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Thread: Moral puzzle.

  1. #1
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    Moral puzzle.

    A company has 100 employees. It has the opportunity to make $1 billion but only if a task gets completed. There are two ways of completing the task.


    (1) A specific employee, named John, must die.
    (2) Three of the 100 employees will be randomly chosen and killed.
    The company canít force its employees to take any actions, but it can bribe them. John will not accept any amount of money to give up his life with certainty. But all 100 employees would gladly risk a 3% chance of death in return for $5 million. Consequently, the company intends to pay each employee $5 million and complete the task using option (2).

    Now imagine that you are a government regulator who has the power to change what will happen.



    You can:
    (A) Forbid the company from completing the task.
    (B) Not interfere.
    (C) Force the company, and John, to complete the task by using method (1). You could then force the company to give $5 million to each employee.
    Assume that all 100 employees are exactly alike except that only John can complete the task by himself.



    What should you do?

    Does it matter if John was randomly chosen right before the game started?


    Taken from the good blog, Overcoming Bias
    A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    I'd have to go with A and not let the company kill anyone.

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    I'd have to go with A and not let the company kill anyone.
    But companies pay higher wages for high risk jobs on a regular basis ? Should this practice be outlawed ?

    We actually pay good money to see people defy death in circuses and they get rewarded financially for it as well. Should that be outlawed ?

    The only difference is that in real life, high risk job don't see such a high probability for death, but it is equally certain that at sometime, someone will die due to the dangerous nature of the task he performs and is financially rewarded.

    There seems to be a discrepancy.
    A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vandaler View Post
    But companies pay higher wages for high risk jobs on a regular basis ? Should this practice be outlawed ?

    We actually pay good money to see people defy death in circuses and they get rewarded financially for it as well. Should that be outlawed ?

    The only difference is that in real life, high risk job don't see such a high probability for death, but it is equally certain that at sometime, someone will die due to the dangerous nature of the task he performs and is financially rewarded.

    There seems to be a discrepancy.
    The difference is death vs. killing. With your scenario, the completion of the goal is contingent on "X" number of people being killed. While many jobs are dangerous, none of them require killing.

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vandaler View Post
    But companies pay higher wages for high risk jobs on a regular basis ? Should this practice be outlawed ?

    We actually pay good money to see people defy death in circuses and they get rewarded financially for it as well. Should that be outlawed ?

    The only difference is that in real life, high risk job don't see such a high probability for death, but it is equally certain that at sometime, someone will die due to the dangerous nature of the task he performs and is financially rewarded.

    There seems to be a discrepancy.
    The difference is that in the scenario, death is not risked, but guaranteed, and the risk is only to get some money.

    Trapeze artists perform because, in part, they choose to engage in that profession and generally they don't think that they are going to die while engaging in that profession. It is possible that for the rest of the profession of trapeze, there will never be another death (actually I don't even know how many people die doing it anyway - it might be miniscule).

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    The difference is death vs. killing. With your scenario, the completion of the goal is contingent on "X" number of people being killed. While many jobs are dangerous, none of them require killing.
    And what is the difference ?

    We both know that probability of death means killing in the long run. The length of that run being a factor of how high the risk is (and subsequently how high the wage is)

    Seems like a question of semantic to me.
    A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vandaler View Post
    And what is the difference ?

    We both know that probability of death means killing in the long run. The length of that run being a factor of how high the risk is (and subsequently how high the wage is)
    Well, I have to make a plead to my career here. I've worked in petrochemical plants for over 20 years now, and I'm currently an industrial safety consultant, so I'm pretty intimate with hazardous jobs and the inevitability of injury and even death. However, and this goes towards your comments, the probability of death NEVER means killing in the long run (at least in my line of work). Death may be virtually unavoidable due to the unpredictability of equipment and / or the "Human Factor", but I've yet to run into an instance in business even remotely like what your arguing where the completion of a company's goal is predicated on killing people. There's a difference between killing someone and being killed, and therein lies the moral distinction.

    Example: Several members of ODN decide to go on a canoe trip down the Colorado. A successful trip would be one where everyone makes it back alive, and preferably uninjured, otherwise we wouldn't call the expedition a success. In your scenario, in order for the trip to be successful, we would have to consciously kill someone along the way. Big difference.

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    To back up Dio and Mican here:

    A 3% chance of death on the job simply does not equate to 3 random people out of 100 must die.
    ďWhen men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I donít care if they are shot themselves."

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    To back up Dio and Mican here:

    A 3% chance of death on the job simply does not equate to 3 random people out of 100 must die.
    But there surely are industries in which the statistical odds of death on the job are known and can be said to be effectively random, right?
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    To back up Dio and Mican here:

    A 3% chance of death on the job simply does not equate to 3 random people out of 100 must die.
    In the OP it says:

    (2) Three of the 100 employees will be randomly chosen and killed.

    The OP does say that three people must die.

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    But there surely are industries in which the statistical odds of death on the job are known and can be said to be effectively random, right?
    Wait... if they're known, how can they be said to be effectively random? Or am I missing something?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    In the OP it says:

    (2) Three of the 100 employees will be randomly chosen and killed.

    The OP does say that three people must die.
    You misunderstand. I was defending what you and Dio were saying, not claiming that the OP somehow does not say that three people must die.
    ďWhen men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I donít care if they are shot themselves."

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    Wait... if they're known, how can they be said to be effectively random? Or am I missing something?
    LOL!
    Yeah, I said it all wrong. Let me try again.

    But there surely are industries in which the statistical odds of death on the job are known and the identities of the victims can be said to be effectively random, right?
    "I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world" - Richard Dawkins

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allocutus View Post
    LOL!
    But there surely are industries in which the statistical odds of death on the job are known and the identities of the victims can be said to be effectively random, right?
    Correct, but that still does not imply that someone WILL INEVITABLY die working for that industry, as is the case in the OP.
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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    It depends on the task. If the company is being paid $1 billion to give either John or three random employees to some rich cabal of murder enthusiasts ala Hostel, then their actions are probably criminal.

    If, on the other hand, the company is sending these employees to their certain deaths to accomplish some important task, ala Spock in Wrath of Khan, and either John can accomplish it alone or 3 random employees could accomplish it, then the act has quite a different moral color.
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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Autolykos View Post
    To back up Dio and Mican here:

    A 3% chance of death on the job simply does not equate to 3 random people out of 100 must die.
    Of course it is.. if not, the 3% estimate is wrong.
    A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by ians25 View Post
    Correct, but that still does not imply that someone WILL INEVITABLY die working for that industry, as is the case in the OP.
    Of course it is.

    In keeping with the law of average, if the odds are comparable to real world conditions of a 3% chance of fatality each time a task is performed by all employees, 3 on average will die inevitably and this will strike at random, just like in the OP.

    The real bug in this dilemma is that in one case, death seem to be out of lottery, while in real world, it occurs at random due to dangerous nature of the task, but fundamentally, what is the difference ?
    A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
    - Wayne Gretzky

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vandaler View Post
    Of course it is.

    In keeping with the law of average, if the odds are comparable to real world conditions of a 3% chance of fatality each time a task is performed by all employees, 3 on average will die inevitably and this will strike at random, just like in the OP.

    The real bug in this dilemma is that in one case, death seem to be out of lottery, while in real world, it occurs at random due to dangerous nature of the task, but fundamentally, what is the difference ?
    What's the difference between "The most likely probability is that 3 out of 100 people will die" and "3 out of 100 people will die"? The answer is: probability!
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    What's the difference between "The most likely probability is that 3 out of 100 people will die" and "3 out of 100 people will die"? The answer is: probability!
    Sure.... so in one case 3 people dies all the time.

    In the other it goes something like; 2,4,3,1,5,3,2,3,4,0,6 since it's a probability, and not a certainty and the death toll will vary and average around 3.

    So why outlaw one and allow the other.
    A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
    - Wayne Gretzky

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    If, on the other hand, the company is sending these employees to their certain deaths to accomplish some important task, ala Spock in Wrath of Khan, and either John can accomplish it alone or 3 random employees could accomplish it, then the act has quite a different moral color.
    The OP says they have the opportunity to make a billion dollars so it looks like it's being done for profit, not to save anyone.

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    Re: Moral puzzle.

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    The OP says they have the opportunity to make a billion dollars so it looks like it's being done for profit, not to save anyone.
    Those aren't mutually exclusive objectives.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
    **** you, I won't do what you tell me

    HOLY CRAP MY BLOG IS AWESOME

 

 
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