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Discussion Starter #1
I was listening to a Björk song called Hope, and in the lyrics she poses the question "what's the lesser of two evils?".

Björk poses this scenario: A female suicide bomber fakes a baby bump to cover her bomb, where she intends to kill a crowd of people. If she succeeds, is she truly evil?

What about if the police or the military shoot and kill this pregnant woman, just in case she's a suicide bomber, and it turns out she wasn't? Were they right in doing so?

What's the lesser of two evils in this case?
I thought it was such an interesting thing to discuss, because in both scenarios, innocent people are killed for different reasons. The bomber thinks she's in the right, and the military think they are in the right.

Fellow ENTJs, or anyone, what is the lesser evil?
 

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Neither is evil.

I'm not really sure why I think so. It's... these people do what they think as necessary. It could be wrong; both acts are quite horrible (the mass civilian killing and leaning on probability), and all. But.. evil?

If I have to choose, for the lesser.. ---let's say, for the more reasonable, understandable act, for me (without justifying it any, but in some cases, you can only do what you can. And I certainly hope the soldier doesn't shoot all the pregnant women in the vicinity without a reasonable case/suspicion), it would be the shooting.

The chance of killing one to save many. (well, two, but I don't really think of fetuses as humans, yet)
 
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Simple false positive vs false negative dilemma. The pregnancy is a red herring - can be ommited from discussion.

Its better to let a guilty person commit an act than it is to kill an innocent person. Or, in a more traditional argument (the theory that the US court system is based on), its better to have a guilty person go free than it is to have an innocent person go to jail.

In this case, the military shouldn't shoot and/or investigate a pregnant woman without reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause. If the probabilty is higher than just a hunch, I'd might argue that its better to shoot to kill. Its basically a matter of the confidence in the evidence at hand that determines the probabilty of the event happening vs the severity of the impact... which in this case would be dead people (but it really doesn't matter what the unit of measurement is... could be money, time, etc). Basic risk management!

This assumes that its an either or situation. There are definitely more options - preferably a more proactive approach instead of a reactive defense. This could lower the probability of the event from happening in the first place or provide greater intel for the soldiers so that a more informed decision could be made.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm hoping this discussion will draw out many different perspectives.

I want us to view this from the humane point of view, the religious or political point of view (keep it non-personal) and pragmatic point of view. @wiarumas has already done an excellent job with the pragmatic point of view, I hope it can be discussed further than that.

I want to observe in this discussion mainly, because I want to learn here. In fact, that is what I hope this discussion will bring to light. Knowledge and perspective. What is the humane thing to do? Who's wrong or right? How can we prevent or stop this?

Looking forward to some interesting replies here.
 

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Evil and good are subjective points of view from the human itself and changes by the context (universal context) itself.

So the only thing that you can do is pick a side and make a discussion for fun.
 

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I would argue that you can't make the distinction between the "humane and pragmatic" points of view. The ethical point of view is always the one that encompasses both of these. Religious perspective and political perspective are irrelevant to the overall discussion here, because each perspective is simply mass adoption of someone else's views toward humanity and pragmatism and thus neither should be acknowledged as more than what it is.

The humane thing is always avoidance of the use of force unless defensively necessary. But such a policy is simultaneously pragmatic.

Humans are morally minded, rational creatures who tend to base their actions on their strong sense of justice. We possess the ability to be civilized - to discuss things with one another and make decisions regarding our collective future in a way that allows individuals to do as they please provided they don't interfere with others' right to do the same. Every human being has his/her own concept of happiness and fulfillment, and the most inhumane act is removing a person's ability to act on that.

Here, we have a problem of reactive force vs. "preemptive" force, something that historically has always been a matter of contention. In fact, historically speaking, preemptive use of force (and a culture that accepts it) has always lead in the long run to tyranny. The obvious examples of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, and pre- to Napoleonic France all show that giving any entity a dogmatic right to use of force eventually leads to abuse of that power, and the collapse of the power system surrounding it when the people it is intended to serve come to the conclusion that their best interests are no longer represented.

The greatest evil, to me, is that the use of "preemptive" force is even considered by some to be the lesser evil. When understanding the repercussions of actions taken in the situation described, clearly the long-term consequences of the use of "preemptive" force are far greater than the consequences of allowing the suicide bomber to kill. A few deaths in the short term are certainly evil, and believe me, we should do all that we ethically can to prevent them, but I can't even compare 5 deaths to the entire potential greatness of humanity being snuffed out by a tyrannical government gaining worldwide power. Preventing murder by murdering isn't ethical in the slightest.

We must never be blinded by the moral fire of the moment, for there will then be moral darkness in the future.

"He who sacrifices liberty for security deserves neither."
 

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I would argue that you can't make the distinction between the "humane and pragmatic" points of view. The ethical point of view is always the one that encompasses both of these.

Preventing murder by murdering isn't ethical in the slightest.

"He who sacrifices liberty for security deserves neither."
Your whole post, is the best post I ever read in PERC. Thank you for putting in words what I was too lazy to.
And for existing. If there are more people like you around, maybe humanity stands a chance.
 

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Personally, I shudder to use the word evil to describe either one. If a normal, mentally stable person were to do either of these things, they would probably have in mind (what some would consider) a proper rationalization, such as their religious beliefs, "greater good", or some other bit of nonsense.

Excuse the proverbial statement, but isn't the road to hell paved with good intentions? Both are acting on an impulse that seems to them quite right. Actions themselves won't always reflect "evil."
 

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Personally, I shudder to use the word evil to describe either one.

but isn't the road to hell paved with good intentions? Both are acting on an impulse that seems to them quite right.
Hell => Evil
you used words that explain the connection.

And judging by your avatar and the mention of "greater good", I believe you remember Albus realized that enforcing the greater good may sound a noble cause but it becomes so intrusive and freedomless, it is actually and essentially, wrong.
 
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Hell => Evil
you used words that explain the connection.

And judging by your avatar and the mention of "greater good", I believe you remember Albus realized that enforcing the greater good may sound a noble cause but it becomes so intrusive and freedomless, it is actually and essentially, wrong.
So then perhaps the action is "evil", but the person is not.
 

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So then perhaps the action is "evil", but the person is not.
Is not excluding. Feeling/believing one has a good reason or the right or the good intention, does not make them righteous or "good".

The woman may think she fights for a higher cause. She still kills people.
The person who shoots her so she doesn't kill more people, also believes he is doing the right thing. He still killed a person and furthermore he did that through a game of dice (metaphorically). "I think this LOOKS LIKE a bomber, so I must be correct"
No mate, you may very well be wrong. And if you are wrong, you just killed an innocent. You. Moron.
Is so superficial and pompous and shortsighted and narrowminded, committing murder on the basis of a personal ASSUMPTION, it is THE most unethical of the two.

Both are murderers. Both are evil. I will add to the point perfectly explained by @Debo37, that the woman is REacting, while the Shooter is Acting. He initiates a course of violence that history has proved time and again, only leads to escalation.
The ethical issues have been exhausted in books and even movies ('minority report' for example), how pre-emptive can go very, very wrong. History teaches us, it has always gone wrong.

Remember Albus realized that early on and stopped. Grindelwald carried on and was 'evil'. It was his means rather than his ideology that categorized him as evil.

It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
The goal does NOT justify the means. Never did unless one is a Jesuit. Which is not a compliment.
 
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Is not excluding. Feeling/believing one has a good reason or the right or the good intention, does not make them righteous or "good".
Perhaps you misinterpreted what I said. There is no way one could defend either person from an ethical standpoint. I was merely stating that I didn't believe either to be EVIL based on the given information. I consider true, unadulterated evil to be something that exist skin deep, like in the case of Grindelwald.
 

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Both are murderers. Both are evil.
Both are killers, neither are evil. Intentions reflect on the person, consequences reflect on the action.

I will add to the point perfectly explained by @Debo37, that the woman is REacting, while the Shooter is Acting. He initiates a course of violence that history has proved time and again, only leads to escalation.
The ethical issues have been exhausted in books and even movies ('minority report' for example), how pre-emptive can go very, very wrong. History teaches us, it has always gone wrong.
History also teaches us that allowing evil to continue has much, much worse consequences. All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. Doing something has a chance at failure; doing nothing guarantees it.

The goal does NOT justify the means.
Debatable, depending on the goal and the means used to achieve it. If the means cause more suffering than the happiness achieved by the goal, then it is not. If there is more suffering is prevented as a result, then it certainly was.
 

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Perhaps you misinterpreted what I said. There is no way one could defend either person from an ethical standpoint.
I consider true, unadulterated evil to be something that exist skin deep, like in the case of Grindelwald.
I disagree. We can defend both up to a point. Said point depends on personal ethics.
Grindelwald, proved he was not 'skin deep' evil, in how he conducted himself in the face of incoming death. To me, he followed his self righteous fallacy, until a much older age to which he realized, where he had gone wrong.
His last action is to give no help to a person that claimed he would withhold the same fallacy Grindelwald himself once sought and to also advice him, in his harsh way, that it was wrong.


Both are killers, neither are evil. Intentions reflect on the person, consequences reflect on the action.

All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. Doing something has a chance at failure; doing nothing guarantees it.

Debatable, depending on the goal and the means used to achieve it. If the means cause more suffering than the happiness achieved by the goal, then it is not. If there is more suffering is prevented as a result, then it certainly was.
You are saying that if I have good intentions (the greatest intentions ever even) and go on invade a country or more and murder millions, I am not evil (because my intentions were great) but my actions - merely - had consequences that we may describe them as evil?
I disagree of course.

This kind of rhetoric has pervaded in particular the political scenes of the world.
And is both laughable and dangerous. Because people fall for it without thinking it through well enough.
Is the quality of action that will denote it as good or bad/evil and not its reasoning alone. Do take action but that action must NOT be a murder.

History - and even sciences - show time and again that actions have inertia - like you suggest. Is our Fi 'duty' to take counter-action, to react to actions harmful.
But, the actions we do, are what distinguish us from being gullible easily swayed idiots (who usually prove to be scarily evil) in contrast of being somewhat enlightened souls that deserve to be called humans.
Good wo/men must act. In a Good way.

I will try to explain this in simpler words:
ACT.
But your means, course, procedures, actions in short, must be right TOO.

In my humble opinion, humans anywhere, that are caring, should bust their brains to figure ways of handling issues like the one at hand (murders, violence) in a better way. A murder, to prevent another murder, is world's stupidest "argument". I understand this error of judgement in extreme situations where options seem lacking and clock is ticking too fast. I do not excuse it. I understand it as human shortcoming and imperfection.
Generally, I want to believe, humans CAN and have the ability to, do better. I am not going to nuke country X because it has gone insane and invaded numerous countries in the past decades, murdering and hurting millions so far.
I am going to find a non violent way to make them see what they are doing. Surely had we eliminated them fast, we would have had less casualties but wouldn't that be immensely evil, in spite of its 'righteousness'?

It is our duty as humans to find non violent solutions that are not just optimal but also fast and effective.
Because we can.
 
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None is evil. Its evil to act if its enforced to you, but an act by your own will is never evil. They're just doing what they believe. The evil thing is not what they do, but their ignorance, of people and not bothering to understand. If there exist such a thing as mutual understanding amongst people, evil will not exist.
 
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