Monday, May 31, 2010


None of us know what we don’t know and because of this nothing is clear-cut or a given. Everything is in a state of flux – truth, justice, our constantly changing society with evolving morals. Life is an arduous dilemma. And as if real dilemmas aren’t tough enough, here are a few hypothetical ones to tease your mind.

DILEMMA 1: We believe that it is wrong to kill. But would euthanasia be wrong in the case of an old, decapitated person who no longer wishes to live within an eroding body? Furthermore, would it be wrong to sacrifice an elderly person if this was a tribal tradition required for the soul to pass to the afterlife in a ceremony carried out with the consent of the person being killed?

DILEMMA 2: A philosophy professor is late to class in order to save a drowning dog. The entire auditorium is forced to wait for him and miss most of the lecture time. Was he right to rescue the dog?

DILEMMA 3: Three brothers, all married to the same girl, journey together to a strange land. One night the girl is murdered by a robber, and the eldest brother, with whom she is sleeping is condemned to death on suspicion. He is allowed to visit his father before he is executed. In his absence, the second brother offers to die in his place, but, as he is about to be executed, the third brother steps forward and “confesses” that he is the murderer. Which of the brothers is the most noble?

DILEMMA 4: Now here’s an example of an infinite regression paradox. Which of the following statements is true?
“The statement below is false.”
“The statement above is true.”

DILEMMA 5: Our professor from dilemma 2 sees the same dog drowning the next day. The entire auditorium is waiting for him. Once again, most of the lecture is missed. Was he right to save the dog again? And if the same dog is seen the next day, should the philosophy professor just keep saving it day after day after day while missing out on his lectures and keeping his students waiting?

DILEMMA 6: Imagine you are placed in a room with Adolf Hitler when he is only 3 years old. You have a gun, know exactly what he does during World War 2 and will not be charged in any way if you choose to kill him. At the time he is just an innocent baby. Would you/Should you kill him?

DILEMMA 7: You are against the cameras that have been installed in the office to spy on employees but your wallet gets stolen from your desk. Would you use the spy camera to see who stole it even though you are totally against its presence?

DILEMMA 8: A huge asteroid strikes the Earth and wipes out 90 percent of life and all infrastructure. Would you want to continue to live in such a decimated world or would you be tempted to take your own life?

DILEMMA 9: The plank of Caneades is a thought experiment first proposed by Carneades of Cyrene that explores the concept of self-defense in relation to murder. In the thought experiment, there are two shipwrecked sailors, A and B. They both see a plank that can only support one of them and both of them swim towards it. Sailor A gets to the plank first. Sailor B, who is going to drown, pushes A off and away from the plank and, thus, proximately, causes A to drown. Sailor B gets on the plank and is later saved by a rescue team. The thought experiment poses the question of whether Sailor B can be tried for murder because if B had to kill A in order to live.

DILEMMA 10: After days of rescuing the dog and keeping his class waiting, the philosophy professor from Dilemma 2 and 5 lets the dog drown. He tells the packed auditorium, "Today I came on time because I let the dog drown!" Should they be outraged by his callousness at having let the dog drown or should they be relieved that they may actually get some lesson time without distractions from now on?

These dilemmas are for your perusal. Personally, I find them a handy way to spend time when travelling on public transport or waiting for the kids to finish playing at the park. They also come in handy at parties. Feel free to answer any or submit some more.


Ro Magnolia said...

GAHHH!!! You have way too much intellectual energy on a Monday morning! :D

I am left to wonder, did your wallet get stolen? Or was that part as totally hypothetical as the rest except for your opposition to the camera focused on your desk which is clearly not hypothetical?

And couldn't someone please tie that dog up before he drowns himself?????

That's all I got. It's Monday morning after all, and I'm clearly not a deep thinker in the morning. :)

Robin said...

If I told you that this made my head hurt, is it my fault for continuing to read it, or yours for posting it?

I am with Ro, did someone steal your wallet? Inquiring minds want to know...

ecelliam said...

Dear Purple Cow, I refuse to believe that you do not understand me. You know so much, because you read so much, I would like to say what RO Magnolia, and Robin said, but I did not think of those things first, Your writings teases my mind to no end, so I just say thank you.

Purple Cow said...

Nobody lost their wallet.
Nobody lost their mind.

I was just wondering...

And yes, sometimes it is tiring to think so much!

Cheers Ro, Robin, Ecelliam...