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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SHOULD YOU KILL THE FAT MAN?

Perhaps hypocrisy and contradiction are just side effects of the human condition. The “trolley experiment” rated me 84 percent morally consistent. My real-life score would probably be less because it’s one thing making decisions from the comfort of an armchair and a whole different ballgame making a real-life snap decision to throw yourself on a grenade because you consider yourself morally obliged to save the lives of millions.

Anyway, you can put your own morals to the test with this famous quiz by Judith Jarvis Thomson…

FOR THE INTERACTIVE, PHILOSOPHICAL EXPLORATION ON WHETHER YOU SHOULD KILL THE FAT MAN CLICK HERE (It just takes two minutes)

Also, as an afterthought, do you think that a lot of people are influenced in their responses by the fact that the man is fat?

14 comments:

Sharon said...

Difficult little test. I've been given much food for thought. Thanks for the link.

LJ said...

By the looks of it the fat man is doing a good job of killing himself. He doesn't need any help.

Purple Cow said...

Sharon, did you kill the fat man or at least torture him a little?

LJ, he looks jolly though, doesn't he?

Robin said...

Well, the little test told me what was what. It said I wasn't very morally consistent and I could use some work!

Propoquerian said...

my consistency score was 100%....not that i feel particularly great about any of the things I "did" in my answers, but atleast no one could accuse me of being a hypocrite!

ecelliam said...

Amusing,and some what complicated. had fun though. thanks.

Purple Cow said...

Prop - In the area where I was inconsistent it was a case of the mind losing out to my emotions. i guess that to be morally consistent you need to be focused on logic more, right?

Robin - The questions in the beginning are a bit confusing...there are so many factors to take into account that its hard to say "yes" or "no"...

Ecelliam - Amusing only when doing it while sitting in a comfy armchair...imagine having to really make such calls!

George said...

I scored 83 per cent. Strange, because I have always considered myself inconsistent. In fact I used to yearn for consistency - then I thought: Can one be consistently inconsistent? Ah, these philosophical questions.

I once asked my therapist if one should tolerate intolerance.
NO - she said.

(I have been watching the news. Take care of yourself.)

Purple Cow said...

My problem, George, is putting theory to practice. Reminds me of a joke...

Little boy asks father, "Daddy, what is the difference between theory and practice?"

Father says, "Ask your mother and sister how much it would cost for them to get paid to sleep with someone."

Son asks mother..."Would you sleep with a strange man for one million euros?"

Mother says, "Nah, not for one million, not for two million, for ten million euros though I would."

Son asks sister..."Would you sleep with a strange man for one million euros?"

Sister says, "Nah, not for one million, not for two million, for ten million euros though I would."

Son shares answer with father and father says. "Well, the difference between theory and practice is that in theory we have 20 million euros. In practice we have two whores in the house."

(I think the Greek economy has a problem between theory and practice also...Thanks for asking. I'm terrified!)

Sharon said...

I've thought about the test. Frankly, because it's designed so that you are in a Catch 22 no matter how you answer, if you want to get 100 percent, you need to forget about extenuating circumstances. Something I just can't do.

Life, to me, isn't really yes or no, black or white. But that's just me. Thanks again for the link. It really was thought provoking and has me looking at myself in a slightly different light.

And, no, I didn't kill the fat man.

Purple Cow said...

Yes, Sharon, I agree regarding life not being black and white and sometimes having to follow our hearts and instincts rather than the brain...and at other times going just for the brain...I guess that is what makes us human.

The Novelist said...

I am a person in moral conflict! I have a lot of soul searching to do I guess.

Ro Magnolia said...

Thought-provoking test. I scored 92% and was left feeling quite inadequate and thankful that I haven't been faced with any of the scenarios. However, I think I disagree with you on one point. I have a feeling it's a lot easier to make a decision when you're faced with a crisis than when you're sitting back in an armchair trying to philosophize about it.

For example, I'm pretty sure that most of us would rush in front of a racing car to save a toddler at risk. I think that the adrenalin rushing through our bodies, the immediacy of the crisis, our instinct to save a human life, would all kick in to an instinctive reaction.

However, how many of us sit back in the cold light of day and make a decision to become a bone marrow donor? Or offer to give up a kidney to an anonymous stranger? In some ways, I think that is a greater way of being a hero because it isn't an actual emergency situation that is in our face, but a theoretical one - somewhere, somehow, someone needs an organ, or my bone marrow, but I don't see them in front of me, don't know what they look like, can't hear their cries, or see their sorrowful parents. That's where the decision becomes a lot less emotional and lot more logical.

Can't say I'm there yet, but I am certainly inspired by those who are!

Purple Cow said...

Yes, Ro, you have a point!