Saturday, June 09, 2012

SACRIFICE THE PRETTY GIRL?


Photo by Evren Sahin

In an article on psychology The Economist refers to the runaway-trolley problem:

A runaway rail trolley will kill a group of people unless someone chooses to push one of the group in front of it to slow it down (“The roar of the crowd”, May 26th).

Doing nothing means all will be killed, so who should be pushed?


The Military elite like to use 'the runaway trolley problem', or similar examples, when justifying such things as sending young soldiers to die in Vietnam, or bombing people in Afghanistan.

Anthony Sweeney, of Darien, Connecticut, writes:

SIR – I see the dilemma, but not the one described.

If someone feels strongly enough about saving peoples' lives then he should make the ultimate sacrifice and throw himself in front of the trolley.

Throwing a bystander (which could be me) in front of the trolley to satisfy the subject's idea of morality is murder, pure and simple.


http://www.economist.com/node/21556541

Of course, the 'runaway-trolley' is most likely someone's fault.


Website for this image

Let us look inside the minds of the CIA and all its supporters in the USA and beyond.

INSIDE THE MINDS OF THE CIA


The CIA is largely run by people who believe in creating the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

These people are called 'utilitarians'.

A utilitarian might approve of torture - for the greater happiness of 'the majority'.

A utilitarian might approve of a false-flag terror attack, if it is thought that this will bring greater wealth and happiness to 'one's people'.

New research suggests that 'utilitarians' have higher scores on measures of:

Psychopathy, 

machiavellianism, 

and life meaninglessness.

(Antisocial personality traits predict utilitarian responses to moral dilemmas)
Utilitarians forget about goodness and justice.

Are you a utilitarian?

You are standing next to a large man on a bridge over rail tracks.

You notice a run-a-way trolley coming down the tracks.

It is about to run over 5 workmen further up the tracks.

If you push the large man off the bridge, he will fall onto the tracks and die.

His body will stop the trolley from killing the 5 workmen.

Should you push him?

Roughly 90% of people oppose the utilitarian act of killing one individual to save five.

Roughly 10% are utilitarians and would kill one individual to save five.

Utilitarians will sacrifice 'other people'.

Here's an easier test:

You are standing next to a very pretty white girl on a bridge over rail tracks.


You notice a run-a-way trolley coming down the tracks.

It is about to run over 5 ugly looking immigrant workmen further up the tracks.

If you push the girl off the bridge, she will fall onto the tracks and die.

Her body will stop the trolley from killing the 5 workmen.

Should you push her?

Another example:

You are standing next to a Palestinian child throwing stones at an Israeli vehicle which is about to smash up the child's home.

Do you shoot the child and make thousands of Israelis happy?

The bad guys are utilitarians.

Utilitarianism is the invention of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill

(Goodness has nothing to do with it The Economist)

Bentham thought up the idea that "the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation."

Research into utilitarians has now been carried out by Daniel Bartels at Columbia University and David Pizarro at Cornell.

Their research has been published in Cognition.

They found a strong link between utilitarian answers to moral dilemmas (push the large man off the bridge) and people who are psychopathic, Machiavellian or tend to view life as meaningless.Was it right to bomb Dresden and Hiroshima?

Or, were the bombers forgetting about justice?

Was it wrong to kill innocent children?

What if it was your child that was killed by British and American bombs?

What if it was your child killed by certain people on the London tube train?

What if the people behind the recent terror think that they are doing the right thing?


The 'utilitarians' believe that governments should try to bring about the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

But, are the utilitarians forgetting about justice?

Bentham and Mill, the philosophers who advocated 'utilitarianism', no doubt had good intentions.

They were thinking about the happiness of all the world's citizens.

But, what about the planners in the Pentagon?

Are they thinking only about the greatest happiness of the greatest number of rich and powerful Americans?

Was Hitler only thinking about healthy, fair-haired Germans?

Did Truman have no concern for the women of Hiroshima?

Sociologist Alan Wolfe asks: "Why do capitalism and liberal democracy, both of which justify themselves on the grounds that they produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number, leave so much dissatisfaction in their wake?"

Could it be that western governments forget about justice?

Former London police chief Sir Ian Blair urged the public not to let the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes overshadow the deaths of 52 victims of the London bombers.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told BBC Radio 4: "We can't let that one tragic death outweigh all others."

Utilitarianism - the end justifies the means.

Below are some thoughts from Roger Kimball:

http://rightreason.ektopos.com/archives/2005/03/whats_wrong_wit.html

Let's pretend, he said, that some mad scientist has figured out a way to bring peace, prosperity, and general happiness to the whole world.

There was just one catch: this brave new world required the yearly sacrifice of one innocent person, chosen at random.


Supposing this scheme were perfected: would it be moral to close with the offer and subscribe universal happiness at the cost of one innocent life per annum?

Well, why not?

Think of all the billions of people there are in the world.

Scads of innocent people die all the time.

Why not spread happiness and reduce the death toll at the same time?

Hard cheese on the appointed victim, of course.

But he (or she) would at least have the consolation of dying for the good of society.

This is the sort of argument you might get from Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), the father of utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism defines the good as the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

Utilitarianism, especially in its undoctrinaire forms, has a lot of appeal.

Most of us are at least intermittent utilitarians.

At least, we expect those running society to act on broadly utilitarian principles, to "maximize" goods and services (read "happiness") for as many people as possible.

It is interesting, then, that everyone to whom I have presented my friend's thought-experiment has recoiled.


Some people say, "That's just silly," and change the subject.

Some say, "What a horrible idea," and change the subject.

Hardly anyone says "That would be wrong because . . ." and then supplies a reason.

I think that the uneasiness that most people feel about this utilitarian fantasy is a good thing.

I also think that the reluctance on the part of most people to provide a reason for their uneasiness is troubling...

What's wrong with the utilitarian philosophy?

...One important human ideal is freedom.

A central reason that the utilitarian fantasy with which we began is morally repugnant is because it requires the violation of freedom.

It therefore builds a fatal weakness into its very foundation.

The utilitarian promise works to the extent that we understand ourselves as creatures who behave in order to achieve certain ends.

To the extent that we see our selves as moral creatures - creatures, that is to say, whose lives are bounded by an ideal of freedom - utilitarianism presents itself as a version of nihilism...


Anonymous left this comment:

The Trolley Problem is crucially important in human moral calculus.


Of course, the primary dangerous idea they fear is the truth.

The technical point of contact for the DARPA FBO is William Casebeer, seen here giving a presentation on similar matters.

In his presentation his asks the audience about the Trolley Problem in its two forms. Of course, no-one in the audience suggests to sacrifice himself to save others.

---
"Derramasteis vuestra sangre antes que la de un innocente. Esa era la ultima prueba."
---

These types want to disassemble us like binaries. And then control us like so many clockwork automata. To do so, they will need to exterminate the best in human nature, to destroy even the stories of such, even this, and to create a soulless society.

This is the arrogant mindset of many technocrats and the elite. They are subject. We are object. The twain shall not meet.

Until now.

The pieces on the grand chessboard are jumping off the board and attacking the players.

The cryptoplutocracy in Manhattan are starting to get just an inkling of what it's like to have done unto them.

But this is just the beginning of the beginning.

---
"You wanted to know what it was about us that made us human. Well you're not going to find it in here. You went looking in the wrong place." 

15 comments:

Noor al Haqiqa said...

Utilitarianism has been around for as long as humankind. They have been doing this since, if not before, they were tossing babies into the flaming bowels of Baal to beg or appease him on behalf of the general populace.... or ritually killing the mating king or queen to guarantee bountiful fruits of the earth.... or the Druids with their burning of victims... the primitive rites of civilizations... the erasing of millions of people by such as Mao... the examples are endless, alas.

A very good article with a lot to think about here Aangirfan. Unusual and exciting ~ and, of course, enlightening.

Anonymous said...

http://news.yahoo.com/obama-backs-philippines-over-south-china-sea-023049643.html

http://news.yahoo.com/four-killed-rohingya-muslims-riot-myanmar-government-183339762.html

http://news.yahoo.com/fake-fbi-agent-arrested-pakistan-065624317.html

Anonymous said...

http://news.yahoo.com/stench-greets-un-team-syria-massacre-044605964.html

Anonymous said...

http://www.rt.com/news/us-syria-west-bomb-388/

Zoompad said...

Great post Aang. It makes me think about when I was a child, and we used to have the Salvation Army captain come to our school to talk about spiritual things. I remember him telling us about George and the dragon, and how the dragon demanded a sacrifice every day, until the day that George came and fought the dragon. I thought it was just a pretty story until fairly recently, but now I realise it is an allegory. Human sacrifice is something none of us should ever demand from someone else, the only one any of us has a right to offer up for sacrifice is our own selves, and even then we have Jesus Christ telling us that the blood money has already been paid in full 2000 years ago. Scapegoating is pagan, it arises from a lack of faith in our Creator.

Anonymous said...

"You are standing next to a very pretty white girl on a bridge over rail tracks."

Umm... I find West African, Chinese and Dravidian women hypnotically beautiful.
But I understand what you mean.

People are strange.

I mean everyone else, not me.

---
"Could you be the most beautiful girl in the world?"

Unknown said...

Right or wrong doesn't come into a psychopath's mind. Their brains are wired differently as in the brains of a cold blooded reptile.

Hitler was not a psychopath as he hated the Bolshevik psychopaths that were threatening Germany in 1939.

Anonymous said...

Utilitarianism presumes happiness is found outside oneself which is a fatal presumption.

Anonymous said...

Hullo Aang,

I'd question a few things here. One is that Bentham and Mill 'no doubt had good intentions'. Are you sure? No doubt? You know Jeremy Bentham applied to dig up the shrubs in his front garden and replace them with preserved corpses? This being to cheer people up, or some such guff.

Did you not ever wonder at the fact that utilitarians always end up talking about killing people? I'm often struck by the similarities between utilitarians and satanists. Their heads are in very similar places.

Perhaps utilitarians haven't been misused. Perhaps they were always there, if you can dig it. I've read neither Bentham nor Mill so I can't really say but it's definitely a thought I'd keep in mind were I to do so.

Speaking of pick-a-or-b-as-long-as-someone-dies, as I've said before, I reject the proposition. But in terms of your world peace at the cost of one innocent victim, this is a no-brainer: you volunteer. But then again I can imagine thousands doing the same. Who wouldn't want to do that if it bought world peace?

But it wouldn't of course. Such a thing is too mad for itself, and besides which, I expect that the contrivers of this particular bit of game theory would hem and haw and say something like, 'No, the person has to be randomly selected'. And that's when you know that whatever it is they say they're on about is bullshit and that the only question they're interested in finding the answer to is: What will it take to turn you into a killer?

Game theory was only ever about how best to guide us to the always desired outcome. And with that outcome so often consisting of death and killing it'd be fair to wonder if that wasn't the point of the exercise from the get go.

Further, if killing was thus viewed as a very good thing by those in charge, which is to say the death cult, wouldn't an overpopulated planet be the best of all possible worlds for them?

So many to kill! I can imagine numerologically inclined people for whom 6 billion dead would be the finest thing imaginable.

And whilst killing a person is all very well, for the likes of the death cult it's so much easier (and economically rational) to sit back and watch someone else do it. Fine, but how exactly does one get a man, lots of men, all of them, to kill each other?

Given that the death cult exists and that they ask precisely such a question, how should we view the espousers of utilitarianism? As accidental brothers in arms? Or as partners of malice and aforethought? I reckon it'd be naive to peremptorily scratch the latter.

... said...

To take it to basics, I see this 'ideal' in movies all the time. Push THE BAD GUY in front of the train, it will stop it, kill the offender and save the people with one simple move and it's ok to do it. It IS justice...or so we are indoctrinated to believe...subtle...almost subliminal in it's message. Now we have five BAD GUYS on the bridge and one pretty girl in trouble on the tracks. Push ALL FIVE bad guys over the bridge...that will surely save the girl as five men stopping the train is better than one...it's a guarantee!

Egbesu Under Panoptic Coloniality said...

yes brother this is what im talking about great post im going to use it soon keep this up we need this

Anonymous said...

Aangirfan,

You had a similar blog entry in October last year. I submitted a comment, but you never published it. A bit off topic but maybe worth a read.

The Trolley Problem is crucially important in human moral calculus, so I'm going to put even more deep thought into it and comment yet again after this.

Anyway, here is the comment from October again...

------
Off-topic...



Pentagon hopes to sniff out who has fallen prey to dangerous ideas.

Of course, the primary dangerous idea they fear is the truth.

The technical point of contact for the DARPA FBO is William Casebeer, seen here giving a presentation on similar matters.

In his presentation his asks the audience about the Trolley Problem in its two forms. Of course, no-one in the audience suggests to sacrifice himself to save others.

---
"Derramasteis vuestra sangre antes que la de un innocente. Esa era la ultima prueba."
---

These types want to disassemble us like binaries. And then control us like so many clockwork automata. To do so, they will need to exterminate the best in human nature, to destroy even the stories of such, even this, and to create a soulless society.

This is the arrogant mindset of many technocrats and the elite. They are subject. We are object. The twain shall not meet.

Until now.

The pieces on the grand chessboard are jumping off the board and attacking the players.

The cryptoplutocracy in Manhattan are starting to get just an inkling of what it's like to have done unto them.

But this is just the beginning of the beginning.

---
"You wanted to know what it was about us that made us human. Well you're not going to find it in here. You went looking in the wrong place."

Anon said...

Dear Anonymous 9.25pm,

I've added your comment to the main text.

I always enjoy your comments and can't understand how one of them disappeared.

Sorry about that.

Cheers

Aangirfan

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous@3:50,

"What will it take to turn you into a killer?"

I tend to agree with you on the ignored social aspects of Game Theory.

Yes, the objective of game theoretic analyses is often to justify murder, mass murder even. To mathematically justify excising your conscience, compassion and soul in order to commit monstrous iniquities.

Fortunately, even RAND and the Joint Chiefs are not utterly bereft of souls. Otherwise the Russian people would've been destroyed in a massive preemptive nuclear strike by the Americans in the 50s, when they still had enormous superiority.

It's interesting that even branches of applied mathematics are not created in vacuo morally. They are teleological human social constructs that reflect our moral foibles.

In reality, Game Theory is facile. The scenarios invented by Von Neumann and Morgenstern are typically either so simplistic as to be useless or pathologically improbable.

Far more important in game analysis is cognitive modelling. To model and understand the mind of your opponent. In other words, empathy. Love even.

Sure, there are defences against cognitive modelling such as introducing randomness into your strategies, however practicalities limit this: a mad dog eventually gets put down. Zionists take note.

Hence the most fearsome and effective weapon is not submarine-launched nuclear missiles, is not autonomous killer drones. It is the ability to understand the mind of your enemy, thereby to sway his heart, and thereby to win without fighting.

There is only one invincible weapon that guarantees ultimate victory to whoever wields it.

Yes, that weapon is to love your enemy.

---

"Swordmanship's ultimate objective is the absence of the sword in both hand and heart."

CS said...

"Now we have five BAD GUYS on the bridge and one pretty girl in trouble on the tracks. Push ALL FIVE bad guys over the bridge..."

I can sort of relate to this, especially if the bad guys are NeoCons.

Yes, I think I'd give them the push.

Would this be immoral? It could help prevent another war, after all.

 
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