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The ethics of speaking for and endangering dependents

OrganichuOrganichu poopspeesRegistered User, Moderator mod
edited November 2018 in Debate and/or Discourse
say you're in nazi-controlled europe or in the middle of the rwandan genocide or any other setting where people around you are being brutalized. i think, trivially speaking, if you try and help- if you tackle a gunman so someone can get away, or if you hide an endangered person in your home (and risk discovery)- that's seen as heroic and virtuous. this thread is about what happens to the moral calculus if you're also endangering, say, your young child: someone not equipped to speak for themselves, and not yet ready to choose how to calibrate their safety vs whatever moral concerns.

obviously this is a complicated question and isn't really yes-no.

-how likely are you to actually do good?
-how likely are you to get caught?
-if you are caught, will you be arrested? executed? what will happen to your children?

etc

another example popping into my mind is you running to push some kids out of the way of a truck or train or something- but you have a baby carrier strapped to your chest. these are the sorts of parameters i'm looking to explore.

when you're endowed with the responsibility of protecting someone and they rely on you, utterly- can you still pursue dangerous moral ends? if you do, are you failing in your stewardship over this little person? or should you pursue the right thing always, with the idea that your child isn't more valuable than another five children? an interesting parallel i saw mentioned was about school vouchers, and whether you should aggressively pursue what's best for your kid even while acknowledging it hurts many others.

thoughts? i've been to most of the world's major holocaust memorials and i'm missing half my family tree so i've thought about corners of this question for decades, without a satisfying conclusion.

Organichu on

Posts

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    edited November 2018
    That's a very interesting and complex issue.

    Intellectually, I would say respecting your existing commitments trumps taking on new commitments. Of course keeping your child safe and healthy is not as "high" on the morality scale as saving strangers from an evil violent dictatorship, but it's the commitment you've already agreed to, and choosing to fail at it so you can pursue "greater" goals is a failing IMO, not a quality. To illustrate, we can invent a new scenario: we can all agree that a person giving up their job and house and leaving to go help orphans in Nigeria is amazingly altruistic and doing a great good. But if this person has their own children, whom they abandon poor, orphan, and homeless to go to Nigeria, they no longer appear to be a paragon of altruistic virtue.

    Emotionally, I've just had a baby, and protecting her well-being is absolutely my first priority. I don't think I could bring myself to do something that puts her in jeopardy, no matter how morally noble it is.

    Richy on
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  • RT800RT800 Registered User regular
    edited November 2018
    I'm not really a moral objectivist, and so I think whether or not something is moral is for each individual to decide for themselves.

    From a pragmatic standpoint, I suppose it depends on whether you value your morals more than your kids. I doubt the decision is often made rationally.

    Personally, I'd hardly blame anyone for putting their kids before a stranger.

    RT800 on
  • emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    Richy wrote: »
    To illustrate, we can invent a new scenario: we can all agree that a person giving up their job and house and leaving to go help orphans in Nigeria is amazingly altruistic and doing a great good. But if this person has their own children, whom they abandons poor, orphan, and homeless to go to Nigeria, they no longer appears to be a paragon of altruistic virtue.

    We have to go further than black and white scenarios or the thread won't go anywhere. We can all agree when you're gambling principles against your child's well-being, you aim for your principles. If, say, you find out a part of your job is hurting people through negligence or discrimination, you should quit that job even if it means pulling your kid out of private school and not having gifts under the Christmas tree that year. If you're gambling principles against your child's health or life, you aim for the life.

  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    edited November 2018
    Took me a long time to get there but my children absolutely have primacy over my own, my wife's or anyone else's safety.

    My intellectual understanding of the "right course" is just overshadowed and I have to come to terms with the human bit of that.

    To put a fine point on it, if the question a gunman gives me is your wife or your Kids, that question has an answer.

    That said, I'd maybe just shut down and panic because I have no idea how I'd react in a crazy stress situation.

    Aridhol on
  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Richy wrote: »
    To illustrate, we can invent a new scenario: we can all agree that a person giving up their job and house and leaving to go help orphans in Nigeria is amazingly altruistic and doing a great good. But if this person has their own children, whom they abandons poor, orphan, and homeless to go to Nigeria, they no longer appears to be a paragon of altruistic virtue.

    We have to go further than black and white scenarios or the thread won't go anywhere. We can all agree when you're gambling principles against your child's well-being, you aim for your principles. If, say, you find out a part of your job is hurting people through negligence or discrimination, you should quit that job even if it means pulling your kid out of private school and not having gifts under the Christmas tree that year. If you're gambling principles against your child's health or life, you aim for the life.

    Granted my scenario was a bit extreme, but my belief remains that giving up on your kids (your current commitment) to do something "greater" is not greater at all.

    For the bolded part: I don't think we can all agree on that. In your example, you are gambling your child's luxuries (private schools and extra xmas presents) against actively hurting people to reach consensus. And even so, I think all we need to do is scan headlines to find examples of people who chose the luxuries (and sometimes without even the children to weight in the moral calculus). Would we all agree to aim for principles if the principles were less strong than "actively hurting people"? Would you quit a job that requires you to, say, overload a furniture-moving truck, or ride a bike on the sidewalk, or find funding for a Michael Bay Transformers movie, if it means pulling your kid from private school and getting them less gifts for Christmas? Or on the inverse, would we all aim for life when it is repugnant to violate principles? Would you really take a job actively hurting people in order to buy medication for your kid?

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  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    My mom left a job without lining up another one because of sexual harassment when I was a kid. I think that was correct.

    Most of how my mom can make me feel okay is to be okay herself.

    Take a moment to donate what you can to Critical Resistance and Black Lives Matter.
  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    I think there is a lot of room between safety of your kids/family and impacting the priveleges you/they enjoy.

    Extra presents (or presents at all) would be pretty low down on the scale when weighed against even a strangers safety.

    I would not beat up Michael Bay for presents or private school for my kid but I would for their safety (e.g. medication).

    to the bolded, I agree with Richy. I would NOT aim for principles when weighed against my childs safety. Or, I guess I would, because those are my principles.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    Aridhol wrote: »
    I think there is a lot of room between safety of your kids/family and impacting the priveleges you/they enjoy.

    Extra presents (or presents at all) would be pretty low down on the scale when weighed against even a strangers safety.

    I would not beat up Michael Bay for presents or private school for my kid but I would for their safety (e.g. medication).

    to the bolded, I agree with Richy. I would NOT aim for principles when weighed against my childs safety. Or, I guess I would, because those are my principles.

    I took well-being to mean "You can live without it." Creature comforts and more serious things like a premium education. All of us would give up creature comforts for our kids to fight social ills.

  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Aridhol wrote: »
    I think there is a lot of room between safety of your kids/family and impacting the priveleges you/they enjoy.

    Extra presents (or presents at all) would be pretty low down on the scale when weighed against even a strangers safety.

    I would not beat up Michael Bay for presents or private school for my kid but I would for their safety (e.g. medication).

    to the bolded, I agree with Richy. I would NOT aim for principles when weighed against my childs safety. Or, I guess I would, because those are my principles.

    I took well-being to mean "You can live without it." Creature comforts and more serious things like a premium education. All of us would give up creature comforts for our kids to fight social ills.

    I'd never say all :) but I think for sure it'd be a majority.
    I think most of us already do this.

    I think a real complicating factor is that it's not always easy to see the follow on impacts to other people whereas I have complete visibility into what's happening to "my" people. I don't have it front and centre that hypothetical african child starves so I might think "someone's taking care of that" or I might not know how my action results in Y result for someone else.

    I think the issue is proximity and not 100% someones principles.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Registered User regular
    Out of sight, out of mind?

  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Out of sight, out of mind?

    I think that lacks a lot of the nuance but essentially.

    I don't think it's a revelation that humans are built to value close relationships more than remote ones. Add onto that consequences you might not see or understand and it comes pretty clear.

    Isn't this why we have governments? To make the right choices for the whole because individuals are shit at it close up?

  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    Aridhol wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Aridhol wrote: »
    I think there is a lot of room between safety of your kids/family and impacting the priveleges you/they enjoy.

    Extra presents (or presents at all) would be pretty low down on the scale when weighed against even a strangers safety.

    I would not beat up Michael Bay for presents or private school for my kid but I would for their safety (e.g. medication).

    to the bolded, I agree with Richy. I would NOT aim for principles when weighed against my childs safety. Or, I guess I would, because those are my principles.

    I took well-being to mean "You can live without it." Creature comforts and more serious things like a premium education. All of us would give up creature comforts for our kids to fight social ills.

    I'd never say all :) but I think for sure it'd be a majority.
    I think most of us already do this.

    I think a real complicating factor is that it's not always easy to see the follow on impacts to other people whereas I have complete visibility into what's happening to "my" people. I don't have it front and centre that hypothetical african child starves so I might think "someone's taking care of that" or I might not know how my action results in Y result for someone else.

    I think the issue is proximity and not 100% someones principles.

    Well Organichu's original topic is about people you see in front of you. Individuals at your doorstep whom you know will be persecuted and killed if they are caught by the evil government. Individuals about to be hit by a truck within shoving reach of you. Not abstract starving-orphans-in-Africa statistics. So proximity is not an issue, and you see the immediate consequences of your actions.

    And the consequences are also not creature comforts. Again, in Organichu's original topic, Germans who were caught hiding Jews were not deprived of Christmas gifts or sent to public schools, and getting your child hit by that truck while you shove others out of the way has a major impact on their health.

    And I would add a third dimension, at the risk of turning this into a Trolley problem: action vs inaction, or refusing to help someone vs actively hurting someone. I can understand a German who was too scared of what would happen to them and their children if they were caught to hide a Jewish family in their home. But I cannot extend the same understanding to the German who actively worked at a concentration camp to bring food to their children. If I lived in WW2 Germany with my young baby, I might have been in the first category, but I hope to God I would never have been in the second.

    sig.gif
  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    Richy wrote: »
    Aridhol wrote: »
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Aridhol wrote: »
    I think there is a lot of room between safety of your kids/family and impacting the priveleges you/they enjoy.

    Extra presents (or presents at all) would be pretty low down on the scale when weighed against even a strangers safety.

    I would not beat up Michael Bay for presents or private school for my kid but I would for their safety (e.g. medication).

    to the bolded, I agree with Richy. I would NOT aim for principles when weighed against my childs safety. Or, I guess I would, because those are my principles.

    I took well-being to mean "You can live without it." Creature comforts and more serious things like a premium education. All of us would give up creature comforts for our kids to fight social ills.

    I'd never say all :) but I think for sure it'd be a majority.
    I think most of us already do this.

    I think a real complicating factor is that it's not always easy to see the follow on impacts to other people whereas I have complete visibility into what's happening to "my" people. I don't have it front and centre that hypothetical african child starves so I might think "someone's taking care of that" or I might not know how my action results in Y result for someone else.

    I think the issue is proximity and not 100% someones principles.

    Well Organichu's original topic is about people you see in front of you. Individuals at your doorstep whom you know will be persecuted and killed if they are caught by the evil government. Individuals about to be hit by a truck within shoving reach of you. Not abstract starving-orphans-in-Africa statistics. So proximity is not an issue, and you see the immediate consequences of your actions.

    And the consequences are also not creature comforts. Again, in Organichu's original topic, Germans who were caught hiding Jews were not deprived of Christmas gifts or sent to public schools, and getting your child hit by that truck while you shove others out of the way has a major impact on their health.

    And I would add a third dimension, at the risk of turning this into a Trolley problem: action vs inaction, or refusing to help someone vs actively hurting someone. I can understand a German who was too scared of what would happen to them and their children if they were caught to hide a Jewish family in their home. But I cannot extend the same understanding to the German who actively worked at a concentration camp to bring food to their children.If I lived in WW2 Germany with my young baby, I might have been in the first category, but I hope to God I would never have been in the second.

    Yeah sorry, I got lost there.
    I agree with you in the bolded.

    I think I would risk my own life to hide a jewish person in my house/car/barn but I would not risk my children's lives.

  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    edited November 2018
    Would you extend that just to child children - or adults too? A child can't consent and is reliant on you to protect it's interests (and perhaps not being a collaborator even meets that, or even further if you actively involve them in a way that seems minimally safe). But if your kid was a Nazi as an adult, would you be as hesitant to risk them then?

    Tastyfish on
  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    I would have an incredibly hard time working through what to do now that my kid was an evil shit head.

    I'd still love them but I mean, consequences for your actions bud.

    I think it's safe to say my statements were referring to minors reliant on me for safety.
    .

  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    edited November 2018
    That's definitely the way I interpreted it, just thought since people were adding other issues into the mix that particular complication should be considered - especially given that speaking out against a shithead offspring is going to be closer to most people here's experience. To what extent would you support a bullied child/teenager if it meant or could lead to the doxxing your own son?

    Lets take the immediate risk of life and death out of it for a second, and look at the other end of the scale. What amount of outside hardship would you open your dependant up to in order to protect or support some other person? Especially as there's probably a lot of mitigation and rehabilitation we can do here, which slowly disappears as we start talking about more totalitarian or anarchic regimes.

    Tastyfish on
  • JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    Organichu wrote: »
    when you're endowed with the responsibility of protecting someone and they rely on you, utterly- can you still pursue dangerous moral ends? if you do, are you failing in your stewardship over this little person? or should you pursue the right thing always, with the idea that your child isn't more valuable than another five children?

    Aren't you just presupposing utilitarianism here?

    like, obviously you should always do the right thing. because it is the right thing. The question is if the proposed action here is the right thing.

    I think going with a Kantian deontological frame you should probably not save the kids. I don't think we can want a world where those tasked with protecting a person should endanger that person to save another. Though I wonder if this depends on what exactly the obligations towards a dependent are. I don't think you can be responsible for another regular adult in such a way that you can never endanger them for example. If you could save these kids by driving your car in front of the truck but also had a passenger with you I think that would be the correct action.

  • veritastalpaveritastalpa Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Organichu wrote: »
    when you're endowed with the responsibility of protecting someone and they rely on you, utterly- can you still pursue dangerous moral ends? if you do, are you failing in your stewardship over this little person? or should you pursue the right thing always, with the idea that your child isn't more valuable than another five children?

    Aren't you just presupposing utilitarianism here?

    like, obviously you should always do the right thing. because it is the right thing. The question is if the proposed action here is the right thing.

    I think going with a Kantian deontological frame you should probably not save the kids. I don't think we can want a world where those tasked with protecting a person should endanger that person to save another. Though I wonder if this depends on what exactly the obligations towards a dependent are. I don't think you can be responsible for another regular adult in such a way that you can never endanger them for example. If you could save these kids by driving your car in front of the truck but also had a passenger with you I think that would be the correct action.

    That is manslaughter.

  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    The oil sands in Alberta are a good example for this in lots of ways.

    Lots are working there because its putting a roof over their families heads, while accepting its shortening their lifespan, thus taking them away from their families sooner.

    How do you weigh each side of that coin

    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
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