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This is a course about Justice and we begin with a story
suppose you're the driver of a trolley car,
and your trolley car is hurtling down the track at sixty miles an hour
and at the end of the track, you notice five workers working on the track
you tried to stop but you can't
your brakes don't work
you feel desperate because you know
that if you crash into these five workers
they will all die
let's assume you know that for sure
and so you feel helpless
until you notice that there is
off to the right
a side track
at the end of that track
there's one worker
working on track
your steering wheel works
so you can turn the trolley car if you want to
onto this side track
killing the one
but sparing the five.
Here's our first question
what's the right thing to do?
What would you do?
Let's take a poll,
how many would
turn the trolley car onto the side track? raise your hand.
How many wouldn't?
How many would go straight ahead
keep your hands up, those of you who'd go straight ahead.
A handful of people would, the vast majority would turn
let's hear first
now we need to begin to investigate the reasons why you think it's the right thing to do.
Let's begin with those in the majority, who would turn
to go onto side track?
Why would you do it,
what would be your reason?
Who's willing to volunteer a reason?
Go ahead, stand up.
Because it can't be right to kill five people when you can only kill one person instead.
it wouldn't be right to kill five
if you could kill one person instead
that's a good reason
that's a good reason
does everybody agree with that reason?
Well I was thinking it was the same reason as it was on 9/11
we regard the people who flew the plane
who flew the plane into the
Pennsylvania field as heroes
because they chose to kill the people on the plane
and not kill more people in big buildings.
So the principle there was the same on 9/11
it's a tragic circumstance,
but better to kill one so that five can live
is that the reason most of you have, those of you who would turn, yes?
Let's hear now
from those in the minority
those who wouldn't turn. Yes.
Well I think that's same type of mentality that justifies genocide and totalitarianism
in order to save one type of race you wipe out the other.
so what would you do in this case? You would
the horrors of genocide
you would crash into the five and kill them?
Presumably yes. You would？Yeah.
okay who else?
That's a brave answer, thank you.
Let's consider another
trolley car case
and see whether
those of you in the majority
want to adhere to the principle,
better that one should die so that five should live.
This time you're not the driver of the trolley car, you're an onlooker
standing on a bridge overlooking a trolley car track
and down the track comes a trolley car
at the end of the track are five workers
the brakes don't work
the trolley car is about to careen into the five and kill them
you're not the driver
you really feel helpless
until you notice
standing next to you
leaning over the bridge
is a very fat man.
And you could
give him a shove
he would fall over the bridge
onto the track
right in the way of the trolley car
he would die
but he would spare the five.
Now, how many would push
the fat man over the bridge? Raise your hand.
How many wouldn't?
Most people wouldn't.
Here's the obvious question, what became of the principal
better to save five lives even if it means sacrificing one, what became of the principal
that almost everyone endorsed in the first case
I need to hear from someone who was in the majority in both cases
how do you explain the difference between the two? yes.
The second one I guess involves an active choice of pushing a person down
which I guess that
that person himself would otherwise not have been involved in the situation at all
to choose on his behalf I guess to
involve him in something that he otherwise would have escaped is
I guess more than
what you have in the first case where
the three parties, the driver and the two sets of workers, are
already I guess in this situation.
but the guy working, the one on the track off to the side
he didn't choose to sacrifice his life any more than the fat guy did, did he?
That's true, but he was on the tracks.
this guy was on the bridge.
Go ahead, you can come back if you want.
Alright, it's a hard question
but you did well you did very well it's a hard question.
can find a way of reconciling the reaction of the majority in these two cases? Yes?
Well I guess
in the first case where
you have the one worker and the five
it's a choice between those two,
and you have to make a certain choice and people are going to die because of the trolley car
not necessarily because of your direct actions. The trolley car is on a runway,
then you need to make in a split second choice
whereas pushing the fat man over is an actual act of murder on your part
you have control over that
whereas you may not have control over the trolley car.
So I think that it's a slightly different situation.
Alright who has a reply? Is that, who has a reply to that? no that was good, who has a way
who wants to reply?
Is that a way out of this?
I don't think that's a very good reason because you choose
either way you have to choose who dies because you either choose to turn and kill a person which is an act of conscious
thought to turn,
or you choose to push the fat man
over which is also an active
conscious action so either way you're making a choice.
Do you want to reply?
Well I'm not really sure that that's the case, it just still seems kind of different, the act of actually
pushing someone over onto the tracks and killing him,
you are actually killing him yourself, you're pushing him with your own hands, you're pushing and
than steering something that is going to cause death into another...you know
it doesn't really sound right saying it now when I'm up here.
No that's good, what's your name?
Andrew and let me ask you this question Andrew,
standing on the bridge
next to the fat man
I didn't have to push him, suppose he was standing
over a trap door that I could open by turning a steering wheel like that
would you turn it?
For some reason that still just seems more
I mean maybe if you just accidentally like leaned into this steering wheel or something like that
or say that the car is
hurtling towards a switch that will drop the trap
then I could agree with that.
Fair enough, it still seems
wrong in a way that it doesn't seem wrong in the first case to turn, you say
And in another way, I mean in the first situation you're involved directly with the situation
in the second one you're an onlooker as well.
So you have the choice of becoming involved or not by pushing the fat man.
Let's forget for the moment about this case,
but let's imagine a different case. This time you're doctor in an emergency room
and six patients come to you
they've been in a terrible trolley car wreck
five of them sustained moderate injuries, one is severely injured. you could spend all day
caring for the one severely injured victim,
but in that time the five would die, or you could look after the five, restore them to health, but
during that time the one severely injured person would die.
How many would save the five now as the doctor?
How many would save the one?
Very few people,
just a handful of people.
Same reason I assume,
one life versus five.
another doctor case
this time you're a transplant surgeon
and you have five patients each in desperate need of an organ transplant in order to survive
on needs a heart, one a lung,
one a kidney,
one a liver
and the fifth
And you have no organ donors you are about to see them die
it occurs to you that in the next room there's a healthy guy who came in for a checkup.
and he is...
you like that
and he's taking a nap
you could go in very quietly
yank out the five organs, that person would die
but you can save the five.
How many would do it? Anyone?
How many? Put your hands up if you would do it.
Anyone in the balcony?
You would? Be careful don't lean over too much
How many wouldn't?
What do you say, speak up in the balcony, you who would
yank out the organs, why?
I'd actually like to explore slightly alternate possibility of just taking the one of the five who needs an organ who dies first, and using their four
healthy organs to save the other four
That's a pretty good idea.
That's a great idea
except for the fact
that you just wrecked the philosophical point.
Let's step back from these stories and these arguments to notice a couple of things
about the way the arguments have began to unfold.
Certain moral principles have already begun to emerge from the discussions we've had
and let's consider
what those moral principles look like
the first moral principle that emerged from the discussion said
the right thing to do the moral thing to do
depends on the consequences that will result from your action
at the end of the day
better that five should live
even if one must die.
That's an example of consequentialist moral reasoning.
consequentialist moral reasoning locates morality in the consequences of an act.
In the state of the world that will result from the thing you do
but then we went a little further, we considered those other cases
and people weren't so sure about consequentialist moral reasoning
when people hesitated
to push the fat man
over the bridge
or to yank out the organs of the innocent patient
people gestured towards
reasons having to do with the intrinsic quality of the act itself.
Consequences be what they may.
People were reluctant
people thought it was just wrong
categorically wrong to kill a person, an innocent person
even for the sake
five lives, at least these people thought that
in the second version of each story we reconsidered
so this points
to a second categorical way of thinking about moral reasoning
categorical moral reasoning locates morality in certain absolute moral requirements
in certain categorical duties and rights
regardless of the consequences.
We're going to explore in the days and weeks to come
the contrast between consequentialist and categorical moral principles.
The most influential example of consequential moral reasoning is utilitarianism,
a doctrine invented by Jeremy Bentham,
the eighteenth century English political philosopher.
The most important philosopher of categorical moral reasoning is the
eighteenth century German philosopher Emmanuel Kant.
So we will look at
those two different modes of moral reasoning
and also consider others.
If you look at the syllabus, you'll notice that we read a number of great and famous books.
Books by Aristotle
Emanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill,
You'll notice too from the syllabus that we don't only read these books,
contemporary political and legal controversies that raise philosophical questions.
We will debate equality and inequality,
free speech versus hate speech,
same sex marriage, military conscription,
a range of practical questions, why?
not just to enliven these abstract and distant books
but to make clear to bring out what's at stake in our everyday lives
including our political lives for philosophy.
So we will read these books
and we will debate these issues
and we'll see how each informs and illuminates the other.
This may sound appealing enough
I have to issue a warning,
and the warning is this
to read these books in this way,
as an exercise in self-knowledge,
to read them in this way carry certain risks
risks that are both personal and political,
risks that every student of political philosophy has known.
These risks spring from that fact that philosophy
teaches us and unsettles us by confronting us with what we already know.
There's an irony
the difficulty of this course consists in the fact that it teaches what you already know.
It works by taking
what we know from familiar unquestioned settings,
and making it strange.
That's how those examples work, worked
the hypotheticals with which we began with their mix of playfulness and sobriety.
it's also how these philosophical books work.
Philosophy estranges us from the familiar
not by supplying new information
but by inviting
a new way of seeing
but, and here's the risk,
the familiar turns strange,
it's never quite the same again.
is like lost innocence,
however unsettling, you find it,
it can never
what makes this enterprise difficult
but also riveting,
moral and political philosophy is a story
and you don't know where this story will lead, but what you do know
is that the story
is about you.
Those are the personal risks,
now what of the political risks.
one way of introducing of course like this
would be to promise you
that by reading these books
and debating these issues
you will become a better more responsible citizen.
You will examine the presuppositions of public policy, you will hone your political judgment
you'll become a more effective participant in public affairs
but this would be a partial and misleading promise
political philosophy for the most part hasn't worked that way.
You have to allow for the possibility
that political philosophy may make you a worse citizen
rather than a better one,
or at least a worse citizen
before it makes you a better one.
and that's because philosophy
is a distancing
And you see this
going back to Socrates
there's a dialogue, the Gorgias
in which one of Socrates’ friends
tries to talk him out
Callicles tells Socrates philosophy is a pretty toy
if one indulges in it with moderation at the right time of life
but if one pursues it further than one should it is absolute ruin.
Take my advice Callicles says,
learn the accomplishments of active life,
take for your models not those people who spend their time on these petty quibbles,
but those who have a good livelihood and reputation
and many other blessings.
So Calicles is really saying to Socrates
go to business school
and Callicles did have a point
he had a point
because philosophy distances us
from conventions from established assumptions
and from settled beliefs.
those are the risks,
personal and political
and in the face of these risks there is a characteristic evasion,
the name of the evasion is skepticism. It's the idea
well it goes something like this
we didn't resolve, once and for all,
either the cases or the principles we were arguing when we began
and if Aristotle
and Locke and Kant and Mill haven't solved these questions after all of these years
who are we to think
that we here in Sanders Theatre over the course a semester
can resolve them
and so maybe it's just a matter of
each person having his or her own principles and there's nothing more to be said about it
no way of reasoning
that's the evasion.
The evasion of skepticism
to which I would offer the following
these questions have been debated for a very long time
but the very fact that they have reoccurred and persisted
that though they're impossible in one sense
their unavoidable in another
and the reason they're unavoidable
the reason they're inescapable is that we live
some answer to these questions every day.
So skepticism, just throwing up their hands and giving up on moral reflection,
is no solution
described very well the problem with skepticism when he wrote
skepticism is a resting place for human reason
where it can reflect upon its dogmatic wanderings
but it is no dwelling place for permanent settlement.
Simply to acquiesce in skepticism, Kant wrote,
can never suffice to overcome the restless of reason.
I've tried to suggest through theses stories and these arguments
some sense of the risks and temptations
of the perils and the possibilities I would simply conclude by saying
that the aim of this course
is to awaken
the restlessness of reason
and to see where it might lead
thank you very much.
Like, in a situation that desperate,
you have to do what you have to do to survive. You have to do what you have to do you?
You've gotta do what you gotta do.
pretty much, If you've been going nineteen days without any food
someone has to take the sacrifice, someone has to make the sacrifice and people can survive.
Alright that's good, what's your name? Marcus.
Marcus, what do you say to Marcus?
we started out last time
with some stories
with some moral dilemmas
about trolley cars
and about doctors
and healthy patients
to being victims of organ transplantation
we noticed two things about the arguments we had
one had to do with the way we were arguing
we began with our judgments in particular cases
we tried to articulate the reasons or the principles
lying behind our judgments
and then confronted with a new case
we found ourselves re-examining those principles
revising each in the light of the other
and we noticed the built-in pressure to try to bring into alignment
our judgments about particular cases
and the principles we would endorse on reflection
we also noticed something about the substance of the arguments
that emerged from the discussion.
We noticed that sometimes we were tempted to locate the morality of an act in the consequences
in the results, in the state of the world that it brought about.
We called is consequentialist
But we also noticed that
in some cases
we weren't swayed only by the results
many of us felt,
that not just consequences but also the intrinsic quality or character of the act
Some people argued that there are certain things that are just categorically wrong
even if they bring about
a good result
if they save five people
at the cost of one life.
So we contrasted consequentialist
with categorical ones.
and in the next few days
we will begin to examine one of the most influential
versions of consequentialist moral theory
and that's the philosophy of utilitarianism.
the eighteenth century
English political philosopher
the first clear systematic expression
to the utilitarian
And Bentham's idea,
his essential idea
is a very simple one
with a lot of morally intuitive appeal.
Bentham's idea is
the right thing to do
the just thing to do
What did he mean by utility?
He meant by utility the balance
of pleasure over pain,
happiness over suffering.
Here's how we arrived at the principle of maximizing utility.
He started out by observing
that all of us
all human beings
are governed by two sovereign masters,
pain and pleasure.
We human beings
like pleasure and dislike pain
and so we should base morality
whether we are thinking of what to do in our own lives
as legislators or citizens
we are thinking about what the law should be,
the right thing to do individually or collectively
is to maximize, act in a way that maximizes
the overall level of happiness.
Bentham's utilitarianism is sometimes summed up with the slogan
the greatest good for the greatest number.
With this basic principle of utility on hand,
let's begin to test it and to examine it
by turning to another case
another story but this time
not a hypothetical story,
a real-life story
the case of the Queen versus Dudley and Stephens.
This was a nineteenth-century British law case
that's famous and much debated in law schools.
Here's what happened in the case
I'll summarize the story
and then I want to hear
how you would rule
imagining that you are the jury.
A newspaper account of the time
described the background:
A sadder story of disaster at sea was never told
than that of the survivors of the yacht Mignonette.
The ship foundered in the south Atlantic
thirteen hundred miles from the cape
there were four in the crew,
Dudley was the captain
Stephens was the first mate
Brooks was a sailor,
all men of excellent character,
or so the newspaper account tells us.
The fourth crew member was the cabin boy,
seventeen years old.
He was an orphan
he had no family
and he was on his first long voyage at sea.
He went, the news account tells us,
rather against the advice of his friends.
He went in the hopefulness of youthful ambition
thinking the journey would make a man of him.
Sadly it was not to be,
the facts of the case were not in dispute,
a wave hit the ship
and the Mignonette went down.
The four crew members escaped to a lifeboat
the only food they had
were two cans of preserved turnips
no fresh water
for the first three days they ate nothing
on the fourth day that opened one of the cans of turnips
and ate it.
The next day they caught a turtle
together with the other can of turnips
enabled them to subsist
for the next few days and then for eight days
they had nothing
no food no water.
Imagine yourself in a situation like that
what would you do?
Here's what they did
by now the cabin boy Parker is lying at the bottom of the lifeboat in a corner
because he had drunk sea water
against the advice of the others
and he had become ill
and he appeared to be dying
so on the nineteenth day Dudley, the captain, suggested
that they should all have a lottery.
That they should all draw lots to see
who would die
to save the rest.
he didn't like the lottery idea
we don't know whether this
was because he didn't want to take that chance or because he believed in
categorical moral principles
but in any case
no lots were drawn.
The next day
there was still no ship in sight
so a Dudley told Brooks to avert his gaze
and he motioned to Stephens
that the boy Parker had better be killed.
Dudley offered a prayer
he told a the boy his time had come
and he killed him with a pen knife
stabbing him in the jugular vein.
Brooks emerged from his conscientious objection to share in the gruesome bounty.
For four days
the three of them fed on the body and blood of the cabin boy.
And then they were rescued.
Dudley describes their rescue
in his diary
with staggering euphemism, quote:
"on the twenty fourth day
as we were having our breakfast
a ship appeared at last."
The three survivors were picked up by a German ship. They were taken back to Falmouth in England
where they were arrested and trialed
turned state's witness
Dudley and Stephens went to trial. They didn't dispute the facts
they had acted out of necessity
that was their defense
they argued in effect
better that one should die
so that three could survive
wasn't swayed by that argument
he said murder is murder
and so the case went to trial. Now imagine you are the jury
and just to simplify the discussion
put aside the question of law,
and let's assume that
you as the jury
are charged with deciding
whether what they did was morally
permissible or not.
not guilty, that what they did was morally permissible?
And how many would vote guilty
what they did was morally wrong?
A pretty sizable majority.
Now let's see what people's reasons are, and let me begin with those who are in the minority.
Let's hear first from the defense
of Dudley and Stephens.
Why would you morally exonerate them?
What are your reasons?
I think it's I think it is morally reprehensible
but I think that there's a distinction between what's morally reprehensible
what makes someone legally accountable
in other words as the judge said what's always moral isn't necessarily
against the law and while I don't think that necessity
theft or murder any illegal act,
at some point your degree of necessity does in fact
exonerate you form any guilt. ok.
other defenders, other voices for the defense?
Moral justifications for
what they did?
yes, thank you
I just feel like
in a situation that desperate you have to do what you have to do to survive.
You have to do what you have to do
ya, you gotta do what you gotta do, pretty much.
If you've been
going nineteen days without any food
you know someone just has to take the sacrifice has to make sacrifices and people can survive
and furthermore from that
let's say they survived and then they become productive members of society who go home and then start like
a million charity organizations and this and that and this and that, I mean they benefit everybody in the end so
I mean I don't know what they did afterwards, I mean they might have
gone on and killed more people
what? what if they were going home and turned out to be assassins?
What if they were going home and turned out to be assassins?
You would want to know who they assassinated.
That's true too, that's fair
I would wanna know who they assassinated.
alright that's good, what's your name? Marcus.
We've heard a defense
a couple voices for the defense
now we need to hear
from the prosecution
most people think
what they did was wrong, why?
One of the first things that I was thinking was, oh well if they haven't been eating for a really long time,
they're mentally affected
that could be used for the defense,
a possible argument that oh,
that they weren't in a proper state of mind, they were making
decisions that they otherwise wouldn't be making, and if that's an appealing argument
that you have to be in an altered mindset to do something like that it suggests that
people who find that argument convincing
do you think that they're acting immorally. But I want to know what you think you're defending
you voted…I’m sorry…you voted to convict right? yeah I don't think that they acted in morally
appropriate way. And why not? What do you say, Here's Marcus
he just defended them,
you heard what he said,
yes I did
that you've got to do what you've got to do in a case like that.
What do you say to Marcus?
that there is no situation that would allow human beings to take
the idea of fate or the other people's lives into their own hands that we don't have
that kind of power.
thank you, and what's your name?
What do you say? Stand up
I'm wondering if Dudley and Stephens had asked for Richard Parker's consent in, you know, dying,
if that would
would that exonerate them
from an act of murder, and if so is that still morally justifiable?
That's interesting, alright consent, now hang on, what's your name? Kathleen.
Kathleen says suppose so what would that scenario look like?
so in the story
Dudley is there, pen knife in hand,
but instead of the prayer
or before the prayer,
he says, Parker,
would you mind
we're desperately hungry,
as Marcus empathizes with
we're desperately hungry
you're not going to last long anyhow,
you can be a martyr,
would you be a martyr
how about it Parker?
then what do you think, would be morally justified then? Suppose
in his semi-stupor
I don't think it'll be morally justifiable but I'm wondering. Even then, even then it wouldn't be? No
You don't think that even with consent
it would be morally justified.
Are there people who think
who want to take up Kathleen's
and who think that that would make it morally justified? Raise your hand if it would
if you think it would.
That's very interesting
Why would consent
make a moral difference? Why would it?
Well I just think that if he was making his own original idea
and it was his idea to start with
then that would be the only situation in which I would
see it being appropriate in anyway because that way you couldn't make the argument that
he was pressured you know it’s three
to one or whatever the ratio was,
and I think that
if he was making a decision to give his life then he took on the agency
to sacrifice himself which some people might see as admirable and other people
might disagree with that decision.
So if he came up with the idea
that's the only kind of consent we could have confidence in
morally, then it would be okay
it would be kind of coerced consent
under the circumstances
Is there anyone who thinks
that the even the consent of Parker
would not justify
their killing him?
Who thinks that?
Yes, tell us why, stand up
I think that Parker
would be killed
with the hope that the other crew members would be rescued so
there's no definite reason that he should be killed
because you don't know
when they're going to get rescued so if you kill him you're killing him in vain
do you keep killing a crew member until you're rescued and then you're left with no one?
because someone's going to die eventually?
Well the moral logic of the situation seems to be that.
That they would
keep on picking off the weakest maybe, one by one,
until they were
rescued and in this case luckily when three at least were still alive.
if Parker did give his consent
would it be all right do you think or not?
No, it still wouldn't be right.
Tell us why wouldn't be all right.
First of all, cannibalism, I believe
is morally incorrect
so you shouldn’t be eating a human anyway.
cannibalism is morally objectionable outside
so then even in the scenario
of waiting until someone died
still it would be objectionable.
Yes, to me personally
I feel like of
it all depends on
one's personal morals, like we can't just, like this is just my opinion
of course other people are going to disagree.
Well let's see, let's hear what their disagreements are
and then we'll see
if they have reasons
that can persuade you or not.
Let's try that
now is there someone
who can explain, those of you who are tempted by consent
can you explain
why consent makes
such a moral difference,
what about the lottery idea
does that count as consent. Remember at the beginning
Dudley proposed a lottery
suppose that they had agreed
to a lottery
how many would then say
it was all right. Say there was a lottery,
cabin boy lost,
and the rest of the story unfolded. How many people would say it's morally permissible?
So the numbers are rising if we add a lottery, let's hear from one of you
for whom the lottery would make a moral difference
why would it?
I think the essential
in my mind that makes it a crime is
the idea that they decided at some point that their lives were more important than his, and that
I mean that's kind of the basis for really any crime
right? It's like
my needs, my desire is a more important than yours and mine take precedent
and if they had done a lottery were everyone consented
that someone should die
and it's sort of like they're all sacrificing themselves,
to save the rest,
Then it would be all right?
A little grotesque but,
But morally permissible? Yes.
what's your name? Matt.
so, Matt for you
what bothers you is not
the cannibalism, but the lack of due process.
I guess you could say that
And can someone who agrees with Matt
say a little bit more
would make it, in your view,
The way I understood it originally was that that was the whole issue is that the cabin boy was never
about whether or not it something was going to happen to him even though with the original
whether or not he would be a part of that it was just decided
that he was the one that was going to die. Yes that's what happened in the actual case
but if there were a lottery and they all agreed to the procedure
you think that would be okay?
Right, because everyone knows that there's gonna be a death
you know the cabin boy didn't know that
this discussion was even happening
there was no
you know forewarning
for him to know that hey, I may be the one that's dying. Okay, now suppose the everyone agrees
to the lottery they have the lottery the cabin boy loses any changes his mind.
You've already decided, it's like a verbal contract, you can't go back on that. You've decided the decision was made
you know if you know you're dying for the reason for at others to live,
you would, you know
if the someone else had died
you know that you would consume them, so
But then he could say I know, but I lost.
I just think that that's the whole moral issue is that there was no consulting of the cabin boy and that that's
what makes it the most horrible
is that he had no idea what was even going on, that if he had known what was going on
be a bit more understandable.
Alright, good, now I want to hear
so there's some who think
it's morally permissible
but only about twenty percent,
led by Marcus,
then there are some who say
the real problem here
is the lack of consent
whether the lack of consent to a lottery to a fair procedure
lack of consent
at the moment
and if we add consent
more people are willing to consider
the sacrifice morally justified.
I want to hear now finally