Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Happened to Jones?

Those familiar with Scanlon will know that one of his famous examples, used against utilitarianism, is of Jones who falls into a TV transmitter during the world cup final. He's in fairly severe pain although not at risk of long-term damage or death. The only way to rescue him involves interrupting transmission. Scanlon says we should save him, regardless of how many are watching the match.

I mention this because although tonight's match was only a European championship semi-final, there were two disruptions to the BBC coverage, one of which included Klose's goal. (Since there was a replay later, presumably it was only the transmission rather than recording of pictures affected). They claim it was a world-wide picture loss caused by storms disrupting power in Vienna. Well, that's what they say - who knows whether they were really rescuing some unfortunate individual from the transmitter room...

Contrary to all expectations, it was a very entertaining match, which the Turks thoroughly deserved to win. The loss of pictures did make me wonder whether Scanlon's obviously right. It's not really clear how much pain Jones is in, and some of the many millions of viewers probably do care an awful lot about the result. Indeed, at the extreme, it's not unusual for people to suffer heart attacks during football matches - what if the break in transmission actually imposed a greater risk of death on at least some spectators (more nervous because not being able to see what's happening ruins the illusion of control)?

Anyway, the BBC's online commentary suggests a more practical solution:
2106: Don't worry people of the UK, we are not alone. The TV pictures have gone all around the world. They are still playing though - which is a bit selfish. Jens Lehmann collects Sabri's shot comfortably.
Why don't they just pause the game?

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