Food for thought


Tyler Murphy

Some time last week it was National Philosophy Day and since it was my favorite subject in college I thought I might throw some interesting questions of morality and thought at you. Here is some food for thought at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Example one
If we kill Bob to harvest his organs and save the life of a number of others then why not do it? Why not have a whole class of people for organ harvest?

Too much for you?

Example two
What if there is an out of control train speeding down a track and it’s going to hit five people. You can throw the switch to save them but the track will shift to a different rail and kill a single person who without your decision would have survived. Do you throw the switch?

Still too much?

Example three
What if there are five hostages being held in a room by a man with a gun. He tells you that he will let you go no matter what you decide. He then asked you to choose one of the hostages for him to shoot and if you can’t pick he’ll shoot all of them. Either way you can walk free.

All these questions operate on the same line of logical thought. If you can pick a hostage to shoot, why not throw the train’s switch…. why not murder Bob? Choosing to allow Bob to live will inevitably end the life of several others in medical need… so what’s the difference between the three scenarios. Is there any?

Note: All the above decisions do not require self sacrifice and require you to choose death for an individual (without getting their consent) for the good of the majority.

Can the most good be quantified by the overall impact on society. Where do you draw a line… is there any logical place to draw it. Do you believe in Utilitarianism?

Utilitarians believe that moral ethics are dictated by a doctrine that a right action is the one that promotes the most happiness, or the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.

I usually plug in my own opinion on these things but I think I’d ruin the point of philosophy which is self reflection and debate but I am absolutely not a Utilitarian.