Looks like my “ASAP” response didn’t happen as quickly as I had hoped. When I did go out to respond I say that runamokmonk was queued up ahead of you, so anyway, sorry for the delay. Your questions are extreme examples but you are right to expect a valid principle to apply to extreme cases as well. Now, for context, I have claimed,
For “Example 1” you say,Rob:1. As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. This is what we “ought” to do.
2. Entailed in this broadest condition of “oughts,” we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.
One critical fact that we discover as we exercise my points 1 and 2 is the fact that we benefit more by aligning ourselves with an implicit contract to live in accord and reciprocate rights with one another rather than to steal and prey on one another (I can demonstrate this but I’ll assume for now that it’s self-evident). So then, having aligned our self to such a contractual principle, each of the three occupying the lifeboat have an equal right to the food supply provided. If our willingness to honor the rights of others only extends to those times when it is convenient, kind of like the pirate’s code of “steal when you can, trade when you must,” then it’s really no contract at all and we’ve missed the whole point entailed in the afore mentioned fact. In this case, “civil and loving” is not the reason we are obligated to share, it’s our contractual agreement.Metacrock: Suppose we are in a life boat with you, me, and an old woman. We don't have enough food. You say "O let's kill the old woman because she can't row." I say "she can have my food."
which do you buy?
A: If I let her have my food I can't row as much and thus won’t help you get saved so she has to die?
B: We should both give her part of our food and not worry about rowing it's more important to be civil and loving. We are probably all going to die anyway.
So then, you might want to tailor your scenario even more by requiring that you and I each boarded the life raft with our own very limited food supply but that the old woman has none. In this case we are no longer contractually obligated to share our food. Since it will be a serious threat to our life to share our food, the only remaining reason to do so (I’ve mentioned this before) is the fact that “an action that results in high risk to one’s life is only moral and justified if the life that will remain by not taking that risk will no longer be worth living.” Yes, that’s the one exception for undue sacrifice. If the genetic predisposed emotional response for not taking high risk destroys our quality of life, then even if the genetic predisposed emotional response is unjustified, it’s a risk worth taking.
You then say for “Example 2”,
You should be quite aware by now that I have repeatedly refuted genetics as a basis for proper moral action so you already know I would not pick “B.” Rather, I’ll say, “Metacrock wait! Let me join you!” because I am genetically predisposed to such selfless bravery too, and because it is not clear yet that the risk is not justified. But later, upon entering the house and seeing the stairs engulfed in flame, I’ll recognize that it is a foolish waste to proceed further and I’ll say, “Metacrock, this is not going to work. We’re going to have to encourage her to jump while we stand below and try to break her fall rather than the three of us being burned alive.” When you respond with “Metacrock: No, she’ll surely break a hip from the fall, so I’m heading up those flaming stairs with or without you.” “Rob: Come on Metacrock, if you run up those stairs you’ll be throwing your life away.” But you, having conditioned yourself to throw care to the wind in such circumstances, run forward, and as you fall back down the stairs in a ball of flame, I run to throw a rug over you, usher you out of the building, and then while you are incapacitated, I run to the window to encourage the old woman to jump and that I’ll try to break her fall. The old woman responds, “Old woman: Why doesn’t Metacrock help you break my fall? I don’t want to break a hip you know.” And I respond, “Rob: I’m sure he would help if he could, but he foolishly run up the burning stairs to help you and now he’s unconscious having sustained second and third degree burns. I’m afraid I’m all you’ve got right now. Now jump!”Metacrock : I am walking down the street and I see a burning house, and old woman is leaning out the window shouting help help. I dash in to save her risking my own life. Pretend I'm still young.
A: Brovo, that's the right thing to do.
B: She can't contribute to gene frequency anymore, I can so let her die. I should not risk my gene frequency for her non gene frequency?