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Will Haslett: Ethical Dilemmas

    Two thought-provoking situations--What is the correct choice?

Here is the situation:

Dilemma image    You are leaning against a street light in San Francisco when you observe a trolley cascading uncontrollably downhill. It has escaped its track and is on target to collide with five people standing in its way. These five people do not notice the trolley and would almost certaintly be killed if it remained on the current trajectory. At this point you discover a switch above your head on the lamp post with a sign above it that says this, "if pulled, trolley will alter its current direction." If at this time you were to pull the switch the trolley would hit one person who also would not see it coming. Either way someone will die. Should you act and pull the switch saving five people but kill another, or should you do nothing and witness five people killed?

Similar situation with a new twist:

Images dilemma    Now you are on a bridge and below you are train tracks. A train is speeding down its track without slowing and will not be able to if there is an obstruction. You spy five people not far in front of it and see that they can not act--they are completely trapped in front of the train. Next to you, looking over the bridge as well, is a fat man. If you were to pick him up and physically throw him in front of the train, you would save the five people and kill the fat man. He would be able to stop the train with his weight prior to it reaching the targets. What is the proper way to act here? Should you throw the fat man and save the five people, killing him, or should you do nothing and watch as five people are killed?

    What would you do?

 

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