If You Could Go Back in Time, Would You Kill Hitler?

Nope – I wouldn’t and here’s why:

  1. I’m selfish. Going back in time and changing something means I might have an impact on people’s decisions – even my own parents. Maybe they won’t meet. Maybe they’ll meet and not get married. Maybe they’ll meet, get married, but choose to have babies at a different time. If any of these happen, I won’t be born.
  2. Using the same logic, millions, perhaps even billions of people that now exist might not exist in a world where I kill Hitler. (I don’t find this hard to believe since WWII and the Holocaust were such world-changing events.) If this is true, isn’t this, in essence, a mass murder of millions of people? Sure, in a way, you’re “making up for it” by leading to the creation of a million new people (hopefully, at least), but I don’t think that really makes it right.

My usual answer to these sort of questions is that if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t go back in time. And for this question, I’m sticking to that. Because despite the size of the calamity you want to stop, your impact will always be even greater.

Photo Credit: Profound Whatever via Compfight cc

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Posted on May 13, 2014, in Ethics, Philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. While this post is kind of Star Trekky (don’t do it Kirk! It’s just Joan Collins after all!) I’ve always wondered if time travel was possible and you could change something would you even realize you’d changed it because once you presumably went back to the current time you would have grown up in a world where whatever you had inadvertently changed in the past would then be the only reality you had ever known. In fact, in theory people from the future could be going back constantly and changing the past right now and we wouldn’t know it because, say, the brother you had in the life before the change would have never have been born but that would be your new reality and you wouldn’t realize you’d ever had a brother. Make any sense?

    • Yup, I get what you’re saying and it gets really confusing there haha. If Bob #1 goes back in time and changes the past, affecting himself, and Bob #2 results, what happens to Bob #1? Is he eliminated from the universe or are there now two Bob’s? If Bob #1 disappears, then you’re right, Bob #2 has no memory of changing the past.

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