The Trolley Problem Discussion

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1. Which of the ethical/theories discussed in this week’s lesson did you appreciate the most?

  • The Basics of Philosophy (n.d.-a). Deontology. Retrieved from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_deontology….
  • The Basics of Philosophy (n.d.-b). Egoism. Retrieved from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_egoism.html
  • The Basics of Philosophy (n.d.-c). Utilitarianism. Retrieved from http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_utilitarian…
  • 2. Are any of the theories morally superior to any of the others? Explain your answers.

    3. Respond to the Trolley Problem below. What would you do and why?

    In order to help illustrate the differences between these theories, we can apply a famous hypothetical ethics quandary introduced by Philippa Foot in the mid-20th century. The quandary was coined “The Trolley Problem” and is set up as follows:

    Barreling down a track is a trolley, and tied to the track ahead of the trolley are five individuals who will be killed by the trolley unless something is done. You (the observer) had nothing to do with the circumstances in which these five people are currently situated, but you are standing next to a lever that would switch the track and divert the trolley away from the five people, effectively rescuing them from certain death. However, you observe that there is one individual standing on the alternate track to which the trolley would be diverted if you pull the lever, and this individual would be killed were you to do so. The problem is to deliberate as to the most ethical conduct here: let the five people die, or pull the lever and kill the one on the alternate track? (Philosopher’s Toolkit, n.d.).

    4. On which ethical theory would you support? Would your answer change based on the identities of those on each side of the track? Thanks for your response.

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