Why I Don't Care For Ethics: 9 people on a boat

Since college I have disliked ethics. However, I couldn't explain why.

On December 10, 2008, at approximately 10:04 PM, I turned on the lamp next to my bed and wrote the following:

9 people on a boat that can only hold 8. What do you do?

Even then I knew the answer.

Morally, I think the answer is you (me) jump off the boat.

Maybe I was reading too much Schopenhauer, but this seems like the only answer you can give.

Even if you were given information about the 8 other people, you can't make a decision about why anyone else should jump or be thrown from the boat. But, here's some other arguments that one might give.

Other Arguments

Throw off the oldest. After all, they're the nearest to death.

Throw off the youngest.

Throw off the one who isn't married and doesn't have children.

Throw off the one who can't have children.

Throw off the atheist.

Throw off the christian.

Throw off the republican.

Throw off the democrat.

Vote on who should be thrown off.

Pick straws.

Throw off the stupidest.


Despite all these options, there is truly only one that can be picked, and may in fact lead to another because of it; allow the first to jump off to stay off.

Am I wrong? Is there any other way to solve this dilemma?

If it is the only way, can it be used to solve all other questions? What if you're the only doctor? Or the only one who has survived in such a situation before? Or the only one strong enough to get the survivors back?

And this is why I don't care for, and even dislike, ethics.