The Greater Good.

Status
Not open for further replies.

Charlie

Est. Contributor
Messages
3,449
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Sissy, Carer, Other
Example (to get you in the mood):

Suppose a terrorist has planted a bomb in a city in a secret place, and it's due to go off soon. If the bomb explodes it has the potential, depending on it's location, to kill thousands of people.
Fortunately the police have captured a man involved in the bomb plot, and have evidence that this man knows where the bomb is. All traditional means of interrogation have failed, and the clock is ticking.
The question is... would it be okay for the police to justifiably torture the bomb plotter? Would the Greater Good of saving lives be enough justification for torture, in your opinion? What about torturing his wife so that he gives up the location? His kids?

I'm not asking for a specific answer to that example, I personally don't like that thought experiment.

Another example:
You have a good friend who you've known for quite a number of years. Your friend is moving to another country, one that you're unlikely to visit, and the chances are you're never going to see her again. You wish her a tearful goodbye, so long.
On the way to the airport, your friend's car crashes, and she dies! This is unknown to you, but another one of your friends finds out about this. Your other friend decides that it is best to not tell you about her death. He figures that you will get upset, naturally, because of her death and he knows that you probably wouldn't have seen her again.
You may get annoyed that your friend never tries to email/keep in contact with you, but your annoyance and the process of losing a friend through never seeing her is no way near as bad as the hurt that you would feel if you lost her through death.
So the question is... Is your friend right to deceive you for the greater good? Is the lie (or absence of important truth) justified by the fact that it saves you a great deal of sadness?

So there's two examples...

Do you think that the greater good is the most important thing? Do you think that any action is acceptable if it aims for some greater good? Do you think that some things (like torture for example) are always wrong? What things (if any)? What does your religion (if you have one) say on the matter?
What do you think the greater good actually is?
(Don't dare quote each question and reply survey style... These are just things to consider.)

If you see any problems with the two examples, point them out...

Anyway, the actual point of this thread is to ask: How important do you think the consequences of an action is in determining whether it's right or wrong morally? Or: Is any action okay if it aims at the Greater Good?
 
Messages
1,421
Role
Diaper Lover, Babyfur, Carer, Other
My point of view on this is there is no right and wrong per se, but that right and wrong is relative to the situation and the person.

The "greater good" is non-existent because what might help one person might inadvertently hurt another(using the car crash as an example: although at the time you think it right to not tell that person, if they later find out what you did originally to protect them, may come back to bite you later. And they will experience both contempt to you and that exact sadness that you tried protecting them from.)

My belief is that no action is justified totally whether it is for good or bad, it comes down to the individual to justify the action, for example:

If you're on an island where human sacrifice is a great honour among the tribe, does this make the islanders wrong for this belief? In my belief no it doesn't, even though they are taking a human life,the Islanders see it as justified, even though from how I was raised and taught that killing was wrong it doesn't make them wrong for following their traditions. (Don't, and I say don't ask if a serial killer is justified from this philosophy, because my answer is yes, but it is not by society, thus retribution)

So, although you may think something is wrong or right or doing it for 'The Greater Good" it all comes down to the person doing the actions, if someone is to do something for the "Greater Good" they should be aware that just because it will help someone does not mean that it will do any good(or bad) for anyone else(refer to my example of Charlie F's car crash example).

No matter what you do or say "The Greater Good" doesn't truly exist, because the concept of a "Greater Good" would mean that it would be universally accepted that it was a morally correct decision which cannot exist.


Please note this is MY opinion, so if you're going to say something about it realize that it is my opinion and that I'm not telling you what to think, contrary to popular belief.

(Please excuse any typos, I'm tired, and Firefox isn't finding them)
 
Last edited:
E

Error404

Guest
There needs to be a limit in just what the greater good is. It's all fine and dandy until something goes wrong afterwards.

I quote [SIZE=-1]Mohandas[/SIZE] Gandhi.

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
 

Target

Est. Contributor
Messages
494
Role
Diaper Lover, Babyfur
As for your examples.

1) I'll not allow the use of torture simply because I think it is useless.
2) I think it will be better if this friend tell the truth just in case you'll discover it in the future.

I quote what Fallen said.
I don't think the greater good exist because it is not Absolute, is relative to somebody or something.
I think, in the end, the truth is painful, but always discovered, so it's better tell it as soon as is possible and do not lie.
 
Messages
3,464
Role
Private
First the first example... I'm one to take a simple approach and just torture the bastard. If you weren't able to procure that information, the chance of it going off before anyone could do anything would be much, much higher. Instead of killing thousands of innocent people and destroying the lives of manny more, you're harming - but not killing - one scumbag. It sounds like more than a fair enough trade off.

To me, that's the moral and ethical thing to do. Does the value of one asshole really outweigh the value of many innocent? Not at all in this particular circumstance. This isn't a case of "an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind" because this guy is willing to claim the lives of thousands. Besides, regardless of whether or not he gets tortured or not, he'll have to face the general public eventually - and I know that they'd want him dead anyway.

So in such an instance the two options are to torture the guy and in the process increase your chances to save many innocent lives. Or don't torture the guy, have a greater chance of many innocent people being needlessly killed. Either way, there would be a huge amount of public outcry to lock the guy up or even execute him. You may as well torture him, save innocent lives and get backlash from the public to sentence him to life in jail/death. As opposed to sparing him some pain for the pain of many thousands of people, you don't save any innocent lives and get backlash from the public to sentence him to life in jail/death.



As for the second scenario - ignorance is bliss. I've been told some things in my life that I just wished I never knew about. And in all those cases, my life just dropped low at those times. Either way, I'd never see the girl again, so I'd prefer to have her live on in my memory, knowing she's still out there, and hang on to good moments, than to have the pain and memory of finding out she died so shockingly.
 

Jaiden

Est. Contributor
Messages
686
Role
Private
Been reading up on your Mill and Bentham, Charlie?

I would say, briefly, that each action has worth in itself and that isn't changed by context - torturing a person is always wrong - and that shouldn't be forgotten. However, if you have a concept of good (and I'll ignore the arguments of moral relativism for the moment because it's interesting) then it seems natural to have a concept of utility maximization so if a bad thing has to be done to cause something good then the net outcome is still good and you're in the right. If good exists, the greater good exists.

Now, that all makes sense in theory but it doesn't give itself well to a structured society so we need to consider every bad/illegal deed in its own right and on its own merits. The moral worth of one thing is determined only by what happened and that has to be the case in any sound philosophy of law but if you're asking whether my moral code would permit me to torture a man to save thousands, then I would say yes, it would. For me the action is not made acceptable but it is necessary; we cannot tolerate any action that is for the greater good - even if such a thing could be evaluated - because society needs equal laws and so the same things must be forbidden to all, but my personal moral code would allow me to do such a thing in such an extraordinary setting.

Consequences matter in morality but you can't defeat something by becoming it so individual actions in themselves should never be taken lightly.
 

Entity

Est. Contributor
Messages
1,196
Role
Diaper Lover, Private
1): Of course we should torture him. However the term "torture" has a rather subjective definition. My idea of torture is not with pain and agony. The most resilient and determined men in the world will never give in to that. Rather,... tickle the subject while he is bound in a way so that he cannot move. I mean to do stuff like take a feather and stick it in his ear or the nose. Since pain is so often used as a means of extracting information, people have developed a sort of resistance to it. With tickling, no one has ever used it. So therefore the subject will give in, eventually.

2): What we don't know won't hurt us. Although it would be very depressing if we found out.
 

Allanon

Contributor
Messages
180
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Babyfur
Without a doubt (concerning the terrorist example). I don't think it's right to torture his wife and kids, as they have no direct involvement, but you could probably find a use for them that would not involve killing or harming them, that would cause him to reveal the location of the bomb.

I don't think there's any greater good about the friend story. I'd rather know the truth than go on being annoyed at someone for not keeping contact. Plus I imagine that after not recieiving any contact from him/her, I'd be trying to find out what is going on, and I'd end up finding out anyway - and I'd lose two friends. I'd be pissed at the friend who lied to me, perhaps for a very long time considering the gravity of the lie, and I'd have lost the friend who died as well.

I guess I'm sort of an "ends justify the means" sort of person, but I don't blindly apply that to every situation. If the right things for the right reason don't work, it's time to move on to the wrong things for the right reason.

A lot of times too, depending on the situation, what is good in one situation, is evil in another. Good and Evil are sometimes very situational concepts.
 
Messages
297
Role
Diaper Lover, Babyfur, Carer
I don't believe in right and wrong, good and evil, or the greater good because honestly about 90 percent of the worlds population needs to die for the other 10 percent to survive in the long run. So to be honest I would probably shoot the guy and let the bomb explode it would suck ass for a little bit but then everyone would be united against terrorism again people would enlist in the military in higher numbers then two years later we would be bickering and at each others throats until there was another such attack. Or I would just put his family in the city and tell him that if he didn't tell me the location of the bomb that his family would die and he would be thrown in jail for the rest of his life knowing that he killed his own family.
To the second option I would rather be told about my friends death and grieve appropriately because I don't believe in god preserving someones memory is the best thing you can do for them in death. So I would rather remember them as a great friend who changed my life forever, than a fake asshole that left the country and never contacted me again.
Edit: (Not saying that I would ever kill someone unless the situation called for it, I might sound a little crazy but I follow most laws because I would rather kill myself than go to jail)
 
Last edited:

Martin

Est. Contributor
Messages
3,833
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Little
It all depends on the context for instance in the first example: I see it as a choice between two evils, 1: torture 1 person and that way it being possible that only he will be hurt or 2: kill lots of people due to failure of you taking action. In the second case you're passively killing lots of people. The right of living is also a human right, as is it to not be tortured. But in this case that guy is wanting to kill lots of people and therefore depriving them of the right of living, why should he get his rights?

I'm really straight forward when it comes to killers and terrorists, they are going against the most fundamental human right (the right of living) so why would the human rights apply to them if they ignore it?

Torturing his wife would be wrong as she didn't do anything other then marry him, if she was also in the plot I wouldn't mind. Also fooling the terrorist into believing that his wife is being tortured is fine in my eyes.

With the second example: I'd like to know other then to find out some other way because the truth will always come some day. I think I'd rather know then to find out some strange way.



The greater good is a very stretchable thing, it is different for each situation. Break everything up into choices like I did in the first example and choose the lesser evil.
 

ShippoFox

Est. Contributor
Messages
3,019
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Babyfur, Diaperfur, Little, Other
Example 1: I'd say it's okay beat up on the terrorist a bit. Once he gives the location though, there's no reason to continue. And torturing family members would just be unfair and cruel. Also, I think torture is a bad idea when there's no immediate danger, so I don't always approve of it.

Example 2: I'd rather know the truth. I would be angry if someone kept a secret like that from me.
 

tom

Messages
437
Role
Diaper Lover
Another example: A comany gives some of its profits to charity. They do this for tax reasons, as by doing this they actually get more net profit. Is this morally right?

My opinion: It is of course not been done for the right motive. But I would not class it as immoral. It is not a good action, but then neither is it a bad action. The charity still benefits.


But as Marty said..it very much depends on the situation.
 

Charlie

Est. Contributor
Messages
3,449
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Sissy, Carer, Other
1) I'll not allow the use of torture simply because I think it is useless.
2) I think it will be better if this friend tell the truth just in case you'll discover it in the future.
One the first example, this is why I don't really like the thought experiment. I think that using torture probably would be useless, and there's better ways of getting information from people.
Just to clarify the second example: Lets assume that you never find out the truth. Does that effect the opinions of those who were against it because you feared that the truth would inevitably come out? Pretend that this case did happen, a long time ago, and the person never found the truth. Was it right in hindsight?
As for the second scenario - ignorance is bliss.
2): What we don't know won't hurt us.
I'm quite surprised at those answers. I chose the two example that I did because I figured the bomber one would have a lot of support for the greater good idea, and the being lied to example would have people against it.

Perhaps it's just me, because I find the idea of having important information hidden from me "for my own good" quite infuriating. I see the second example as being really patronising and condescending.
I'm really straight forward when it comes to killers and terrorists, they are going against the most fundamental human right (the right of living) so why would the human rights apply to them if they ignore it?

Torturing his wife would be wrong as she didn't do anything other then marry him, if she was also in the plot I wouldn't mind.
Example 1: I'd say it's okay beat up on the terrorist a bit. Once he gives the location though, there's no reason to continue. And torturing family members would just be unfair and cruel. Also, I think torture is a bad idea when there's no immediate danger, so I don't always approve of it.
Without a doubt (concerning the terrorist example). I don't think it's right to torture his wife and kids, as they have no direct involvement, but you could probably find a use for them that would not involve killing or harming them, that would cause him to reveal the location of the bomb.
This is interesting. So the terrorist has waved his right to not be tortured, by waving the right of not being murder of the innocent people. But the terrorist's wife, Mrs. Terrorist, who is unaware of her husband's secret career shouldn't be tortured. Is that even if the city's people's lives depend on her being tortured?

...
No matter what you do or say "The Greater Good" doesn't truly exist, because the concept of a "Greater Good" would mean that it would be universally accepted that it was a morally correct decision which cannot exist.
This is my problem with the Greater Good, one man's greater good differs from the next man's.

Do you (anyone) think that there's something that should be universally accepted? Are some people just wrong?

So to be honest I would probably shoot the guy and let the bomb explode it would suck ass for a little bit but then everyone would be united against terrorism again people would enlist in the military in higher numbers then two years later we would be bickering and at each others throats until there was another such attack.
Wow... I've heard quite a few responses to the first example, but I have never heard that before!

Been reading up on your Mill and Bentham, Charlie?
Maybe... Although what prompted this thread was actually Machiavelli, and the idea that the ends justify the means...
I guess I'm sort of an "ends justify the means" sort of person, but I don't blindly apply that to every situation. If the right things for the right reason don't work, it's time to move on to the wrong things for the right reason.
I'm quite against doing wrong things for right reasons, mainly because what the right reason is aiming at (the greater good) is debatable. Is there anything that you would rule out, like a wrong thing that you would always be against even if doing it would be for the right reason?

I think about September the 11th, and how certain people who were involved in those attacks would probably think what they were doing was 'wrong' (wrong is probably the wrong word) yet would happily do it because they believe they are doing something bad but for the right reasons. Whose to say that extreme Islam isn't the greatest good? Maybe the attacks were aiming at the greatest good, and were fully justified!
I don't expect anyone here to agree with that, but I'm sure that some people involved would have definitely thought that.

Now twist that around... How do we know that what we consider to be the greatest good is in fact good at all? Aren't we just as swayed into believing certain things as extremists?
And if that's the case, can we say that certain people, or countries are wrong in what they believe?
 

Martin

Est. Contributor
Messages
3,833
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Little
This is interesting. So the terrorist has waved his right to not be tortured, by waving the right of not being murder of the innocent people. But the terrorist's wife, Mrs. Terrorist, who is unaware of her husband's secret career shouldn't be tortured. Is that even if the city's people's lives depend on her being tortured?
There must be ways of making him believe you are torturing her but aren't actually.
 

kite

Est. Contributor
Messages
1,936
Role
Diaper Lover, Diaperfur, Carer
There must be ways of making him believe you are torturing her but aren't actually.
actually, there could be. there were experiments done back in the 70's (they're those morality spams that you read amongst the net) where someone was made to believe that the person that they could not see in the other room was being shocked as they gave a wrong answer and as such, each wrong answer made the voltage go up. the person was never harmed but i think a good majority went all the way up to the maximum voltage. so by turning a tourturous event around you could say, give her and her children a decent sum of money that the government of choice wipes with on a daily basis (oh say a measly $100,000 on behalf of a good acting job). hell, even bring in his mother and other relatives if possible. but (and this is a big but) all torture in the world will not bring you answers.
if the guy was smart he would have a loose connections of allies waiting for certain signals or conditions to be met. if not they would allow the bomb to go off. underestimating your enemy is the worst thing you can do, worse than torture.
thus, if you plan on torturing, be my guest but i guess you never knew that cyanide pills can be taken on the onset of torture like prisoners have done in the past... then what?
so you've lowered your moral level below his so where does that make you stand? are you now better or worse off in your eyes? how about your friends, or would you have any untainted ones after that point?
torture has never given sustainable results. it's just a way for certain people to assert power. consider it more of a bunch of guys playing the bigger penis competition. the people that governments love to torture are just pawns anyway. they use it as a way to 'play tough' when in reality, these people have nothing to live for and the actual masterminds get off again... and again... ad nausium.
that's why i say no to torture, because you don't get any validating, reliable info in return from someone that has nothing to live for.
 

Allanon

Contributor
Messages
180
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Babyfur
This is interesting. So the terrorist has waved his right to not be tortured, by waving the right of not being murder of the innocent people. But the terrorist's wife, Mrs. Terrorist, who is unaware of her husband's secret career shouldn't be tortured. Is that even if the city's people's lives depend on her being tortured?
I didn't even suggest this. I said that if Mr. Terrorist had information whereas all other methods of torture had been failed, I would not be above threatening his family (but not causing them actual physical harm) to try and extract information.

I'm not sure I'm reading your first sentence right - do you mean to say that Mr. Terrorist has waived his right to not be tortured, by being a murderer of innocent people? Maybe I did suggest what you said then, lol :p

I'm quite against doing wrong things for right reasons, mainly because what the right reason is aiming at (the greater good) is debatable. Is there anything that you would rule out, like a wrong thing that you would always be against even if doing it would be for the right reason?
I only have *my* version of good to work off of. As it was a personal question, I gave an answer which would apply to me.

-------------

This kind of moral question is flawed - it is incredibly situational, not only just to the facts at hand, but to the specific person making the decisions. As I said before, I don't have a blanket answer to all situations. I can only take in mind what I think is the greater good and figure out how I feel about the specific situation from there. The best we can do is give a sort of generic answer that we would apply to most situations.
 

eddy200

Est. Contributor
Messages
250
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover
There are much more efficent methods of information extraction like truth serium, or whatever you may call it, and works much much better then what many establishments would like the general populace to believe. And its not like some secret recepies cooked up by the CIA or anything, alcahol, laughing gas, LSD and other common drugs and the right enviroment can make people quite chatty. Actually, creating a comfortable, familiar enviroment is really the key.
However, that is somewhat ignoring the inial experiment; given the two choices as the only otions available, I would torture him, his wife, and kids if neccessary. All the "every life is precious" bullshit is absolute crap. That mentality of thinking around world war one and world war two era on the part of the U.S. would have likly resulted in a largly NAZI europe today with a complete absence of jews, gays, bisexuals, tran's, and anyone that wasn't blond haired and blue'ed. (a little exageratted here, but i think you know what I'm getting at)

As for the dead friend, I would have wanted to know, as for me it would not have been better to think of her as alive when she is really dead. That naive mentality of thinking that everything is fine doesn't fly with me. Shit happens, and sometimes it hurts, but I'd rather know, heal and move on than to keep believing in what isn't. Ignorance is just that, ignorance. Now maybe if I was a kid when It happened, like 12ish or younger, then I think the parent may have cause to not inform the child depending on the child's emotional stability, but that would definatly be a case by case decision.
 

Mysterious

Contributor
Messages
487
Role
Adult Baby, Sissy
I say for the first situation I would torture the man if there was no other way to get information from him. Not his family, just him. If he is going to try and kill that many lives, and is in custody, wouldn't he get the death penalty anyway? Anyway, I just think that one life trying to take numerous others deserves the crap beat out of it.

Second one, I would tell the person, mostly to get it off my chest so it's not like I have to be alone with that. Just something like that over my head would drive me mad. And, as a good friend of the person, I think they deserve to know the truth about something like that.

These situations just seem like finding the lesser evil, which, can be interesting to see what others think about these sorts of things, nice thread Charlie.
 

Allanon

Contributor
Messages
180
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Babyfur
I know it's a bunch of BS when applied to real world workings, but I'd rather not "become the enemy" in order to fight the enemy.

But, quoting Dark Knight:

"I've seen what I'd have to become to fight that man."

Sometimes it takes evil to prevent evil. It's not a pretty fact but I guess it's reality.
 

ShippoFox

Est. Contributor
Messages
3,019
Role
Adult Baby, Diaper Lover, Babyfur, Diaperfur, Little, Other
This is interesting. So the terrorist has waved his right to not be tortured, by waving the right of not being murder of the innocent people. But the terrorist's wife, Mrs. Terrorist, who is unaware of her husband's secret career shouldn't be tortured. Is that even if the city's people's lives depend on her being tortured?
Yes, because she's innocent. She didn't do anything, so it's cruel and wrong for her to be tortured.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top