Sunday School

Sunday School June 10th 2018

This topic contains 24 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 7 months, 1 week ago.

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    Depends which family member we are talking about…



    If I had to choose between a stranger who is a children’s teacher or a life long drug addicted screw-up cousin … it wouldn’t be an easy choice. I don’t think the “always” makes sense once you go beyond “peoples lives”. For example, if I had to lend €10,000 euros to my brother or closest friend…I highly doubt I would choose my brother.

    Sometimes choosing to be around toxic and never changing family members for years…is a poor decision which benefits your cousin little and decreases your own quality of life.

    Of course, once you introduce your own Children…I think we start to approach “almost always choosing your family”.


    Hmmm…so no absolute relatives then 🙂


    Ok, let’s assume he or she is your healthy twin, that you cannot imagine living without.


    Simon Paynton

    To be fair to Peter Singer, I’ve seen elsewhere that his formula is “the greatest good for each individual concerned”.  But this is incomplete, as it gives no guide for varying situations, such as a choice between family members or strangers.

    I believe I would never allow family member to die in order to save the lives of strangers: if it came to that situation, I would leave it up to the person themselves to decide.  But I think it’s an artificial question.

    Peter Singer’s scenario is not so much in saving the life of a family member versus that of a stranger, but helping a family member over saving the lives of strangers.


    @simon, it is no more an artificial question than the much overrated “Trolley Problem” question that is often considered by under-graduates. Hypothetical yes but sincere also. You have 30 seconds to decide which wire to cut. One will save your adored twin while the other will save X number of people. At what value of X (or n ≥ X) would you consider not saving your twin? I will assume you could live with allowing one stranger to die but at what point would it become too great a price to pay (or at what point would you consider the number large enough to be “immoral”)?



    Few people will deny here that a person is justified to help save the life of their twin over that of a stranger. We are talking about saving a life…a fairly rare occurrence. I have a defibrillator with one charge and will give it to my twin. There are few juries out there (assuming there even was a court case) who would fault the person.

    But there is a major difference between judging what is understandable than using a principle in a moral framework. When we go beyond these exceptional difficult flip a coin decisions, it becomes a lot less obvious that it is moral to protect the interests of a family members or close friends family over that of a stranger:

    -Lying to protect a family memeber

    -Awarding a scholarship to your friend’s children

    -Removing evidence that implicates a friend who is “unfairly” caught doing something they didn’t even do on purpose

    -Getting a doctor who is a friend to illegally bump up your brother to the top of the heart-surgery waiting list (a list objectively designed to save as many people as possible).

    An event that happened very frequently in Canada, was when the electricity went out in the -20ºC winters. Ice-storms, blizzards, black-ice etc. It was common to run electric lines to other streets if your street wasn’t affected. On one occasion we ran multiple lines to several houses to the point where were quite limited to the amount of electricity we could use…making life very uncomfortable for us (potentially dangerous but unlikely). Many fathers wouldn’t hesitate to keep their children as absolutely safe and nurtured as possible. My father thought it was morally repugnant to let neighbors freeze and live without electricity for a weekend because his children would be rather uncomfortable and would have to wear several sweaters and jackets with the very low chance that we could get sick. The law would be on our side. But how many moral systems would agree or disagree with my father?


    Simon Paynton

    What would they make of this article?

    – this article, about Islamophobia on the Left, is somewhat annoying.  It seems to be the classic narcissistic tactic of “shoot the messenger”, instead of a well-reasoned examination of the issues.  At the same time, I recognise that a lot of the criticisms of Islam from someone like Bill Maher can be simplistic and ignorant too.  The fact is, Islam isn’t going away, and if it did, the violence would remain, with different justifications.  So Islam has to provide answers to reducing violence within its own territories.


    At the same time, I recognise that a lot of the criticisms of Islam from someone like Bill Maher can be simplistic and ignorant too.

    Can you give examples of this. I find him very reasonable and know a few ex-Muslims who think he is spot on with his criticisms.


    Simon Paynton

    @regthefronkeyfarmer – you’re right, from the little I’ve seen of Bill Maher he’s just telling it like it is, and does seem very reasonable.  I guess I was talking more about some of the intemperate talk which gets bandied around about how Islam is evil and fascist, etc. and that’s all there is to it.

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