For ages, people have been seeing puzzles and conundrums all around us. Those who dwelt further into these puzzles, created further problems, which confuse people even to this day. Here are four puzzles for you to look at:
- You, the manager of a work team, are standing on the side of a railroad with a rather bulky stranger. You receive word through your walkie-talkie that 5 workers are tied to the track down the line. They are too far away to reach before the next train comes and the train is traveling too fast to slow down in time, meaning that they will surely die. However, due to your understanding of physics and math, you quickly figure out that if you were to push the stranger onto the track, his getting run over would slow the train to the point that it would stop before hitting the workers. Do you push the stranger onto the track?
- You are a candidate for class clown and you want to play a prank to prove your class clown worthiness. However, you just got ISS for a week, so you can’t play the prank. You decide on a plan of action. Since nobody would suspect the do-gooder, named Jimmy, you kidnap him and implant a microchip. This microchip will monitor the Jimmy’s intentions. If he wants to deviate from the plan and not do the prank, you will activate the microchip and he will do it anyways.
You wipe his memory of the kidnapping and tell him about the prank. You set the plan in motion and monitor his intentions. He pulled off the prank without your interference. Here are the facts
- The prank broke school rules.
- Jimmy did the prank by himself; the microchip was not needed.
- There was never any doubt that Jimmy would do the prank, as he would have been controlled by the mind chip.
Are you responsible for breaking the school rules (note: this does not include the kidnapping, illegal surgery, etc.), or is Jimmy? Can we be responsible for something we can’t avoid?
- – Two of your best friends are in an argument. They are arguing whether a notorious bank robber from the 1980s was actually guilty or innocent. Joseph argues that, even though he acknowledges that the bank robber did in fact rob the banks, he was innocent, because of causal determinism. His argument is as follows:
The bank robber robbed the bank because he needed money after he was laid off. He was laid off because his employer went bankrupt. He was always going to rob a bank, as inevitable events all the way back to his birth shaped his eventually robbery; therefore he should be innocent because he never had a choice but to rob a bank.
Your other friend, Amir, who just happens to be a philosopher, offers of up his reasoning as to why the robber is guilty, known as the Buridan’s Ass Problem. His reasoning is as follows:
A donkey is between two bales of hay, which are exactly identical. If causal determinism, as Joseph argues, is real, then the donkey will be trapped in indecision until it starves to death.
They look to you for who you think is right.
Who is right? Is the robber innocent, or guilty?
- – Sanger’s Dilemma
You forget your agenda in your locker over the weekend, and when you walk into class Monday morning, you find out you have a test. You are normally very diligent and you always study. With studying, which you always do, you would get a grade identical to your neighbor in the class, Sanger. Because you would get an identical grade had you studied, which you always do, is it morally right to copy off of Sanger? How could you justify this?
These are meant to be enjoyed. Comment on what you think!