“Consider an example. You are the best man or woman at your brother’s wedding, and it is your task to bring the wedding rings. The wedding takes place in a nearby city and your only chance to get there on time is to board the next train. You arrive at the train station. As you go to buy the ticket, you realise that your wallet and cellphone are missing. There’s no time to talk to the police, and other people at the station refuse your requests to use their phone or lend you money to call your brother. Desperate, you sit down on a bench in the main hall. You notice that the well-off person sitting next to you takes a phone call, stands up and walks around the corner to talk in private. Left on the bench is the person’s expensive jacket. You notice a ticket for your train half-sticking out of the jacket pocket. You could easily take this ticket without anybody noticing. This person looks like they could buy a replacement without any problem, as the train is half-empty. What should you do?”
—– from Aeon magazine.
I’ve always had problems with morality and ethics problems that are described in this way.
Every time someone is talking about ethics and philosophy, they string out an issue with many facets similarly to how the above scenario is laid.
I could never quite put my finger one what was it that stuck me so odd and incorrect about ethics problems. But I think I know now.
It is Becuase of what I am calling the “Atemporal Fallacy”. It is that the way the problem is strung out linearly, as pieces to ponder separately, do not equate to the original ethical issue. There is a real temporal issue that is being ignored for the sake of the intellectualization. In short, to lay out a dynamic of the presenting problem in a linear manner is a misrepresentation of the problem, and then to think about various issues in that linear fashion and come to a conclusion does not then reassemble to properly answer the dilemma of the original situation.
One could say, then, that the philosophical domain of ethics, at least put forth through these kind of thought experiments, is already a non sequitur in actual circumstance.