Context and Perspective

We all want to do the right thing and refrain from doing the wrong thing.

Truth be told, we do not even know what is right and wrong. Most often only a thin line divides the two. This line usually is our ability to justify our actions to society in general.

Let us engage in a thought experiment.

Track

You are a cop. You find out that a gang has tied up four people on the railway track and left them to die. You rush and reach the location and find a train hurtling towards them. You find that three of them are lying on one track and one of them is on a parallel diversion track. You cannot reach them and untie all of them but you can reach the lever and divert the train. On the current course, the train will kill three of them but one will escape. If you pull the lever, three of them will escape and one will die. What do you do.

Most people will sacrifice the one to kill the three because all of them were tied up either way and it is easier to justify killing one to save three.

Now imagine the same situation but you are on top of a bridge looking down. You cannot reach the lever, but a fat man is standing next to you. If you push the man down, the train will slow down after the collision and you would be able to save the three men. What would you do?

Most people would not push the man down, because he is free. It is just chance that he is at the scene.

 

Context – This man is a drunkard and beats his wife every night.

Perspective – How you look at the same situation.

 

Context helps form perspective.

Perspective affect decision making.

 

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