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Old 07-30-2008, 07:58 PM
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Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Thinking about Morality

In their study Greene et al. give subjects difficult moral dilemmas in which one alternative leads to better consequences (such as more lives saved) but also violates an intuitive moral restriction (it requires a person to directly or intentionally cause harm to someone else). For example, in the “crying baby” dilemma subjects must judge whether it is wrong to smother their own baby in order to save a large group of people that includes the baby. In this scenario, which was also used by the television show M.A.S.H., enemy soldiers will hear the baby cry unless it is smothered. Sixty percent of people choose to smother the baby in order to save more lives. A judgment that it is appropriate to save the most lives, even if it requires you to suffocate a child, is labeled “utilitarian” by Greene et al., whereas a judgment that it is not appropriate is called “deontological.” These names pay homage to traditional moral philosophies.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=...about-morality
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:59 PM
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You know, I never seen that episode of M.A.S.H. but the first part of this article doesn't seem to give a good example of this type of scenario in my opinion. It said something about smothering a baby to save other lives.

Now I can't think of any scenario someone would need to smother a baby to save someone's life. It sounds cowardly. Even though I didn't see that episode, it sounds to me that if they did not smother the crying baby their hiding place would/might be revealed and the rest would have been killed. This still makes no sense to me. For in war, wouldn't they have something for of protection? A gun or guns maybe. If you're in a war then you must be prepared to fight. If you don't fight (in a war) then you'd be killed anyhow.

I've heard of this type of scenario before and no matter how many times I hear it, still it sounds very very very cowardly to me. To justify a cowardly act as heroism when there verily ARE more options to me is preposterous!
 
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:48 PM
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I believe that in the episode in question, it was a group of unarmed civilians and doctors. They had no capability to fight back against the enemy troops.
 
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Old 07-31-2008, 12:42 AM
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Just cover the baby's mouth up or stick a boob in it for crying out loud.

Hypothetical situations are one thing, being faced with the real thing is something else. If the baby was going to die either way I would try to find a different solution even if it meant my death was a consequence. But that's just me.
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