2016/06/05 - Goats on the wrong track

Blame Quintushalls for this.

Moderator: Kimra

2016/06/05 - Goats on the wrong track

This has bugged me so much that I’ve registered just to mention it… Isn’t this joke wrong? In conventional trolley problems you would (usually) only ever possibly choose to switch tracks if it harms a smaller number of people to do so.
If one of the other buildings is revealed to have one person in, then switching increases the chance of hitting the building with five people (as per the Monty Hall problem) so you wouldn’t switch regardless of your answer to conventional trolley problems.

If, however, the joke were set up with two houses with five people (booby prizes equivalent to goats) then one of these were revealed, switching would increase the chance of hitting the building with one person (the proverbial car) so a utilitarian would choose to switch. However, others might not switch choosing to permit the deaths of the many to avoid causing the deaths of the few (like in a trolley problem).

There's the added moral jeopardy of, what if you switch based on 2/3 Vs 1/3 odds and actually end up killing more people. I know it doesn’t actually mater and this is stupid but isn’t both the joke and the philosophy better if it’s the other way around?
Jernau

Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2016 1:50 pm

Re: 2016/06/05 - Goats on the wrong track

1) Your reasoning is correct on the track part, if this is a Monty Hall situation (that there is a constraint that only a 1-person building will be revealed), then switching tracks increases your chances of hitting the 5-person building, but
2) The comic has someone asking the question about whether you should, so the way the question is posed isn't a problem, you would just argue switch/no switch based on your ethical reasoning with 1) in mind.
anon

Re: 2016/06/05 - Goats on the wrong track

I was just about to say!

I was overthinking this at first but actually the logic is pretty clear. Assuming you are aware of the parameters laid out in the premise, and want to minimize the loss of life, you should switch - to the building that's been revealed to contain one person. Nothing in the problem as stated prevents you from picking the open door, right?
KSE

Re: 2016/06/05 - Goats on the wrong track

He should have made it two doors with 5 people to make it more like the real Monty Hall problem. Unless, we're supposed to consider hitting 5 people as a win?
Guest

Re: 2016/06/05 - Goats on the wrong track

Jernau wrote:This has bugged me so much that I’ve registered just to mention it… Isn’t this joke wrong? In conventional trolley problems you would (usually) only ever possibly choose to switch tracks if it harms a smaller number of people to do so.
If one of the other buildings is revealed to have one person in, then switching increases the chance of hitting the building with five people (as per the Monty Hall problem) so you wouldn’t switch regardless of your answer to conventional trolley problems.

Well, in actual fact, given there is no limitation on which building you could switch to, you would switch to the revealed building 100% of the time.

If, however, the joke were set up with two houses with five people (booby prizes equivalent to goats) then one of these were revealed, switching would increase the chance of hitting the building with one person (the proverbial car) so a utilitarian would choose to switch. However, others might not switch choosing to permit the deaths of the many to avoid causing the deaths of the few (like in a trolley problem).

It really should have been set up that way. A good joke spoiled, unfortunately.
AnotherGuest