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Old 02-25-2006, 05:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What should the brain do?

I got a kick out of this. Warning: May not be for everyone. Symptoms range from severe bordom to severe laughter.

Consider the following case:

On Twin Earth, a brain in a vat is at the wheel of a runaway trolley. There are only two options that the brain can take: the right side of the fork in the track or the left side of the fork. There is no way in sight of derailing or stopping the trolley and the brain is aware of this, for the brain knows trolleys. The brain is causally hooked up to the trolley such that the brain can determine the course which the trolley will take.

On the right side of the track there is a single railroad worker, Jones, who will definitely be killed if the brain steers the trolley to the right. If the railman on the right lives, he will go on to kill five men for the sake of killing them, but in doing so will inadvertently save the lives of thirty orphans (one of the five men he will kill is planning to destroy a bridge that the orphans' bus will be crossing later that night). One of the orphans that will be killed would have grown up to become a tyrant who would make good utilitarian men do bad things. Another of the orphans would grow up to become G.E.M. Anscombe, while a third would invent the pop-top can.

If the brain in the vat chooses the left side of the track, the trolley will definitely hit and kill a railman on the left side of the track, "Leftie" and will hit and destroy ten beating hearts on the track that could (and would) have been transplanted into ten patients in the local hospital that will die without donor hearts. These are the only hearts available, and the brain is aware of this, for the brain knows hearts. If the railman on the left side of the track lives, he too will kill five men, in fact the same five that the railman on the right would kill. However, "Leftie" will kill the five as an unintended consequence of saving ten men: he will inadvertently kill the five men rushing the ten hearts to the local hospital for transplantation. A further result of "Leftie's" act would be that the busload of orphans will be spared. Among the five men killed by "Leftie" are both the man responsible for putting the brain at the controls of the trolley, and the author of this example. If the ten hearts and "Leftie" are killed by the trolley, the ten prospective heart-transplant patients will die and their kidneys will be used to save the lives of twenty kidney-transplant patients, one of whom will grow up to cure cancer, and one of whom will grow up to be Hitler. There are other kidneys and dialysis machines available, however the brain does not know kidneys, and this is not a factor.

Assume that the brain's choice, whatever it turns out to be, will serve as an example to other brains-in-vats and so the effects of his decision will be amplified. Also assume that if the brain chooses the right side of the fork, an unjust war free of war crimes will ensue, while if the brain chooses the left fork, a just war fraught with war crimes will result. Furthermore, there is an intermittently active Cartesian demon deceiving the brain in such a manner that the brain is never sure if it is being deceived.

QUESTION: What should the brain do?

[ALTERNATIVE EXAMPLE: Same as above, except the brain has had a commisurotomy, and the left half of the brain is a consequentialist and the right side is an absolutist.]

http://www.mindspring.com/~mfpatton/Tissues.htm
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Old 02-25-2006, 07:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Right Consequences:
Kills Jones
10 donor pateints live
"lefty" inadvertenly kills 5 men rushing hearts to hospital
Therefore inadvertently saves 30 orphans
Tyrant, G.E.M. Anscombe, pop-top can
No livers, but Hitler and cure cancer with dialysis
unjust war free of war crimes

Left Consequences:
Jones Lives
Jones kills 5 men
Jones inadvertently saves 30 orphans
Tyrant, G.E.M. Anscombe, pop-top can
Kills "lefty"
Destroys 10 donor hearts
10 heart patients die, donate 20 livers
Hitler and cure cancer
Just war with war crimes

Author and person responsible for puttin brain on rail die either way, and a demon may be decieving

Brain knows:
Right: Kill Jones
Left: Kill Lefty, destroy 10 hearts

I would guess that the brain goes right, but I probably dont get it
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Old 02-25-2006, 09:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It's a satire, not a punch-line joke or a riddle. If you click on the link, at the bottom there are two links that describe the joke.

Humor is wasted on the serious.
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Old 02-26-2006, 04:06 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Follow the third code of Kang, turn right.

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Old 02-26-2006, 06:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hahahahaha Zeraph, that was hilarious!
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Old 02-26-2006, 09:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I dunno, I didn't find it funny at all. What did yall find funny about it? Are you guys philosophy majors?
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Old 02-26-2006, 03:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I suppose only philosophy people would get it... I'm lost.
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Old 02-26-2006, 08:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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(O_0).....

that's almost as dumb as the clown joke..... almost.....
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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So the philosopher says "That is quite a dilemma. What do you call it?"

And the Brain in the Jar says "The Aristocrats!"
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Old 02-27-2006, 02:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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To answer the question posed in the headline: What should the brain do?

The same thing it does every other day, Pinkie, try to take over the world!
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Old 02-27-2006, 02:50 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanblah
To answer the question posed in the headline: What should the brain do?

The same thing it does every other day, Pinkie, try to take over the world!

Very nice!
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Old 02-27-2006, 04:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanblah
To answer the question posed in the headline: What should the brain do?

The same thing it does every other day, Pinkie, try to take over the world!
Vanblah wins
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Old 02-27-2006, 09:33 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBen
So the philosopher says "That is quite a dilemma. What do you call it?"

And the Brain in the Jar says "The Aristocrats!"

hahaha... that's awesome, I actually got the reference...
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