The Trolley Problem

Dec 2018
659
386
Wisconsin
#1
I remember discussing the Trolley Problem in my college years and wanted to get the groups input. The fact that early versions of this came out of the University of Wisconsin has nothing to do with it ;)

For those unaware, the base of the philosophical problem is very basic.

You see a trolley (train) coming down the tracks and there are five people tied to the rails. They are certain to be killed. You are standing next to a lever that will divert the trolley to a side track, saving the five people. However, one person is tied to the side track. What is the more ethical option?
1. You allow nature to take it's course and five people will die. You had nothing to do with it.
2. If you pull the lever, you have a direct hand in killing one person.

Like with most philosophical problems, the devil is in the details:
- What if the five people are convicted felons and the one person is a police officer?
- What if the five people are senior citizens and the one person is a ten year old girl?
- What if the five people are morbidly obese and the one person is a heart surgeon?
- If your answer changes, why?
- Is the value of life dependent on life choices, age, health, occupation, etc.?

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand go
 
Dec 2018
659
386
Wisconsin
#6
Yeah... I was THAT kid...
Pose it to you like this then.

A train is going down the track towards five people. You're standing on a bridge next to a morbidly obese man. You have the opportunity to push him over the bridge, killing him, stopping the train, and saving the lives of the five people. Would you do it?
 
Feb 2007
3,221
1,576
New York
#7
Probably not. I would have an issue with killing someone who had dome nothing wrong.

I might not be so generous if one of my grandkids was on the train, but I would like to think that I still wouldn't.
 
Oct 2010
64,151
25,236
Colorado
#8
Hindsight is 20/20. Yes, the five people might be convicted felons and the one person might be a police officer, or a brilliant scientist. The five people may be senior citizens and the one person might be a ten year old girl, or boy.
And, the five people could be morbidly obese and the one person, a heart surgeon.

When split seconds count, quick reactions count.

The five people might be decorated police officers and the one person might be a convicted felon. The five people could be preadolescent children and the one person a senior citizen. And, the five people could be skilled medical practitioners and the one, morbidly obese.

I'd pull the lever. Life sometimes presents tough choices. Going on the information available in the split-second timeframe presented, definitely saving five lives beats saving one.
 
Oct 2010
64,151
25,236
Colorado
#9
Probably not. I would have an issue with killing someone who had dome nothing wrong.

I might not be so generous if one of my grandkids was on the train, but I would like to think that I still wouldn't.
But your inaction would result in your having a hand in the death of five people.
 
Dec 2018
659
386
Wisconsin
#10
Hindsight is 20/20. Yes, the five people might be convicted felons and the one person might be a police officer, or a brilliant scientist. The five people may be senior citizens and the one person might be a ten year old girl, or boy.
And, the five people could be morbidly obese and the one person, a heart surgeon.

When split seconds count, quick reactions count.

The five people might be decorated police officers and the one person might be a convicted felon. The five people could be preadolescent children and the one person a senior citizen. And, the five people could be skilled medical practitioners and the one, morbidly obese.

I'd pull the lever. Life sometimes presents tough choices. Going on the information available in the split-second timeframe presented, definitely saving five lives beats saving one.
So you would sacrifice the one life to save the five. See my example to KnightOfShappho. Would you push the man off the bridge?

"A train is going down the track towards five people. You're standing on a bridge next to a morbidly obese man. You have the opportunity to push him over the bridge, killing him, stopping the train, and saving the lives of the five people. Would you do it?"
 

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