"so, you have two rooms. one has your mother in it and the other has 20 pregnant women in it. you have to blow up one. which one do you choose?" he asked.
"i'd blow up the room with the 20 preggo women...." i said.
"WHAT?! how could you do that!?" he said, surprised.
we went into a discussion about why he chose to kill his mother and why i chose not to and what that says about each of our morals. it was an interesting conversation. what would you do in that situation (and this question has a presupposition that you are on somewhat good terms with your mother. if your mother was Mommy Dearest, the experiment loses its intentional dilemma)? he chose to kill his mother because he felt that choosing otherwise would be selfish. these are 20 women AND 20 babies that have yet to live, so....the more the merrier, i guess.
i ended up arguing that i would save my mother because these are 20 pregnant women, but they are insignificant in my life. yes, it is selfish, but i'm content with that....to some extent; more content with it than the alternative. in addition, i'm not a fan of Utilitarianism; quantity does not always trump quality.
i think these experiments are interesting because they get people to look at their morals and ethics at face value. in this experiment, my co-worker would save 20 pregnant women, and he feels as though it is of higher or better moral value than the alternative. but theres 20 women (a couple hundred times over) dying everyday. with a couple hundred dollars for a hospital, 10 times that could be saved in some remote areas. although i'm not making the case that throwing money at issues such as poverty is going to change the issue... this is just to show that 20 women can easily be saved on a daily basis and the commoner that says he'll save 20 pregnant women is only saying they'll do it to make themselves feel better about their morals.
we live in societies that encourage and praise the few individuals that live disgusting lavish lifestyles. theres 10% (for example) of our people living in ridiculous mansions while more than triple that are living in poverty. we all know this. yet almost all of us still aspires to be that rich fuck with a solid gold toilet.
we're okay with 20 or more people perishing (be it through death or an impoverished life) on a daily basis, it just isn't okay in these types of experiment because it's in your face-you have to look at it and judge yourself. we tend not to or not want to do that on a daily basis. or so, thats my take on it. that being said, i did choose my mom to live...so on some level i've either become cold-hearted to where the thought of 20 people dying doesn't phase me...or i've come to some level of content with my own selfishness.
heres another experiment that i asked in my ancient myspace blog a year or so ago:
so you're in a course or class in school in which they're testing people's psychological thoughts on certain foods. up next on the menu is human. this man recently died from nothing viral or disease related, and donated his body to science and scientific research. they've cooked him up just like chicken nuggets. do you taste or not?
ultimately, this experiment pulls at our thoughts on cannibalism and the taboos surrounding it. i LOVE hearing people's reactions to this.
so, tell me your thoughts and choices to these experiments and why.
also, a good book to look at with a ton of moral experiments is The Pig That Wants to be Eaten by Julian Baggini.