[extropy-chat] frozen in fire

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Mon Jan 22 03:23:21 UTC 2007

At 01:11 AM 1/22/2007 +0000, Robert wrote:

>On 1/22/07, Anders Sandberg <<mailto:asa at nada.kth.se>asa at nada.kth.se> wrote:
>>Here it is usually stated as the "trolley problem",  [snip]
>>BTW, the trolley problem has some interesting neuroethical complications.
>>  [snip]
>I don't know whether to be more aghast at the fact that this seems to have 
>migrated into a contemporary ethical problem from Oxford to Harvard (don't 
>distribute ones refuse unless one knows how to clean it up!) or 
>"educational systems should distribute tradeoff frameworks".  (This is 
>standard operations in military frameworks -- "who does one sacrifice and 
>what are the costs vs. benefits?")
>The "trolly" argument only abstracts the debate one level from 
>reality.  The military argument only abstracts it perhaps two levels from 
>reality.  The blood still falls on someones shoulders and they are left 
>with saying I did the best that I could.  And so "we" are left with "you 
>should have done better" directed towards those who might have determined 
>this if we had only had the foresight to make it so.

Our sense of ethical/moral comes from somewhere; the EP supporters say it 
comes from the evolution of our brains in the prehistory of our race.  If 
so, it contributed in some way to the genetic survival of our ancestors.

Understanding how our ethical and moral sense works, especially in the 
extremes such as Rwanda or Cambodia, gives us a better chance to avoid such 
unpleasant events.

>Anders, are you content to sit in ivory towers at Oxford while people die?

Understanding the problem means you are a lot more likely to take effective 
steps.  At least I come to this conclusion by analogy with the germ theory 
of disease that Pasteur and Koch established.

Of course if you understand what is needed to deal with the pressing 
problems of the next 20-25 years, please speak up.  :-)


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