Author Topic: Five Win, One Loses?  (Read 1744 times)


  • Old Person™
« on: March 03, 2012, 07:54:42 PM »
In the trolley problem an out of control trolley is about to kill five people. In the situation on the left the five lives can be saved by pushing a single fat man off the bridge and onto the track. In the situation on the right the five lives can be saved by pulling a switch that will reroute the trolley to hit only one person.  In both case five people die if you do nothing.  Also in both cases one person dies instead of five if you act.  Would you?

In the situation on the left, would you push the fat guy?

In the situation on the right, would you pull the switch?

What's the difference?

A better posing of the questions:
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2012, 09:51:50 PM »
Assuming there's no third option like Superman saving the day... I'd make the switch both times for one guy to die rather than five. Less deaths that way. ...unless it's one child and five old people, then I'd let the five people bite the dust since they don't have much longer to live anyway.

I always feel that questions like this invite political incorrectness and a reaction of "You're a monster!" from other people. I just choose whichever seems like the lesser evil to me.
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  • Beside Pacific
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2012, 10:12:14 PM »
What villain ties their victims to train tracks anymore?

The questions are flawed. The situations are filler that just makes it harder to consider. In the first, it wouldn't occur to me that pushing someone into the path of a train might stop it to prevent more deaths (and if I knew that, I'd either be a demigod and use my powers to save all six, or a huge nerd and would be in a lab doing science in the first place). In the second, if the train is going slowly enough that it wouldn't derail on a turn that tight, I would think you'd have time to flip the switch and save the one person in its path, especially going by how close the figure at the switch is to the single one on the track. In both, if the train is going slowly enough that one overweight person could stop it in its tracks or it could make that turn safely, who the hell is driving it that wants these palookas dead, and why did he choose such a boring weapon to do the deed?

If I point all this out, you respond "The question is about whether five dead people or one is worse," and I answer "five are worse" but that doesn't necessarily mean it would apply to my actions in the situations. And you can't really ask the question with bare-bones details, either, because neither would be a bare-bones scenario in real life.
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2012, 11:03:48 PM »
How does pushing a fat guy over the bridge stop the trolley? Sure he's fat, but come on, it's a trolley.

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  • Simon Cowell
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2012, 12:15:18 AM »
Pretend he's a man the size of a trolley.

« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2012, 11:17:47 AM »
Pretend I'm the guy.

Or on second thought don't, because you'd do it regardless of whether it would save the other people.
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