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Thought Experiment: The Spider in the Urinal – Learn Liberty

August 18, 2019


Warning, the following program is
a philosophical thought experiment. Do not attempt at home. A few months ago, in the men’s
room in the philosophy department, a large spider appeared in the urinal. I saw him in the same spot for
a week straight. I noticed that whenever
the urinal was in use, he would try to scramble out of
the way as fast as humanly possible. Often, he would get caught,
tumbled and drenched by the flushing torrent of Princeton’s city water and
the urine of aspiring philosophers. The worst part was, that there was no
way for the spider to get out, and no way to tell if he even wanted to. None of the other students or professors
did anything to alter the situation. As the months wore on,
I arrived with much uncertainty and hesitation at the decision
to liberate him. He just sat there, not moving a muscle. The next day,
I found him in the same place. His legs shriveled in that way
characteristics of dead spiders. His corpse stayed there for
a week until they finally swept the floor. No! For weeks after, I had recurring
nightmares, giant spiders, teeth, webs, me, your humble narrator, charged with
manslaughter in the high spider court. Your honor, my client was acting
with the best of intentions when he rescued Mister Spider
from the urinal. Mister Spider was forcibly
removed from his home. Objection! Sustained. Please proceed. Your client without fully considering
the potential consequences of his actions proceeded to interfere in and
ultimately, end Mister Spider’s life. We find the defendant guilty! This thought experiment forces us to
question the morality of intervention. Good intentions do not
always yield good results. You gotta let these people think for
themselves. If you were in my position,
would you move the spider or let him be? What do you think? I’m not that bad of a guy. Am I? Am I? Am I?

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