Driving forward with the notion of morals, and the implications of the previous post. I would like to postulate a possible resolution to the “Trolley Problem”. I think it’s in the spirit of the times to be advocating these thoughts in their given vein.
In the context of any ethical decision, or moral calculus one has to undergo. I think it’d be advisable to do the least crippling harm to any of the engaged parties. If it is impossible to do no harm. If it were possible to do no harm, there’d be no dilemma involved. Thus the later would be the most valid course of action to take.
Honing in on the ideas of self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, or any other sentient being (aliens). It should be understood at some level, that there is no equality of actions, or outcomes. Some are innately better, or so it seems with the logic at the time of action. Human’s are generally conditioned, and expected to comport themselves with respect for their fellow man. And for some this respect extends to other forms of life. Animals, plants, the Unknown and who knows what other sort of entities.
To step aside in some sense, as Humanity reaches towards the times of Transhumanism, and Posthumanism (definitions of said things open to pedantic debate). The notion arises of what is Life (or even Death), and what it means to be human (or anything else). In theory, it should be possible for cognition to arise in any mutable form. From a squirrel, for instance, to an “Alien Deity”. Both would be considered to have some semblance of awareness and consciousnesses. To what extent is debatable again, for a squirrel would stand in preference for other squirrels over that of an Alien God.
And this is where we get into the realms of judgment. One is clearly biased in favor of their “own kind” whether it be contrived as squirrels, and aliens (or black, white, asian, hispanic, human, dog, squirrel, alien…etc). If it looks, and acts like us. We will prefer it over something “different”, generally.
Readdressing the Trolley Problem, one comes to the individualistic notions of which pool of entities suffers the harm? The five on the original track? The one that may be diverted into? It depends upon the relationship, or perceived relationship between the parties. If it is a child that is on the alternative track, and a person of the younger age bracket is making the decision. They may realize that it could just as readily be them in the cross-hairs of an errant trolley. Thus they’d leave the course alone, let it hit the five (or older person).
If either of the parties is of relevant, or of future usability. It would seem that said party should be the favored one. This comes up with the notion of which party can you justify yourself to more readily? Is that the one you should aim at appealing to? The ones that would forgive the infraction? Because they are “like” you?
This would make sense, would it not? Why alter the course of events if it’s going to blowback upon oneself in a negative manner? This is where doing the least amount of crippling harm comes into play. A person who voluntarily sacrifices themselves, or endures said pain. Knows what they’re capable of handling. They know the dues they are willing to pay. Thus if a person is willing to toe the line by laying themselves upon it they should be respected for doing so.
In some sense this may be akin to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The Good may be the self-referential state that everyone sees themselves in up to a point (Evil doesn’t know/see it’s doing Evil until triumphed over). The Bad, is the state where they intentionally act in a self-absorbed manner that is detrimental to others (actually themselves). And The Ugly, is a state of naive awareness that hasn’t encountered said dilemma previously.
As readily apparent, in the clip, Clint Eastwood’s character could’ve easily gunned both parties down, and made off with the entire spoils. That would’ve been “The Bad” ending for all except Eastwood, but given the previously established track record of said character. It wasn’t in his nature.
Thus there’s a way through every moral dilemma, and it’s based upon the parties previous established actions going into said context. Moral dilemma’s don’t exist in isolation, otherwise there’d be no repercussions to said dilemma. And there would be no dilemma.
There’s many ways to spin this problem, but it all boils down to ad hoc justification after the fact. And in the end, you always have to live with yourself. You can’t live with those you’ve wronged (cause they’d wish the same back upon you), but it’s possible to coexist with those that may be ignorant/naive/indifferent…., or just plain “Ugly”.
In essence, Good prefers Good neighbors, but can tolerate neutral ones. Evil prefers Evil neighbors, or those who tolerate their misdeeds. And Neutrality is still in a state of limbo, or decision.