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Stragegy: Singer’s Choice
‘We can take the view that our moral intuitions and judgments are and always will be emotionally based intuitive responses, and reason can do no more than build the best possible case for a decision already made on nonrational grounds.
‘Alternatively, we might attempt the ambitious task of separating those moral judgments that we owe to our evolutionary and cultural history, from those that have a rational basis’
Singer, 2005 p. 351
Background: Personal contact influences ethical judgements.
E.g. Feltz & May, 2017’s meta-analysis
Contrast situations which are as similar as possible except that:
(a) means vs side-effect
--- harm is framed as a means to doing something or as a side-effect (or ‘byproduct’);
and in some, but not all cases,
(b) personal contact vs personal distance
--- the ‘means’ situation involves the use of personal or bodily contact (e.g. pushing or bumping)
our intuitive responses are due to differences in
the emotional pull of situations that involve bringing about someone’s death in a close-up, personal way,
and bringing about the same person’s death in a way that is at a distance, and less personal,
why should we believe that there is anything that justifies these responses?’
Singer, 2005, p. 347
Could scientific discoveries undermine, or support, ethical principles?
How does Singer’s argument relate to the question?
Many spontaneously judge that we should not Drop.
Consequentialism* implies we should Drop.
Consequentialism* is wrong.
Varying Drop to make it more or less up-close and personal varies how people spontaneously judge Drop.
Whether it’s up-close is morally irrelevant.
Spontaneous judgements in Drop are sensitive to morally irrelevant factors.
Spontaneous judgements in Drop are unreliable.