts over and over:

    Pull the lever, one innocent dies (bad). Don't pull the lever, many die (bad). This is the meat and potatoes of the trolley problem.

    It's both bad.

    The Protagorian solution: Pull the lever, many are saved (good). Don't pull the lever, one innocent survives (good).

    It's both good.
    TheMadFool

    Sure. And when they're both bad which should I do? Dilemma! When they're both good which would I do? Dilemma!

    A similar argument applies to Kantian ethic in re the murderer at the door thought experiment.TheMadFool

    No it doesn't but others are explaining why so I don't have to.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    No. It's a short read, a few paragraphs, although not-so-easy. And not-so-easy to sum up in a sentence. Which, after some thought, I will not attempt. One aspect, one point Kant makes, is that at the time of answering, the location of the prospective victim is not known. The lie to save the victim, then, could instead kill him!tim wood

    The murderer at the door gedanken experiment wouldn't make sense if you don't know where your friend is. A lie is lie only if you know the truth and attempt to conceal it.

    Sure. And when they're both bad which should I do? Dilemma! When they're both good which would I do? Dilemma!khaled

    If they're both good, it doesn't matter which one you choose. That's the point. Remember the objective here - to be good!

    In the original formulation of moral problems both choices are presented as bad and that's what dilemmas are at their core. That's why we hesitate, we're reluctant, to make a decision. Once Protagoras has finished with such dilemmas by offering the corresponding counterdilemma, we experience an aha moment! Both choices are bad but if the problem is wholly based on that, Protagoras shows us that both can be treated as good too. Voila tout! The problem disappears.

    It all depends on perspective - so many forum members have mentioned this that I feel I'm wasting my time preaching to choir - and here's something that might make you grasp the gist of my argument :point: Is The Glass Half Empty Or Half Full?
  • khaled
    5
    If they're both good, it doesn't matter which one you choose.TheMadFool

    Really? A quick thought experiment. Say someone had these two choices in front of them:

    1- Save TheMadFool from a car crash and donate 100 dollars to charity.
    2- Donate 100 dollars to charity.

    Both are good clearly, so is one then justified in picking option 2?

    My point is precisely that the quote above is not accurate. It does matter much, even if both options are good.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    Really? A quick thought experiment. Say someone had these two choices in front of them:

    1- Save TheMadFool from a car crash and donate 100 dollars to charity.
    2- Donate 100 dollars to charity.

    Both are good clearly, so is one then justified in picking option 2?

    My point is precisely that the quote above is not accurate. It does matter much, even if both options are good.
    khaled

    Good point Khaled. I appreciate you bringing this up. We're now in the domain of Jeremy Bentham's felicific calculus.

    Let's examine the utilitarian trolley problem in more detail. From Bentham's and Mill's point of view, you should pull the lever just as I suspect you believe the choice 1 in your thought experiment is the right one. However, people are uncomfortable with that decision in re the trolley problem. I take that as the clearest, most unequivocal sign that people don't or hesitate to mathematize morality. In other words, there's no better/worse in the moral dimension; all that counts is being good and in that respect all deeds are either good/bad not better/worse as you seem to be implying.

    That said, I'd very much prefer it if you do save my life from a car crash and also donate 100 dollars to charity.

    You do catch my drift right? If the issue were about a better (moral) deal, there would be no dilemma in the first place.
  • tim wood
    8
    The murderer at the door gedanken experiment wouldn't make sense if you don't know where your friend is. A lie is lie only if you know the truth and attempt to conceal it.TheMadFool
    It's a little distressing you keep referencing something you seem not to have read, and in either case don't understand. And second, your standard for a lie is both dead wrong and laughably wrong. Or would be laughable, if being wrong about such a thing could be humorous.
  • khaled
    5
    However, people are uncomfortable with that decision in re the trolley problem. I take that as the clearest, most unequivocal sign that people don't or hesitate to mathematize morality.TheMadFool

    I think it’s the clearest most unequivocal sign of a non sequitor.

    You do catch my drift right? If the issue were about a better (moral) deal, there would be no dilemma in the first place.TheMadFool

    False. The point of the trolley problem is that we can’t tell which is better. Because although swapping tracks results in a better outcome, it also means you are killing someone innocent. Now it’s not clear which is better. Clearly morality is about better/worse not just good/bad or else people would just say to the trolley problem “Both options are bad, do whichever”

    Let’s look at another thought experiment:

    1- Kill 10 innocent people.
    2- Kill 100 innocent people.

    Do you think this is a moral dilemma here? Both options are bad you know. But apparently there is no such thing as better/worse for you so you must think this is a moral dilemma since both options are bad. Do you think that picking 2 is just as good as picking 1? (Again, both bad)

    That said, I'd very much prefer it if you do save my life from a car crash and also donate 100 dollars to charity.TheMadFool

    Ah so it’s just a preference. In terms of morality you truly think picking 2 as opposed to 1 is perfectly ok?

    Yea…. Good conversation. But I can’t help if you think letting someone die in a car crash when you can save them is acceptable.
  • Ying
    11
    You're missing your point. If you read an analysis of the dilemma it points to logical argumentation of the kind that was taught to would-be lawyers by Prodicus, Protagoras and other ancient rhetorician, and by Plato too, and is still taught in law schools. Proficiently arguing either side of a case is essential in today's legal profession. There is no ethical point made there by either side, it's just formal argumentation. Therefore your Protagorean ethical conclusions are just your own inventions.magritte

    :up:

    Many folks get this wrong about Gorgias too.
  • TheMadFool
    26
    I think it’s the clearest most unequivocal sign of a non sequitor.khaled

    You have accused me but you haven't made your case yet.

    False. The point of the trolley problem is that we can’t tell which is better.khaled

    In other words, they're equally good or we could drop the quantification ("equally") and simply say they're both good and only that, no better, no worse.

    Clearly morality is about better/worse not just good/badkhaled

    You're contradicting yourself Khaled.


    1- Save TheMadFool from a car crash and donate 100 dollars to charity.
    2- Donate 100 dollars to charity.
    khaled

    Ah so it’s just a preference. In terms of morality you truly think picking 2 as opposed to 1 is perfectly ok?khaled


    I was upfront about how I felt. Choose 1 rather than 2 but this isn't a dilemma unlike the one below,

    1- Kill 10 innocent people.
    2- Kill 100 innocent people.
    khaled

    but as you already know or should know you've only increased the number of people without affecting the essence of the moral dilemma encapsulated by the trolley problem. I don't need to provide a separate solution for it is what I mean.
  • khaled
    5
    You have accused me but you haven't made your case yet.TheMadFool

    Calling a non sequitor a non sequitor is making a case. Your conclusion doesn’t follow from any of your premises

    However, people are uncomfortable with that decision in re the trolley problem.TheMadFool

    Does not lead to.

    people don't or hesitate to mathematize morality.TheMadFool

    If you think it does make it a clear syllogism and explain each step.

    You're contradicting yourself KhaledTheMadFool

    False. Since the start I’ve given countless examples of cases where the two choices are bad, yet it’s not a dilemma.

    I was upfront about how I felt. Choose 1 rather than 2 but this isn't a dilemmaTheMadFool

    No one asked how you feel. What was asked is whether or not you think it’s morally permissible to choose 2 in that situation (just donating to charity). So, do you? Give a straight answer so I know if this conversation is worth continuing.

    but as you already know or should know you've only increased the number of people without affecting the essence of the moral dilemma encapsulated by the trolley problem.TheMadFool

    This is not the trolley problem. It is assumed that both cases involve you murdering people in exactly the same way (as I already gave the example before). In that case there is no dilemma, clearly killing 10 is better than killing 100.

    The reason the trolley problem is a dilemma is that you have a choice of directly causing a death, to prevent 5 deaths that you didn’t directly cause.

    If in the trolley problem, the trolley was going to hit 1 person, and you could switch the track to make it hit 5 people instead, do you still think that’s a dilemma? It isn’t, is it? Despite the fact that both options involve someone dying.

    In other words, they're equally goodTheMadFool

    No. That would be like you trying to solve a math problem, failing to do so, and then concluding: “So the answer must be as negative as it is positive, so it’s 0”
  • TheMadFool
    26
    Calling a non sequitor a non sequitor is making a case. Your conclusion doesn’t follow from any of your premiseskhaled

    It appears we're merely talking past each other. I'm sorry but I don't have the energy nor the patience to keep repeating what is at heart a very simple idea, Protagoras' counterdilemma vis-à-vis the moral dilemmas in consequentialism (the trolley problem) and in Kantian deontology (murderer at the door problem).

    However, people are uncomfortable with that decision in re the trolley problem.
    — TheMadFool

    Does not lead to.

    people don't or hesitate to mathematize morality.
    — TheMadFool
    khaled

    You've lost the plot Khaled.

    No one asked how you feel.khaled

    I've given due respect to how you feel/think and I was under the impression that this would be reciprocated. I was wrong and here you are debating morality. Something's off Khaled - you're in dire need of some soul-searching.

    What was asked is whether or not you think it’s morally permissible to choose 2 in that situation (just donating to charity). So, do you? Give a straight answer so I know if this conversation is worth continuing.khaled

    I've been honest with my answers but it's obvious that you're set in your ways. See below:

    clearly killing 10 is better than killing 100.khaled

    You're blinded by mathematics, under its spell as it were. That's my explanation for why you would hold such a preposterous idea.

    Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted — Albert Einstein

    No. That would be like you trying to solve a math problem, failing to do so, and then concluding: “So the answer must be as negative as it is positive, so it’s 0”khaled

    Self-critique is a good thing I hear. Carry on Khaled.
  • khaled
    5
    No one asked how you feel.
    — khaled

    I've given due respect to how you feel/think
    TheMadFool

    Don’t conflate. I’ve given due respect about how you think despite thinking it’s completely crazy. I just never asked how you feel about the matter. Maybe the way I worded it was too assholish, sorry about that. I think some Bartricks is rubbing off on me. Conversations with it have changed the way I converse with others it seems.

    I asked what you think people should do not what you would like them to do.

    However, people are uncomfortable with that decision in re the trolley problem.
    — TheMadFool

    Does not lead to.

    people don't or hesitate to mathematize morality.
    — TheMadFool
    — khaled

    You've lost the plot Khaled.
    TheMadFool

    ?????

    I was refuting one of your arguments on the basis that it’s a non sequitor.
    However, people are uncomfortable with that decision in re the trolley problem. I take that as the clearest, most unequivocal sign that people don't or hesitate to mathematize morality.TheMadFool

    This is a non sequitor.

    Something's off Khaled - you're in dire need of some soul-searching.TheMadFool

    You're blinded by mathematicsTheMadFool

    “He doesn’t agree with me, quick characterize him as a cold hearted uncaring robot so I don’t have to deal with his critique!”

    One last time and if you dodge it again then this is a waste of time no offense:

    In a situation where you can:

    1- Save TheMadFool from a car crash and donate 100 dollars to charity
    2- Donate 100 dollars to charity

    Do you think it’s morally acceptable to pick option 2? Direct answer please. Not “I would prefer you picked 1”.

    I've been honest with my answers but it's obvious that you're set in your waysTheMadFool

    It’s hard to tell what your answers were precisely because you refuse to give a direct yes or no answer to a direct yes or no question. You instead talk about which option you would prefer, which wasn’t asked for.

    Self-critique is a good thing I hear. Carry on Khaled.TheMadFool

    You know what’s better than self critique? Actually critiquing the argument of the guy you’re talking to. Or else why have conversations at all if self critique was enough?
  • TheMadFool
    26
    Don’t conflate.khaled

    Look who's talking.

    I'm done here Khaled. Frankly speaking, I'm glad that you don't buy into my arguments. You're a diehard utilitarian and that's far better than being morally bankrupt.
  • khaled
    5
    Still no answer? Ok.

    And no I’m not a diehard utilitarian and I don’t know how you could have reached that conclusion.

    But I’m not interested in continuing this anymore either.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.