Messenger Imagine you are standing beside some tram tracks. In the distance, you spot a runaway trolley hurtling down the tracks towards five workers who cannot hear it coming. As this disaster looms, you glance down and see a lever connected to the tracks. You realise that if you pull the lever, the tram will be diverted down a second set of tracks away from the five unsuspecting workers.
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Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. This article has been tagged since August The further development of this example involves the case, where the fat man is, in fact, the villain who put these five people in peril.
In this instance, pushing the villain to his death, especially to save five innocent people, seems not just moral, but, to some [attribution needed] , also just and even an imperative. This is essentially related to another famous thought experiment, known as ticking time bomb scenario , which forces one to choose between two morally questionable acts. Several papers argue that ticking time bomb scenario is a mere variation of the trolley problem.
The loop variant Edit The claim that it is wrong to use the death of one to save five, runs into a problem with variants like this: As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people.
As in the first case, you can divert it onto a separate track. However, this diversion loops back around to rejoin the main track, so diverting the trolley still leaves it on a path to run over the five people. But, on this track is a single fat person who, when he is killed by the trolley, will stop it from continuing on to the five people. Should you flip the switch? So, if we originally decided that it is permissible or necessary to flip the switch, intuition may suggest that the answer should not have changed.
However, in this case, the death of the one actually is part of the plan to save the five. The rejoining variant may not be fatal to the "using a person as a means" argument. This has been suggested by M. Costa in his article "Another Trip on the Trolley", where he points out that if we fail to act in this scenario we will effectively be allowing the five to become a means to save the one.
If we do nothing, then the impact of the trolley into the five will slow it down and prevent it from circling around and killing the one.
This approach requires that we downplay the moral difference between doing and allowing. However, this line of reasoning is no longer applicable if a slight change is made to the track arrangements such that the one person was never in danger to begin with, even if the 5 people were absent. Or even with no track changes, if the one person is high on the gradient while the five are low, such that the trolley cannot reach the one.
So the question has not been answered. The people and their property in the less-densely-populated area do in fact stop the plane too. Responsibility for this goes back to any criminal negligence that caused the accident to occur in the first place. Transplant Edit Here is an alternative case, due to Judith Jarvis Thomson,  containing similar numbers and results, but without a trolley: A brilliant transplant surgeon has five patients, each in need of a different organ, each of whom will die without that organ.
Unfortunately, there are no organs available to perform any of these five transplant operations. A healthy young traveler, just passing through the city the doctor works in, comes in for a routine checkup. In the course of doing the checkup, the doctor discovers that his organs are compatible with all five of his dying patients. Suppose further that if the young man were to disappear, no one would suspect the doctor. The man in the yard Edit Unger argues extensively against traditional non-utilitarian responses to trolley problems.
This is one of his examples: As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You can divert its path by colliding another trolley into it, but if you do, both will be derailed and go down a hill, and into a yard where a man is sleeping in a hammock.
He would be killed. Should you proceed? Unger therefore argues that different responses to these sorts of problems are based more on psychology than ethics — in this new case, he says, the only important difference is that the man in the yard does not seem particularly "involved".
Unger claims that people therefore believe the man is not "fair game", but says that this lack of involvement in the scenario cannot make a moral difference. Unger also considers cases which are more complex than the original trolley problem, involving more than just two results. The main author, Marc Hauser , was subsequently sanctioned by his then employer, Harvard University, in eight unrelated cases of gross research malpractice and data falsification, which arguably makes the data in any case unreliable.
Their hypothesis suggested that encountering such conflicts evokes both a strong emotional response as well as a reasoned cognitive response that tend to oppose one another. From the fMRI results, they have found that situations highly evoking a more prominent emotional response such as the fat man variant would result in significantly higher brain activity in brain regions associated with response conflict.
Meanwhile, more conflict-neutral scenarios, such as the relatively disaffected switch variant, would produce more activity in brain regions associated with higher cognitive functions. The potential ethical ideas being broached, then, revolve around the human capacity for rational justification of moral decision making.
The study asked participants to series of value statement. The experiment found that those who had stronger utilitarian leaning had stronger tendency to psychopathy , Machiavellianism or tended to view life as meaningless.
The Trolley Problem, by Judith Jarvis Thomson
Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. This article has been tagged since August The further development of this example involves the case, where the fat man is, in fact, the villain who put these five people in peril. In this instance, pushing the villain to his death, especially to save five innocent people, seems not just moral, but, to some [attribution needed] , also just and even an imperative.
Tojagal A utilitarian view asserts that it is obligatory to steer to the track with one man on it. Again, the consequences are the same as the first dilemma, but thhomson people would utterly reject the notion of killing the healthy patient. Basil Blackwell, originally appeared in the Oxford ReviewNumber 5, She argued that moral theories that judge the permissibility of an action based on its consequences alone, such as consequentialism or utilitarianismcannot explain why some actions that cause jarviis are permissible while others are not. Trolley problem As juidth disaster looms, you glance down and see a lever connected to the tracks.