Sunday School

Sunday School January 26th 2020.

This topic contains 57 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  _Robert_ 10 months ago.

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    And I was mad when the infallible pope slapped that lady because I have been calling him “The Cuddly One” since he took over from the one who rejected the job of being the representative of the Creator of the Universe here on planet Earth.



    That lady has to go back to her parish where the entire congregation knows she got pope slapped. Oh the shame !!! OH Mary Mother of goD pray for our sinner who got slapped by the pope, Blessed is the fruit of our loom, Jebus !


    Cuddles has a way with the nuns too, once they don’t bite. He has poor Sister Hysteria all a-quiver.

    Know why they are called nuns? None today, none tomorrow…….


    Simon Paynton

    empathic concern

    I read the original paper, and he covers everything I was going on about.  It’s a really interesting paper.



    The trolly experiment isn’t rubbish at all. It’s an important study in ethics for so many reasons and the conclusions are applicable in many situations, one countless professionals have to made…ones made by several people every day, even in very abstract ways. The trolly problem forces you to deal with several issues all at the same time including: responsibility and what role “fate” plays in it. As in, if the trolly is set on course and was bound to hit the five people, does that remove moral responsibility for hitting the switch? Are you morally detached from a situation where other agents have actively (or through incompetence) set the motion into play…leaving your intervention entirely optional? There is a bit of “god play” in there which is important. As is the question of “not hitting that switch” being a moral or immoral act at all, and if so…what is it? This can be easily associated with real life dilemmas that happen every day. I cannot see how this is rubbish.



    A city council in a provincial town has decided to add a large amount of traffic lights to a moderately used street in a neighborhood. Several children have been hit by cars recently. A clerk who knows about the topic but isn’t responsible for any of those decisions is debating whether to advise the people responsible on the subject. She knows from previous work in city planning in a large city….that the children’s deaths are not obviously related to driving practices which would have been avoided with traffic lights at small intersections. She further knows that adding that many lights will create a large amount of air pollution (thousands of cars sitting idle emitting pointless exhaust while stopping) which can also lead to lung problems which might lead to death, especially the elderly with lung diseases. The cost of extra petrol for all those thousands of stops every day all up into the millions over the years. The cost of the lights is also very high. The question is…is there a price on the avoidance of one possible death (or two)? Is it worth sacrificing several elderly people with breathing problems to save one child? If you have the expertise and can offer the knowledge you have, even though its not your responsibility…but don’t…are you morally culpable? This is a fairly complicated example of a real life dilemma that mirrors the trolley problem quite well. Is “that isn’t my job” a justifiable excuse for not intervening (avoiding even thinking about hitting a switch or not)? Is the life of a child more valuable than a couple elderly people? Is it worth spending millions to possibly save a couple lives (a similar question is if we should fund extremely expensive medicines that may save one or two people and yes there has to be a cut off point).


    Simon Paynton

    The “problem” with the trolley problem is that it forces us to choose between two ways of being a monster.  That is nothing like everyday morality, and doesn’t really tell us anything much about how morality works.  Kant said, we should treat people as an end in themselves and not as a means to an end, and this turns out to be very important when studying antisocial behaviour.  So he made a good contribution there.  I can’t think of any other.

    The situation you describe with traffic lights and pollution etc. may come up some times, but it’s not a good description of morality in general.  It’s a good description of a moral dilemma.



    Cuddles has a way with the nuns too, once they don’t bite. He has poor Sister Hysteria all a-quiver. Know why they are called nuns? None today, none tomorrow…….

    Looks like the Pope’s waistband enjoys a good meal. With an estimated net worth of  the church at 30 billion dollars, why not? Will the Vatican embrace the vow of poverty? Sell the silver and gold, sell the artworks and real estate, cash out the stocks and bonds. Give the money back to their poor. Nah.



    I see Simon. So a moral dilemma is some special case that sits outside the realm of ethics? The general principles of a moral system don’t have to take difficult decisions into account?

    I find it very surprising that you cannot take a thought experiment as simply an extreme version of what can easily be transferred to more mundane yet difficult problems. Zheesh Simon. I mean a parent has to decide whether to save up just for one very gifted kid of theirs to go to a good university or pay for private school for her and her far less intelligent brothers and sisters and have no money left over for university tuition at all. Should you sacrifice a better general education for several children for the superior education of one gifted child? Can you not apply the outlandish to the every-day?

    I’m sorry it disturbs you do be given a choice where you have to make a decision between two very ugly alternatives. That doesn’t mean they are situations that need not be addressed by moral theories. If anything, these situations truly test the strength of moral theories.

    It’s curious how you don’t see what we can learn from this theory. That you learn nothing by peoples reactions in how they view personal responsibility, civic duty, the value placed on lives, how universal a rule should be applied, if familiarity with an agent justifies altering a moral law. Far more interesting is how few times people give what is likely the most honest reply: “I don’t know what I would do and I’d really have to work out which decision is best and why” which is likely the best response. The fact that few people respond that way tells us they approach moral systems in an intuitive and ad hoc manner and spend very little time considering the wider ramifications of their values. So yeah. The trolley problem is hardly rubbish. It’s a fine example of a thought experiment loaded with value and multiple/layered  issues that are hard to deal with in any moral system.


    Simon Paynton

    In all the time I’ve been studying morality, the trolley problem hasn’t come up once.  Morality is a natural phenomenon, to do with everyday life, and the trolley problem is an artifice, and therefore, pretty useless when it comes to studying nature.

    how universal a rule should be applied

    One of the rules central to the trolley problem, is utilitarianism, which is itself artificial, except perhaps on a large scale.


    The “problem” with the trolley problem is that it forces us to choose between two ways of being a monster. That is nothing like everyday morality, and doesn’t really tell us anything much about how morality works.

    I don’t think that is quite true.  What if you have only one 20 person life boat and 50 people on board a sinking ship? The choice between two unpleasant outcomes is  called Morton’s Fork.



    Simon Paynton

    How does the trolley problem help us with this dilemma, or what does it teach us about dilemmas in general?


    Sometimes in life people have to make choices with little or no time to ask for advice. All possible actions appear to have bad outcomes but all are better than not doing anything at all. So should we try to do the one that causes the least amount of harm?

    You have 10 seconds to decide 🙂


    I once started the de-conversion process with a Creationist who claimed “genuine” morality was Bible based and moral values were absolute.

    I asked her if the Bible story about the Judgement of Solomon still had any moral lesson worth our consideration or could we come up with a better way of dealing with such a dilemma today. She was emphatic that as the king was wise and because “it was in the Bible” that it set a good example “for all ages” to learn from. I suggested that it might be better today if a judge ordered a DNA hair sample to be taken from the child and the two potentials mothers. That way the real mother would be discovered without having to terrify either woman by suggesting the best solution was to murder the baby and give them half each.

    She thought about this for a minute and agreed with me. I then asked her to explain why she agreed DNA was a valid way of telling that the mother and child were related to each other. If it could be relied upon to inform us of our ancestry in this case then why not in other cases.  If we can just as easily show we are about 98% related to chimpanzees then why not accept this fact too?

    She soon came around to realizing she had been told the truth (by the liars for Jesus) and not so long after that became an atheist. That is Evolution for you!


    Simon Paynton

    So should we try to do the one that causes the least amount of harm?

    If push comes to shove, that’s all we’ve got.

    a Creationist who claimed “genuine” morality was Bible based and moral values were absolute

    There’s this whole big debate, that overlaps with the religious viewpoint, over whether moral principles are “true” or not.  I find it very tiresome.  Moral principles are true psychologically, ultimately because we are a cooperative species, but apparently this isn’t enough for some people.

    and not so long after that became an atheist

    Nice bit of evidence-based reasoning.

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