Pushing the Button - Social Responsibility or Personal Weakness?
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A breathtaking dilemma is placed by the Joker before the people are swimming in two boats! A dilemma, which being solved, will probably show the nature of the humankind and its moral image, so to say. Being a very evil man, Joker, driven by the strong belief in all the human beings just as evil as he himself is, sets up an experiment designed to prove him right. He convinces the city authorities to put all the people who live in the city on two boats in order to evacuate them. The reason for it is not relevant here. What he does, is equipping both boats with detonators, each of which will blow up the other boat. Regular people are on the first boat, while the prisoners are on another board. Now Joker strongly believes that both will decide to push the button in order to save themselves from being blown up by the team on board. However, some of his expectations appear to be wrong. At first, his mistake appears to be quite obvious. The members of both teams decide against pushing the button. However, they have got the time, and it is the resource that is important for thinking. When they start thinking the decision over, giving it another thought, they start coming to a conclusion of it being worthwhile pushing the button. Each team has got their own reasons for making this sort of a decision.
On the boat where all the regular citizens are travelling they start doubting. Not pushing the button does seem to be a nice, moral and kind idea. Yet, on board another boat there are criminals, the people, who have already chosen once (or even more) to follow the evil path. Therefore, they are not likely to hesitate to do it for the second time. This is almost granted. Meanwhile, it seems there is only one thing left to do, which is to save themselves from the guaranteed death by pressing the button themselves. However not everybody agrees. The citizens start arguing and persuading each other. In this situation, a vote sounds like a reasonable decision. And they proceed to vote. Without a doubt, the evil idea of pushing the button wins. Jeffrey Tucker comments on this as the "failure of democracy." WHO THE HECK IS JEFFREY TUCKER? ARE YOU USING SOME SOURCE? YOU NEED TO CITE IT. Well, it is hard to say whether this sort of a judgment is fair for the situation given. However, this is not the subject for the debate in this particular situation. In any case, it is decided to push the button and the evil seems to triumph. Joker must be happy to have proven his point. However, that is where he is wrong. There is nobody on board, who is ready to actually push the button. Looks like it was too early for the evil to be happy and celebrate the victory. Let us have a look at what is happening on board another boat. The situation must be different there - it is criminals, who travel in it. Still, the decision they take turns out to be a surprise for Joker. They are just like other people. They also decide against pushing the button. Yet, then, the time does its trick: they give it a second thought. However, their minds hint them at the point that they are criminals, and regular citizens are known to dislike them, or, at least, to care little about their lives and well-being. Will they care to risk their own lives, the lives of their friends and relatives in order to save the criminals? They will not. Life is so nice, nobody wants to die. Therefore, the criminals decide in favor of pushing their button. However, there is no one to actually push it on board their boat too. The evil seems to have lost the game again. Both boats keep on swimming and the time, set for the experiment, is ticking out. Humans chose social cooperation, preferring it to caring only about themselves. THIS IS A QUESTION ABOUT KANT AND MILL. NONE OF THIS IS RESPONSIVE TO THE QUESTION.
Is this a likely scenario in a real life? It is very hard to say. It probably depends a lot on the cultural background of the people on board both boats. However, this is the scenario, offered to us. No, what is the right scenario? What is the right scenario for someone, who is "driven" with the theories of Kant or Mill? Would Mill and Kant decide for or against pushing the button? These are interesting questions and let us proceed to discuss them.
As for Kant or somebody, who may believe, or, rather to say, share his world outlook, it would be natural not to push the button. This matter is that Kant tries to prove that the good is something, not provided from outside of the human being, but rather something, enveloped within the human’s nature, something that is inside of the human being UNCLEAR. Moreover, according to Kant, the reality is not something independent of our minds, it is formed by our minds and totally depends on them HE DOESN’T THINK THAT IN THE CASE OF ETHICS. HE DOES THINK SOMETHING LIKE THIS IN THE CASE OF METAPHYSICS. YOU ARE CLEARLY USING A SOURCE. I ASKED YOU LAST PAPER TO CITE YOUR SOURCE; WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS AGAIN? Therefore, once we believe in the good nature of people in the other boat, this will the truth for us. Hence, there is no need to push the button.
What about Mill or somebody who strongly believes in the ideas of Mill? Such a person will also hardly push the button since by doing so, he or she will allow "tyranny" and somebody who believes themselves to have enough power (in our case it is Joker) to take over the rule or decision making function. Meanwhile, such needs are always to be executed by the society alone. Mill writes "Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself."
However, believing in something does not automatically stand for "practicing what you preach." This means that theoretically the two great philosophers would not have pushed the button. Still, we often do things we strongly believe we would not. Therefore, the options are possible there.
In my opinion, it is not moral to push the button due to one very simple reason. It is not hundred percent certain that people on board another boat will push the button, though it is very likely to happen. On the one hand, there is a risk of death, while on the other hand there is a thread, or likelihood. Therefore, it would be moral to take a risk and by this avoid certain deaths. Furthermore, it is a moral thing to do - to risk one's own life for saving the lives of other people. Personally, I theoretically prefer avoid pushing the button in this situation. Yet, what would happen were I in such situation, it is very hard to predict. We never know until we try.