Would You Torture a Baby to Bring Peace to Humanity?

A character in Dostoyevsky's, Brothers Karamazov said "Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature - that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance - and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth?"

Would you would torture a baby to bring peace and happiness to humanity?

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No. To borrow a phrase from our theist brethren, what would it serve to gain the whole world, if you should lose your soul?

A world based upon the torture of the innocent would be inherently flawed. The peace and happiness that May be created would be simply a facade papered over the yawning cracks that would be evident upon closer inspection. The entire population would have to be kept ignorant of the foundations of their world, for what decent person could live, content, knowing that their lives were bought with the torture of an infant? Could people who accepted such a fate even be considered human?
But I wonder, does my unwillingness to participate in a morally nauseating act that brings world peace amount to a sort of selfishness? Am I not putting my own conscience above the welfare of billions?

Of course you are. But this is what makes moral dilemmas so fun! Your humanity screams against this one act but your logic tells you it is a good thing. Emotion generally trumps logic. Peter Singer in his "The Life You Can Save" presents a choice between donating money to save the poor, sick, and starving versus saving a child you see drowning in a pond. Not many would think twice about the latter even if it puts them in danger, but many people don't bother donating money for one reason or another even though it could save many, many more lives and only deprives them of expendable cash.
I love me some Peter Singer.
I know that. Atheism pales in comparison to some of the things he proposes. But he makes sense and as I look at my sleeping puppy, I can't say he is off base with any of it.. I think the next big step for humanity is animal rights....but I think it is many years off in coming. BTW...I don't like PETA....just for the record.
Absolutely. Emotions elicit a response which is on balance of probabilities the one most likely to benefit us, our genes, our species. They are not thought out and they are not always right. Why is Dostoyevsky's postulate a dilemma? Because it puts emotional responses to two thoughts into direct conflict. Take the emotion away and we are left with two thoughts that don't have any rational connection - in what conceivable realistic scenario could the torture of a baby have any bearing on world peace? I know christians and militant islamists can't see any way to paradise without someone's grotesque death but I'm not sure that we would ever have to contemplate it. I think we ought to be able to get there with untortured babies.

Are we quite sure that Dostoyevsky wasn't a depressed christian overwhelmed with conflict surrounding his coexistent abhorrence, guilt and gratefulness over the sacrifice of Jesus? Or does his question really come from the sober apprehension of real alternatives?

I think it's far more productive to consider the questions posed by Singer...
I just think, if this is what humanity has to stoop to in order to bring peace... we're not worth saving.
Actually... that's not exactly true.
Depending on the state you live in, there are such things as Right to Rescue and Duty of Rescue laws. (Also known 'incorrectly' as Good Samaritan Laws)
Some stipulate that as long as you are in no danger to yourself, you have to provide assistance in a way that are within your own physical limitations deemed reasonable. Pretty much in all cases if it's your property or if you created the hazard, you're liable, but there are other circumstances, too.
Most states this only applies in certain relationships, such as employers to employees, parent to children, spouse to spouse, civil servant to public, ect... but some states have actually gone on and made it applicable to strangers as well.
Further others make it a crime for you to see a stranger in need and not contact authorities.

I'm not saying if it's right or wrong here, I'm just saying the law isn't the same as it was 30 years ago.. or even 20. More and more states jump on the liability wagon where neglect is considered a crime.
That's good to hear, especially in the case of strangers, as most parents (though of course not all) would help their children anyway. I hope that more states hop on the "Good Samaritan" bandwagon, though I'm doubtful that even a majority of the states will do so in the near future.

Complicating matters still further, in California, those in need of assistance have a right to sue those who stop to help them if they think that the "Good Samaritans" have done something wrong, which means that many people, including doctors, will simply pretend not to see people in distress.
In California, as long as a person is acting within their training or that of a reasonable person in rendering emergency medical assistance, they are covered.

The court case in question is because a person was moved from a car crash, and injuries were potentially sustained in that move.

If you are trained in emergency medical assistance, you should know NOT to move a person in that condition, due to the possibility of spinal or internal damage unless it's done in a manner consistent with stabilizing any potential injuries. (Therefore, he was not rendering aid WITHIN his scope of training)

From what I remember of the case (though it was a few years ago) the defendant claimed that he saw smoke coming from the car and attempted to drag the guy to safety.
Turns out it wasn't smoke, it was gas from the airbags, and I think the man verbalized a desire to wait for paramedics. (Which would defy logic as to why a reasonable man continued to move him)

Anyway, this doesn't effect situations where a person MUST be moved or risk immediate injury, such as oh.... a burning house......floating face down in a swimming pool.. things like that.

Some poor guy got gung ho, tried to play superhero and hurt another man. It sucks for everyone involved. It's hurt your humanity as a state....but the letter of the law isn't all that different. It just means you are liable if you move a person and it isn't necessary for their safety.
I utterly agree. We do not want unqualified people jumping in to rescue just because they are bystanders. We want bystanders jumping in to rescue if there is no one else qualified.

As I said above... more states are creating a duty to rescue clause that extends to strangers as well. If you don't agree with these measures, you need to contact your state representatives and see if your state is looking to jump on the wagon or already has.

In the cases that hold even a stranger legally obligated to inform authorities, I'm fully behind and completely agree with. Entire countries have even enacted such measures.
What I'm saying is that your contention is out-dated.
Yes, our Constitution might have been founded on the principles you pointed out, but in the evolution of law and social responsibility, that is no longer the case.

If you pay taxes in a welfare state, you are not being given an option to sit passively.

Eight states require you to help STRANGERS in peril.
ALL states have statues regarding helping pretty much everyone BUT a stranger in peril.
ALL states have statues regarding a child in peril, (Even if it is a stranger) the majority of which make any adult a mandatory reporter.

I see your point. I understand the idea behind it. What I'm telling you is that in today's society, it is no longer legally correct, therefor has no bearing on this discussion, and further, you could potentially be giving out incorrect information that could have very real consequences for those that read it here and apply it in real life.

I teach EFR in the U.S and abroad. (Certifications in Asia, Australia and U.K) Keeping up to date on these laws is a legal necessity for me, not only for my own safety, but what I pass on to my students.
Your way of thinking is legally out of date, (whether morally justified or not)
It is a good point for this discussion, but only in the fact that it shows the evolution of what's considered 'responsibility'
"I find this issue interesting because this concept is reflected in US criminal law in that an individual has {no} duty to act to save another or others, no matter how easy it would be for that person to save those others."

-8 out of 50 states obliterate this argument right off the bat.
-50 out of 50 states erode it, some to the point of practical legal interpretation.
-Nationwide, the likelihood of you not being legally obligated to render aid/report is less than that of you being legally obligated to.

For the most part, unless you aren't at work or at home (which is most people's entire day) and it isn't a spouse or child (which is a large portion of most people's company) and you aren't in a mandatory profession (which are all civil servants, medical professionals, teachers, athletic associates, caregivers....well, the list goes on and on) or a resident or visitor of one of the eight states...... there is a chance you might not be legally obligated....depending on what other variables apply.

Take a look at this information and tell me if you really think that it's only the minority.


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