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Old 2010-09-02, 13:11   Link #101
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinto View Post
Sorry, but I cannot agree with this. As I wrote in my posting before... you should not base your rule/law/decission making on dilemmas. I tried to explain why. I don't see how the extreme cases are good models for decission making targeting the average cases. If you could at least explain me how and why.
A fair question and a tough challenge. Let me try my best to illustrate a real-life dilemma I face. Unfortunately, I will have to PM it to you, because it is based on my work experiences, and it would be unethical of me to discuss my job in a public forum.
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Old 2010-09-02, 13:58   Link #102
Anh_Minh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
That's an emotional response on your part, devoid of intellectualism.



To be blunt, that's a bad hypothetical. Like most bad hypotheticals, it seeks to eliminate all other avenues of choice which would normally be present, making bad assumptions simply to get all the variables just right, which normally wouldn't happen. You're playing with extremely long odds. In your situation, I'd find another way to avoid losing anyone.
That's not what bothers me about that story. Yes, it's awfully contrived, but the details don't really matter. Sometimes, hard decisions do have to be made. Preferably by other people. It's only in Hollywood there's always a third option.

No, what bothers me is that first, we assume that killing is absolutely wrong. And then, we assume that some information is going to tug at our heartstrings and make us change our minds. (so maybe the first belief wasn't that absolute?) That's too many assumptions to make any kind of useful conclusion.

Certainly not on the subject we were discussing before being sidetracked by thoughts of Nazi goatherds: while it is obvious we sometimes make decisions based, partly or wholly, on emotions, is it the right thing to do, or should we strive to suppress that tendency?

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
So you concede that more information can actually lead to biased decision-making, rather than making it intellectually more objective?
As I said, we obviously react emotionally to things. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't make emotions a good guide for actions.

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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
The variation to the original problem is Prof Sandel's not mine. And, in any case, it doesn't matter. The point of the whole experiment is to make a choice given to a specific context. The experiment deliberately cuts off many possibilities, because it is meant to focus on our thought processes given the narrow range of choices.

The fact is, in real life, we have no perfect knowledge. All the time, we make decisions based on incomplete knowledge. Yet, somehow, those who favour "objective" decision-making seem to operate under the assumption that all factors can be known and measured in advance to derive a perfectly objective answer.
Wrong. Ideally, those of us who favour objectivity don't wait for perfect knowledge we know damn well we'll never get. We just do the best we can with what facts we have. Like everyone. The difference is that the weight we put on emotions is negligible before that of facts and logic. We do our best... with the awareness that wanting something to be true, or good, or right, doesn't make it so.

Quote:
In truth, we all know that this is impossible in reality. When forced to make an instant decision in a field of imperfect knowledge, each of one us will have no choice but to rely on our moral instincts to make a snap judgment. And these instincts, on closer examination, will no doubt be influenced by a whole range of environment factors.

We are humans. We are creatures of emotion affected by our environments. This is an inescapable fact. To deny this is to deny we are human.
Yes. But striving to be more than bundles of instincts is also part of being human.


Quote:
Exactly. A hard truth that took me a very long time to accept, as I believe Anh_Minh would remember.
Well, there's a blast from the past.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
A fair question and a tough challenge. Let me try my best to illustrate a real-life dilemma I face. Unfortunately, I will have to PM it to you, because it is based on my work experiences, and it would be unethical of me to discuss my job in a public forum.
Hm. If it's not indiscreet, I'd be interested too.
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Old 2010-09-02, 16:56   Link #103
Kaijo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Read the book. Immediately following this supposedly "bad" example, the author uses a gut-wrenching real-life dilemma involving a special-forces team in Afghanistan, forced to choose whether to silence a goatherd who accidentally discovered their location. The five-man team decided not to, and later paid an extremely heavy price. All but one of them survived an ambush set up by fighters who had been informed by the spared goatherd. Not only that, a rescue team sent to save the special-forces team also suffered heavy casaulties, including several deaths.

Forced to reflect in retrospect, the sole survivor of the original team is now fiercely adamant that he made the wrong decision: He should have killed the goatherd, despite the moral quandry.

Like you said: The needs of the many outweigh those of the few. So, kill one goatherd, save many lives. Right or wrong?
Except that none of us knows the future. It's easy to look back in hindsight and say, "Yeah, I should have killed the goatherder and we would have been okay" but the truth is... they still might not have been. They still could have been discovered, or the act of killing him could have drawn attention, etc.

That's another reason why hypotheticals are bunk. In trying to frame these situations, you lose sight of the bigger picture, the wide variety of possibilities and outcomes. Is there really no third possibility? Or in the rush to prevent a dichotomy, are you losing sight of something important?
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Old 2010-09-02, 18:59   Link #104
Hooves
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
Except that none of us knows the future. It's easy to look back in hindsight and say, "Yeah, I should have killed the goatherder and we would have been okay" but the truth is... they still might not have been. They still could have been discovered, or the act of killing him could have drawn attention, etc.
This is correct yet again Kaijo, even if the Special Force team killed the goatherd, there would be the future issue of killing "innocent people" on another countries' soil which would probably show that the Special Force is somewhat to dedicated in their job that they would kill anyone to achieve it. Even 1 death can change a person's view of an entire group.
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Old 2010-09-04, 03:25   Link #105
SaintessHeart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
That's another reason why hypotheticals are bunk. In trying to frame these situations, you lose sight of the bigger picture, the wide variety of possibilities and outcomes. Is there really no third possibility? Or in the rush to prevent a dichotomy, are you losing sight of something important?
The issue here might be due to fear. Assessing a situation is usually based on three factors, namely time, ability to draw and calculate possible outcomes and the guts to carry them out.

There is only so much time before the critical juncture comes to make a decision. If one has thought that he or she has seen an extreme, it would be no different to lying to oneself as "extremity" is subjective based on the person's view of desirable outcomes.

The objective of decisions should be based on increasing the number of winners in the entire situation (other than the asshole who wants to win all). Above all, making a decision about an undesirable outcome shouldn't be treated with regret, but rather with hope that the experience earned can be used to make more beneficial decisions for all parties in the future.
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