Jejudo, South Korea
I'm glad I held off on this. I originally read this post (only God knows why) as a ship coming in from the river (couldn't figure out why you kept saying lower the draw bridge when I kept thinking it should be raise, raise the bridge -- always got to be careful on assuming someone is going to say something when you don't know it.) -- I think this change alters the situation a bit.
LR makes a good point about changing the terms of the 'moral' test.
It seems to me that the 'instinct' argument goes both ways. What if the worker had worked this bridge for twenty years, had made it part of his identity, was showing his child who he was, was explaining to the child the importance of his responsibility. Lowering the bridge would then be just as 'instinctual' as saving the child. This is what he DOES.
Wouldn't that be just as amoral (not immoral) a choice as saving his son?
Let's reverse this. What if the train were filled with members of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge -- guilty of consciously killing two million of their own countrymen.
What is the moral choice then?
Or is it still an amoral, instinctual choice?
Still more, a Japanese woman once explained to me that if a 'Japanese woman' were in the forest with her children and a bear charged them, she would circle the children, try to hide them, protect them from the bear but in an impossible way.
Is this an immoral or an amoral choice?
We all looked at her incredulously (she was my teacher) and she laughed too. She said, that's just what we do.
Maybe, maybe not.
Still more, a former professor of mine interviewed certain Japanese generals from WWII and asked them if they had had the bomb would they have used it. They looked at him incredulously and asked, "Why wouldn't we have used it?"
So what's my point?
What is morality? As long as we keep it abstract like this, as long as we can use the argument that we would not be moral, we would follow our own instincts, whatever those may be -- I don't think they are absolute -- then the abstract discussion of
morality is of no consequence.
As long as amoral is a possible answer here, then the question loses its significance.
You do what you do. That's what everybody does.
And what does that mean for a society and its 'moral fabric'?
PS Is it amoral or immoral to feel anger, even hate, with the train conductor if your son happened to be on that train? Is it moral or amoral to forgive him? Does it matter?