Author Topic: More topics??  (Read 5596 times)

Offline Ronnie SParker

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More topics??
« on: June 25, 2007, 07:49:52 PM »
Hi everyone,

Just thinking of possible topics for future E&P sessions in SPii, not sure if any of these are suitable but just a few questions that particularly interest me:

1: How significant is "intention" in our decisions on what is ethical behaviour? Is it better to allow more people to die (say as a result of an accident), rather than step in and intentionally cause the deaths of fewer people in order to save them? If so, why? There are loads of "thought-experiment" type scenarios that are good starting points for discussions of this kind.

2: What impact does the human awareness of self, and of our own mortality, have on our ethical behaviour? - Is it only this that allows us to make "ethical" decisions? Can animals without self-awareness or an understanding of death ever make ethical choices?
Also, are the complex moral systems that are unique to humans (as far as I'm aware - please correct me if I'm wrong!) unique because of the above, because of our superior intelligence, (and yes I did read the recent discussion re: dolphins!) or because of some "ethical" property unique to the human brain?

3: Is morality just selfishness? Some evolutionary biologists suggest this view on the basis that natural selection favours altruistic behaviour.

4: Are our personal moral systems constrained by our biology, or our history and culture? (or both). I know this is similar to a recent topic on the forum.

Not sure if any of the above are of interest, they all overlap anyway (as do pretty much all philosophical questions I think.) I'm aware that the SL sessions often use modern topical questions/scenarios to explore ethical/philosophical views (e.g. last Friday's one on Celebrity), so if anyone has suggestions for how any of the above could be implemented into an entertaining debate I'd be grateful to hear them.

Thanks,
Ronnie

Offline Explo Schomer

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2007, 08:05:59 PM »
All extremely interesting topics and very thought-provoking. I look forward to their discussion.  :)
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Offline Doctor Schomer

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2007, 08:14:19 PM »
sounds good, Ron, please do attempt to make it inworld at the earileist opotuneity, we'll discuss it better then  ;)
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Offline Ronnie SParker

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2007, 08:17:31 PM »
I can't wait to get in-world but unfortunately I'm restricted to the forum and wiki at the moment as I don't have an avatar set up yet...

Offline Decimus Schomer

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2007, 04:54:27 PM »
Is it better to allow more people to die (say as a result of an accident), rather than step in and intentionally cause the deaths of fewer people in order to save them?
We already covered this in one and reached the conclusion that most people, given an immediate choice to make, would rather 'not save' lots of people than 'kill' fewer.
There are two mechanisms I can see here: Firstly, we don't want to actively kill people. Simple enough. And secondly, having a larger group size reduces empathy - if you have three people with £10 and then one ends up with £20 and the others with £5 each, you tend to empathise more with the former and think that it was beneficial overall...

3: Is morality just selfishness? Some evolutionary biologists suggest this view on the basis that natural selection favours altruistic behaviour.
You could consider morality to be partly selfish (not killing people helps your community stay around) and partly altruism (NS doesn't really favour altruism, it just favours creatures with altruistic 'protectors' (though having an altruistic relative does tend to make you altruistic as well))

Offline Ronnie SParker

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2007, 08:52:18 PM »
Is it better to allow more people to die (say as a result of an accident), rather than step in and intentionally cause the deaths of fewer people in order to save them?
We already covered this in one and reached the conclusion that most people, given an immediate choice to make, would rather 'not save' lots of people than 'kill' fewer.
There are two mechanisms I can see here: Firstly, we don't want to actively kill people. Simple enough. And secondly, having a larger group size reduces empathy - if you have three people with £10 and then one ends up with £20 and the others with £5 each, you tend to empathise more with the former and think that it was beneficial overall...

Sorry, I didn't realise this had already been covered. The conclusion that you came to doesn't surprise me though - I agree with it, and I know that this is generally the most common response. Obviously you considered the question in depth but for a lot of people this is just their "intuitive" response, and I was interested in whether people really thought about why that was.
Also I think perhaps it doesn't help when considering this question "philosophically" that the thought experiments often used to illustrate it (e.g. 10 people are going to be killed by a runaway train, but you can save them all by pushing one other person in front of it) always make the act's outcome seem more definite than that of the omission (don't people deep down think "but how do we know that pushing that person to their death will definitely save anyone"?) I don't think we can help but let real life infiltrate somehow, after all if there's no relevance in real life the whole discussion is otiose. But If you really consider this as a purely hypothetical question, and assuming we have the relevant knowledge of the outcome in advance, is the omission any less of an act than the act? After all, you're essentially killing 9 people....

Offline Ronnie SParker

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2007, 08:55:33 PM »
err, that wasn't all supposed to come out in the quote box....I'm still new to all this I'm afraid! :)

Offline Fox Phlox

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2007, 08:58:50 PM »
There are situations in life where people are required to kill the one to save the many - soldiers or police marksmen might well have to do that. In those cases, there's some sort of moral judgement - killing the 'bad' person to save the 'good' people.
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Offline mgaved

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2007, 09:06:21 PM »
Quote
err, that wasn't all supposed to come out in the quote box....I'm still new to all this I'm afraid!

no worries Ronnie. Check the top right hand side above the box where you can see the text you've posted. There's a "Modify" option - click on this button and you can go back and poke your posting around until it feels/looks right. I am always doing this to correct my spelling mistakes!  lol
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Offline Ronnie SParker

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2007, 09:10:16 PM »
Yes, that's true. I guess the moral judgement there though is justified by the very fact that those being killed are supposedly evil (or more accurately, that it is them themselves who pose the risk to the others.)I guess this comes back to the view that we have basic human rights which are unviolable until we infringe the rights of others...
In a situation where the person being sacrificed is innocent it must be more difficult to make that decision?

Offline Ronnie SParker

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Re: More topics??
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2007, 09:10:43 PM »
oh and thanks for the tip re: modifiying!