Bite the bullet

Bite the bullet

To "bite the bullet" is to accept the consequences of a hard choice. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=yNjM75ItNKAC&pg=PA29&dq=bite+the+bullet+philosopher&sig=zxV-AuvTVtdhoqLrS-iiCY07o2I#PPA28,M1 Thinking from A to Z p.28] ] It is derived historically from the practice of having a patient clench a bullet in his or her teeth as a way to cope with the extreme pain of a surgical procedure without anesthetic. [cite web
url=http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bite%20the%20bullet
title=bite the bullet
publisher=Dictionary.com
work=The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
accessdate=2008-03-17
] [cite web
url=http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/65400.html
title=Bite the bullet
publisher=The Phrase Finder
accessdate=2008-03-17
]

In philosophy, a major goal is to always sustain a consistent set of beliefs using sound reasoning. Often this will involve accepting a belief that is a disturbing truth. It may be disturbing because it is counterintuitive or has other disturbing consequences. Given a philosopher's previously held beliefs he or she may have to "bite the bullet" by accepting a particular claim offered as an extreme case or counterexample.

Examples

* The strict utilitarian will be forced to admit that if it can be shown that punishing an innocent person would increase the total happiness of the whole society, then there are times when it is morally good to punish an innocent person. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=yNjM75ItNKAC&pg=PA29&dq=bite+the+bullet+philosopher&sig=zxV-AuvTVtdhoqLrS-iiCY07o2I#PPA28,M1 Thinking from A to Z p.29] ]

* The Euthyphro dilemma can be resolved by a Divine command theorist by simply accepting that if God tells us to do something which appears to be immoral, then we are to accept that it really is moral in the bigger picture, and that it only appears to be immoral. [http://www.iep.utm.edu/d/divine-c.htm#SH4a Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]

* A consequentialist believes that what is called "right" or "wrong" depends on what consequences come about as a result of a proposed action. As a way to test this view, some counterexamples may be considered which are intended to find out if this view holds up in extreme cases. One may object, for example, that some actions appear to be "right in principle" even when terrible consequences have resulted from them. Also, there may be times when an action appears to be wrong in principle, but has wonderful consequences. A person wanting to stay faithful to the consequentialist view in the face of an extreme case may have to "bite the bullet" by taking the position that even though these counterexamples do exist the original view still holds up: ::"Even though both drivers were driving recklessly, only the one that is caught and ticketed suffers a penalty. It's okay that some people are treated differently based solely on their luck.":Accepting the existence of moral luck may seem counterintuitive or even unreasonable to some, so this statement of acceptance can be seen as "biting the bullet."

See also

*Reductio ad absurdum
*Unintended consequence

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • bite the bullet — ► bite the bullet decide to do something difficult or unpleasant that one has been hesitating over. [ORIGIN: from the old custom of giving wounded soldiers a bullet to bite on when undergoing surgery without anaesthetic.] Main Entry: ↑bite …   English terms dictionary

  • bite the bullet — If you have to bite the bullet, you have to accept or face something unpleasant because it cannot be avoided …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • bite the bullet — [v] take it be forced, bow to fate, face the music*, have no choice, know no alternative, pay the piper*, stand up and take it, swallow the pill*, take one’s medicine*, take the rap; concepts 23,96 …   New thesaurus

  • bite the bullet — phrasal : to face up to an unpleasant situation by taking action we are now seeing responsible industries beginning to bite the bullet and clean up waste sites Harold Gershowitz * * * bite the bullet informal phrase to force yourself to do… …   Useful english dictionary

  • bite the bullet —    If you have to bite the bullet, you have to accept or face something unpleasant because it cannot be avoided.   (Dorking School Dictionary)    ***    If you bite the bullet, you accept something unpleasant because you cannot avoid it.     If… …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • bite the bullet —    to take a difficult or costly decision    A soldier being flogged was given a bullet to bite to prevent his crying out in pain. Today only metaphorical bullets are bitten:     I suppose he thought it would be best to bite the bullet and pay… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • bite the bullet — tv. to accept something difficult and try to live with it. □ You are just going to have to bite the bullet and make the best of it. □ Jim bit the bullet and accepted what he knew had to be …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • bite the bullet — to do or accept something difficult or unpleasant. We ve all experienced unpleasant moments when we had to bite the bullet and apologize for something we did. Etymology: based on the literal action of biting on bullets that was done by soldiers… …   New idioms dictionary

  • bite the bullet (to) —  Go ahead with a difficult task even though it might be expensive.  ► “And unless providers realize that the old environment has in no way prepared them for the competition ahead and unless they bite the bullet and do whatever it takes to correct …   American business jargon

  • bite the bullet — try harder, be tougher    Bite the bullet during exam week. Don t party; just study …   English idioms

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