March 30th, 2008

The Elevator Dilemma

We were talking about emotions and cognition last night.  Afterwards I starting thinking about a scenario adopted from The Gift of Fear:

You're waiting for an elevator.  It opens up.  There's a man inside, and no one else.  You feel fear.  You're not sure why.  It's just a "vibe".  This is not a typical reaction for you.

Quick now, what do you do?  The elevator door is about to close.  Choose one:

A) Enter the elevator

B) Do not enter the elevator

While you're deciding, here's a philosophical question: does this represent a conflict between emotion and cognition?

It's a case where you feel the man is dangerous, but don't know the man is dangerous.  So it's not really a conflict of emotion vs. knowledge.  It's more of having emotion without having much knowledge.

If this were a law court, I'd say give him the benefit of the doubt.
But when it's an elevator, you might want to stay out.