Friday, March 6, 2020

The Final Solution: Don't Behave Like an Ass

The scholastic philosophers famously asked “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? (spoiler alert, the answer is two). And then there was Buridan’s Ass, the donkey who couldn’t decide whether it was hungry or thirsty and ended up dying of both since it couldn’t decide. The fallacy with this particular argument may lie in the imputation of such an anthropomorphized version of consciousness to an animal. Of course, the donkey pays a price, but the philosophical question is basically frivolous. Despite the fact that Camus averred that the "one truly serious philosophical problem" was "suicide," Hamlet’s “To be or not to be?” is similarly gratuitous. It’s not a real choice unless you’re suffering from suicidal ideation. Philippa Foote’s “trolley problem” in which an out of control train could either hit five people or one is closer to home. Sacrifices get made for the sake of many is one of the ethical principals involved. Elizabeth Warren faces a similar quandary ("Will Elizabeth Warren Endorse a Candidate?  She Has Few Options,NYT, 3/5/20) Should she back Bernie as a matter of principle since he wants real change rather than simply the kind of gradual progress Biden advocates? Or should she sacrifice the one man and his ideals in order to save the many—from Trump? 

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