Re: Democracy held hostage

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Mon Oct 01 2001 - 19:10:18 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:
> Mike Lorrey wrote:
> >
> > This conflict reflects the problems moral philosophers have with the
> > trolley death paradox: given a choice between 5 people dying on one
> > track, or flipping a switch that will only kill one person, versus 5
> > people dying in the trolley accident if you refuse to shove one person
> > in front of the train, most people will look at flipping the switch as a
> > more moral choice than shoving someone in front of the trolley, despite
> > the equal cost in lives lost versus lives saved.
> Excuse me, but when our moral intuitions say that two things are
> different, they usually are. If you shove a person in front of a trolley,
> and he dies, and then it turns out that it was a false threat... well,
> oops. If the switch is a false threat then flipping it does no damage.
> Uncertainty about the outcome of actions is one of the foundations of
> ethics, one of the environmental conditions to which moral intuitions are
> an adaptation, and quite relevant here.

Uh, you don't understand the scenario. In both situations, you have a
choice of five people definitely dying versus one person definitely
dying. No 'uncertainty'.

> How would this trolley-accident
> scenario arise in real life, anyway?

It is a moral scenario. How in real life, do you suppose, one would
happen to set up a cat in a box with a cyanide pill and a radioactive
trigger? ;)

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