Is it morally permissible for you to turn the trolley?

Trolley Experiment 1

Source: Thompson, Judith J. The Trolley Problem. Yale Law Journal 94 (1985): 1395-1415. 1395.

Suppose you are the driver of a trolley.  The trolley rounds a bend, and there come into view ahead five track workmen, who have been repairing the track.  The track goes through a bit of a valley at that point, and the sides are steep, so you must stop the trolley if you are to avoid running the five men down.  You step on the brakes, but alas they don’t work.  Now you suddenly see a spur of track leading off to the right.  You can turn (throw a switch/push a button) the trolley onto it, and thus save the five men on the straight track ahead.  Unfortunately, … there is one track workman on that spur of track.  He can no more get off the truck in time than the five can, so you will kill him if turn the trolley onto him.

Is it morally permissible for you to turn the trolley?

What would you do?

 

Trolley Experiment 2

Source: Thompson, Judith J. The Trolley Problem. Yale Law Journal 94 (1985): 1395-1415. 1395.

In another version of Trolley Experiment dilemma, the trolley is again rolling down the track, heading for a group of five people. This time, however, there is no switch or sidetrack. Instead, you are on a footbridge above the track. You consider jumping off the bridge, in front of the trolley, thus sacrificing yourself to save the five people in danger, but you realize that you are far too light to stop the trolley. Standing next to you, however, is a very large stranger. The only way you can stop the trolley killing five people is by pushing this large stranger in front of the trolley. He will be killed, but you will save the other five.

Is it morally permissible for you to push the stranger?

What would you do?

How these two situations differ?

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