Friday, August 29, 2008

How Would You Approach This Ethical Dilemma?

A runaway trolley car is hurtling down a track. In its path are five people who will definitely be killed unless you, a bystander, flip a switch which will divert it on to another track, where it will kill one person. Should you flip the switch?

via

12 comments:

Mr. Spock said...

yes

greg. said...

yep.

Earl said...

Flip it.

Kenny said...

More importantly, consider this thought experiment. Hmm...

DannyG said...

Kobashi Maru time, is it? Everything else being equal, yes, the lives of the many outweigh the lives of the few, or the one.

Michael said...

Are any of these six zombies?

the reverend mommy said...

Personally, I've never been in San Francisco.

Stresspenguin said...

But what if, for the five people, it is "their time to go"? Wouldn't you be defying the will of God?

< / tongue in cheek >

John said...

Hmm. That's a really interesting one, Kenny. I'll have to think about that one.

Kenny said...

More seriously (or not, depending on your perspective), there is actually a whole class of complicated thought experiments based on this one. The sub-field of ethics dealing with these thought experiments is sometimes called (I'm not joking) 'trolleyology'. This is not, in my opinion, nearly as much fun as Gettierology (again, I'm not joking, that's really what it's called), the study of whether or not I know that Jones owns a Ford. Gotta love philosophers!

Andrew C. Thompson said...

Are any of them named Lady Elaine Fairchilde or Henrietta Pussycat?

Back to School Blogger said...

This reminds me of the question my oldest daughter asked me one time...if Courage (baby sister) and I were both drowning, and you could only save one of us, which one would you choose to save'? My answer; I would not choose; somehow, I would figure out how to save both of you. Oh! The trials of being Supermom!