ForumTouchy Subjects ► What's worse?
I thought this question was good for eliciting differences in moral values, it got an even split.

What's worse:
Killing two people in a love triangle
Killing one person in a hate crime

Some argued killing two people in a love triangle was literally twice as bad, because the point for them was the action of killing.

Others argued there's a moral dimension to ideas, and that the motive of a hate crime meant it was worse, even if it has less victims.

Some went on to say that even if it only has one direct victim, other members of the victim's identity-group are psychologically victimised, and that it could inspire further hate crimes against them or even retaliation hate-crimes against the perpetrator's identity-group.

Some argued that the love triangle was worse in both respects, that domestic violence was more of a problem than hate crime.
Without knowing the specifics of both situations, I think it's impossible to judge exactly how harmful each is. But I think in most situations, the additional harm caused by a hate-crime murder is unlikely to amount to an entire extra life. The copy-cat and retaliation cases are probably not that common.

In terms of personal culpability (which is not the same as net harm, IMO), I think one unjustified killing is about as bad as any other.

Legally speaking, I am quite certain we shouldn't penalize hate crimes twice as severely as non-hate crimes.
Ye hydrogen's preponderentialability concerns aside,

Killing a known criminal of prejudicial subspecies by deontilogical (barring moral absolutist ad absurdum) and consequential means alike is preferable in and for the case.
Killing two people is always worse than killing one! You have to deal with two families mourning / two murders have more victims. After their deaths, all that matters is that they are dead. Motivation of the killer doesn't matter in the long run.
What if the one person had a big family and the two people were transient loners with nothing to lose?
Killing two people is always worse than killing one!

So killing Hitler and Heinrich Himmler is worse than just killing Mr. Rodgers?
People have impact on the world beyond how their families care about them. We can spend twenty pages over the minutae, but I think most people can agree killing someone like Ted Bundy is not the same moral action as killing Ghandi, if just for the actions they took and the consequences of those actions.
I can't believe I used Nazis in an argument.
What’s worse? The fact that this bait and a high school level thought exercise or that my asshole hurts because I ate a lot of spicy curry last night?
The joys of spicy food justify any amount of later suffering.

I love this kind of thought experiment though, especially because people come up with so many different answers.
Yeah that part is cool, the amount of answers that people come up with, but like... idk, man. It just sort of gets to me that it’s all about making ethical decisions that people normally wouldn’t have to make ever, but the people asking forget that every now and then shit like this actually happens. Like if you saw on the news tomorrow morning that some dude chose to run the train into a crowd of people instead of a baby then you know that there’s gonna be a shit ton of pissed off people, especially people who had nothing to do with it whatsoever and none of those people are ever going to realize that they have absolutely no clue what they’d do when they have to make decisions like that. Like, I had to make a decision vaguely like the classic trolley problem. It didn’t overtly involve anyone dying. I saw two options though (realistically I probably had more); one that would have let me make sure that someone was going to be safe but also put me in legal danger and also in danger of actually getting killed and another that would have had a good chance at keeping the someone safe but also ensure that I wasn’t going to be in danger of the law or a gun in my face. I chose the one that kept me safe. I spent a while regretting that decision and wondering if I should have done the other one, but if it were to happen again right now with different people but same scenario, I still don’t know which one I would have picked and the idea that one of those could have been worse than the other just sort of pisses me off.

How about this one: You’re hanging out with a dude and a girl and after about an hour you realize that she’s a prostitute and he’s her pimp and suddenly she’s begging you to call the cops because she’s worried she’s about to get raped and murdered at the casino you’re giving them a ride to but you also know that she just smoked enough crack that you can tell she’s close to psychosis and you know that clearly she’s gone through this before and isn’t murdered yet. Do you call the cops right then and there or do you wait until you can find an excuse to leave and then call the cops? Also the dude showed you that he had a gun with him. Which one is the worse decision to make? And don’t be naive and think that you wouldn’t get arrested, or that both you and the girl wouldn’t get shot, that maybe someone else entirely wouldn’t get shot, or that there’s not an infinite number of outcomes from either decision.
Just once, I'd like to see someone pose the trolley problem by providing a 60 second time limit to make up your mind before the default option (5 people die) is chosen.

The thing with ethical dilemmas like this is that brains do work completely differently under pressure, and no academic environment can replicate that.
Or can it?
I just want to know what the closest thing to the trolley problem any of y’all have ever experienced because I never once imagined I’d have to make a decision even vaguely like it.
The important thing about the trolley problem is that it is an inspection of morality, not instinct. The trolley problem breaks down if it's a real-world scenario. Most people probably do nothing because most people would not think fast enough under pressure to consider that they could change the tracks.

The answer is supposed to be about what the right thing to do would be, in an ideal circumstance, not whether you think fast enough in the moment to do it.
It's still a very interesting experiment.

Thinking about what should happen, I believe the subjects should refuse to be left in control. That is a key point of difference from the original trolley problem where you are just a bystander with opportunity, rather than having (tacitly) accepted responsibility.

In the original, I think it is ethical to deliberately leave the switch. You are not comparing like with like - the five deaths would have happened without you, the one would be a direct result of your actions. In the MindScape experiment you have allowed yourself to be put in control, and it does come down to arithmetic.
The answer is supposed to be about what the right thing to do would be, in an ideal circumstance, not whether you think fast enough in the moment to do it.
And that’s what makes it so irritating. A big ol’ fuck you to anyone who’s gonna call a decision that saves at least one life immoral that was made in a traumatic situation. 🖕🖕🖕🖕
Man, this problem seems like it would totally give you PTSD in real life. And then you would have people judging you afterwords, even though you would probably feel fucking guilty regardless, because innocent people would die anyways and there is no way you could be perfectly confident you made the right choice.

This isn't a moral question. This is an amoral question. As in, there's no right answer so we may as well let the trolley make a second pass so everyone dies equally, and if you judged or questioned people who had to make this kind of choice in real life, you wouldn't be psychoanalyzing them or learning about their personality - you'd just be a huge dick.
> In the original, I think it is ethical to deliberately leave the switch.

How is being aware of the dilemma and walking away not equivalent to choosing not to pull the switch? I think walking away is just as much a choice as pulling. And what if the scenario is "make a choice which group dies or do nothing and everyone dies"?

@Kylljoy: it is a moral question, just an ambiguous one. People are forced to make ethical determinations all the time where one option is not clearly strictly better than the other. That doesn't always mean that every option is morally equal.

I think COVID-19 response strategies are a practical example of a very complex version of the trolley problem. Not a decision I or anyone here was probably directly involved in, but choosing a lockdown policy necessitates weighing one kind of harm against another, and whatever policy is chosen, some people will suffer and some will die.

People should be less hung up on what these kinds of moral questions say about a person's character and focus on the ethical principles they can help reveal - especially since life-and-death ethical policies are a reality, not a hypothetical.
That’s exactly the thing though. Almost everyone I see examining these scenarios approaches it hypothetically. How do you separate the two while remembering that these are realities? A person’s character and the ethical principles these situations reveal.
> In the original, I think it is ethical to deliberately leave the switch.

How is being aware of the dilemma and walking away not equivalent to choosing not to pull the switch? I think walking away is just as much a choice as pulling. And what if the scenario is "make a choice which group dies or do nothing and everyone dies"?

It is equivalent, which is why I said "deliberately".

There are many things going wrong in the world all the time, some of which we are aware of, and some of which we could possibly prevent. Are you claiming we have a moral duty to fix everything we can?

The key distinction I was making was between the "happen to be there" scenario and the "manning the booth" scenario. In the former case, I believe you may choose to intervene and kill someone (albeit for a good cause), but I do not think you are obliged to do so. In the second, you are directly involved, and have a responsibility to try to produce the best outcome.
@antimony: I think it helps to use neutral language and avoid character judgments, but of course we can only control our own words and attitudes. Bad: "Only a monster could let five people die instead of one just because they're too scared to act!" Better: "All other factors being equal, it's preferable to save five lives over saving one life."

@DIAV: One of the important factors in the trolley problem is that you are in a unique position to "fix" it. Everyone can't solve all the problems, but sometimes we are thrust into an emergency situation that confers a moral duty. A more realistic and mundane example: I can't be expected to trawl the streets 24/7 looking for people who have collapsed from a heart attack and saving them. But if I'm walking down a nearly empty street and happen to see someone collapse, I believe I now have a moral obligation to check on that person, call 911, etc. - even though I didn't sign up for this responsibility.

More generally, I think the more local a problem is and the fewer people who could address the problem, the greater our personal moral obligation is.
Both murders are wrong
Without knowing details, I feel like the hate crime is worse because the person did not actively do anything wrong. They were just existing. The love triangle murders suggest some sort of betrayal.
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