1 2 > 
 
   
 

Would you intervene and why ?

 
acvm
 
Avatar
 
 
acvm
Total Posts:  60
Joined  05-02-2021
 
 
 
16 February 2021 20:36
 

Consider the following scenario:

A cruise boat sinks in the middle of the ocean. The only survivors are a woman and 4 new born children (2 boys, 2 girls) who wash up on a small (the size of Reno, NV) deserted island. The woman raises the children, treating them equally all the time, there is no preferential treatment, but does a poor job at educating them in survival, if they would need to survive they would have to figure everything out by themselves. When the children are 18, the woman gets struck by lightning and dies. Now, the 4 children all decide to split up into 2 couples, split the island in half and live out their lives separately - i.e. one couple on the left side of the island, the other on the right side of the island.

Skip forward 10 years and:
- Right side couple is struggling to stay alive. 5 out of their 9 children have died because of malnutrition, they have no shelter and are starving. Probably more kids will die.
- Left side couple has 4 kids, none of their children died. They built 5 houses in various places that they share / move between. They have various crops that they use to feed themselves and keep domesticated animals.

Now, you are brought into this situation at this point and are only able to:
- Talk to the people on the island to try to get to help each other
- Take (material possessions) from one couple and give to another (by means of force)

You try to talk to left side couple to help the right side couple out. Their response: “I don’t know what you’re talking about and I’m not interested in finding out, we’ve just been here minding our own business and we plan to keep it like that. I’m not interested in what you have to say or in anything else - please leave us alone.”. So they’re not willing to cooperate with you in any way.

Question: Will you intervene and forcefully take food / shelter / whatever from the left side couple and give it to the left side couple ? Will you do nothing and have more children die and have them live a horrible life ? Could you justify your answer ?

[ Edited: 16 February 2021 20:47 by acvm]
 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  7812
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
16 February 2021 21:29
 

If I can talk, I can teach.
So I teach the less successful people some basic survival strategies, and try to teach them all how economies of scale work, and that they’d all be better off helping each other out and sharing skills and workloads.

All while wondering why I can’t return them to civilization.

 
 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  7812
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
16 February 2021 21:35
 

PS -
This is an unrealistic scenario, and a poorly set-up thought experiment.

 
 
GardenLove
 
Avatar
 
 
GardenLove
Total Posts:  22
Joined  14-12-2020
 
 
 
16 February 2021 22:11
 

I’d kill the original inhabitants, kidnap darker people over to be my slaves, and then convince the rest of the world that I’m a freedom loving champion of democracy.

 
Twissel
 
Avatar
 
 
Twissel
Total Posts:  3296
Joined  19-01-2015
 
 
 
16 February 2021 23:25
 
GardenLove - 16 February 2021 10:11 PM

I’d kill the original inhabitants, kidnap darker people over to be my slaves, and then convince the rest of the world that I’m a freedom loving champion of democracy.

you cracked the code.

 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3794
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
17 February 2021 01:56
 

Despite DesertGarden’s find response, I am in sympathy with Jefe. The problem with these thought experiments is that they try to restrain you artificially to their dilemma’s horns. Since you are in the middle of the situation and evidently have traveled from the outside world, you probably have the means to travel back to the outside world. Also, since this is a remote deserted island, you probably arrived with transportation or communication facilities that will enable you to leave. If you can leave, the people on the island can leave, if they want to. So the thing to do is ask if any of them want to leave, and arrange for that to happen for those who do.

Of course, further restrictions can be easily contrived to make the situation more difficult to resolve. But contriving more and more difficult situations is one of the favorite pastimes of professional philosophers, so ingenuity and arbitrary rule-breaking will remain useful forever.

 
 
acvm
 
Avatar
 
 
acvm
Total Posts:  60
Joined  05-02-2021
 
 
 
17 February 2021 10:24
 

Obviously the experiment is not realistic and it has arbitrary constraints - but does that mean it’s not useful in trying to extract an underlying moral principle ?
Are you saying that thought experiments that have arbitrary constraints are invalid and not useful and if we want to ask a philosophical question it has to be strictly put in a realistic scenario ?

 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  7812
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
17 February 2021 10:34
 
acvm - 17 February 2021 10:24 AM

Obviously the experiment is not realistic and it has arbitrary constraints - but does that mean it’s not useful in trying to extract an underlying moral principle ?
Are you saying that thought experiments that have arbitrary constraints are invalid and not useful and if we want to ask a philosophical question it has to be strictly put in a realistic scenario ?

I’m saying you can craft it to be more representative of an ethics problem.  You’ve used weighted language and skipped a lot of background detail to get to your manufactured problem here.

The missing 10 years begs to be be unpacked and examined prior to any response.

 
 
acvm
 
Avatar
 
 
acvm
Total Posts:  60
Joined  05-02-2021
 
 
 
17 February 2021 10:41
 
Jefe - 17 February 2021 10:34 AM

The missing 10 years begs to be be unpacked and examined prior to any response.

OK, so I guess your answer is “It depends on what happened during the 10 years”. I thought it was obvious that they had no contact / interactions. I am implying that beyond that it doesn’t matter for the purpose of the question.

If you do want an answer to what happened as in life it’s not a single decision or event that caused the disparity - it’s thousands of events that involve various levels of good/poor timing, right decision at the right time, randomly stumbling across a good location vs not, etc ... It’s impossible to say how those thousands of events interacted with each other to end up in what we have at the end.

 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  7812
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
17 February 2021 10:45
 
acvm - 17 February 2021 10:41 AM
Jefe - 17 February 2021 10:34 AM

The missing 10 years begs to be be unpacked and examined prior to any response.

OK, so I guess your answer is “It depends on what happened during the 10 years”. I thought it was obvious that they had no contact / interactions. I am implying that beyond that it doesn’t matter for the purpose of the question.

If you do want an answer to what happened as in life it’s not a single decision or event that caused the disparity - it’s thousands of events that involve various levels of good/poor timing, right decision at the right time, randomly stumbling across a good location vs not, etc ... It’s impossible to say how those thousands of events interacted with each other to end up in what we have at the end.

My answer remains unchanged.
If I can talk, I can ask them their stories and teach them more productive or beneficial choice strategies.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
Avatar
 
 
weird buffalo
Total Posts:  1181
Joined  19-06-2020
 
 
 
17 February 2021 13:35
 

Part of the problem is that the situation is so arbitrary that it cannot be connected to any real world situation.

For example, the trolley problem is arbitrary, but it can be connected to real world situations. The Greater Good - Mind Field

There is no lesson to be learned in your thought experiment.  It’s so rigid and alien, that it serves as a useful indication of how you think of the world, but responses to it are pretty much worthless.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
Avatar
 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
Total Posts:  7272
Joined  08-12-2006
 
 
 
17 February 2021 17:08
 
GardenLove - 16 February 2021 10:11 PM

I’d kill the original inhabitants, kidnap darker people over to be my slaves, and then convince the rest of the world that I’m a freedom loving champion of democracy.

Convince the unsuccessful couple that they’re victims of oppression and are therefore justified in taking the successful couple’s side of the island by force as compensation.

 
 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  7812
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
17 February 2021 19:29
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 17 February 2021 05:08 PM
GardenLove - 16 February 2021 10:11 PM

I’d kill the original inhabitants, kidnap darker people over to be my slaves, and then convince the rest of the world that I’m a freedom loving champion of democracy.

Convince the unsuccessful couple that they’re victims of oppression and are therefore justified in taking the successful couple’s side of the island by force as compensation.

Droll.  Glib and droll.

 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3794
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
18 February 2021 02:24
 
acvm - 17 February 2021 10:24 AM

Obviously the experiment is not realistic and it has arbitrary constraints - but does that mean it’s not useful in trying to extract an underlying moral principle ?
Are you saying that thought experiments that have arbitrary constraints are invalid and not useful and if we want to ask a philosophical question it has to be strictly put in a realistic scenario ?

I’m saying it has to be conceived better. I even have problems with the trolley experiments, because I think they are too contrived. Yours seem designed to force any aid to the less prosperous family happen only as a result of forcing hardships upon the more prosperous family. I would prefer to have more information about the reasons why each family did as it did. Your exposition seems to put all the blame for the less prosperous family’s hardships on their presumed moral failures—moral in the sense of work ethic, self-discipline, and ingenuity. I would have to examine the relative endowments of the two parts of the island as well. For example, where did the domesticated plants and animals that the more prosperous family cultivates come from? Such things are usually not present on deserted islands.

 

 
 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  7812
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
18 February 2021 08:19
 
Poldano - 18 February 2021 02:24 AM

Such things are usually not present on deserted islands.

Add to that, there is no really good, survival-based reason for the two groups to separate, and not communicate, for the designated experiment.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
Avatar
 
 
Brick Bungalow
Total Posts:  5557
Joined  28-05-2009
 
 
 
18 February 2021 22:05
 

Yes. Basic survival trumps property. If you can save a life you should. Accepting whatever repugnance come attached. Also, makes me want to watch Gilligans Island re runs.

 
 1 2 >