Saturday, September 8, 2012

How consitent are your ethics?

One of my lecturers directed us to this site on ethical philosophy experiments. The set-up for most of the experiments is to as some basic questions about what you believe, then ask some questions where you apply (or don't) those beliefs, then an analysis of how your principles and applications of principles match up. Hint - doing what feels right does not lead to consistent answers - our evolved brains aren't too good at this sort of thing.

You can pick random experiments from the home page, or start where we were directed to, with the Drowning Child experiment, which will then lead you on to a number of other experiments if you're so inclined.

Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. I had a look at the first few of these thought experiments and they certainly can trigger some serious introspection.

    I've encountered Peter Singer's Drowning Child thought experiment before so I knew where it was leading, so it's quite possible my results may have been thrown off subconsciously. While I agree with the idea as a whole, and I got a final score of 100%, there is a curious conclusion which logically spirals out of control. If you haven't done it yet, and don't want to be influenced by my comment, I suggest you do it now then come back. In other words, *spoiler alert*.

    The problem, in my mind, comes about with respect to whether we have a moral obligation to act (in the final case donate) given that we have already acted previously. Now in the Drowning Child situation, this is pretty obvious and unambiguous. But an infinite loop arises when it comes to donating. According to the logical conclusion of the thought experiment every one of us would be obliged to donate ourselves into poverty, given that there is a large demand for charity internationally and a relatively small supply.

    This isn't a criticism of the thought experiment so much, but more of a recognition that my (and most people I know) ethics are not consistent with my actions, and our society (and self-interest) actively works against such consistency.

    I had a look at a couple more, but I certainly don't feel I can comment on those because I'm trying work out whether I feel I can truly justify my answers and work out a rational ethical framework to fit my answers, or whether my answers need to change in order to conform to an internally consistent ethical framework.