Life is full of choices we are told, some of which are popular and some that are unpopular. These are not necessarily choices as it is likely you will pick the nicer, safer, easier one. Not even politicians choose the unpopular choices nowadays because elections and power.
So it’s not a case of choosing heads or tails, it’s head and if you force me into it tails. Yet there are plenty of events where a decision needs to be made, and sometimes the options are pretty unpalatable.
Take this moral question:
An out of control train is about to run over a pile of happy puppies, do you send it down a different line where there are a smaller pile of puppies.
Now, don’t take me for some kind of puppy-killer, I’m seriously against animal cruelty, but what kind of choice is this? Just as Spock said:
Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Now let’s change the parameters a little &in the smaller pile is your puppy. Does this make the decision to hit them harder? How about if we add the puppy of someone you dislike into the bigger group. Is it now easier for you to careen into the larger pack?
There are very few black and white decisions in life. Most of what we decide on a daily basis are not very altruistic, yet overall we will put the good of the many in front of our own safety.
Look at the mess that has been created across the Middle East, do you back the dictators or allow the country to choose their own destiny no matter how much chaos it causes?
What is the option was don’t choose. The west sat and argued over what should be done, when the best thing was to just not do anything. Intervention does not always produce good results in the long term, today’s ally can quite easily be tomorrows enemy.
Does that make you a better person, to stand and refuse to make a difference? How many people have died because others did not interfere and make a decision? It seems to be human nature to have to decide between what is going to happen (hitting the big pile of puppies) and that which can be made to happen (hitting the smaller pile).
One of the most interesting examples of choices is given in the game Knights of the Old Republic. You are given the option of helping a beggar by giving him some money or walking away. The ‘good’ option is obviously to pass the man some spare change &but after doing so you are made to watch the consequences of your actions. In this case the man is set up on by a gang of thugs who beat the man to death to rob him of the money they have just seen you give him.
Sometimes choosing the ‘good and right’ option is not the right thing to do. Does a toss of the coin absolve you of any moral dilemma?
Now, what to do about these puppies? How about use the horn and scare them off the track?