gmalivuk wrote:However, you also described killing the fat man as "just playing by the rules of the game", which suggested that you took for granted the general conclusion that, all else being equal, causing one death isn't as bad as allowing five.
I believe I communicated badly. It was not my intent to "describe killing the fat man as "just playing by the rules of the game"". "Playing by the rules of the game" was meant to mean something like "allowing onesself to be fully bound by the parameters of the thought experiment".
The original context:
Samik wrote:But if someone accepts all the conditions, implied or directly stated, of the Trolley Problem (Fat Man Variant) Thought Experiment World, and confidently asserts they'd push the fat man without hesitation, we cock our eyebrows at them and think, "wow, you cold-hearted bastard" (or conclude something broad about their stance on utilitarianism), when they were actually just playing by the rules of the game.
I can see how it sounded that way, but I did not mean to argue that "accepting the parameters I mentioned will lead to the conclusion that you should push". I meant a more general point about thought experiments: if someone embraces a very particular set of parameters and draws a conclusion (well reasoned or not) within those, and then we, the observers, conclude something very general about what they would think in many other cases, then we've done something unfair.
I.E., you see me conclude (rightly or wrongly) that the switch-variant and fat-man-variant are identical, and so conclude, about me, that I "[take] for granted the general conclusion that, all else being equal, causing one death isn't as bad as allowing five". I take no such thing for granted. Your conclusion doesn't follow from mine.
I think (one of) the problem(s) with my original post is that I tried to do two things without clearly separating them. 1.) I made a foray into an argument for why I found the switch-variant and fat-man-variant to be identical, and 2.) I made a foray into an argument for why strict and complete definition of all parameters of a thought experiment is necessary for effective interpretation.
It's the latter question that I'm by far more interested in pursuing. I have no problem giving up the former for now.