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Philosophizing Throwing around ideas about life, the universe, and everything.
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Old 08-13-2001, 09:20 PM   #1
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Value of Life

Here's your hypothetical dilemma of the day:

You are alone in a room with two buttons. There is a room adjacent to yours, but there's no way for you to know who or what's in it. There are people in the other room, but they can't see you either.

The two buttons do this: One kills you, and lets everyone in the other room go free; the other kills everything in the other room, and you walk away unharmed. You must press one or the other, or everyone will die.

The question is not "Which button do you press?," but rather...

"How many people must be in the other room for you to choose to save them instead of yourself?"

You are alone, and no one will know it was your decision to make. (unless you choose to live, then choose to tell others later...) If you spare the people in the other room, they will never know they were spared. You will only know the number of individuals in the other room, not their identities. They could be strangers just as well as they could be friends and family.

So, how many?

Edit for emphasis
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Old 08-13-2001, 10:55 PM   #2
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wow man thats some deep thinking to do, there are so many things that you would have to consider or think about. How is your life going for you, do you feel you impact the world or the lives around you everyday. or are you a bum totally void from the existing world. then you gotta think about who could be in the other room, maybe your son or daughter, wife. but as stated you dont know who it is. So, i personally value my life and i do feel i impact people around me so i would press the other button, unless it was a group of maybe 15 or more people. Who knows maybe one of these people have the cure for aids, but i would want those people to know who spared their lives, but if i lived i dont think i'd want to know. so there you go.

That was a great question man, definately deep.
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Old 08-14-2001, 01:38 AM   #3
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Man...this is heavy stuff !!!

Well i value my life and i'd choose to stay alive.

If it was my family it would be a different story...but you say you have no idea as to what's in the other room. So i'd risk it and stay alive and hope the people on the other side are "low-lifes".

Just hope i never have to come across this in real life.



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Old 08-14-2001, 01:10 PM   #4
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For me this is easy. I don't have a clue who or what is in this other room. I'm not dying for a stranger, no matter how many, and I'm certainly not dying for an enemy.

If it turned out to be a loved one then I would still have the knowledge that I had no real choice. I would also kill the bastard that put me in there.
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Old 08-14-2001, 08:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
I would also kill the bastard that put me in there.
hahahahahaha
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Old 01-23-2002, 01:25 AM   #6
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Re: Value of Life

Quote:
Originally posted by jay@af
So, how many?
Again, the question is not would you, but rather at what point would you...?

And for hypothetical effect, yes, everyone else in the world could be in the other room. So, if you refuse to pick a number, you will be alone in the world when you get out...
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Old 01-23-2002, 03:05 AM   #7
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geez thats deep, I'm actually scared of answering that one.
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Old 01-23-2002, 05:41 AM   #8
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A tricky one.....back in a couple of days.....
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Old 01-23-2002, 11:20 AM   #9
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I’ve never been a fan of the “hypothetical” situations that will never happen. So let me say that I’ll push the button to live and find the bastard who put me there and torture his ass to death. They used me as an instrument and need to be taken out for their actions.
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Old 01-23-2002, 11:28 AM   #10
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I'd push the button to their room real quick before any guilt could set in. BAM!!!

Self preservation. If you'd pick to kill yourself for a room full of ??? then you are not a human being. And they wouldn't even know you saved them? Oh, hell yeah I'd push their button quick. Besides, they may have a button in their room to kill my hypothetical thinking butt.
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Old 01-23-2002, 03:15 PM   #11
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Re: Value of Life

Third try:
Quote:
Originally posted by jay@af
The question is not "Which button do you press?," but rather...

"How many people must be in the other room for you to choose to save them instead of yourself?"
"Yes" and "no" do not answer the question. We're looking for a number. A number that could hypothetically go as high as ~6 billion (or whatever the estimated human population is nowadays...)
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Old 01-23-2002, 07:58 PM   #12
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I think you might be getting a little frustrated there Jay.

Sounds like the answer is far to simple for the complexity of the problem.

My answer, is either 0 or 6billion depending on how my morning went.
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Old 01-23-2002, 08:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
How many people must be in the other room for you to choose to save them instead of yourself?"

There could be the whole world in there and I am still saving my own ass. Without knowing who is in there, it's all about self preservation. I could give a rip about how many people are in there. if I will never know who was in there, screw it, it can be 80,000 baby's and they are all gonna die because I am gonna live
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Old 01-23-2002, 08:29 PM   #14
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Probably somewhere between about 2 and 1,000.

My utilitarian side pushes me towards the 2 - but my pragmatic will for self-preservation might not let that happen. On the other hand, with a number over 1,000 or so, I'm fairly sure the utilitarian side would win.

It's very hard for me to narrow it down more that that, since I don't have any more information about who might be in the other room. A lot of my answer depends on how much I know about the other room - were they randomly chosen? Who are they? Prisoners? Politicians? Lawyers? Doctors? Heads of State? Librarians? Americans? My family?

If you want to force me to say a single number, I'll go with 200. But I don't promise to stick to it.
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Old 01-27-2002, 04:33 AM   #15
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I'm going to go with five. Five or more, I'd have to push my own button. Giving my reasoning for this would just be beating a dead horse - it has already been covered in other peoples' posts.

But I also guess it depends on the day and how I'm feeling. On an off-day (and I stress a very off day), it's possible that I would opt to let everyone else in the world perish to save myself
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