Aristotle holds the view that moral virtues lie at the mean between extremes of excess and deficiency. For example, if courage taken to excess would manifest as recklessness and if deficient as cowardice. Thus, virtue is in the middle of two vices, that is called "the golden mean". However, that's inaccurate, for what are the extremes of the virtue of knowledge? Should we take a little from knowledge and a little from ignorance? Even though his mentor, Socrates, referred all virtues to knowledge!

Virtue takes nothing from the two vices, it is an independent line. Virtue isn't a mixture of vices because mixing vices will only produce vices. The opposite of asceticism is materialism, but that doesn't mean we have to take from both of them to be on the right path. We should be on a separate third line.

God said in the Quran: "Guide us to the straight path. The path of those You have blessed, Not of those who have earned Your anger, nor those who have gone astray", so the straight path is different from the path of those who earned God's anger –who have known the true path but refused it-, and different from the path of the people who have gone astray- who are seeking the right path but are taking the wrong route-. The right path is different from the two extremes not between them nor produced from them. The Quran used the Arabic word "ghair" in: ("ghair" of those who have earned your anger, "ghair" of those who have gone astray) "ghair" literally means: different, which is a more accurate word than which Aristotle used: between. The right path doesn’t take a little of the path of people who refuse the truth and a little of the path of stray people to produce Hegel's dialectic middle which will later have its opposite. And probably Hegel had improved Aristotle's idea to the idea of the dialectic, which implies that from two opposites a third thing is produced which has its own opposite thus producing a forth thing and so on, that's the movement of life according to his point of view.

Aristotle's logic makes vice the origin, and virtues are burden on vices, even though the opposite of this idea is what's correct. The origin of squandering is generosity, the origin of envy is love and admiration, and the origin of miserliness is economy and wise spending. Vices don’t have an existent foundation in human nature -that's why I call them artificial ideas-, so how can they be an origin? Vices are precarious while virtues are firmly founded in our nature. All vices ride on the back of virtues, without virtue vice wouldn’t have existed and not vice versa. Without good apples there wouldn't bad apples, without life there wouldn't be death, without good qualities there wouldn't be envy and jealousy.     


"Greetings, Alwarraq

Welcome to the Philosophy Forum.
You give us a very good discussion of some profound ethical issues.
I agree with your resolutions of Dilemmas 1 and 3. In the first one, it indeed is just for the captain ( - once he made such an immoral suggestion - namely,, to sacrifice the weakest among the 30 -) to be the one that the group throws overboard. That will serve to lighten the boat, and get the rest safely to shore. Let him swim ashore since he is so strong
As to your comments with regard to the third dilemma, we concur. See my earlier thread here on the subject of torture, where I list about 40 arguments against the use of torture. 
As to the second - The Trolley Dilemma - first proposed by Philippa Foot, (Professor at U. of C., Los Angeles, who trained at Oxford) as a way of ridiculing Consequentialism. This situation - with a madman tying folks to tracks - does not arise very often, fortunately. You may be surprised to learn of a prior discussion of the dilemma in the paper, A UNIFIED THEORY OF ETHICS, p. 41 ff., a link to which is found by clicking on the link offered in the signature below, which directs readers to a list of further references they can study.
If the one individual, on the other track, is your mother or daughter you may think twice about throwing the lever to switch the runaway trolley. Yet what if we are all brothers and sisters? We are at least cousins since the population of the Earth was much smaller at one time than it is now, and so we spring from common ancestors. How many have given thought to that fact? We are literally all one kin. We are related. {Lately, more and more of us know that we are connected: the social networks make it possible.}
Thanks again for a rich and valuable discussion !
I for one appreciate how you think deeply about Ethical issues. You manage to teach Applied Ethics at its best. Keep up the good work."


Thank you for your enlightened mind and your moral soul..
If you want to apply morality you are going to have to sacrifice one mother or daughter to save five people who are also mothers and daughters. Morality is the shadow of reason, those five are also mothers and children to other people. There are people who sacrificed their lives to save their cities, and who sacrificed his son for a scientific experiment that benefits humanity. Like the old Chinese story in which an army had surrounded a city and found two people who know its secret entries, so they asked those two to give them the secret information, one of them said: "I will tell you if you killed the other one", and so they did, then he said "whom you have killed is my son and I know he will give up and tell you everything, and now that's there is only me, you can do whatever you want with me I'm not going to tell you anything!

Christian Liberty

 Do you have children? (if you don't, pretend)
If killing one of your children to harvest their organs could save 3 lives, is that cool? Or is it murder?

This example is different than the example of the trolley. The trolley is out of control and will inevitably hit someone, this is not the same as those who were about to die, nothing forced you to choose between one or three children. If you were forced to transmit a disease to either one or three of your children then this would be analogous to the trolley problem, but in your example you have intentionally killed an innocent life to save people he's not responsible for their illness and neither are you. Also, why sacrifice your son? Why not sacrifice yourself? You also have organs!

If we generalize this idea it will cause disasters. This idea is a communist idea based on taking over the individual property for the interest of the group. It is immoral to sacrifice the few whenever the more needed to. The purpose of morality isn’t to stand with the majority, it might be on the side of the minority. All the imposed ideologies sacrifice the individual for the group, which makes it immoral because the group is nothing but individuals. What is the fault of the innocent? Even if the majority benefited from ending the life of an individual they don’t morally have the right to do so, this is supported by the Quran which says:" whoever killed a human being, except as a punishment for murder or for spreading corruption in the land, shall be regarded as having killed all mankind". Sacrificing the few for the majority is an immoral act.
 However, if this sacrifice is inevitable and out of our control then it's moral to sacrifice the few for the majority, like driving a train that can't be stopped and you either hit one or three people then it's moral to direct it to the one, but to bring an innocent person out of nowhere and sacrifice him to save a group then this is an immoral act. Morality is concerned with our actions not the actions of fate.
 That’s why the idea of communism is immoral from the point of view, like any other ideology that’s based on the right of the group, disregarding the right of the individual and protecting him/her from the group.

Christian Liberty

"INACTION is not murder."


I disagree, inaction can be murder sometimes. To leave someone who's about to die of thirst while you make rainbows of water for fun and watch him die next to u, are you moral now?! This is like throwing away the excess grain and milk into the sea to keep the prices high, even though there are people who die of hunger and could have been saved. There is no freedom against morality, you can say I'm free to do whatever I want with my money even if I burn it, but that won't make you moral. Freedom in evil is slavery, and liberation from good is an attachment to the strains of evil. There is no middle ground between good and evil.  
Yes inaction can be murder sometimes. When you find a car accident with its passengers bleeding in a remote area and not call the ambulance even though you could, you are in this case a criminal and deserve to be punished. Nothing causes the action of crime except the crime of inaction. Leaving the poor people die of hunger might turn them into criminals which will make you react against them to oppress them, thus you committed crime against them twice! Just like what the powers of occupation around the world do, they occupy people's land or steal its legitimate authority and then oppress them after they try to regain their right, thus subjecting them twice to cruelty and injustice. The first by neglecting their rights and existence, and the second by oppressing them and accusing them of terrorism, neglecting the first one and focusing only on what they did not on what has been done to them.    

The world's hungry is the responsibility of everyone according to their wealth and power. The more rich and free you are the more you are responsible, and the peoples of the strong, free and rich countries are more responsible for the global human problems than the people of the weak and not free countries. You are probably a member of a rich country, so how do you exonerate yourself from any responsibility for those who die of hunger in Africa and other places? Unless you have actually done something. If the burden of responsibility didn’t fall on the capable person, whom shall it fall on then? The incapable is excused.