What would you choose?

I’m extremely delighted as I write this post on my blog, which turned five recently. Although I had decided to write as many blog posts per month as humanly possible, my routine didn’t permit me to do so.

The reason I’m writing today is because I came across a very interesting video from Micheal Sandel:

If you had to choose between (1) killing one person to save the lives of five others and (2) doing nothing even though you knew that five people would die right before your eyes if you did nothing—what would you do?

What would you choose in such a scenario?

According to the principle of utility, we should always do whatever will produce the greatest amount of happiness and whatever is necessary to prevent the greatest amount of unhappiness. But is that right? Should you always try to maximize happiness? Should you always do whatever is necessary to minimize unhappiness?

You can save five people’s lives by switching to a side-track and killing one innocent worker. I repeat, one innocent worker. Is the value of his life less than the combined value of the five people? Aren’t we going off-track just to kill him (remember he is not on our planned track-route) even if it means we’re doing it to save “five” people. Is it right to just kill five people when we could save all five of them by switching to a side-track?

Somebody once said “democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on dinner”. The minority require protections just as much as the majority, which is why nations require a constitution limiting the power of the majority and of the state.

Qualitative descriptions to identify the “value” of something is completely subjective and often ambiguous. On the other hand, what’s in a “number”?

Aren’t numbers misleading? How can we quantify the “value” of something? If you go by the utilitarianism theory for the above example, you’d be saving five lives at the cost of one. That might be socially acceptable but is it morally the right thing to do? That’s for you to decide! That’s the beauty of philosophy where merely changing the perspective leads to a totally different mindset for making decisions.

So at the end of the day it’s all about choices. You are here because of the choices you made in the past. Each choice that we make, whether it is big or small, shapes and determines our entire journey of life.


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