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Monday, October 26, 2015

Could you kill baby Hitler?

Given certain assumptions, this isn't a hard question. Assume that going back in time merely eliminates Hitler, and that the sole effect of that is that the Nazi Party lacks a charismatic leader and never takes power in Germany, and World War II and the Holocaust are averted, and nothing worse than World War II transpires in this alternate reality, and there are no unintended negative consequences of time travel. Then the question is reduced to, "Is it ethical to kill one person to save 40-plus million people?" That's pretty easy. You don't have to be a die-hard utilitarian to think one baby is an acceptable price to pay to save tens of millions of lives.

But, of course, those assumptions are strong. Too strong. Here are just a few of the issues you'd need to sort out before even starting to intelligently consider whether killing baby Hitler would be wise.

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