4 Responses to Milk and Eggs: Third Helping

  1. Flex September 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    This may have been the most adorable thing I have seen in my entire life.

  2. Anon73 September 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    Quick phil 101 question if I may:

    If Superman and Lois Lane are both knocked off the Empire State building and fall to the ground, then Lois would die but thanks to his super strength Superman would survive. As it happens a large trampoline breaks their fall, and Superman says “Whew glad I survived, although it wasn’t because of my super strength”. Is his statement true, if not why not?

    It makes sense in context, but if you think about it he did survive because of his super strength, since whether the trampoline exists or not he would survive. But it seems he also survived because of the trampoline…? It seems like he’s treating the trampoline as a sufficient cause but his strength as a necessary cause.

    • Roderick September 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

      This is like the Poisoner’s Paradox. A has two enemies, B and C, who each seek A’s death but don’t know about each other. A is planning a long trek across the Sahara the next day. So B decides to poison the water in A’s canteen. But C, not knowing about B’s plan, drills a hole in the canteen so all the water will leak out. The next day, A heads out into the desert. All the poisoned water leaks out of his canteen, and A dies of thirst.

      B’s and C’s plots then come to light, but the question is: which one caused A’s death? B says: “well, you can’t say I caused A’s death. I tried to, of course; but he never drank the poison I gave him. Everything proceeded just as it would have if I hadn’t been involved at all.” And C says: “well, you can’t say I caused his death. Once his water was poisoned he was doomed one way or another; and all I did was remove water that was poisoned. I wasn’t removing anything that could have saved his life.”

  3. Anon73 September 8, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    I can’t tell if poisoner’s paradox is the accepted name for it but I have found a few sources discussing it. Apparently the problem is I’m using the faulty, though intuitive “sine qua non” (“but-for”) test, where A causes B if the presence of A results in B and the absence of A results in ~B. In this case whether it’s Superman being saved two ways or a man being poisoned two ways or a house being burned two ways the paradox is that neither of the two factors alone “caused” the outcome. I don’t see how the NESS test outlined in the following law article resolves the problem.

    http://www6.miami.edu/ethics/jpsl/archives/all/NESS_Causation.html

    But I like the idea of preemption, which is that whichever factor happened later “preempts” the first factor. Thus C is the killer because his action came after B and Superman’s strength was “preempted” by the trampoline. In other words you could say his super strength didn’t get a chance to activate because the trampoline was there.

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