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The trolley problem...


paddy
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What would you do?  

34 members have voted

  1. 1. What would you do?

    • Leave it, letting the five people die
      11
    • Flip the switch, killing the one
      23


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I remember hearing this a while ago, but for some reason it popped up into my head the other day so I thought I'd ask what you'd do. There's a follow up thread to come once I see what the majority view here is (and I think I know what it will be).

So for those of you who don't know it, here's the problem as given by Wikipedia...

A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are 5 people who have been tied to the track by the mad philosopher. Fortunately, you can flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch?
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Hmm.

Where is the 'walk away and leave it to someone else' option :P

Nah, i guess the obvious would be the 'flip the switch killing the one' as 5 lives are more important than 1 and all that.

However taking into account the problems with over-population and my general feeling that people are words removed then i'd probably leave it to kill all 5. The one dude/ladette would probably appreciate my gratitude and do something worthwhile with their life whereas if i saved the five they'd probably take it for granted and continued their lives in vain.

:)

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Hmm.

Where is the 'walk away and leave it to someone else' option :P

Nah, i guess the obvious would be the 'flip the switch killing the one' as 5 lives are more important than 1 and all that.

However taking into account the problems with over-population and my general feeling that people are words removed then i'd probably leave it to kill all 5. The one dude/ladette would probably appreciate my gratitude and do something worthwhile with their life whereas if i saved the five they'd probably take it for granted and continued their lives in vain.

:)

:D I like it, thinking from a selfish rather than moral stand point!

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  • Moderator

The wording doesn't explicitly say that the trolley will kill anyone. That is assumed by the reader.

I also assume that you would not have time to flip the switch and untie the solitary person (you clearly wouldn't have time to untie 5 people.

Leaving it alone means that someone else killed the 5. Whereas you flipping the switch means you've gone from killing no-one to killing 1 person. You may have saved 5 others but you've still actively contributed to killing the one.

I take it there is no option for trying to de-rail the trolley with a plank of wood or something? That would be my choice. Try and stop the trolley at all costs (I take it this isn't a shopping trolley :)).

I need to scratch my noodle some more :)

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It doesn't say they'll definitely die, you won't know until it hits them I guess... But for the purpose of this, all of those on the track you set it on will die.

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  • VT Supporter

This is similar to the ticking time bomb scenario I posted on here a year or so ago, but with a much more stringent set of rules.

If you value life you are damned if you do or don't on this one. You can either choose to let 5 die through not intervening, or actively kill 1 through saving 5.

The greater good says you flick the switch. You'd have that on your conscience though. Do nothing and you leave the scenario as marked as you would if had flicked the switch.

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A trolley is running out of control down a track. In its path are 5 people who have been tied to the track by the mad philosopher. Fortunately, you can flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch?

A mad Philosopher? :?

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By non intervening , you are letting things take their intended course. You are not responsible for what might happen and how the situation was created in the first place. Of course killing one vs five is not that simple a question of pure numbers. What if the five are criminals and the single bloke is a great scientist or something.

Take yourself out of the frame of reference and let inertia take its intended course-that's what I believe any way, as stupid as it sounds :P

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Does this have anything to do with how for the cost of saving one child by performing an operation which has been fundraised for by a family, upwards of five people in Africa die? Or perhaps it doesn't matter whether or not you flick the switch as it probably won't affect you too much. Having the option to flick the switch is more of an incovenience than anyone dying.

What about a bomb ticking to kill one person in London, or you can flick a switch and kill 5 people in Mozambique, but save the Londoner?

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Does this have anything to do with how for the cost of saving one child by performing an operation which has been fundraised for by a family, upwards of five people in Africa die? Or perhaps it doesn't matter whether or not you flick the switch as it probably won't affect you too much. Having the option to flick the switch is more of an incovenience than anyone dying.

What about a bomb ticking to kill one person in London, or you can flick a switch and kill 5 people in Mozambique, but save the Londoner?

This is leading onto another scenario. Not one of those but reasonably similar to one I guess.

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The 5 were tied to the tracks by their own scarfs. They were city fans.

I would stop the trolly until I had tied at least 5 more. Then I would run 10 of them over. Then stop the trolly, and go back for the remaining 1, just in case they're a blooser too.

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