Discussion 2 please read the attached document carefully, before working on the assessment. Watch the below video version of the trolley problem, a well-known moral dilemma analyzed from a utilitarian perspective.
The first version of the problem is sometimes called the “switch dilemma.” This is based upon the idea of a runaway trolley which is moving down the tracks toward five people who will be killed if it the trolley continues on its present course. You are a bystander and can save these five people by pulling a switch and diverting the trolley onto a different set of tracks. The added problem is that this switch will place the trolley on a different track that has only one person on it; however, if you pull the switch that person will be killed. Is it morally permissible to divert the trolley and prevent five deaths at the cost of one? Most people say it is, regardless of culture, gender, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.
Next we have what is sometimes called the “footbridge dilemma.” In this case, the trolley is again headed for five people. However, you are now standing on a footbridge over the tracks. Leaning over the side of the bridge is a very fat man (fat enough to stop the trolley). You are standing next to him on the footbridge and realize that the only way to stop the trolley and save the five people is to push this man off the footbridge and onto the tracks. Is that morally permissible? Most people say it is not, regardless of culture, gender, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.
Before getting to the thread requirements, a note here about philosophical thought experiments. The conditions of a hypothetical/thought experiment cannot be tweaked/modified/etc. (if we tweak or modify, then it becomes a DIFFERENT thought experiment). So I have a few things to say so that hopefully you will not respond in ways some people have in the past:
· The fat man WILL stop the trolley; there is no possibility he will not.
· There is no third option; you can flip the lever or push the fat man; you cannot, for example, yell and scream until the men on the tracks hear you and move.
· You cannot be punished/go to jail for pushing the fat man (sometimes students say they would not push the man because they might be charged with murder); this is not the real world; it’s a thought experiment, so, that can’t happen.
· Not doing anything IS a moral choice; students often say they would do nothing, and, of course, you can do nothing. But that doesn’t relieve you of moral responsibility. If I see a child drowning in a pond, and I do nothing to help the child (I am the only on there, and I can swim), I have done something morally wrong.
Answer the following: What is your own moral analysis of these two cases? Provide reasons to justify your position(s). If you agree with the majority of people regarding these two cases, then what makes it acceptable to sacrifice one person to save five others in the switch dilemma but not in the footbridge case? If you disagree with the majority of people regarding these cases, what explanation do you offer?
NB: In this thread, students often say what they would or wouldn’t do, could or couldn’t do, and then explain their feelings related to their choice (e.g. ‘I would pull the lever in the first scenario, but I could never push the man off the bridge because I would feel too guilty.’ Or ‘I would push the lever because I wouldn’t have to touch anybody, but I couldn’t push the man off the bridge because I wouldn’t want to directly murder someone.’) But a moral analysis is an analysis about why an action might be moral or immoral, with reasons. While we of course have emotional responses in considering what to do, such responses do not reason about the morality of an action. So, in your response, do not answer the question ‘how would you feel about each scenario?’ but rather ‘what would be the morally right action in each scenario?’
To avoid simply saying what you would or wouldn’t do, could or couldn’t do, perhaps begin with something along the lines of ‘the morally right action in the first scenario is to do x because’….(give your justification for what you claim is the morally right action), and ‘the morally right action in the second scenario is to do x because’…(and again give your justification for what you claim is the morally right action).
“The Trolley Problem.” YouTube, uploaded by Patrick Donovan, 7 Feb. 2008,
The Trolley Problem – YouTube
. Accessed 15 Aug. 2019.
“The Trolley Problem. The Good Place.” YouTube, uploaded by Comedy Bites, 28 Jan. 2020,
The Trolley Problem | The Good Place | Comedy Bites – YouTube
. Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.