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bill comments on Generalizing From One Example - Less Wrong

261 Post author: Yvain 28 April 2009 10:00PM

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Comment author: bill 29 April 2009 03:11:58PM 29 points [-]

When I've taught ethics in the past, we always discuss the Nazi era. Not because the Nazis acted unethically, but because of how everyone else acted.

For example, we read about the vans that carried Jewish prisoners that had the exhaust system designed to empty into the van. The point is not how awful that is, but that there must have been an engineer somewhere who figured out the best way to design and build such a thing. And that engineer wasn't a Nazi soldier, he or she was probably no different from anyone else at that time, with kids and a family and friends and so on. Not an evil scientist in a lab, but just a design engineer in a corporation.

One point of the discussion is that "normal" people have acted quite unethically in the past, and how can we prevent that happening to us.

Comment author: MichaelHoward 30 April 2009 05:36:10PM 9 points [-]