Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Needs Of The Many

The majority remember this belief from Star Trek. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. This idea was nearly put into practice on 9/11 when this F16 pilot was ordered to kamikaze Flight 93 (this F16 was not armed but if it had been, a shoot down order would have probably been given). The majority of moral dilemmas use the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, while completely (even deliberately) ignoring ways to win the scenarios without sacrificing anyone against their will.

One of the poorest constructed dilemmas is the crying baby who alerts the secret police to a hiding place, where the listener is given the option of letting him lead the police there or silencing him by smothering him. No one who presents this scenario gives the option of rallying everyone to grab blunt or sharp instruments and deliberately lure the police into an ambush, club them, grab their weapons, and then attack the local HQ to get more weapons, body armor, maybe even an armored vehicle.

The runaway trolly scenario, where pushing a total stranger onto the tracks to stop it versus letting the trolly run into several other people, is also total garbage. If the cable moving the car gets snapped (I am assuming this is a San Francisco style car on San Francisco style inclines), and the emergency brakes go, nothing is stopping it. If that were to occur, sounding the horn to warn others out of the way is a solution that does not involve sacrificing others against their will.

The concentration camp scenario, where the guard extorts a father into hanging his son on the pain of hanging the sons of others, ignores the intent of concentration camps. Concentration camps are designed to gather a hated group, extract what little value they have through physical labor, and once their usefulness is over, shoot them. Governments very, very rarely ever intend for anyone to leave a concentration camp. Instead of putting up with the guard's threats, acts of sabatoge, constructing weapons (there was once an inmate of San Quentin who built a fully functional submachinegun, which is on display in the prison's museum) or simply overwhelming the guards is an alternative way of dealing with that situation.

Sacrificing a few to save many is only supported by those who are the majority. The very concept that it is okay to violate the rights of others in an emergency should be fought. The founders went to great lengths to prevent majority rule.

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