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Thread: Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

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    Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

    In re Sacrificial Citizen;
    Abstract
    Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Classic moral dilemmas are often defined by the conflict between a putatively
    rational response to maximize aggregate welfare (i.e., the utilitarian judgment) and an emotional aversion to harm (i.e., the
    non-utilitarian judgment). Here, we address two questions. First, what specific aspect of emotional responding is relevant
    for these judgments? Second, is this aspect of emotional responding selectively reduced in utilitarians or enhanced in non-
    utilitarians? The results reveal a key relationship between moral judgment and empathic concern in particular (i.e., feelings of
    warmth and compassion in response to someone in distress).
    Utilitarian participants showed significantly reduced empathic
    concern on an independent empathy measure. These findings therefore reveal diminished empathic concern in utilitarian
    moral judges. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0060418 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3617220/
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    In answer to the question about the morality of harming one to save many:

    Let me rephrase the question to answer it and many others by making it broader:

    Is it moral to hurt some (possibly killing them) in order to save others?

    Yes. If the action is intended to save the others and not intended to hurt the some and if the hurt is not certain, possibly predictable, but not certain. (If the hurt is certain, then the others are being deliberately valued more than the some, and that is immoral, regardless of the numbers involved.)

    In other words, if the ultimate goal was that all may be saved, but the actual result is that some are hurt or killed, even if there was some predictability of such collateral damage, then, as long as reasonably sound judgment was used, the injuries or deaths were not the result of immoral action.

    Note that, if professionals are making the judgment, then the bar of "reasonably sound judgment" is higher--but then so is their latitude in using that judgment. That is why we have professionals.

    JMO on morality.

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    How about the old adage: "shoot them all and let God sort them out" ...

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    The results reveal a key relationship between moral judgment and empathic concern in particular (i.e., feelings of warmth and compassion in response to someone in distress
    Once you learn how to fake sincerity, the rest is all downhill.

    stay safe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    ...stay safe.
    You too, bro.
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    Regular Member EMNofSeattle's Avatar
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    Well let's use a scenario....

    one of my favorite books is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War this book was out before zombies were a pop culture craze.

    in the book the United States Government after losing several battles to hordes of zombies on the east cost, adopts "The Redeker Plan" using media propaganda they tell the civilian population that they're safe and the military will protect them, although in actuality the military is withdrawn the Rockies to regroup, re train, and re tool to fight the zombies while using civilians as live bait to slow them down. the fictional choice presented to the US government in the book being, that humanity would be extinct and completely overrun by zombies if they didn't get a handle on the thing, and that the military was stretched too thin trying to protect everyone.

    Is this ethical?
    is it more, less, or equally ethical to allow the alternative to happen?

    more classic example, say you're on a ship that's sinking, you get a lifeboat and load it past capacity, there is hundreds of people in the water (let's say the cold north atlantic who will die before you can come back for them, but allowing them on will swamp the boat and kill the 60 people on the boat and those in the water will die anyway...

    is it ethical to abandon those in the water?
    is it ethical to kill those on the boat by taking on people onto an already overloaded lifeboat?

    #3
    you take your niece and daughter out to the beach, they start to swim and are caught in a rip tide, you have the strength to rescue them, but only one at a time. your daughter is stronger swimmer, if you save your daughter first, your niece has a 90% chance of drowning, if you save your niece first there's a 50% chance you might have time to save your daughter

    who do you go for first?

    #4 you are a police officer, you arrest a man who claims he's placed multiple bombs throughout the city, all will explode in one hour, he then demands a lawyer and asserts 5th amendment protection, you have every reason to believe he's telling the truth about bombs (we'll say he was arrested while planting one) your partner, Ofc J. Bauer, suggests he be tortured, of course you will be breaking the law, possibly go to prison yourself, but thousands can die if his other bombs are allowed to go off. what do you do?


    If you can't save everyone, does that make it ethical to save who you can at the expense of those you can't?

    personally, if I have to make decisions where either choice will result in death no questions asked.... i think it is not ethical to make the decision that has the most death potential.


    my answers

    1) Yes I would order the Redeker plan enacted
    2) Definitely save those on the boat
    3..... difficult. if i was able to clearly analyze the percentages cited in the delimna.... and thinking rationally... the niece would be the rational choice for saving first
    4) if the scenario was that perfect, that there was a 100% chance those bombs were out there and will blow in one hour then I would make the decision to torture.... of course in a perfect scenario like that I would also go to the US Attorney and demand I be tried and brought before a jury.... but that's aside from the point.

    when it comes down to it, as a theoretical discussion, I accept the utilitarian argument of maximizing the general welfare...

    HOWEVER AND READ THIS BEFORE ATTACKING ME

    The fundemental logical component of an ethical delimna is formulating a response based on assuming the variables are all true without question.

    none of these scenarios, if they play in real life, would play exactly the same as they would in an ethics seminar. for instance, the bomber scenario, there would be no way to know if he actually had planted more bombs without discovering them, and there is no guarantee torture would generate a correct confession about the location of additional bombs.

    so while my answer in a discussion is keyed on knowing for certain he's not lying, that wouldn't be the case in real life, thus would I actually torture someone? most likely not....
    a delimna when confronted in real life will not be as clear cut as a delimna asked in an ethics class.
    Last edited by EMNofSeattle; 05-22-2013 at 04:31 PM.
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    Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

    Your first scenario is stupid fictional crap and not worthy of my time to answer.

    #2 implies that not picking up others is harming them. No, their situation is harming them beyond your present ability to help. You are leaving them to what you hope are other miraculous resources to help them. You are not harming them. You are helping those in the boat.

    #3 presents a false choice (as do most "lifeboat" dilemmas). You try to save both or you save the one you can. If you fail to save one of them (or even both, a strong possibility whatever you choose to do; no outcome is assured), you have harmed no one. Again, the focus is on saving, not on harming.

    #4 is also a false choice. You don't KNOW that bombs have been planted. You merely have a suspect telling you that he has done so, meaning that he is already motivated to talk to some extent. Get people who know how to elicit information from folks without resorting to torture techniques that cause real harm to the person. Let them do their job.

    Again, finding a moral response is easy. Try to save someone you can. Try not to harm others. Recognize that others may be harmed, but as long as your effort is to save someone and not to harm another, if anyone is harmed, or not saved, it ain't on you. It is on someone else or on fate.

    I think the idea behind "lifeboat" dilemmas is to get people to thinking that, sometimes, you have to do something immoral to accomplish something good. I reject that hypothesis. When I worked in the chapel, the chaplains would conduct "Adult Value Education" for the basic trainees. They would continually use "lifeboat" dilemmas to "make the trainees think." What they were really doing was desensitizing them to having to do immoral things for "the greater good." That men of God would do such made me want to puke. Their actions, in conducting this training, were immoral!

    So, I take great pride in Kobayashi Maruing your "lifeboat" dilemmas as they are immoral and are decidedly NOT dilemmas, but multilemmas, with a variety of possible choices, at least one of which is moral.


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    Regular Member EMNofSeattle's Avatar
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    So is it always immoral to kill a defensless person "for the greater good"?
    they love our milk and honey, but they preach about some other way of living, when they're running down my country man they're walkin' on the fightin side of me

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    Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

    I don't know what "the greater good" is. You may have missed it, but I was criticizing the use of that moral relativistic term.


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    well it seems that the point of the thread is that social utilitarian moral judgement. based off of the simple utility of the outcome of a decision.

    if you're taken prisoner by a mad philosopher, and forced to divert a train full onto one of two sets of tracks... one track containing 5 rope tied hostages, and the other containing 6 rope tied hostages and assuming the hostages are all equal to each other... a utilitarian moral judgement would be to send the train to kill the 5 people instead of the 6.

    of course far more variables can be added, if you are a wing commander in World War 2 planning on bombing targets, and one target is all entire military value, but a higher value taget is in the middle of thousands of civlians, which one do you bomb?
    they love our milk and honey, but they preach about some other way of living, when they're running down my country man they're walkin' on the fightin side of me

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    *sigh*

    Another movie plot?

    You cannot be "forced" to do anything. You always have a choice, and there will always be a moral choice, no matter how hard you try to invent circumstances that seem to only have two immoral choices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    *sigh*

    Another movie plot?

    You cannot be "forced" to do anything. You always have a choice, and there will always be a moral choice, no matter how hard you try to invent circumstances that seem to only have two immoral choices.
    I suppose if you don't care about yourself in any way it's true you never can be forced to do anything. If you're willing to undergo death, injury, family, and societal disproval you're never forced to do anything. Problem is that not the case.
    they love our milk and honey, but they preach about some other way of living, when they're running down my country man they're walkin' on the fightin side of me

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    Quote Originally Posted by EMNofSeattle View Post
    I suppose if you don't care about yourself in any way it's true you never can be forced to do anything. If you're willing to undergo death, injury, family, and societal disproval you're never forced to do anything. Problem is that not the case.
    You'd be amazed at how many people make just those choices. You might not be willing to make them. I don't know about me; I've never been in such situations. But clearly, there are people who will make those self-sacrificing choices. Ever hear of something called the Medal of Honor? It sounds to me like you are assuming your moral flexibility is universal.

    It isn't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    You'd be amazed at how many people make just those choices. You might not be willing to make them. I don't know about me; I've never been in such situations. But clearly, there are people who will make those self-sacrificing choices. Ever hear of something called the Medal of Honor? It sounds to me like you are assuming your moral flexibility is universal.

    It isn't.
    so you're stating it's moral to award people who are very profecient at assisting a government in waging war? who's definition of moral are you using... in fact by your definition, the true heroes are those who don't want to go to war and refuse to be drafted or kill other people because of the strength of their convictions.
    by the standards you set, i can make an equally valid argument that those who opposed vietnam and faced societal disapproval and legal and economic penalties to avoid the service and avoid the draft made the moral choice.

    I'm not saying that's what I believe, but that's an argument that can be made using the conditions you set.
    they love our milk and honey, but they preach about some other way of living, when they're running down my country man they're walkin' on the fightin side of me

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    Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

    I am stating no such thing.

    I can always tell when someone has run out of rational replies. They either resort to name-calling or they start strawmanning.


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    Regular Member EMNofSeattle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    I am stating no such thing.

    I can always tell when someone has run out of rational replies. They either resort to name-calling or they start strawmanning.


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    Actually yes you are...

    you cited medal of honor winners as evidence that people don't need to worry about force or coercion while strawmanning MY argument. In fact you've refused to accept any argument I made because I used fictional examples (which is the entire purpose of a moral delimna) and then stated lifeboat delimnas don't exist because you semantically define them differently.

    I think I know what you're about to say... but let me save you the trouble..

    Quote Originally Posted by eye95
    moving on
    they love our milk and honey, but they preach about some other way of living, when they're running down my country man they're walkin' on the fightin side of me

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    Re: Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

    Quote Originally Posted by EMNofSeattle View Post
    well it seems that the point of the thread is that social utilitarian moral judgement. based off of the simple utility of the outcome of a decision.

    if you're taken prisoner by a mad philosopher, and forced to divert a train full onto one of two sets of tracks... one track containing 5 rope tied hostages, and the other containing 6 rope tied hostages and assuming the hostages are all equal to each other... a utilitarian moral judgement would be to send the train to kill the 5 people instead of the 6.
    The correct response is to try to stop the train at any cost to yourself. If that is impossible the next most correct response is to attempt to capture or, if necessary, kill the philosopher since he is responsible for the murders. The next most correct response is to do nothing. Actually choosing is the wrong choice, unless the scenario is set up better....

    The way he should actually do it is to completely restrain you physically so your only way of choosing is verbal and so you can't stop the trains or him. Then there should be two trains, one on each track. Your choice will stop one of the two trains, but no choice stops neither and all 11 die. This forces only one correct option, choosing to stop the train that will kill 6 people.


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    Last edited by arentol; 05-22-2013 at 08:45 PM.

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    Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

    *sigh*

    You clearly stated that it was not the case that some would not care about dying or being injured among other things. Medal of Honor winners typically risk their own injury or death in making moral choices. So sometimes it is the case.


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    Re: Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    *sigh*

    Another movie plot?

    You cannot be "forced" to do anything. You always have a choice, and there will always be a moral choice, no matter how hard you try to invent circumstances that seem to only have two immoral choices.
    Just to be clear, there was only one immoral choice in that scenario and one moral one. Period. Choosing the 6 to live is not immoral if there really are only those two options. Only when a third option that results in less total deaths of equal value is offered are both of those options immoral, and then only of you are aware of and able to implement that choice....

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    Low Levels of Empathic Concern Predict Utilitarian Moral Judgment.

    The point is that there are never only two choices. The OP is engineering false choices to goad people into making immoral choices that are morally relativistic. It is the same old trick the chaplains pulled in their AVE sessions.


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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    "For the greater good".......this phrase has been behind so much tyranny and evil.....

    Eye is right it's engineered conversation to persuade you to his side.

    Since EMN likes stories and movies ( I do too) I read Stephan King's book about a man who travels back to save JFK, even King as a progressive leftist explored the idea that this so called act for the greater good lead to misery and tyranny for the U.S.

    The imagined good never substitutes for the unforeseen consequences.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
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    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Regular Member EMNofSeattle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    "For the greater good".......this phrase has been behind so much tyranny and evil.....

    Eye is right it's engineered conversation to persuade you to his side.

    Since EMN likes stories and movies ( I do too) I read Stephan King's book about a man who travels back to save JFK, even King as a progressive leftist explored the idea that this so called act for the greater good lead to misery and tyranny for the U.S.

    The imagined good never substitutes for the unforeseen consequences.
    maybe so but now we're talking time travel as well.

    A video game I played a long time ago used that same theory... it was called Red Alert and the idea was that Albert Einstien traveled back in time and assasinated Hitler as a child, leading to Joseph Stalin becoming the premier power in Europe and starting a World War 2 even bloodier then the original....

    I think the idea though behind greater good thinking is often assuming or believing you know what will happen when you choose either course of action..... bigger problems may emerge later.... but in many cases that could not've been predicted. JFK comparatively speaking was not the worst president of the 20th century as far as tyranny went, he didn't support full involvement in Vietnam, he had tax rates lowered, etc etc etc so every indicator to make a decision on would support the idea of saving him......if it turned out worse, that would've been wholly unpredictable.
    they love our milk and honey, but they preach about some other way of living, when they're running down my country man they're walkin' on the fightin side of me

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EMNofSeattle View Post
    maybe so but now we're talking time travel as well.

    A video game I played a long time ago used that same theory... it was called Red Alert and the idea was that Albert Einstien traveled back in time and assasinated Hitler as a child, leading to Joseph Stalin becoming the premier power in Europe and starting a World War 2 even bloodier then the original....

    I think the idea though behind greater good thinking is often assuming or believing you know what will happen when you choose either course of action..... bigger problems may emerge later.... but in many cases that could not've been predicted. JFK comparatively speaking was not the worst president of the 20th century as far as tyranny went, he didn't support full involvement in Vietnam, he had tax rates lowered, etc etc etc so every indicator to make a decision on would support the idea of saving him......if it turned out worse, that would've been wholly unpredictable.
    That's the point, the protagonist in that story that he was a great president, but we can not tell what the outcome will be.

    Ummmmm our government helped entrench Stalin's power in Europe.....just saying.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Regular Member EMNofSeattle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    That's the point, the protagonist in that story that he was a great president, but we can not tell what the outcome will be.

    Ummmmm our government helped entrench Stalin's power in Europe.....just saying.
    yeah and that was because Hitler was allowed to become powerful. Patton wanted to steamroll Russia once after Germany stood down... strangely enough after saying that he died in a car accident....
    they love our milk and honey, but they preach about some other way of living, when they're running down my country man they're walkin' on the fightin side of me

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    How JFK secretly ADMIRED Hitler: Explosive book reveals former Presidentís praise

    Quote Originally Posted by sudden valley gunner View Post
    That's the point, the protagonist in that story that he was a great president, but we can not tell what the outcome will be. Ummmmm our government helped entrench Stalin's power in Europe.....just saying.
    How JFK secretly ADMIRED Hitler: Explosive book reveals former President’s praise for the Nazis as he travelled through Germany before Second World War

    A new book reveals President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis

    Embarrassingly close to visit being paid to Berlin next month by Obama

    Comes one week before 50th anniversary commemorations of JFK's memorable 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech pledging US solidarity with Europe

    By Allan Hall

    PUBLISHED: 06:39 EST, 23 May 2013 | UPDATED: 10:24 EST, 23 May 2013
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...World-War.html
    .
    http://www.amazon.de/Unter-Deutschen.../dp/3351027613
    Last edited by Nightmare; 05-25-2013 at 02:02 PM.
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