Which side makes a better case?
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  • 2 years ago

    Apparently Eli is deliberately redefining deliberately

    • 2 years ago

      What if it’s between running over 1 toddler or 30 toddlers?

      • 2 years ago

        @madmike path of least resistance.


        aka... whichever toddlers are squishier.

      • 2 years ago

        @sharkb8 I like that you’re always concerned for the safety of the trolley. The trains must run on time or all chaos will break loose!

      • 2 years ago

        @madmike Also I'm thinking about your question, and I think you're absolutely right. If the option is 1 toddler dies vs. 30 toddlers die, and you're standing at the switch, I feel like you would be morally obligated to kill the 1 toddler. That would be deliberately killing a toddler, but it would absolutely be justified because you are legitimately saving lives.

      • 2 years ago

        @sharkb8 what if diverting the train causes delays in the delivery of a vaccine that will kill 5-100 people (variable), should we still pull?

    • 2 years ago

      I think drone strikes are a good example of this exact trolley problem Bronson is talking about. Eye in the Sky was a great movie about exactly this.

      • 2 years ago

        Toddler could be a disease carrier

        • 2 years ago

          Bronson is the hands down winner. Always wrong? Impossible burden of proof to meet.

          • 2 years ago

            And the troll he has the reputation of being - willfully misunderstanding the debate to squander most of our time until we had seven minutes to discuss the actual issue.

          • 2 years ago

            @eli_mcgowan to deny that there are instances where in any moral system you would be morally obligated to kill a toddler is simply ludicrous.

          • 2 years ago

            @eli_mcgowan I don't think so. Bronson wasn't trolling here. He had numerous examples showing possible times when it would be acceptable to kill a toddler.

            There was a time in the past where God commanded the killing of toddlers and it was correct. You say it is "never" right, but Bronson has shown a time when it was right, so he wins. And even if we think about this in the present tense, if God tells you to kill a toddler, then apparently that's acceptable, as per the bible. Thus, there is a scenario in which killing a toddler is not always wrong. Bronson wins.

            Bronson is also right that there are numerous times both throughout history and hypothetically in the future where there could have to be significant struggle over whether killing for the benefit of many would be the right choice. It's hard to say for sure, but I sure think it's possible, and as long as I think that, Con wins, because you have to show that it is ALWAYS wrong to kill the toddler.

            The problem that I saw in this debate was you never actually put forward an argument to prove your thesis. You just said "Everyone knows this." "Rational people know this." "Sane people know this." Yeah but... why? Where does this idea come from? You're just making an ad populum fallacy and then laughing at Bronson for disagreeing, even though he's giving numerous possible times when there would be a reason to kill a toddler.

            Where I wish this debate could have gotten to is a bit more about the calculus. I would have been interested to see what creates the calculus to Bronson on when killing is acceptable, and I would have been interested to see your analysis on why there are 0 times when proactive killing would be acceptable. But regardless, there was enough in this debate to reach a conclusion for me, so I voted Con.

        • 2 years ago

          @bronsonkaahui You can ask questions in the moderated debates. You just have to pass the mic when you want someone to answer them. But I do agree with you that for non-tournaments (where equal time is important for fairness) I like free form better.

          • 2 years ago

            Thaks for the entertainment gents! As goofy as the debate was at times, I enjoyed it and you both argued well.

            Somehow this has become an apologetics debate! @eli_mcgowan did indeed make a bit of a misstep on the topic wording (lol) and set the stage for this... I have to score on a technicality, the God topic goes to @bronsonkaahui. God killed babies, God defines morality in a Christian view, so killing babies is not wrong, objectively speaking.

            Mind you... at the end, Bronson says he thinks it is wrong for God to kill toddlers, and that's really kind of a turn from his own side of the resolution.

            @eli_mcgowan Tactically speaking, your lack of a positive case for the resolution, gives Con free reign to set the topic and with Bronson, so long as you have not agreed with him or are beating him badly... he pretty much never lets it go.

            Round two - Plague carrier - War - Automobiles - Trolly

            Eli's definition of deliberate is deliberate and reasonable. Bronson is trying to stretch it pretty far to make his points. Eli also denies pragmatism/utilitarianism as a moral system and focuses on a justice standard as a higher value. Bronson isn't really responding to that and it muddies the waters here.

            Eli challenges the reality of the hypotheticals. Which is fair, though without framing the resolution narrowly, those hypotheticals can be introduced. So we have Eli's intent vs Bronson's reading of the question.

            On war, Eli's reply is a bit weak. War might not kill toddlers... for someone trying to address reality, that's a weak argument. War kills toddlers.

            LOL @bronsonkaahui said he never uses absolutes.... how many times have I called him out when he's using absolute language in a debate. :P And saying you NEVER use absolutes.... is an oxymoronic statement my man! Because it is an absolute statement.

            ---- anyway ----

            Neither of these gents are Toddler killers by nature. Bronson is trying to be pragmatic, Ili rejects pragmatism and favors a kind of do-no-wrong formula for morality.

            I think that a pure, justice-based action is a noble morality, but one that can lead to problems in life. There are situations where you need to do evil to fight evil. As I see it, killing is always evil, but it is not always wrong. Wrong embodies both a moral component and a pragmatic component. And I think we can separate ideas of moral value from consequentialist choices we must make.

            I think we have to look at such situations and weigh our own moral compass, and the lives of others we impact with our action. We also have to look at the social implications of the choice (what if everyone made this choice) and its utilitarian outcome.

            I think Bronson made better arguments and Eli was not strong enough in countering them. Bronson was trying to clash, Eli didn't want to face Bronson's arguments head on, he wanted to sideline them, and as a result, we didn't get a lot of what Eli's actual views were.

            So I voted on performance and individual lines of argument, not on the overall resolution. I think I'd say that in theory, it could be right to kill a toddler, but there are very few realistic scenarios in which that is likey to happen. I'd refine that to say it is always Evil to kill a toddler, but it may be the lesser evil in some instances.

            • 2 years ago

              @sigfried "Mind you... at the end, Bronson says he thinks it is wrong for God to kill toddlers, and that's really kind of a turn from his own side of the resolution."

              A longer explanation is that I don't think God *actually* killed any babies. I think the people who believe that he told them to do so, and wrote that down, are the same people that Joseph is saying should be committed to a mental institution. I was just trying to point out that within his own moral system it is sometimes okay to kill toddlers.

              I can certainly think of other scenarios where it would be morally justified to do so. I think America was right to end Japans imperial aggression and expansionism, even if that meant bombing Japanese cities and killing toddlers. I disagree with the Hiroshima bombing but not all bombing. *SOMETIMES* it's okay.

              "LOL @bronsonkaahui said he never uses absolutes.... how many times have I called him out when he's using absolute language in a debate. 😛 And saying you NEVER use absolutes.... is an oxymoronic statement my man! Because it is an absolute statement."

              When did I argue in absolutes? I never even used the term "I NEVER argue in absolutes." I just said that I don't do it because it's not my style. I don't even see the world in terms of sharp boundaries and distinctions, though I can't be responsible if people interpret my choice of words in that way.

              I had this exact same argument with a deontological anarchocapitalist recently. His position was that violations of the Non-Aggression Principle are ALWAYS wrong. I responded that it can be morally justified to violate the NAP in certain situations, and gave examples. What it essentially comes down to is an ambiguity of language, so I used the trolley problem to make this point as human actions often reduce to a binary choice of "do" or "don't do" said action (which is a choice).

              Pull the lever, 5 people die, don't pull, 10,000 people die. The way I formulated this was to say yes, there is some degree of wrongness still present in this decision, but ultimately there is less wrong than not wrong. For simplicity, we can say there are 5 units of wrongness and 10,000 units of right (again, no absolutes, probabilities and spectrums). So saying "it's still wrong" doesn't fully communicate all of the information. Yes, there are still 5 units of wrong, but that is outweighed by the 10,000 units of right, and so when we reduce it to a binary choice we say it's "right." I used a bizarre example of a conveyer belt that says "7 feet" and one that says "3 feet." Where do you put someone who is 5 foot 3 inches? He is clearly not 7 feet, nor is he 3 feet, but everyone must go into one of these conveyer belts. Thus, he goes to 7 because he is "more 7" than 3.

              "Right" and "wrong" are analogous to 7 and 3. The truth is that it's not exactly 7 or 3, it's somewhere in the middle. But since we have to choose between these 2 words in everyday conversation we use them anyway, knowing that it doesn't fully communicate the totality of information present in the dilemma. "Right" is a valid heuristic to communicate the idea of "5 units of wrongness and 10000 units of rightness).

            • 2 years ago

              @sigfried real life is a lot more uncertain and ambiguous than any moral, philosophical, or political theory. In real life, these are not known values. The two tracks are both variables, question marks even, and to further complicate things we don't know what's after those variables too. There could be another split in the track, then another, and another, to the point where it might actually be moral not to pull the lever in the first place. The problem is that we don't have all of that information when we make decisions like we do in the Trolley problem. Thus, Kant's Categorical Imperative, like the NAP, is a good GENERAL rule to follow in terms of outcomes, and at least gives us one a priori reason NOT to pull the lever. But again, that system also has its limits. You can't go from there to it is NEVER okay to pull the lever. To a consequentialist, that would utterly depend on the outcome, and judgments of the rightness or wrongness of an action can be made after the fact.

              I also don't think most people are willing to accept the implications of subjective morality because the truth is that we're all basically just making shit up in the end. You can be consistent WITHIN your own moral framework, but that's all gonna be dependent on many axioms and assumptions, like math. If people are basically just making shit up then that opens the door for any moral philosophy to be valid, so people reject that possibility outright. There MUST be an objective morality because otherwise all of our opinions are exactly equal -- which is also not correct. Just because at the extremes and margins we are all bounded by the same limitations, just because I can't perceive "objective" truth or reality, doesn't mean I can't be closer on the spectrum than this asshole over here who thinks the Earth is flat. You can still know things without knowing everything.

            • 2 years ago

              Actually, I think this dichotomy between categorical imperative and pure utilitarianism is complimentary like Yin and Yang. People who reject subjective morality do so because they believe it will lead to people basically just doing and believing whatever the hell they want to any degree (because we all do this at a fundamental level). But you can still have FAITH and BELIEVE in certain things independent of their absolute truth-value. Thus, at a fundamental level we can't say for sure that killing babies is even "wrong" to begin with given that there is no objective morality. But we can still believe that it is, and force our beliefs onto others, and the consequences of having this belief are such that we should probably promote believing in this particular subjective evaluation even if it isn't "objectively" true. Something doesn't have to be "objectively" true for you to believe in it.

            • 2 years ago

              It isn't "objectively" true that it's wrong to cause pain and suffering on others. Morality is inherently subjective. It's just that this is an extremely common subjective evaluation due to empathy, which in turn makes it popular wisdom, which some people then interpret/imagine it to be "objectively" true. But it's not. It's absolutely NOT objective because no human is even capable of perceiving "objective" reality. Just because a certain number of people believe in something -- even if it's EVERYONE, doesn't make it "objectively" true. There are just better and worse subjective beliefs, and they in turn have to be evaluated within subjective moral frameworks.

            • 2 years ago

              @bronsonkaahui So many people want to use deontology to appeal to a higher moral framework, but the problem is, they believe in their deontological framework merely by faith, so like you said, within their worldview, they are consistent, but there's no basis to start with that framework in the first place.

            • 2 years ago

              @bronsonkaahui We pretty much agree on all of that. Except, sort of, the bit about God not killing toddlers. I mean, I don't think God killed any babies because I don't think the Judeo-Christian God is real. But within the scope of the Bible, it certainly says that God killed some toddlers. It would be interesting to get your take on Christianity some time.

            • 2 years ago

              @sigfried okay I thought about your question last night and here is what I came up with.

              1) . Consciousness is qualitatively different than computation. The hard problem of consciousness is that there is simply no explanation for why it exists at all. We would be more fit in every sense of the word if we weren't conscious. Consciousness provides no evolutionary benefit whatsoever, so it is difficult to fathom how such a trait could be selected for naturally.

              People have tried to come up with arguments saying consciousness is required for complex calculations -- but it's not. Like at all. In fact those calculations would be much better without consciousness (like computers).

              2) . I think the Chinese Room argument still applies. There is something very very different about consciousness that makes it different from a computation. I think conscious beings behave in a more quantum manner whereas unconscious processors are utterly bound by classical physics. The program can never do anything outside of its programming so to speak, whereas humans can. I think suicide is a great example of humans being able to do something that is completely outside of their programming. Sacrificing for others can't be described this way since we are social animals, but suicide can. There is no evolutionary benefit to suicide at all.

              3) . Thus, if we had a sufficiently complex killer robot making "decisions" I would say those "decisions" are qualitatively different than the kind that we make. I would say such robots are 100% deterministic whereas humans are not 100% deterministic. The robots response to any given situation, in my view, could be 100% predictable given the same information that it is processing. If we ran the simulation a billion times we would get the same result. In the case of humans, I don't think you would. I think you would find many outliers just as we do with quantum physics. However small the probability, it is still there. I think there are many decisions in life that you and I have made where, if we ran the exact same simulation again a billion times, a different decision could be made. That's what I mean by "decisions and choices that can affect outcomes" or "free will." In the case of robots, I don't think they are making these "kinds" of decisions and therefore don't have free will. They merely have computation and processing power.

              4) . One problem I have with "no free will" (0% degree) is that there can be no "morality" without free will. In the absence of free will we are morally equivalent to inanimate objects, utterly deterministic and bound by the laws of physics. It makes no more sense to say someone "shouldn't" rape a 1 year old than to say a tsunami "shouldn't" hit a city or a comet "shouldn't" hit the Earth. It will simply do whatever it is supposed to do according to the laws of physics. There are no shoulds, no oughts, in the absence of free will. There is only IS.

              If you can't make decisions or choices that affect outcomes, then saying anyone "should" or "shouldn't" do something is logically nonsensical. It makes as much sense as saying "well this object shouldn't be attracted by gravity" or "this atom shouldn't be bound by the weak nuclear force." WTF? It is. That's just what the universe is, and if don't have any free will, then logically we should be described in the same way. There is no "should" or "shouldn't" rape 2 years olds, there is just people who rape 2 year olds because they are utterly predetermined to do so. Everything that happens is just gonna happen anyway.

              That's why I laugh when Sam Harris says we "should" not promote Islam. Hello? Either we will or won't, and all of that is predetermined. There are no "shoulds" in the absence of free will.

            • 2 years ago

              Admittedly, each interpretation has its own problems. In the absence of free will, there can be no morality as the word itself implies choice (in any case, nobody EVER blames the trolley itself, or the track), and free will is also kind of wrapped up into the concept of "human" so you're actually asserting that which you claim to not believe in without realizing it. In the absence of free will, humans are morally equivalent to the trolley itself. All you can say is "the trolley shouldn't keep going as the laws of physics suggest it will." Okay, sure, but it will, and it's not the trolley's fault either.
              The concept of "should" becomes meaningless. There can't be right or wrong actions/behavior because there is just behavior. For the same reason we don't say atoms should or should not behave in a certain way (they just do), the same logic would apply to humans. Humans are just gonna do whatever they are gonna do anyway just like atoms.

              The problem with my interpretation is that ANY degree of free will (choices and decisions that can affect outcomes that are not 100% deterministic) would seem to violate our current understanding of physics. There is simply nothing in the current laws of physics that can explain a 5th force like "free will" to exist in the universe. This is why I'm unsure as to whether it is a fundamental property of the universe or an emergent property. If fundamental, then I think everything must be conscious to some degree, including atoms. You can think of it likes humans to dogs, dogs to fish, fish to jellyfish, jellyfish to bacteria, and bacteria to atoms. That's the "scale" of consciousness we're talking about, so to say "atoms are conscious" is really just saying they possess some non-zero degree of awareness like 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% whereas humans are like 50%. If emergent, then atoms are fully unconscious but somehow give rise to consciousness through some unexplained mechanism (perhaps biology, but probably not). In any case, it's a problem. So I guess it comes down to what you view as a better solution. Abandoning the concept of morality or abandoning our current understanding of physics. My experiences tell me that free will is real and notwithstanding sufficient contradictory evidence I'm gonna have to go with that.

              Back to my theology, I understand the problem with anecdotal evidence and personal experiences. I would not buy this argument if it were presented to me. But then I think about a lot of problems in math and physics and I realize my logic is no worse than what the scientists have come up with. Nobody *actually* knows just wtf is going on with electrons. Qunatum Field Theory suggests they are in a "field" but then when we measure they magically fall into a definite state. The act of measurement somehow causes this thing that we don't know WTF is going on to behave normally. Otherwise, when we're not looking/measuring, we have no idea WTF is going on. Does it even exist, or does it have a probability of existing?

              Think about how silly the wavefunction is. Because they didn't want to speculate on what is *actually* happening here, they simply wrote an equation that describes the probability of measuring something in a certain state. It's kind of like how infinities were introduced in calculus. Sigma was just a way to make everything work out. True infinities probably aren't real.

              So, if it's the case that matter can behave more or less magically unless you try to measure, at which case it stops doing magic and becomes normal, maybe God can interact with our universe in the same way. Maybe it's the case that the closer you try to measure his interactions with the universe, the more normal/physical the behavior becomes. Thus, not trying to measure it allows for more of that "magical" kind of behavior to exist. If the universe is allowed to hide itself from us, I think God should be able to as well. The "how convenient" arguments should equally apply to quntum physics or calculus which everyone just accepts without question. If something can "exist" in a "probability state" with no definite position in space-time unless of course you measure it, at which point that "probability state" (whatever the fuck that is supposed to be) magically vanishes instantly and we're left with a real electron doing normal electron things. So yeah, maybe God exists in a "probability state" that is subject to wavefunction collapse through measurement. You look too closely (in the scientific sense) and he disappears, but so long as you're not looking too hard (in the scientific sense) he's there. But, somehow we can communicate with this "probability state" through non-traditional sensory perceptions. This might sound bizarre but think about what "mathematics" is (or is theorized to be by physicalists). Somehow a language that we just invented and made up also controls the entire universe?

            • 2 years ago

              Why the hell would the universe be bound by a language that we simply made up? That makes no sense. This language is somehow able to make highly accurate predictions about things which we've had ZERO physical interactions with. It can predict the existence of stars and galaxies that we've never seen before, or even know to exist, nor could we otherwise know of because they are too far away to ever have interacted with our sense perceptions. And yet, we can magically know of them somehow, and when we use instruments to detect them it turns out that they do in fact exist, all through some language that we invented which gives us these special powers of somehow "knowing" things despite no physical interaction with those things. We know how vision works -- light waves. We know how hearing works -- sound waves. What is the physical input for what our brain processes as math? There doesn't appear to be one -- like at all, as far as we can tell. Is it simply generated in the brain with no physical input? If math is just a language we invented to describe the cumulative total of information that our senses give us, how can it make such accurate predictions about things which our senses can't possibly perceive?

              The other interpretation of course is that math isn't just a language, it's real. Not sure that many atheists/physicalists believe that, but most mathematicians do. According to them, math just exists and is discovered rather than created. Math is something that exists independently of humans.

              In any case, there are many strange peculiarities of our reality that I don't think could ever be fully explained through science. Science can't even explain what consciousness is or why it even exists in the first place. They're no closer to solving the hard problem of consciousness today than they were 3000 years ago talking about these same issues and problems and thought experiments. We still have random "infinities" in calculus. Nobody knows WTF is going on with the "wavefunction" because that's not even a description of what is actually "happening," it's just describing the probability that a certain outcome or measurement will happen. Indeed, I think physicists have simply resigned to the fact that this is simply unknowable knowledge due to the measurement problem. They are just doing some crazy shit that we can never measure so we really have no idea what they are doing in this "state" of probability (and we treat a "probability state" as though that's somehow a real thing, like infinities in calculus). Seriously, if you have any physicist friends ask them what a "probability state" is in regards to quantum mechanics. Take the conversation all the way to the end until they finally admit they don't have a fucking clue what's going on.

              Thus, if we're gonna call questions marks "science" then I'm fully comfortable with responding with "I'm not sure how God works exactly but it's consistent with my observations." If it's good enough for physics or math then it's good enough for me. If the universe is allowed to be mysterious and immeasurable then I see no reason why God can't be. This is how I've maintained my faith in God despite being intimately familiar with all of the counter-arguments. I know what the limitations of science and mathematics and philosophy are. I know there are certain unexplained things going on in the universe that will never be explained because the very act of measuring it causes the magic to dissipate and become normal physics. If something can "exist" in a "probability state", and continues to "exist" in that "probability state" up until the very moment that we try to measure it, and we're just gonna assert this nonsensical, seemingly logically contradictory state of affairs to be "the truth," then God doesn't seem that far-fetched to me. At least people have been speculating for thousands of years on what exactly God "is" or is doing. We're not even doing that with probability states. We ignore it because we have no way to measure and verify it, but simultaneously assert that it is still "real." Apparently, things can exist in a "superposition" which really begs the question of whether or not they "exist" at all.

          • 2 years ago

            I actually found a true story about the trolley problem Bronson mentioned. The man's name was John Griffith, and here's a short film about that story.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ_tDVNLrnA

            • 2 years ago

              "I wanna take the first minute to say that the time debate format isn't conducive to debate."

              Ummmmm no...