[Buddha-l] Ethical Dilemmas

lemmett at talk21.com lemmett at talk21.com
Thu Jun 10 08:35:06 MDT 2010

>> You forgot to mention the man on the other track is the Buddha...

>Joy's quip is the healthy beginning of the undoing of that sort of question. 
>It's constructed to foster the assumption that this sort of ethics is 
>quantifiable -- fewer dead is better. But what if the five people on the 
>track have just left a home where they raped and killed all the occupants, 
>while the one person on the other track is a scientist on the verge of 
>discovering the cure for AIDS? Does the "equation" change?
>Since the potential switch puller does not have time to run background 
>checks, all these facts, while contextual, cannot enter into the decision 
>process. Hence the decision has to be reached without a proper weighing of 
>the relevant factors. Hence the decision, whatever else it might be, will 
>not be ethical ... and it would be unethical to presume otherwise.

Really? We have to weight every relevant factor to make an ethical decision not just all the factors that we know? Assuming you're not just limiting ethics to omniscient beings, when do we have enough information to be ethical and why suppose that that includes knowing what research projects each potential fatality is involved in? What if more lives were involved? 
Is there anything at all to be said for that killing a murderer and a saint is in both instances the choice to end a life? Of course practically I would say that a serial murderer should be left hungry before others [and I assume I'd decide that not just because his life has such lower social utility than that of a saint] but is it right to lower the value of someone's life upon every sin or every unethical choice or opinion, every piece of incompetence? Every time they ask Buddha-l something close to what has already been asked? No I'm not asking for forgiveness...


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