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Sides and utilitarianism

A “simple” moral dilemma:

“Two persons are infected with a virus, both are quarantined in a building and there is a single-use cure that will save (and immunize) anyone infected with the virus. One of the persons is 80 years old; all his family died, hasn’t got children or even friends and works alone in an office doing meaningless paperwork; but the other person is 30 years old; has a big and loving family, has got three children and hundreds of good friends and recently has been researching a cure for the cancer that is almost over. Which one should be cured?”

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This is a ridiculously exaggerated utilitarian dilemma. A child with nothing in his head than logic will say almost instantly “the second”, and most adults with little common sense, after pondering a little the situation will say “the second”.

And, as you see, is logical that; if there is only one cure and no way to cure both (unfortunately) is better that the second person, with a long life ahead; with a family, three children and many friends that will cry in his death; with an “almost over” cure for the cancer that will save the life of millions of people… remain alive while the other, unfortunately, die because of the virus.

Yes, it’s a very cold decision, but it makes sense; OR MAYBE NOT, because:

“Do you have the right to decide which one will live?”

“Do you think that you are doing a good action saving that person if you’re killing another?”

“Can you look into the eyes of the person that will die and say that he will be sacrificed for save another person with the same right to live than he?”

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These three arguments are the most common, here’s the analysis:

1st argument–>This is based in a premise “nobody should decide about the life nor death of anyone”, this is also common sense, if all we were able to decide who should live and who should die, all we will end dead. But one question, it’s not worth to risk that if we are going to save at least one of those two people, save many tears to his family, children and friends and possibly save the life of millions of people because of his “almost over” cure for cancer?.

2nd argument–>This conflicts the cornerstone of the utilitarianism “it’s worth to do a bad thing if due to that bad thing we are doing something good; always that we are doing more good than bad”. Don’t says the bible (or the catholic/protestant church, I don’t care too much about theology) that is a good thing that a poor man steal bread for feed his starving family? And the huge majority of the legal systems don’t let someone kill another if that another is about to kill a lot of people? In the first case the victim is innocent although don’t dies, in the second case the victim is culpable although dies. If we mix both we get “it’s good that someone kills another, although the another is innocent, if killing that another lets that someone save the life of many people”, although we have to omit a lot of variables (like if that man has family or not, if the people who will save are potential assassins etc etc). The dilemma exposed is a little milder, because is not about kill or not kill but about save the life of one or another person.

3rd argument–>In fact, almost nobody has a heart as cold as that, but this is clearly sided. Because if you don’t kill he, you are killing the other, that is as innocent as he, why you see his eyes and not those of the other? Why you don’t see the pleading eyes of all the family, children and friends of the researcher? Why you don’t see the even more pleading eyes of all those millions of people with cancer that will die without his cure? Why?

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I’m open to discussion and criticism, but before saying anything please see if your arguments are of the 1st, 2nd or 3rd type.

And above all, remember that the philosophical dilemmas exclude a lot of variables, don’t say things like “maybe his cure for the cancer will kill us all” because that’s a variable that hasn’t to deal with this dilemma, this dilemma about if it’s worth to decide about the life and death of others.

What does this blog name mean?

The name of the blog is a short* description of a metaphor that I imagined for the moral absolutism.

I was thinking in the relativism like a void and absolutism like a void with more or less white pillars, solid white pillars which you can grab or sit on them when you debate with other people about philosophy/morality.

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When two absolutist persons discuss, their white pillars confront each other and every one of them tries to change the disposition of the pillars of the other or, if the second person has a pillar type that the first person hasn’t got, this first person can try to destroy it (for sample, if the second person believes that the Earth is flat, but the first person doesn’t, the first person can try to convince the other with these sort of arguments).

The first type of argument is simply “discuss”, but the second type is like “myth-busting“.

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When one absolutistic and one relativistic person discuss, the absolutistic person doesn’t see any pillars on the enemy side and so, none of his pillar-disposition-change nor “myth-busting” arguments can do nothing against his relativistic enemy.

But this enemy, although he hasn’t got any pillars, can, in fact, erode the enemy pillars, destroying them until the other person is relativistic or he structures all his morality in pure, logical-less, dogmas.

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But the worst is when two relativist persons discuss, they try to search not for white pillars, but for the smaller white marble particles that they can found on the contrary, attacking them until none of the debaters can find any absolutist particle in the opposite side.

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I had these three types of conversations about philosophy/morality; the first with almost anyone when I was absolutistic, the second with my I.T (catholic) teacher, and the third only with my father from time to time and my english teacher once**.

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Ah, and the white pillars mental image was from the film “The neverending history”, when the world was basically void and there were only dispersed pieces of matter. I saw the film many years ago (I was very young, for me it was an horror movie) and I relationed the metaphor with that image, is surprising how the human brain works, right?

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*The full name would be “White greek pillars inside of the black void in random positions representing the absolutistic moral views in a visual manner”

**That conversation didn’t end well, I messed up my arguments and now she believes that I’m absolutist and egocentrical instead of relativistic

Quotes (updated eventually)

This is my first post, and so I want to post a major article, personal quotes that resumes a lot of my philosophical views, enjoy:

“Quote”/Explanation\Opinion

n.e.r=No explanation required

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14 years, since I read “Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters” of Matt Ridley (November, 2011)

“The success of an individual is directly proportional on how much has spread his genes”/a.k.a natural selection\I partially agree but I don’t share the feeling

“The 21st century is the cross between a golden age and a decadence”/n.e.r\I agree, every day even more

“We are what we are and we were what we were, but we aren’t what we were and we weren’t what we are”/This means that the identity changes with the time, and so, you and you from five days ago are different people\I agree

“A gifted is a complex person in a simple world, a retarded is a simple person in a complex world”/I think it’s a logical fallacy\I can’t agree nor disagree

“We are a byproduct of our genes”/Err… Too long explanation, read this and then read again the quote\I agree but I don’t share the feeling

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14 years, since I read “Thus spoke Zarathustra” of Nietzsche and “Civilization and it’s discontents” of Freud (Christmas, 2011)

“The only way to be a saint is being good all your life but insult god in your deathbed”/This has a long explanation: Because, according to the Christianity, if you are good all your life (or more good than bad at least, depends on the interpretation) you will be awarded with the heaven, an entire eternity with full happiness. Also, the definition of “saint” means someone who is extremely good all his life, and the term “good” means “do good things” without nothing in exchange a.k.a reward. So, if a “saint” is a “saint”, he will go to heaven at his death, and the heaven is an eternity with full happiness a.k.a reward, so he will not be a saint because he will be awarded for all his lifetime “work” being a good person, and will not be a saint. But, if he insults god in his deathbed, he will go to the hell, no reward, but all his good actions in life will stand, and a little evil (insult god) won’t be enough for remove his condition of saint, and he will be a saint after his death\I agree

“The saints never go to heaven”/Partial version of the last quote\I also agree

“God hates all saints”/Partial version of the last quote\I also agree

“God made the world in his image, the devil appeared spontaneously”/This is a joke\I can’t agree nor disagree

“The day of my death the world will end, unless I resurrect”/When I die the world will end for me, so anything after my death won’t matter for me, and any lie about it won’t be proved wrong until I die, and after that, it won’t matter\I agree

“We are a bunch of electrons”/This has (also) a long explanation: spirit and souls apart, we are our body. But the “command center”  of our body is our brain. But the brain is a bunch of nerves. And the nerves are like hard drive, so our identity is the information inside those nerves, but we are looking for ourselves, right? So, the connexions between the nerves (synapses) are our thoughts, our happiness, our unhappiness… all. But, the synapses are electrical connections, and the electricity are, yes, electrons, so we are a bunch of electrons\I agree, but I don’t share the feeling

“The only difference between kill someone and leave that someone amnesic fully and permanently, is that in the second case you’ve done the first thing and also made a new conscience with reduced life expectancy”/n.e.r\I disagree because this is opposed to the quote before, mixing the concept conscience and identity

“The desire to die is exclusive of the ignorance, the insanity or the sanity”/a.k.a religion, insanity, and the “knowledge” that no life deserves to be lived\I agree, but I don’t share the feeling in the third case

“The religion is the counterweight of the curiosity”/Because without curiosity, the humanity wouldn’t have any reason for invent any religion\I disagree because now I think that the religion appeared because of the social cohesion

“Is inert matter happy?”/n.e.r\I agree, for now

“All those attached to life should chain all that want to loose”/n.e.r\I agree

“The maths are as perfect as our senses are able to interpret them”/Because if our senses fail, even the maths get illogical and, by extension, imperfect\I agree

“An unselfish action is all that appears to be against your own interests in the eyes of the majority”/And even if it’s again your own interests, because you enjoy doing that action, being good with the others, you want to do that action and so, that action is not against your own interests\I agree

“The knowledge is the empiricism of the ignorance”/n.e.r\I agree, completely

“The universe hasn’t got to be rational or infinite only because a part of it appears to be”/n.e.r\I agree

“Say that someone is ignorant declares your own ignorance”/It’s all about the relativism\I agree

“There is nothing as noble as stand in an imperfection and fight for it against all the others”/n.e.r\I disagree, but its poetical

“If we are going to live in ignorance, better choose the best of them”/For sample, if I were very tired of this life but not enough for commit suicide, I probably decide to become a believer, but I would choose to become Buddhist instead of christian\I agree

“Love is the colloquial name for the dopamine intoxication”/n.e.r\I agree

“All altruism can be reduced to vanity”/Because you enjoy doing an action, being good with the others, you want to do that action and so, that action it’s not against your own interests, and so, it’s vanity\I agree

“The morality can’t be applied to things that we don’t know and even more to our speculations about those things”/n.e.r\I agree

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14 years, since I read “San Manuel Bueno, Martir” of Miguel de Unamuno (January 2012)

“Either Calvin was right or the hell don’t exists”/This is about determinism, is almost (or directly) undeniable that the life is determined (not only in theological terms), so if Calvin was right about that all we have a predetermined life, of goodness or evilness, if someone go to hell would be because he was evil from before even his birth, and if someone go to heaven would be because he was a good person before even his birth, so there is no injustice. But if we are predetermined to be good nor evil, we are determined to a life depending on our ambient, our gens and our luck in general, and all we should go to heaven (or stay in the purgatory) because nobody controls his actions; there is no free will\I agree

“When we think about the death, all are feelings, but the bad face of the death is only another feeling, the desire to stay alive, after the death, all is neutral, no happiness; no unhappiness. So the only reasons for stay alive are mental, practical or philosophical”*/n.e.r\I agree

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14 years (March 2012)

“Who starts the moral from the ignorance has to stay in the ignorance or have good imagination”/Although all we live in ignorance, the more dogmatic ignorance we have, the more imagination we should have for rationalise it\I agree

“God is real, but likes to make us believe the opposite”/Paradox\I can’t agree

“No life deserves to be lived”/Too long explanation, simply “The life is suffering”, Okay?\I agree

“I only want one thing, or the immortality or instant death”/The result of mixing the last quote with the human desire of stay alive\I agree

“Who fears death overrates life”/No, really\I agree

“People hate ignorance in direct proportion with his own”/n.e.r\I agree

“If the loss of conscience is like a temporal death, it’s so bad sleep?”/n.e.r\I agree

“The relativists doubt even of the things that they say, so they must be wrong”/n.e.r\I disagree completely, even more, this is an irony

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14 years (May 2012)

“We are complex balls falling towards the end of our existence, our thoughts are just electrons moving in synapses and our memories just chemicals stored in our brain cells”/See the url\I agree

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*Don’t misunderstand this quote, I’m not suicidal, my philosophical thoughts and the rest of my person are completely separate things, now I am as happy as a child with a new toy (in this case, this blog).

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