Would you sacrifice one to save many?



The world isn’t black and white. Anyone who has ever had to make a difficult decision knows this. It’s simply a matter of gut, because while it’s easy to say it’s best to objectively gauge risk versus rewards, the matter of picking on thing over the other in a personal context is almost always purely gut. Not to mention one’s perception is inherently full of bias and therefore no objectivity can exist amongst one’s judgement. This presumes that there are actually merits to the other choices of course, and also means that one has to give up something regardless of what choices are made.

It’s truly a simple concept: sacrifice. You give up something in order to accomplish a goal, whatever this may be. The range of sacrifice is far and wide, and you can give up nigh everything you own, from your right glove to your own life. However, there has been so many debates as to actually what constitutes as a fair sacrifice, especially when it comes to those in power. Everyone is not equal. That is a simple fact that would require a separate explanation. For now, accepting this is true, it also means that people becomes much more attached things depending entirely on how much sentiment the people involved has to those things. These things can also include human, and furthermore human lives.

The age-old question of: “Would you sacrifice one (fewer) lives in order to save many (more)”? This question of course has to be accompanied with many assumptions, such as whether these people are complete stranger, or whether or not you are personally involved in anyways, or whether the intended result is guaranteed to happen. All of these connotations seem to throw people off somewhat, but as far as the general searches have replied, there is a clear pattern emerging from those who would say yes or no. Several studies have been done on this moral dilemma, presented with a somewhat actionable scenario, usually involving train tracks and tied-down people. This is to eliminate all variables except for the intervention or actions of the one being forced to choose. It is one way of looking at how to objectively gather this information, and I shall report to the best of my knowledge.

Those with a “yes” looks at this matter with a clear view of simply valuing many over one, more of a perceived logical approach to things. These people also appear to be more actionable, willing to take this matter into their own hands, readily deciding right or wrong with the sheer force of numbers. The problem with this approach is that since far too many variables of importance was removed from the decision making process, the experiment provided was assuming that everyone is equal. From this perspective, it is a simple matter of math. I would say that objectively it is far too simplistic a thinking, but there is indeed reasoning involved.

Those with a “no” looks at this matter with a far more personal view, choosing to simply be inactive. They all seemed to be faith-based, whether with a sentient higher being or fate/destiny whatever you’d like to call it. In contrast to the first group, this group’s pertinence is on inaction. They believe in the course of non-interference. They would not like the blood of those sacrificed to be on their hands, whether or not they’ll get the credits for saving the others. Of course, ‘God’ and fate is circular logic, as anything that happens can be attributed to such a beginning, even your decision to act. However, passivism is clear here, and it does hold water in the sense of not wanting to be involved. This line of thinking remove oneself from making a choice altogether, eliminating the risk of making the incorrect one, whatever that is.

It’s funny, doesn’t it? Sacrificing people’s lives in the end became activism vs passivism. It’s not about how things should have happened, or whose life is worth more. Instead, it is entirely dependant on the character of those forced to take actions, in which heavily personal bias surfaces. I suppose I don’t have a proper answer for this riddle, not even a “it depends” would satisfy me. At least I feel accomplished for having dissuaded any cloud of moral compass surrounding this matter, because we always think we are of higher virtue than reality. So live your life pondering, if you want.

Google has a knack for stock images, I’m sure.


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