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EGarrett
7th January 2011, 04:38 AM
This is split-off from the blunt knife thread because I think it's a very important topic. The basic question is, how much inconvenience do you think is worth saving one life?

Now I will ramble...

if having all kitchen knives be dull-edged saves one life, then its worth it.I believe the logic in this post has also lead to the naked-body scanners we now see in airports, believing that saving one handful of people from the POTENTIAL danger of an underwear bomber (note that the underwear bomber failed miserably and didn't kill anyone) is worth the stress and embarrassment of literally hundreds of millions of airport passengers who will get invasively scanned and patted down over the coming years.

Well, I've thought about it, and my stance is that this logic is wrong. Stopping a small amount of accidental or emotional stabbing deaths is NOT worth denying millions of others the convenience of having knives in their home to use as tools. Likewise, stressing out or embarrassing hundreds of millions of airline passengers is NOT worth preventing the remote possibility of an attempted underwear bomber getting on a plane.

Death is worse than a small amount of inconvenience, certainly, but it is not INFINITELY worse. There IS a point where large amounts of unhappiness or inconvenience start to become less desirable than someone dying accidentally. And I think that society has proven me right.

My arguments:

1) I think everyone will agree that spending the rest of your life in permanent agonizing pain is worse than being killed right now.
2) Society has already determined that preventing a hundred accidental falling deaths each year is NOT worth stopping people from having the convenience of high-rise apartments and office buildings nor the pleasure of open-air balconies.
3) I believe everyone who will read this has also already chosen the convenience of driving a car over the risk of dying in an auto-accident. And many others choose the pleasure of a fast and aesthetically-pleasing sports car over the safety of a mini-van.

Now, the other questions, that I will speak more about in later replies so as not to make this post too long: HOW much inconvenience is worth one accidental death? (I'm thinking of a scale of about 1 million to 1), and what about NON-ACCIDENTAL deaths? Exactly how many people's happiness or convenience is required in order to justify murdering a single person? I had a very interesting thought on that one.

calebprime
7th January 2011, 06:07 AM
Glad you posted this, this was my question as well.

My pet peeve is the now-ubiquitous beeping from trucks and vans in reverse.

There's no escaping it, even at three a.m. (Yes, I wear ear-plugs and noise-cancelling headphones on top of that, and I built a "quiet room" at great expense, but those are imperfect solutions to the noise issue. No, medication is not the answer.)

But if it saves even one life...it's worth it?

Someone here will argue that cost-benefit analysis yields rational results, but aren't the calculations always balancing things that are incommensurate?

We ought to take all the consequences of a safety feature into account, but that's not going to happen.

JAStewart
7th January 2011, 06:17 AM
I notice Thunder suggesting dull edged kitchen knifes.

'Baddies' will just sharpen theirs up.

This line of debate can be touchy - we're going to end up deciding whether or not to pull the plug on someone's life support because the care and attention they're receiving could be better spent elsewhere.

Go Down, Moses
7th January 2011, 06:20 AM
This line of debate can be touchy - we're going to end up deciding whether or not to pull the plug on someone's life support because the care and attention they're receiving could be better spent elsewhere.


In a world of finite resources, how else can it be?

Wudang
7th January 2011, 06:21 AM
How many people die in car crashes? Let's ban all private transport now and make the roads so empty that required public transport will have loads of room to avoid crashes.

If it saves even 1 life it's worth it.

How many people die by choking on food while chewing? Let's make all food be sold in single safe-mouthload sized sachets and prechewed to avoid choking.

If it......

aggle-rithm
7th January 2011, 06:22 AM
My brother is a civil engineer for a highway construction company here in Texas (they make a LOT of highways here in Texas). He is a firm believer in the idea that inconveniencing many people is a small price to pay to save one life.

He once delayed re-opening of a stretch of highway that was closed for overnight repair because he didn't feel it was safe to drive on (the transition between newly paved lanes and old lanes was too steep and might cause cars to lose control). The resulting traffic jam was described by local radio as a "nightmare". He never regretted causing it for a second.

He often doesn't see eye-to-eye with management on this issue. He once attended a meeting where they discussed how the severe injuries of two contractors could have been avoided. They were rushing through repairs on an overpass because of an "emergency" situation (the highway had to be reopened in a short period of time). My brother argued that there was no "emergency". Inconveniencing people, even thousands or milliions of them, is not an "emergency", and avoiding such inconvenience is not worth risking lives.

I think he has a point, but then I'm not in his industry.

JAStewart
7th January 2011, 06:25 AM
aggle, that sounds like a job for http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_zJv17X2CI4c/TNQAr-cg__I/AAAAAAAAB_E/YB4Eo2gws4E/s1600/Captain+Hindsight.png

I Am The Scum
7th January 2011, 06:44 AM
My brother is a civil engineer for a highway construction company here in Texas (they make a LOT of highways here in Texas). He is a firm believer in the idea that inconveniencing many people is a small price to pay to save one life.

He once delayed re-opening of a stretch of highway that was closed for overnight repair because he didn't feel it was safe to drive on (the transition between newly paved lanes and old lanes was too steep and might cause cars to lose control). The resulting traffic jam was described by local radio as a "nightmare". He never regretted causing it for a second.

He often doesn't see eye-to-eye with management on this issue. He once attended a meeting where they discussed how the severe injuries of two contractors could have been avoided. They were rushing through repairs on an overpass because of an "emergency" situation (the highway had to be reopened in a short period of time). My brother argued that there was no "emergency". Inconveniencing people, even thousands or milliions of them, is not an "emergency", and avoiding such inconvenience is not worth risking lives.

I think he has a point, but then I'm not in his industry.

It seems fair that a distinction should be made between short-term and long-term inconvenience. Being forbidden from one thing eternally (pointy knives) is not the same thing as going through something once (a morning traffic jam).

WildCat
7th January 2011, 07:47 AM
My brother is a civil engineer for a highway construction company here in Texas (they make a LOT of highways here in Texas). He is a firm believer in the idea that inconveniencing many people is a small price to pay to save one life.

He once delayed re-opening of a stretch of highway that was closed for overnight repair because he didn't feel it was safe to drive on (the transition between newly paved lanes and old lanes was too steep and might cause cars to lose control). The resulting traffic jam was described by local radio as a "nightmare". He never regretted causing it for a second.

He often doesn't see eye-to-eye with management on this issue. He once attended a meeting where they discussed how the severe injuries of two contractors could have been avoided. They were rushing through repairs on an overpass because of an "emergency" situation (the highway had to be reopened in a short period of time). My brother argued that there was no "emergency". Inconveniencing people, even thousands or milliions of them, is not an "emergency", and avoiding such inconvenience is not worth risking lives.

I think he has a point, but then I'm not in his industry.
What does he think about lowering the speed limit to 5 mph? We could save thousands of lives that way!

Ocelot
7th January 2011, 07:58 AM
It's a matter of comparing apples with oranges. I often make a similar point when confronted with the aphorism that it is better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man is jailed. Why ten I ask. What about a hundred, thousand or a million. Is it better that the entire prison population go free than one innocent man is jailed? It's a racing certainty that there's at least one innocent man in jail right now. It's not that I disagree with the presumption of innocence in criminal cases or a high burden of proof before taking punitive action against a person, it's the unthinkingly trite equivalence being made between an innocent man being imprisoned and ten guilty men going free. Rarely is this thought out in measurable and comparable quantities. Is it really true that ten serial killers going free results in less harm than an innocent man being sentenced to life imprisonment.

In the case in point (pardon the pun) we have to balance that harm caused by such restrictions against the harm that would be avoided were they in place.

It is possible to make some sort of assessment.

On the one hand we have the nanny haters pointing out that anybody wanting a large pointy knife would simply have to grind a point onto one of the new style kitchen knives (or even easier use any of the tens of millions already in circulation as old style kitchen knives prior to the adoption of the suggestion or the many large pointy knives sold for other purposes) This is of course quite right but only relevant in pointing out that the proposal is not aimed at reducing the harm from those types of attack but rather towards making the sort of knife reached for in the spur of the moment less lethal.

So we can attempt to find stats on the number of these sorts of attacks and make an estimate of what rate lives would be saved at, if they were transformed into a slightly different type of attack.

On the other hand we have the nanny haters debating what sort of inconvenience it would be to them to not have long sharp knives available. Mostly conflating the actual proposal with more draconian measure aimed at all pointed knives rather than just the sort responsible for the injuries being targeted. I recognised only one semi legitimate example: Opening cans, can't be done with a less substantial pointy knife, can't be done with a weightier knife without a point. However it can be achieved using other far more appropriate equipment.

In fact for all the spitting of feathers about how great an inconvenience it would be to not have a long pointy knife I could see no concrete example that genuinely disputed the doctor's consultation with top chefs that no kitchen task requires a blade to be both long and pointy.

However there were more general inconveniences surrounding any form of regulation. Legislation must be drafted, activities must be monitored and infractions enforced. Manufacturers and importers must retool, change procedures and check compliance. Depending upon the details individual knife users may also face various possible stresses of ensuring compliance even if only a general sense on unease at yet another slice of liberty being removed.

For this to be done requires more details as to the specifics of the proposal. If all knives are to be surrendered there's clearly far more inconvenience to a wider range of people than if only manufacture or retail is affected. Is it to be mandated with penalties or simply incentivised though taxation. Each carry different burdens.

The with all that done you must attempt to balance one set of harms against the other and that's where the real problems come in.

One the one side we have a vanishingly few number of very important lives. One the other hand we have a small inconvenience being born by a huge number of people. To which we assign the most importance is largely subjective. For most people the inconvenience is more important because it's their inconvenience and that of people close to them whereas in all likelihood the lives that would otherwise be lost are those of distant anonymous strangers. For a few it will be the other way round. Even looking at it dispassionately we're in apples and oranges territory. It's not an objective equation.

In the end no-one paid any attention to the doctors proposal so the point is moot (and still pointy)

Thunder
7th January 2011, 08:10 AM
traffic on a 4-lane interstate gets stopped for miles, so emergency personnel can rescue a pregnant woman from a crashed car in the middle of the road.

Saving one person's life is INDEED worth inconveniencing millions of others. That's why our society is soo cool.

casebro
7th January 2011, 08:45 AM
Can a society survive if the average 'end of life expenses' get higher than the average persons life time earnings?

Is that called "bankruptcy" or merely "a growth segment of the economy"?

Schrodinger's Cat
7th January 2011, 10:16 AM
It depends on if the inconvenience is temporary or long term/permanent, as Scrum pointed out, there is a big distinction.

Shutting down or slowing traffic for a day to save one life? Yes, I think that absolutely is worth the inconvenience. One group of people (those on the highway) inconvenienced for one day is not going to affect overall quality of life, services, etc.


Changing the driving laws so that no one in the country can EVER drive faster than 20 MPH to reduce traffic deaths, therefor making the inconvenience a permanent one that affects everyone? I would think that would not be worth it.

Beerina
7th January 2011, 10:17 AM
Can a society survive if the average 'end of life expenses' get higher than the average persons life time earnings?

Is that called "bankruptcy" or merely "a growth segment of the economy"?

Let capitalism invent all that **** first, then we'll talk. The choice isn't between all that wonderful medicine at expensive prices vs. cheap prices. That's the fraudulent choice government offers.

The real choice is between all that expensive invention and high costs to pay for it, or lower costs without all that.

Society is better off with the former, if actually saving the most lives is what's important. Expensive 2011-level medicine that some people have a tough time affording is far better at saving lives than "free", government-provided 1980-level medicine. As the decades drift by, how far behind where we otherwise would be, are we, due to the cumulative effect of business-unfriendly political climates around the world? Perhaps our 2011-level care is really 1990-level care to an alternate world with Europe having a business climate like the US's? Perhaps the US, invention juggernaut that it is (compared to the wheezing, profit-punishing economies around the world) would do even better with even less taxation and regulation.


Nah. I'm sure that wouldn't be the case. That would make all the people with kind hearts into first-rate mass murderers. Internal meme narratives would never allow that to occur, in your mind.

Drudgewire
7th January 2011, 10:26 AM
No.

Ocelot
7th January 2011, 10:38 AM
Let capitalism invent all that **** first, then we'll talk. The choice isn't between all that wonderful medicine at expensive prices vs. cheap prices. That's the fraudulent choice government offers.


I'm impressed at the durability of that hobby horse of yours. You ride it everywhere and no matter how many times it's been debunked you never fail to trot it out once more at the slightest provocation. How about you take it back to the threads where Rolfe and others chopped it up and used it for firewood. It don't belong here.

Schrodinger's Cat
7th January 2011, 10:39 AM
Let capitalism invent all that **** first, then we'll talk. The choice isn't between all that wonderful medicine at expensive prices vs. cheap prices. That's the fraudulent choice government offers.

The real choice is between all that expensive invention and high costs to pay for it, or lower costs without all that.

Society is better off with the former, if actually saving the most lives is what's important. Expensive 2011-level medicine that some people have a tough time affording is far better at saving lives than "free", government-provided 1980-level medicine. As the decades drift by, how far behind where we otherwise would be, are we, due to the cumulative effect of business-unfriendly political climates around the world? Perhaps our 2011-level care is really 1990-level care to an alternate world with Europe having a business climate like the US's? Perhaps the US, invention juggernaut that it is (compared to the wheezing, profit-punishing economies around the world) would do even better with even less taxation and regulation.


Nah. I'm sure that wouldn't be the case. That would make all the people with kind hearts into first-rate mass murderers. Internal meme narratives would never allow that to occur, in your mind.

This thread is not about government financial policies. We get it. You like the free market. You don't need to derail threads to make that point. I'm sure there are forums completely devoted to nothing else but this topic you can go to, instead of looking for any excuse you can to derail other peoples' discussions so we can talk about what YOU want to instead. In fact, there are even sections on this very forum filled with RELEVENT threads for you to have this discussion: the politics and economics threads.

EGarrett
7th January 2011, 12:02 PM
traffic on a 4-lane interstate gets stopped for miles, so emergency personnel can rescue a pregnant woman from a crashed car in the middle of the road.

Saving one person's life is INDEED worth inconveniencing millions of others. That's why our society is soo cool.Ah, but your example involved inconveniencing a thousand people to save 2 lives. That's a 500-1 ratio. I'm asking about a 1,000,000 to 1 ratio. An order of magnitude that's over a thousand times larger. So, what if it required stopping traffic all over the country to save a woman who wasn't pregnant? Would you still support it?

sadhatter
7th January 2011, 12:13 PM
I think it is all in the effectiveness of a method.

For example, making knives non pointy will not do a thing because 1. A dull knife is still going in if someone wants it to, and with not that much more effort than a non dull one. 2. If someone is a nasty person they will just find any rock and put a point back on.

As for trucks beeping, well that seems effective as long as it can be heard over other noises. If one is standing behind a truck and hears a telltale beep, they will more than likely get out of the way.

So my answer would be , on a case by case basis. I don't mind going through an eye rolling scenario, if indeed it has the potential to save a life. But when it simply has the appearance of being able to save a life, not so much.

MG1962
7th January 2011, 12:25 PM
Blunt knives cause more cutting injuries than sharp ones

Thunder
7th January 2011, 12:28 PM
So, what if it required stopping traffic all over the country to save a woman who wasn't pregnant? Would you still support it?

I value human life...even that of one simple person.

So yes, I would force 1 million people to sit in traffic for an hour, to save the life of one pregnant mother.

:)

mike3
7th January 2011, 12:30 PM
Now, the other questions, that I will speak more about in later replies so as not to make this post too long: HOW much inconvenience is worth one accidental death? (I'm thinking of a scale of about 1 million to 1), and what about NON-ACCIDENTAL deaths? Exactly how many people's happiness or convenience is required in order to justify murdering a single person? I had a very interesting thought on that one.

Now the last bit is different from the original since the original has to do with preventing someone else from murdering, not doing the murders yourself. In the last case, I'd say never, unless you want to extend the death penalty beyond a crime of murder in new, interesting ways.

TraneWreck
7th January 2011, 12:32 PM
People are missing the important point. It's not how many are inconvenienced, it's who is inconvenienced.

I think the gentleman who created the traffic jam for safety reasons acted correctly.

Unless I was in that traffic jam, then he's an *******.

Dr. Keith
7th January 2011, 12:39 PM
Glad you posted this, this was my question as well.

Me too.

The thing is that our society, whether it be through the free market or the political process, does a fairly good job of making these decisions. Not perfect, but pretty good.

Thus, we have reverse beepers that are a bit too loud at night and knives that may be a bit sharper than needed. But overall, we tend to come to a fairly safe balance.

Does anyone care to discuss the rise and fall of 55 Saves Lives?

PS: Your post actually got me thinking that the reverse beepers need to have variable volume based on the ambient sound levels. While they are too loud in a quiet neighborhood, I'm sure they are not loud enough when on a loud job site. Maybe you need to get to work on this!

Dr. Keith
7th January 2011, 12:41 PM
I value human life...even that of one simple person.

So yes, I would force 1 million people to sit in traffic for an hour, to save the life of one pregnant mother.

:)

So then you would reduce the speed limit to 20mph to save tens of thousands of lives? Right?

MG1962
7th January 2011, 12:43 PM
People are missing the important point. It's not how many are inconvenienced, it's who is inconvenienced.

I think the gentleman who created the traffic jam for safety reasons acted correctly.

Unless I was in that traffic jam, then he's an *******.

TraneWreck wins the thread

BobTheCoward
7th January 2011, 12:44 PM
Does anyone care to discuss the rise and fall of 55 Saves Lives?

PS: Your post actually got me thinking that the reverse beepers need to have variable volume based on the ambient sound levels. While they are too loud in a quiet neighborhood, I'm sure they are not loud enough when on a loud job site. Maybe you need to get to work on this!

That is a very good example. I would like to include the lack of seatbelts on school buses.

Thunder
7th January 2011, 12:58 PM
So then you would reduce the speed limit to 20mph to save tens of thousands of lives? Right?

:p:p:p:p:p:p

no.

sadhatter
7th January 2011, 01:12 PM
I value human life...even that of one simple person.

So yes, I would force 1 million people to sit in traffic for an hour, to save the life of one pregnant mother.

:)

What about all the ambulances that would be carrying people? Or surgeons needing to get to surgery?

There are always other consequences when trying to save just one person at the expense of others.

Thunder
7th January 2011, 01:28 PM
What about all the ambulances that would be carrying people? Or surgeons needing to get to surgery?

they can turn on their emergency lights and use the pull-over lane.

sadhatter
7th January 2011, 01:40 PM
they can turn on their emergency lights and use the pull-over lane.

In the city that is not always available, especially when traffic would be at a complete standstill. What about the 1 surgeon that can't get through thunder?

Every silly action has unintended consequences, a lot of non silly ones do as well, but silly actions like this can be guaranteed to cause a rube goldberg-esque chain reaction of silliness.

calebprime
7th January 2011, 01:47 PM
Me too.

The thing is that our society, whether it be through the free market or the political process, does a fairly good job of making these decisions. Not perfect, but pretty good.

Thus, we have reverse beepers that are a bit too loud at night and knives that may be a bit sharper than needed. But overall, we tend to come to a fairly safe balance.

Does anyone care to discuss the rise and fall of 55 Saves Lives?

PS: Your post actually got me thinking that the reverse beepers need to have variable volume based on the ambient sound levels. While they are too loud in a quiet neighborhood, I'm sure they are not loud enough when on a loud job site. Maybe you need to get to work on this!

That's a pretty good idea--something responsive to the ambient sound-level.

That would be a big improvement.

In our area, the cable-installation trucks (Comcast, for example) seem to be trying to make their presence known to all for miles around.

It's us! We're backing up! We're a mile away!

The only problem with is that the big, very loud equipment -- that no one can fail to hear (or see) raises the ambient sound-level so much by itself that the beeping would be piercing, as it currently is. I mean garbage trucks and construction equipment used, often, for snow-removal.

What would be much better than a beeping sound would be a white-noise "whooshing" sound directed where the vehicle is going. Or even a recorded voice saying "warning". But that would be too expensive, probably.

Sometimes one wants to repair to a cabin in the woods, but:

48. It is well known that crowding increases stress and aggression. The degree of crowding that exists today and the isolation of man from nature are consequences of technological progress. All pre-industrial societies were predominantly rural. The industrial Revolution vastly increased the size of cities and the proportion of the population that lives in them, and modern agricultural technology has made it possible for the Earth to support a far denser population than it ever did before. (Also, technology exacerbates the effects of crowding because it puts increased disruptive powers in people's hands. For example, a variety of noise-making devices: power mowers, radios, motorcycles, etc. If the use of these devices is unrestricted, people who want peace and quiet are frustrated by the noise. If their use is restricted, people who use the devices are frustrated by the regulations... But if these machines had never been invented there would have been no conflict and no frustration generated by them.)

From an essay I'm writing. Just kidding. :)

Schrodinger's Cat
7th January 2011, 02:13 PM
In the city that is not always available, especially when traffic would be at a complete standstill. What about the 1 surgeon that can't get through thunder?

Every silly action has unintended consequences, a lot of non silly ones do as well, but silly actions like this can be guaranteed to cause a rube goldberg-esque chain reaction of silliness.

I hear what you're saying, but I mean, that's the way traffic accidents already work. It's not like if there's a bad accident and emergency personel have to intervene and a person is trapped and needs the jaws of life, they DON'T block off the road and slow or stop traffic. They don't just push the car off the road or blow it up so everyone else can keep moving at normal speed.

Though here in Boston, we're pretty much a perpetual traffic jam anyways, don't need accidents for that!

I Am The Scum
7th January 2011, 02:27 PM
... but silly actions like this can be guaranteed to cause a rube goldberg-esque chain reaction of silliness.

Well I'm in favor of that no matter how many lives it costs.

Dr. Keith
7th January 2011, 02:34 PM
:p:p:p:p:p:p

no.

So, a single life is worth the stopping of all progress, but tens of thousands of lives aren't even worth slowing down. Do you even try to apply logic?

Dr. Keith
7th January 2011, 02:39 PM
My brother is a civil engineer for a highway construction company here in Texas (they make a LOT of highways here in Texas). He is a firm believer in the idea that inconveniencing many people is a small price to pay to save one life.

Not to be trite, but that's his job. I know, it used to be mine. If someone is injured on a project that you are managing you will never forgive yourself. You plan for the least disruption to traffic that is safely possible, but sometimes plans don't work out. Do you compromise safety or traffic disruption? There is a lot of pressure to let safety go out the window. The engineer is the one who has to fight that pressure.

Good luck to him.

Ziggurat
7th January 2011, 02:43 PM
traffic on a 4-lane interstate gets stopped for miles, so emergency personnel can rescue a pregnant woman from a crashed car in the middle of the road.

Saving one person's life is INDEED worth inconveniencing millions of others.

There were millions of people on that interstate?

How innumerate are you?

INRM
7th January 2011, 04:01 PM
EGarrett,

I believe the logic in this post has also lead to the naked-body scanners we now see in airports, believing that saving one handful of people from the POTENTIAL danger of an underwear bomber (note that the underwear bomber failed miserably and didn't kill anyone) is worth the stress and embarrassment of literally hundreds of millions of airport passengers who will get invasively scanned and patted down over the coming years.

Yeah, and I think it's ridiculous.

Xulld
7th January 2011, 04:28 PM
Making alternatives that are more safe is fine, just do not legislate safety. A part of being free is the ability to master dangerous things. Life is worth nothing to me without that ability. Life is dangerous, mastering life means mastering danger IMNSHO.

chuckfta
7th January 2011, 05:15 PM
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

slingblade
7th January 2011, 05:21 PM
traffic on a 4-lane interstate gets stopped for miles, so emergency personnel can rescue a pregnant woman from a crashed car in the middle of the road.

Saving one person's life is INDEED worth inconveniencing millions of others. That's why our society is soo cool.


Sometimes. Conditionally. Not always, not for everything.

Not for this dull-knife bushwa. Given enough force, a plastic toothbrush can be used to stab someone with. (ETA: and no, not as in sharpening it to be a knife. A simple, blunt toothbrush.)

A blunt-ended knife would work even better than that.

EGarrett
8th January 2011, 03:09 AM
Now the last bit is different from the original since the original has to do with preventing someone else from murdering, not doing the murders yourself. In the last case, I'd say never, unless you want to extend the death penalty beyond a crime of murder in new, interesting ways.Yeah, my thought on that issue was that I couldn't think of a realistic situation that WOULD require killing one person in order to provide pleasure to millions of others. Even televising an execution...most people are disgusted by the thought of that sort-of thing, and the people who like violence tend to get almost the same thrill from watching fictional violence. So, before we could judge how much convenience or pleasure would be caused in order to commit murder, we'd have to have a situation where this would realistically occur with no alternatives. (unless you want to bring up abortion but I feel like that would derail and end the thread)

I value human lifeSo do I. But convenience and happiness is PART of life. Sacrificing all the convenience and happiness in the world to keep a person alive would actually make life not worth living. There are proportions here.

...even that of one simple person.

So yes, I would force 1 million people to sit in traffic for an hour, to save the life of one pregnant mother.

:)Cut out pregnancy. You keep trying to reduce the ratios and make appeals to emotion.

:p:p:p:p:p:p

no.So you've agreed that human life isn't infinitely valuable compared to the happiness and convenience of others. Where do you personally draw the line? How long would people have to wait in order to prevent one accident?

plumjam
8th January 2011, 03:53 AM
How innumerate are you?

Eleventeen.

Puppycow
8th January 2011, 04:01 AM
One way to think about it is to consider how much time is lost due to the "inconvenience."

If a million people are inconvenienced for one hour, they basically lost one hour of their life. They are one hour closer to death.

A million hours is a bit over 114 years, which is longer than the average lifespan.

Therefore, it's probably better to let one person die than to inconvenience 1 million people for an hour.
:boxedin:

Soapy Sam
8th January 2011, 05:08 AM
Well- Puppycow's is at least an attempt at quantification.
It's complicated by unintended consequences though, as all things are.

A thousand people sit in a traffic jam for an hour while an ambulance rescues a pregnant lady. Now an hour late for a flight, a man drives faster than he should. An hour late for a job interview, a woman cuts in front of him. Two in hospital, maybe damaged for life, another hold up, another thousand people delayed. Minor accidents are extremely common in traffic jams, but don't make headlines the way fatal ones do.

A man stops carrying a knife he has carried for ten years because his girlfriend fears he will be arrested for it. On the way home from the cinema, they are attacked by two thugs carrying knives . Unable to threaten them with a similar weapon, he takes them on single handed and unarmed , is stabbed in the back and spends the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

Stories- but perfectly plausible ones. Rules designed to have one consequence will also have other consequences. Some of those will involve minor inconvenience to many. Some may also involve worse results for a few people.

We need some measurement. Some way to test if the rule does more harm than good.

Kitchen knives are - 99.9% of the time- used in the kitchen, not as offensive weapons. If blunting them actually caused 100 people worldwide per year to cut themselves, has the new rule been positive or negative if we can show it possibly saved one life?

As for reversing beepers- why is it OK to do forty miles an hour forwards in a bucket loader, but doing 4mph backwards needs an audible alarm?

Kid Eager
8th January 2011, 05:46 AM
Blunt knives cause more cutting injuries than sharp ones

Thank you - it saved me saying the same thing. A good sharp knife is predictable in its behaviour when cutting whatever it's made for to cut. A blunt knife tends to produce unexpected results on the basis of consistent inputs.

As for the initial question - it depends. Most of the time I would say "yes", but how many millions and how much inconvenience are we talking about? I'm extremely suspicious of questions expressed in terms of absolutes.

gumboot
10th January 2011, 01:14 AM
My brother is a civil engineer for a highway construction company here in Texas (they make a LOT of highways here in Texas). He is a firm believer in the idea that inconveniencing many people is a small price to pay to save one life.

He once delayed re-opening of a stretch of highway that was closed for overnight repair because he didn't feel it was safe to drive on (the transition between newly paved lanes and old lanes was too steep and might cause cars to lose control). The resulting traffic jam was described by local radio as a "nightmare". He never regretted causing it for a second.



I'm not sure that's really what the OP is talking about. You're talking about a relatively small number of people (those using the highway at the time) being inconvenienced for a fairly short space of time (couple of hours?) based on highly effective preventative (if no one drives on the road no one can crash on it) for a specific and real danger (the road IS unsafe as assessed by a safety engineer) to all being inconvenienced.

The OP is talking about much larger groups of people (i.e. an entire country) being inconvenienced for a much longer period of time (their entire life), based on a dubious preventative (if pointed kitchen knives are banned will it actually stop people being stabbed?) for a vague and questionable danger (what are the odds of actually getting stabbed by someone?).

Your example would need to be tweaked to fit the OP, say...

Permanently reducing the speed limit on the highway to 20MPH because the surface could potentially become slippery one day in the future.

BTMO
10th January 2011, 01:31 AM
Eleventeen.

Nominated.

Not many things make me (genuinely) laugh out loud.

This did.

BTMO
10th January 2011, 01:33 AM
I value human life...even that of one simple person.

So yes, I would force 1 million people to sit in traffic for an hour, to save the life of one pregnant mother.

:)

I'd send in the snipers.

Problem solved.

Everyone wins.

Well... almost everyone.

gumboot
10th January 2011, 04:55 PM
As for reversing beepers- why is it OK to do forty miles an hour forwards in a bucket loader, but doing 4mph backwards needs an audible alarm?


I believe the main point behind backing alarms is that the driver cannot see behind him, therefore it becomes the responsibility of others to get out of his way. When going forward he can see, and therefore stop if necessary.

Tatyana
10th January 2011, 04:59 PM
It really does depend on the circumstances, but for the most part, one person is not greater than the common good.

BeAChooser
10th January 2011, 11:17 PM
Ah, but your example involved inconveniencing a thousand people to save 2 lives. That's a 500-1 ratio. I'm asking about a 1,000,000 to 1 ratio. An order of magnitude that's over a thousand times larger. So, what if it required stopping traffic all over the country to save a woman who wasn't pregnant? Would you still support it?

I predict he would since folks of his political persuasion are against causing even temporary pain to a suspected terrorist who might have the information needed to stop a nuclear device from detonating in a major city (killing perhaps a million).

Ocelot
12th January 2011, 07:04 AM
I predict he would since folks of his political persuasion are against causing even temporary pain to a suspected terrorist who might have the information needed to stop a nuclear device from detonating in a major city (killing perhaps a million).
It's interesting how strictly utilitarian people aren't. Same equation but different circumstances and people's consciences yield different answers.

Hypothetical 1

I'm offering $1,000 in return all you have to do is press a red button. When you press that button someone in a distant country who you'd never have met will die. You can be certain that the death will never be traced to you and you'll never suffer any personal consequences from that death.

Hypothetical 2

I've taken $1,000 from you. You can be certain that the only way of getting it back is to press the red button as in Hypothetical 1 above.

Hypothetical 3

You have the ability to raise $1,000. If you give me that $1,000 you can press a green button. Doing so will save the life of a distant person who would otherwise have died.

Real situation.

If you have a spare $1,000 and are scientifically and mathematically literate you can find a way to spend that money which you can be confident will save a life. Funding a measles vaccination programme in West Africa springs to mind.

Most people would be appalled to accept Hypothetical 1* Yet it's the same utilitarian equation as the real scenario that many people with spare cash blithely ignore every day.


* Though once I asked a guy and he said he'd already pressed such a button to launch a cruise missile for far less cash. Of course I asked if he did it for the cash or was he ideologically convinced it was nonetheless the right thing to do?

RenaissanceBiker
12th January 2011, 07:26 AM
Hypothetical 1

I'm offering $1,000 in return all you have to do is press a red button. When you press that button someone in a distant country who you'd never have met will die. You can be certain that the death will never be traced to you and you'll never suffer any personal consequences from that death.

How many times can I push this button?

Ocelot
12th January 2011, 07:53 AM
How many times can I push this button?

Well I think 7 billion times might be risky. :D

aggle-rithm
12th January 2011, 08:07 AM
I have heard that if a locomotive engineer sees a solitary human on the tracks, he will lock up his brakes. If he sees a car, however, he will go much easier on the brakes.

The difference is, if he hits the person someone WILL die, but if he hits a car someone MIGHT die. The reason he doesn't lock up the brakes every time is that the friction destroys all the wheels on all the cars he is pulling, which would take the train out of service and cost as much as a million dollars to fix.

I think that's the key: What is the PROBABILITY that a life will be lost? If it's low, then it's not worth the inconvenience to bring that probability down to zero. If it's high, close to a certainty, then go ahead and inconvenience everyone.

RenaissanceBiker
12th January 2011, 08:07 AM
Can I come back later and push it a few more times if I want to buy a new motorcycle or hunting rifle? Is this taxable income? I might need to push it a few more times to cover the tax burden.

ETA: Do ther people have access to buttons like this? I might set up a device to rapidly auto-push the button to keep others from pushing it on me. At this point the money would become meaningless but it would be about my survival.

aggle-rithm
12th January 2011, 08:20 AM
Hypothetical 1

I'm offering $1,000 in return all you have to do is press a red button. When you press that button someone in a distant country who you'd never have met will die. You can be certain that the death will never be traced to you and you'll never suffer any personal consequences from that death.


"'By the time you finish reading this, another person will have died from...' So I stopped reading right there!"

--Emo Phillips

Ocelot
12th January 2011, 08:21 AM
ETA: Do ther people have access to buttons like this? I might set up a device to rapidly auto-push the button to keep others from pushing it on me. At this point the money would become meaningless but it would be about my survival.

I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.

* Though once I asked a guy and he said he'd already pressed such a button to launch a cruise missile for far less cash. Of course I asked if he did it for the cash or was he ideologically convinced it was nonetheless the right thing to do?

RenaissanceBiker
12th January 2011, 09:13 AM
Oh yeah. Well if the market rate for pushing such a button is much less than what you are offering I should take advantage of your generosity.

Alferd_Packer
12th January 2011, 12:03 PM
As a sort of sidebar to this discussion, it is a well known phenomena in risk management that people will assume horrible risks to themselves while screaming and crying about very minor risks imposed on them. For instance some people ride motorcycles without helmets (in those states that allow this), and they vociferously complain about helmet laws in states that do not allow this. For another example, some people regularly consume alcohol, in spite of the fact that even moderate consumption increases the risk of certain types of cancer. However, these same people will be out manning the picket lines if a company proposes opening a hazardous waste treatment facility in their home town because they are worried about a 1 in a million increase in the cancer risk.

Ziggurat
12th January 2011, 01:12 PM
* Though once I asked a guy and he said he'd already pressed such a button to launch a cruise missile for far less cash.

In your scenario, the criteria for the selection of the stranger is unspecified. It might even be random.

But in the military, the selection criteria for targets are not random. They are KNOWN to be not random. While the person pressing the button might not know exactly what the specific criteria were, there is reason for such a person to accept that they were reasonable criteria.

And that can, quite reasonably, make all the difference.

Ocelot
13th January 2011, 07:17 AM
In your scenario, the criteria for the selection of the stranger is unspecified. It might even be random.

But in the military, the selection criteria for targets are not random. They are KNOWN to be not random. While the person pressing the button might not know exactly what the specific criteria were, there is reason for such a person to accept that they were reasonable criteria.

And that can, quite reasonably, make all the difference.

You'd think wouldn't you. Whilst I agree with you it appears that in the conversation in question pushing buttons to kill people had desensitised the person in question and they would be happy to do so again on a random target happy that they could convince themselves that the random victim deserved to die even if they had no reason to suspect that was the case. Not a rational response, just a greedy one. (The stakes in that scenario were $1m by the way)

http://myreality.churchofreality.org/index.php?showtopic=1736&st=0&p=16659&hl=hypothetical&fromsearch=1&#entry16659

aggle-rithm
13th January 2011, 10:24 AM
As a sort of sidebar to this discussion, it is a well known phenomena in risk management that people will assume horrible risks to themselves while screaming and crying about very minor risks imposed on them. For instance some people ride motorcycles without helmets (in those states that allow this), and they vociferously complain about helmet laws in states that do not allow this. For another example, some people regularly consume alcohol, in spite of the fact that even moderate consumption increases the risk of certain types of cancer. However, these same people will be out manning the picket lines if a company proposes opening a hazardous waste treatment facility in their home town because they are worried about a 1 in a million increase in the cancer risk.

I guess the difference is, they CHOOSE the risky behavior, but are forced the endure the minor risks by "the man"?

Alferd_Packer
13th January 2011, 10:43 AM
The USEPA considers a 1 in a million risk to be essentially a “zero risk.” For instance a substance might be classified as a carcinogen, if a given exposure causes an excess risk of 1.5 tumors per 1,000,000 people.

Maximum contaminant concentrations set by the safe drinking water act are set for a 1 in a million cancer risk based on an average consumption over a 70 year life span.

Alferd_Packer
13th January 2011, 10:45 AM
I guess the difference is, they CHOOSE the risky behavior, but are forced the endure the minor risks by "the man"?

That is exactly what it is.

gumboot
13th January 2011, 02:40 PM
Most people would be appalled to accept Hypothetical 1* Yet it's the same utilitarian equation as the real scenario that many people with spare cash blithely ignore every day.




Ah... no. The real scenario is the same as hypothetical 3, not hypothetical 1. And I doubt as many people would be as appalled to accept hypothetical 3 as hypothetical 1. See most people see a pretty gargantuan difference between not doing something that would save someone who would otherwise die, and actually actively killing someone who would otherwise live.

In fact our society recognises that difference, because one of these scenarios is a crime, and the worst kind of crime, and the other is not.

gumboot
13th January 2011, 02:45 PM
I have heard that if a locomotive engineer sees a solitary human on the tracks, he will lock up his brakes. If he sees a car, however, he will go much easier on the brakes.

The difference is, if he hits the person someone WILL die, but if he hits a car someone MIGHT die. The reason he doesn't lock up the brakes every time is that the friction destroys all the wheels on all the cars he is pulling, which would take the train out of service and cost as much as a million dollars to fix.

I think that's the key: What is the PROBABILITY that a life will be lost? If it's low, then it's not worth the inconvenience to bring that probability down to zero. If it's high, close to a certainty, then go ahead and inconvenience everyone.


I would have thought you'd lock up for the car because the car could potentially do harm to the train itself, causing injury to the train driver and passengers, whereas the single person on the track probably won't even be felt!

Ocelot
14th January 2011, 02:52 PM
Ah... no. The real scenario is the same as hypothetical 3, not hypothetical 1. And I doubt as many people would be as appalled to accept hypothetical 3 as hypothetical 1. See most people see a pretty gargantuan difference between not doing something that would save someone who would otherwise die, and actually actively killing someone who would otherwise live.

My point exactly. Of course we see a difference.

The other point I'm making is that the system of utilitarian ethics struggles to accomodate the difference that we instictively acknowledge. That is the failing of over simplistic utilitarianism.

In fact our society recognises that difference, because one of these scenarios is a crime, and the worst kind of crime, and the other is not.

Innaction can be a very serious crime when you have a duty of care.

AlBell
16th January 2011, 05:25 PM
No.
FTW

Skeptic Ginger
16th January 2011, 06:52 PM
Glad you posted this, this was my question as well.

My pet peeve is the now-ubiquitous beeping from trucks and vans in reverse.

There's no escaping it, even at three a.m. (Yes, I wear ear-plugs and noise-cancelling headphones on top of that, and I built a "quiet room" at great expense, but those are imperfect solutions to the noise issue. No, medication is not the answer.)

But if it saves even one life...it's worth it?

Someone here will argue that cost-benefit analysis yields rational results, but aren't the calculations always balancing things that are incommensurate?

We ought to take all the consequences of a safety feature into account, but that's not going to happen.Your premise sounds like you are saying all the back up beepers on vehicles in the world will save only one, or only a trivial number of lives. In reality the back up mirrors and beeper alarms were safety measures implemented after many many child deaths first occurred.

I recommend you get earplugs and hug your kids or your grandkids if you have any.

USEagle13
16th January 2011, 11:20 PM
This is split-off from the blunt knife thread because I think it's a very important topic. The basic question is, how much inconvenience do you think is worth saving one life?

Now I will ramble...

I believe the logic in this post has also lead to the naked-body scanners we now see in airports, believing that saving one handful of people from the POTENTIAL danger of an underwear bomber (note that the underwear bomber failed miserably and didn't kill anyone) is worth the stress and embarrassment of literally hundreds of millions of airport passengers who will get invasively scanned and patted down over the coming years.

See that is the catch 22. It is a POTENTIAL danger. So because of a POTENTIAL danger we put our citizens IN DANGER by having thousands of X-ray machines across the country on constantly. I wonder if the guy that stands next to the scanner all day has ever thought about it!?

In the next 10yrs I guarantee cancer rates will jump much higher due to all the unnecessary X-Rays.

The timing of the health care bill and scanning provisions go hand in hand. They know that in the future millions of Americans will get sick because of these machines so they want the say so in whom they will actually try to cure.

You think the people controlling the government actually care about your stress and embarrassment!? All they care about is money in the end. We are like their cows or flock. It is like that in EVERY country. Always was and always will be that way.

You haven't seen nothing yet; wait til they start doing body cavity searches and start using brain scanners.


Well, I've thought about it, and my stance is that this logic is wrong.

You are right.

Stopping a small amount of accidental or emotional stabbing deaths is NOT worth denying millions of others the convenience of having knives in their home to use as tools.

You are right because they could use a pair of pointy scissors instead.

Heck, when I was younger me and my friends would have pinky fights where we would try to stab at each others throats with our pinkies while trying to block the other guys pinky. Hurts like hell too.

Point being; if someone starts going around killing unsuspecting people with a chop to the throat do we start tying everyone's hands behind their backs and do everything with our feet and noses!?



Likewise, stressing out or embarrassing hundreds of millions of airline passengers is NOT worth preventing the remote possibility of an attempted underwear bomber getting on a plane.

Your right. It is them being lazy is what it actually is. And think of all the money (we are in serious debt) they are wasting on preventive defensive after the fact measures that alienate our own people. They are in a constant game of "catch up" and sadly that is how most policing is done.

Death is worse than a small amount of inconvenience, certainly, but it is not INFINITELY worse. There IS a point where large amounts of unhappiness or inconvenience start to become less desirable than someone dying accidentally. And I think that society has proven me right.

I hope you are ok there buddy. Times are getting tough but you gotta keep on going man. Life is a precious thing no matter how short or tough things may be or get. Think of it as :yikes: a sign of the times

Well with the body scanners; the inconvenience comes first, and death will come years down the road from the said inconvenience. The thing that sucks about cancer is; so many things give it to you that it is impossible to pin point how you got it or what carcinogen was responsible. That is why in chemical plants only a few chemicals are "known to give cancer"

My arguments:

1) I think everyone will agree that spending the rest of your life in permanent agonizing pain is worse than being killed right now.

I disagree

2) Society has already determined that preventing a hundred accidental falling deaths each year is NOT worth stopping people from having the convenience of high-rise apartments and office buildings nor the pleasure of open-air balconies.

I agree


3) I believe everyone who will read this has also already chosen the convenience of driving a car over the risk of dying in an auto-accident. And many others choose the pleasure of a fast and aesthetically-pleasing sports car over the safety of a mini-van.

Of course. Most are materialistic monkeys by nature and enjoy flashy things.

Now, the other questions, that I will speak more about in later replies so as not to make this post too long: HOW much inconvenience is worth one accidental death? (I'm thinking of a scale of about 1 million to 1),

Not sure on the numbers. I'll use an example instead: Over the years I have been astonished at how people see wearing seat belts as an inconvenience. Yet it is a small inconvenience that won't kill you in and of itself yet some people still refuse to use them.

Ok that was horrible example. Bottom line is though the inconvenience issued by decrees of law should not be harmful to the people using the said inconvenience.

and what about NON-ACCIDENTAL deaths?

You are not ever gonna stop all of those. That is more of an issue of the people and not the tools used. For some reason liberals get off on blaming inanimate objects. Shows how low their morality level is.

God help our children....



Exactly how many people's happiness or convenience is required in order to justify murdering a single person? I had a very interesting thought on that one.

I don't understand the question. I hope you don't plan on killing anyone. We don't need any more death. He has been riding hard around the world since 2001.

aggle-rithm
17th January 2011, 11:25 AM
They had the Simpson's episode on TV last night where high school Homer was commenting on the possibility of lowering the speed limit to 55 MPH: "Sure, you'd save a few lives. But millions would be late!"