Mati_Roy

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What ethical thought experiments can be reversed?

I feel like this is something different; X isn't proven true or false here -- we just prove that if X then Y, and then also if ~Y then ~X

What ethical thought experiments can be reversed?

Ah, I actually had just came up with that one (am now realizing "original" wasn't the right word for this one) -- thanks for bringing up this "paradox"!

What ethical thought experiments can be reversed?

The violinist

Original:

  1. We should save the violinist
  2. Fetuses are like violinists
  3. Therefore we should save fetuses

Reverse:

  1. We don't care about fetuses
  2. Violinists are like fetuses
  3. Therefore we don't care about violinists (metaphorically)
What ethical thought experiments can be reversed?

Infanticide

Original:

  1. We don't care about killing a baby before birth
  2. A baby 1 minutes after birth is almost the same as a baby 1 minute before birth
  3. Therefore we don't care about killing a 1 minute-old baby

Reversed:

  1. We care about killing a 1 minute-old baby
  2. A baby 1 minutes after birth is almost the same as a baby 1 minute before birth
  3. Therefore we care about killing a baby before birth
What ethical thought experiments can be reversed?

The Non-identity problem

Original:

  1. We only care about things if they are bad/good for someone
  2. Using a lot of resources isn't bad for people in the future, it just changes who lives in the future
  3. Therefore we don't mind that people in the future are having a bad time because of our consumption

Reversed:

  1. We care that people in the future are having a bad time because of our consumption
  2. Consuming isn't bad for specific people in the future, it just changes who lives in the future
  3. Therefore we don't only care about thing if they are bad/good* for someone, but also about what kind of lives we bring into existence
What ethical thought experiments can be reversed?

Dust specs vs torture

I feel like this one was presented as a clash of 2 intuitions, so both the "reversed" is also in the original presentation.

Original:

  1. We prefer X people experiencing Y pain than 1,000 people experiencing 2*Y pain AND this preference is true for all X, Y element of the real numbers
  2. This can be chained together multiple times
  3. We prefer 1 person experiencing 50 years of torture to a googolplex people having specs of dust in their eyes

Reversed:

  1. We prefer a googolplex people having specs of dust in their eyes to 1 person experiencing 50 years of torture
  2. There's some threshold of pain for which we care lexically more about
  3. We can more about 1 person experiencing slightly more pain than this threshold than a large number of people experiencing slightly less pain than this threshold

keyword to search: lexical threshold negative hedonistic utilitarianism

What ethical thought experiments can be reversed?

Experience machine

Original:

  1. We only care about our happiness
  2. An hypothetical happiness machine could bring us the most happiness
  3. Therefore we want to live in happiness machine

Reversed:

  1. We don't want to live in an happiness machine
  2. An happiness machine only brings us happiness
  3. Therefore we care about other things than happiness
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