virtue

I do think that if I had to choose one word to which hope can be tied it is hospitality. A practice of hospitality— recovering threshold, table, patience, listening, and from there generating seedbeds for virtue and friendship on the one hand — on the other hand radiating out for possible community, for rebirth of community.
—  Ivan Illich
The real trouble is that ‘kindness’ is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that ‘his heart’s in the right place’ and ‘he wouldn’t hurt a fly’, though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature.
—  C.S. Lewis

anonymous asked:

Have you ever heard of the Trolley Dilemma? How would you answer it, as a paladin?

I have, actually. Studied it in an ethics course not too long ago, along with a few permutations which alter the problem in subtle but distinct ways.

For those of you unfamiliar with this, the trolley’s dilemma is a thought problem where a trolley is heading towards five people who are tied to the track. You have the power to prevent this by pulling a switch that will change the trolley, but in doing so, you are dooming one person who is tied to the opposite track. According to the problem’s rules, you only have the choice of pulling the switch or not.

There are other variations on the problem. What if instead of having the power to redirect the train, you could only stop it by pushing a large man in its path? Or another variation, what if that man was the one who orchestrated the scenario, would you push then?

These aren’t easy scenarios because regardless of action or intent, someone will die. Assuming we’re following the rules of scenario, in a realistic situation we have more choices than the thought problem allows, but the point of dilemmas like this is to determine what the person being questioned thinks is the correct path and why.

I’m a virtue ethicist, and according to my personal code, always choose the more virtuous action in a given situation. In situations where there are no good choices, then choose the path of least harm. I would redirect the train in the first scenario, saving five for the sake of one. I was not the agent of harm that triggered that man’s death, but it could be argued that I contributed to the situation by becoming involved, but holding back and allowing five to die would have been worse.

In the next scenario, pushing the man in front of the moving train makes me an agent of harm in that scenario, which makes me far more reluctant to do it. The only really virtuous choice in that scenario is to use your own body to block the train. I’m ignoring the rules of the thought problem here, but if I’m in the position to push someone, then its only logical that I’m close enough to take the bullet myself.

In the last scenario, where the man responsible for the whole scenario is present to be pushed, the Paladin, would certainly push him, to enact both justice and save the lives of the innocent, and is arguably not an agent of harm in this scenario because they’re only reacting to the original agent’s actions.

To sum it all up, my answer is that you have try to save everyone, but if you can’t, then pick the path of least harm. Take the bullet, punish the wicked, and save who you can. That’s the Paladin’s answer, for good or ill.