• Barkon
    You are not responsible for morality, it is your choice, but being immoral has repercussions. If we're judging by amount alone, then it's always moral to save the majority; if you decide not to save the majority, then the environment you face after will criticize that, especially if there is no better reason. You will face the repercussions of your decision.
  • Bob Ross

    I am going to come back and make a full response when I have more time

    No worries at all.

    According to what you say here the driver should be convicted for murder, no? You seem to think he murdered the pedestrian on the shoulder.

    Correct. I am assuming you disagree: the fact they are swerving to avoid other people, although they are still intending to run over other people to save them, seems to be the relevant difference for you that makes it (presumably) morally omissible.
  • Herg
    Killing one person to save the five is what enables the person to save the five. Without being able to kill the one person, they cannot save the five.Bob Ross
    You are saying two different things here. Let's take them separately:

    "Killing one person to save the five is what enables the person to save the five. "
    This is false. Suppose at the last minute the 1 person rolls off the track and saves himself. The operator has still managed to save the other five, and that is because it was using the lever that enabled him to save them, not the presence of the other 1 person. The means is the same whether the 1 person is killed or manages to save himself.

    "Without being able to kill the one person, they cannot save the five."
    If you mean that they would be unable to save the 5 if they lacked the ability to kill the 1, that is true. But this is not because the 1 is the means of killing the 5, it is because to be able to kill the 1 person they need to be able to switch the train, and it is this switching that is the means of saving the 5, not the killing of the 1.

    I think what is preventing you grasping the obvious fact that killing the 1 person is not the means of saving the 5 is your belief that intention to kill innocent people is enough to convict someone of moral guilt. Even if there were such a thing as moral guilt (which there is not, because as I have said, there is no such thing as moral responsibility), this would not be the case, because, as in the trolley case, an agent may be in a situation where they cannot avoid killing innocent people. If they did not choose to be in such a situation, then no blame can attach to them for being in that situation, and consequently no blame can attach to them for then intentionally killing some of these people, as long as they intend to kill as few as the situation allows.
  • Leontiskos
    To be completely honest, I think your line of reasoning entails that one should pull the lever.Bob Ross

    Yes - I’ve changed my mind regarding the trolley case. I now hold that pulling the lever is permissible if the conditions of double effect are being adhered to.

    The reason I am wary of the trolley case is because when a modern mind asks if it is permissible to pull the lever, they are almost certainly asking whether it is permissible to do evil that good may came; they are almost certainly attempting to justify consequentialism. So in this sense I think @Fire Ologist is correct when he says that the problem unduly prescinds from questions of intention. Only if one is not intending to kill the person (and one is not willing their death as a means to the end) can one pull the lever.

    Correct. I am assuming you disagree: the fact they are swerving to avoid other people, although they are still intending to run over other people to save them, seems to be the relevant difference for you that makes it (presumably) morally omissible.Bob Ross


    Yes, if by “he cannot avoid causing deaths” you mean his actions. If he has to either (1) kill 2 innocent people or (2) 4 innocent people; then I agree he should go with 1. But that is not the situation the pilot is in in your hypothetical.Bob Ross

    It seems like he is in that hypothetical. You are positing a significant difference between steering away from a large group of people and killing others as a side-effect, and ceasing to the fly the plane and killing others as a side-effect. When the pilot decides to cease flying the plane he knows the death of innocents will result, and therefore on your definition the advice you give is also intentional killing (i.e. the advice to cease flying the plane).

    I guess. I would say that the duty to fly the aircraft safely is a duty which does not obligate one to commit anything immoral for its own sake; whereas it seems like you may think that it might.Bob Ross

    This is instructive because you speak about "committing an immoral act for its own sake." This is obviously not what is happening any any of the scenarios. Not even someone who does evil for the sake of a good end is committing immorality for its own sake. :chin:

    How? Both situations have a person who knows they have to sacrifice someone to save someone else, and they act upon it. To me that is a sufficient condition to say they intended to do it.Bob Ross

    They don't intend to do it in different ways? Again, on your principles to cease flying the plane is to intentionally kill.

    Much of this comes back to the first sentence of Aquinas' response:

    I answer that, Nothing hinders one act from having two effects, only one of which is intended, while the other is beside the intention. . .Aquinas, ST II-II.64.7: Whether it is lawful to kill a man in self-defense?

    You are denying this principle insofar as you are saying that everything which is foreseen is intended. Or more precisely, every effect which is foreseen to be necessary is intended.

    What is your analysis of intent? What does it mean to intend something?

    I think the difference you are talking about is merely that it seems like the person in the shoulder example is intending to save the pedestrians and the person on the shoulder is just an unfortunate side-effect; whereas the two in the transplant are definitely not a side-effect.Bob Ross

    Right: because in the first case the bad effect is not a means to the good effect, but in the latter case it is. Thus the transplant is not permissible on double effect.

    For example, if I see someone in need of water (as perhaps they are thirsty) (let’s call them the first person) and I see someone else with water (let’s call them the second person) and I walk over to the second person and take their water to give it to the first person, then I am intending to take the water from the second person to give it to the first person even if my self-explicated intention is to get the first person water.Bob Ross

    This is another case where the bad effect is a means to the good effect, and is therefore not permissible on double effect. In order to give the first person water I must steal from the second person. Contrariwise, if there were one drink of water and two persons dying of thirst, I could give it to the first person even though I knew that the second person would die of thirst, because the bad effect (of their dying) is not a means to the good effect (of the other person drinking). The bad effect is not necessary in order to bring about the good effect; it is a side effect.

    You are saying, by analogy here, that if the person is just intending to help the first person in need, and isn’t executing consciously a plan to take it from the second person, that the taking of the water of the second person is merely a side-effect of the intention.Bob Ross

    In order to give the first person water I must obtain water. In order to obtain water in your scenario it must be stolen from the second person. So what is happening is that I am stealing water in order to obtain water in order to give water to a thirsty person. The bad effect is a means to the good effect, and is therefore impermissible. Without the bad effect there would be no water for the thirsty person; just as without their deaths there would be no organs to transplant.

    The difference between the transplant and the shoulder example, is merely that in the former the person is consciously aware that they are using people as a means. The latter example is iffy: someone may realize they have to kill the shoulder person to save the other people and continue anyways (thereby making it a conscious intention of theirs) whereas another person may not realize it and only think to themselves that they are saving the pedestrians.Bob Ross

    Suppose an act has two effects: I press the accelerator and two things happen: my speed accelerates and my fuel is consumed. Do you think Aquinas is right, and it is possible to intend one effect without the other? When I press the accelerator do I intend to accelerate and do I intend to diminish my fuel? And even if so, do I intend them in the same way? Is the word "intend" being used in the same way for both of these effects?

    I am seriously struggling to see how the police officer would not communicate in their report, just based off of your statement to them here, that you intended to kill the guy on the shoulder to avoid hitting the two on the median; and this is essential to your argument that you provide a basis against this.Bob Ross

    I brought up murder because it is obvious that this person would not be convicted of murder. They may be convicted of manslaughter, but not murder. At the very least your analysis doesn't sync with our law system. It follows from this that the police officer would not write that I intended to kill the guy on the shoulder. Police officers and judges accept that side effects exist, and that not everything foreseen is intended.

    So, this just boils down to the hierarchy of moral values. I think that rights are more fundamental than social duties (like flying airplanes, driving buses, etc.): the latter assumes the duty to protect and are birthed out of the former, so the former must be more fundamental.Bob Ross

    But this doesn't answer the question. If I have a duty to not-kill one person, then why don't I have a double duty to not-kill two persons? At stake are two duties.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    It's not clear which answer is right, and yet it is clear that this answer is wrong:


    ...so it does seem like we can make some progress in our moral reasoning. :grin:
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