The Morality Quiz

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    Nov 25, 2007 1:03 AM GMT
    "The deepest foundation on which morality is built is the phenomenon of empathy, the understanding that what hurts me would feel the same way to you. And human ego notwithstanding, it's a quality other species share. While it's impossible to directly measure empathy in animals, in humans it's another matter. Here are some of the dilemmas used to study human morality. Take this quiz to see how you compare to other TIME.com readers. Then read how scientists are using these dilemmas to study morality."

    http://www.time-blog.com/graphics_script/2007/moralityquiz/index.html
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    Nov 25, 2007 1:19 AM GMT
    Appears it is easier to make a decision to end an life once you put some barrier between you and the death. Like the train switch.

    If all your doing is pushing a button killing millions with a nuke is pretty easy to I imagine.

    Personally I wouldn't do any of the above unless my life is directly threatened. If others are threatened its not my duty to try and play god and save more for less.
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    Nov 25, 2007 1:25 AM GMT
    The Morality Quiz Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of us never run off the moral rails in remotely as awful a way as serial killers do, but we do come untracked in smaller ways. We face our biggest challenges not when we're called on to behave ourselves within our family, community or workplace but when we have to apply the same moral care to people outside our tribe.

    I figure this is why people can pass laws against gays participating in society. Because it isnt them being legislated against. They are straight and are not affected. They can easily see gays as "others." So pass a law against them...the law will never come back against them.
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    Nov 25, 2007 1:44 AM GMT
    WNYC did a great job of using these exact situations to examine morality in a Radiolab episode. I would sugget listening to it.

  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Nov 25, 2007 1:58 AM GMT
    For me, the answers are yes, yes, yes, no, no.

    In the first two cases, the individual who is to be killed is going to die soon anyway even if I don't do something, but if I kill them I can both save myself and save the life of other innocent parties. That makes the choice to kill them easier. In the third scenario, the choice is 5 innocent people to die, vs 1 innocent person to die, all 6 of them being fundamentally partially at fault for being on train tracks and not paying attention to incoming trains or trolleys. Since they're equally (not) culpable, the greater good wins out, and I kill 1 instead of 5. In the 4th and 5th scenarios, I would have to actively throw someone into path of the oncoming train/trolley, who is not unaware enough to be in a likely path of it without paying attention to the possibility of death by oncoming large object. His innocence of that stupidity makes me value his life more than the morons on the train tracks who aren't paying enough attention to notice an oncoming train/trolley and get out of the way--they chose (albeit probably not consciously) to endanger themselves from an easily foreseeable danger, while he did not. In some ways, they're getting the consequences of their own actions, and I'm not going to make him pay their consequences.
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    Nov 25, 2007 5:18 AM GMT
    Gertrude Stein asked the same question (sort of) in Four Saints in Three Acts:

    "If it were possible to kill five thousand Chinamen by pressing a button, would it be done?"
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    Nov 25, 2007 5:37 AM GMT
    Yes, No, Yes, Yes, Yes.

    I would try to take the action which does the least harm to the greatest number.

    So I would not have a problem making the decision to sacrafice one to save many.

    Only in the scenario of the lifeboat would I not be able to sacrafice the injured person because there is third way out still possible - sacrafice myself.

    Yes, my morality does have certain ... quirks.

    No, psychologists REALLY don't like me.

    No, none of the questions required any extensive thought at all on my part.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Nov 25, 2007 5:47 AM GMT
    If you'd kill yourself rather than the injured lifeboat person, why would you throw yourself in front of the train in section 4 (3b), instead of throwing the other guy from the bridge?
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    Nov 25, 2007 6:13 AM GMT
    Every year Harvard selects a dozen or so scientists from around the world to learn a statistical method for measuring human pain and suffering. My partner was one of those a few years ago. I went with him and attended some of the sessions in which such "moral" questions were debated on the broad scale of public health.

    It was pretty freaky to realize that in much of the world such decisions are being made all the time. Typical but simplified question: "You have vaccine to save 200 people. Half of those are blind. Who do you give the vaccine to?"

    When it came to making any decision about whom to sacrifice, my partner, the lone American, always wanted to use a random method. But the other public health officials always immediately said they'd sacrifice the less productive members of a group -- the blind in the case above. Of course, this is a real decision they are making in their administration of public health budgets.

    The other scientists were totally aghast that my partner would employ a random method and he was equally aghast that they would sacrifice people according to their productivity. He didn't sleep half the nights we were there, he was so upset.

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    Nov 25, 2007 6:28 AM GMT
    MSUboinerd wrote : "If you'd kill yourself rather than the injured lifeboat person, why would you throw yourself in front of the train in section 4 (3b), instead of throwing the other guy from the bridge?"

    Q 3b read

    "In another version of the trolley dilemma, you and the man are on a bridge and you would have to push him onto the track to save the other five.

    I could not push the man onto the track.

    I could push the man onto the track."

    If I could sacrafice myself to acheive the correct outcome, then I would.

    The question doesn't give or allow that optional scenario however. I read it to state that ONLY by sacraficing him could I save the other five.

    ----------------------------------------------

    OW -

    Its funny how people who have never had to really make the hard moral decisions themselves - and face the immediate consequences - have a very different perspective sometimes.



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    Nov 25, 2007 6:39 AM GMT
    I think the recognition of that is what kept him awake, IT, not the conviction that he was necessarily right.
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    Nov 25, 2007 6:43 AM GMT
    I would only kill the two people that were sure to die. I think if people aren't sure to die then I would feel uncomfortable making such a decision. Saying 5 lives > 1 is a bit too simplistic I think. You don't really know the history and the future of these people. It could very well end up being that 1 > 5, since this is not a case of simple math.
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    Nov 25, 2007 7:02 AM GMT
    On the boat, I'd kill the person who wanted to throw the man into the water. That's the kind of guy you don't want to be on a lifeboat with.
  • GQjock

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    Nov 25, 2007 11:48 AM GMT
    I think answering yes or no to any of these questions is superfluous right now
    we don't know how we would behave under any of these conditions
    Until you're confronted with each of these real life or death scenarios you can't determine if you will act in a way that others would consider "moral"
    ... There was a famous study that was done 30 - 40 yrs ago that cut to the chaste and was so good because of its simplicity

    people were put in a room with a mechanical dial
    a man with a clipboard and a labcoat...someone they perceived to be in authority told them that there was a person hooked up to electrodes in the room nextdoor
    the test was that each time they turned the dial up the person nextdoor received a higher and higher dose of elctricity...also...this subject was able to hear the person nextdoor yell or scream in pain
    **what was surprising was the large numbers of people who were willing to cause other people pain JUST on the say so of someone in charge

    THIS is why we have whole populations that go along with immoral regimes
    and war atrocities like abu graib

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    Nov 25, 2007 1:44 PM GMT
    GQJock stated: "l think answering yes or no to any of these questions is superfluous right now
    we don't know how we would behave under any of these conditions
    Until you're confronted with each of these real life or death scenarios you can't determine if you will act in a way that others would consider "moral" "

    That is a classic western PC response, but I don't believe its is nescesarily trus. Past practice is an indicator of future actions; and I believe that those who have been severly tested in their lives are more ready to make 'moral' decisions.

    There is an old folk story about a town that was moral, and upright, and just. They were determined that no sin should enter their town, and that their children should never experience temptation, nor even hear of sin or the devil.

    The townspeople were prosperous and generously gave their children everything they could ask for, so that they should not want, nor have the difficulties of their ancestors.

    The townspeople grew old; the children grew up, and became adults, and had children of their own.

    One day the devil came to town and told the children "I would give you all the gold you could wish for, but your parents do not like me". As one the children rose up and slew their parents to the very last elder.

    The last old woman alive asked "Why would you do such an evil thing?"

    The children responded "What is evil?"

    ----------------------------------------------

    The social-psychology experiments I believe you are refering to are Milgrams 1961 exxperiments at Yale; so called the 'obedience experiments'.




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    Nov 25, 2007 5:20 PM GMT
    Hannah Arendt points out in Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil that evil or immorality is rarely conscious or, for that matter, evil for the sake of being evil. I agree with GQ that one doesn't know how one would really respond. The situations that are listed are designed to give you no way out...the baby is crying, the parents are there (so who brought the baby along to begin with) etc etc. I believe that immorality is more about silence than action.

    TM
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    Nov 25, 2007 6:30 PM GMT
    I like MSUBoiNerd's perspective on the responsibility of those on the tracks for their own deaths.
  • UVaRob9

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    Nov 25, 2007 7:35 PM GMT
    Isn't this more about situational ethics than morality? There is a difference. I'm having trouble giving an answer to these hypothetical scenarios because if the siuation were to come about, there are likely to be more variables involved than these cut-and-dried situations presented, which present more information with which to make a choice. It seems more like a quiz on "who's the better utilitarian" than anything else.
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    Nov 25, 2007 8:13 PM GMT
    very tough questions, but instead of measuring the moral, I think some questions actually measure how much you believe in survival for the fittest, and how you measure quality of life.

    I'm afraid to take the quiz, and I consider it a blessing that my life has not come to face any of them.

    I do know a real story in japan where a man took train up the mountain to his home town. and their cart detached and start to run backward. there's no break and their car will eventually fun off and kill everyone in it. This guy jump off the train and use his body to stop the car.
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    Nov 25, 2007 8:51 PM GMT
    Good point UVaRob.
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    Nov 25, 2007 8:58 PM GMT
    No, Yes, Yes, No, No. But (the big but) these situations are poorly thought out because if you were in these positions you would not know the facts that they say you would know. For example, in the first question, I would not know that the babys crying would be heard. I would not know that all the people would be killed if the people outside did hear the baby. How would you know that a boat was too full and only if you threw out the total goner would you survive. How would you know if you through a switch it would save all 5 people and kill one. This is nonsense! Plus did you notice that all people were not answering all the questions. #1 11078, #2 23456, #3 2645, #4 12166, and #5 314 had answered the questions when I took the test? Odd results, if you ask me (of course, nobody has). Plus, one of the questions, I was part of 0%. I wonder if that means I'm the only moral person on the planet.icon_lol.gif Hell, you should all make me ruler of the world for thaticon_exclaim.gif
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    Nov 26, 2007 3:35 AM GMT
    Well, first off, I only opened this thread cause I read it "molarity" too much chem homework tonight....Um, basically I did the same as the majority on every one. No suprise.
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    Nov 28, 2007 2:30 PM GMT
    yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    I do find the last question the funniest. Most people seem to be willing to kill another person if they don't have to be near them.

    I guess its the same with guns and knives. It's easier to shoot someone from 20ft away rather that slash a person's throat. icon_twisted.gif
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    Nov 28, 2007 2:44 PM GMT
    No to all. Especially the baby. I would mostly likely be killed in defense of the others!

    I could not live with guilt of having been a part of murder.
  • SpartanJock

    Posts: 199

    Nov 28, 2007 4:13 PM GMT
    I have difficulty taking any person's life. In addition, there are always other options available in which all parties are more likely to be safe. Real life is not binary; made up of only two options. This is a very simplistic scenario.