Our Strange Philosophy Thing discussion will focus on Chidi’s ethics class, particularly Michael’s new involvement in it in episodes S2.E04, S2.E05 and S2.E06.
Some issues to think about as you watch:
Why is Chidi teaching about false ethical theories? (False, given what we know about the ethical truths in the show.)
Is there a difference between moral knowledge and moral understanding?
If so, how is this difference important?
What are good (and bad) methods for gaining moral knowledge and/or understanding? (The show contrasts, for instance, “theoretical/abstract” and “concrete” approaches.)
Does this tell us anything about the subject matter of ethics?
Does “human ethics” refer to something different than “ethics”?
Michael: I know for a fact that if you steal a loaf of bread, it’s negative 17 points. 20 if it’s a baguette because that makes you more French.
Chidi: Sure, but philosophy is about questioning things that you take for granted, and I just don’t think that you’re doing that.
Chidi: I just don’t feel like you’re engaging with the material. Like with the trolley problem.
Michael: that was just tricky that’s all. Why don’t you just tell me the right answer?
Chidi: that’s what’s so great about the trolley problem, that there is no right answer. …
Chidi: Michael, trust me. When it comes to human ethics, I just know more than you. I’ve been studying it my whole life
Michael: It’s just that it’s so theoretical, you know. I mean, maybe there’s a more concrete approach. Here, let’s try this.
Chidi: Oh god! Michael what did you do?
Michael: I made the trolley problem real, so we can see how the ethics would actually play out. There’re five workers on this track and one person over there. Here are the levers to switch the tracks. Make a choice.
Chidi: the thing is… I mean … ethically speaking…
Eleanor: THERE’S NO TIME! MAKE A DECISION!
Chidi: well, it’s tricky! If you subscribe to a purely utilitarian point of view….
[smash & gore]
Eleanor: Look, see buddy, none of this was real.
Michael: well, they’re fake people, but their pain is real. There have to be stakes, or it’s just another thought experiment.