In the trolley problem, you are a bystander in a trolley station when a trolley comes out of one of the tunnels. The trolley is heading straight for five people who will be killed if it continues on its present course. You can pull a lever that will change the trolleys’ course and kill only one person instead. What do you do?
This thought experiment has been around since 1967, but it still divides people to this day – some argue that any action taken would be morally wrong because no decision could ever have good consequences, while others believe it’s better to actively take an action than stand by and watch someone die without doing anything at all.
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In this paper, I will explain the two versions of the trolley problem. In Trolley Problem I (also known as Marshall’s dilemma), five people die on a runway trolley’s course. Only by pulling the switch in the train can these folks be saved. One person, on the other hand, would die if you pull the switch.
The question is whether to switch the trolley on or not. If the runaway trolley in trolley problem II continues along its route, it will kill five people on the road. Pushing a stranger onto the track is once again the only solution to save these individuals. The body of the stranger would prevent the train from crushing the five people. However, he would be killed by the train. Again, this situation raises issues regarding whether or how far to push him. In both situations, yes is chosen since either way there will be loss of life. As a result, saving many lives at the expense of one life is preferable .
Immanuel Kant was a famous philosopher. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in contemporary philosophy. Kant maintained that people should act in keeping with humanity as an end rather than for the sake of achieving certain objectives. According to Kant, rational beings should never be treated as tools for achieving particular goals. Instead, they are regarded as ends in themselves and their cognitive motives must be respected. Kant maintained that certain acts such as murder, theft, and dishonesty are absolutely unlawful, regardless of how much pleasure they would bring. There are two issues to consider when applying Kant’s ethics to the trolley dilemmas I and II.
The first issue is whether everyone has the right to act in the same manner. Second, it must be determined whether or not the action upholds humanity rather than simply utilizing people to achieve certain ends. If both questions are answered negatively, the action should be avoided. The act of pulling the switch and pushing a stranger onto the train track in I and II trolley problems would undoubtedly kill them but save five other people’s lives.
Kant’s ethics would prohibit the following actions: They would entail employing humans to bring about a conclusion, saving the lives of five individuals. Kant himself wouldn’t accept these measures in and of themselves. Being treated as an object to accomplish an end is not acceptable; they are seen as ends in themselves. The two acts violate Kant’s principles and are therefore unacceptable. If everyone adopted such behavior, it would be rejected by Kant.
The principles of utilitarianism were developed by Jeremy Bentham and Stuart Mill. The outcome of an action is important to utilitarianism, which emphasizes either pain or pleasure. According to the theory, the proper act is one that produces the most pleasure over pain for everyone involved. The outcomes of actions are not limited to individuals, though; they are considered for everyone.
Additionally, the consequences of a decision are evaluated based on its long-term impact. Utilitarian ethics states that in any specific scenario, the correct decision must result in more happiness and least sadness for most individuals (O’Donohue & Ferguson, 2003). The fundamental thing to consider when applying utilitarian ethics to the two trolley problems is whether or not the decision will lead to more pleasure for most people. The greatest happiness for the most people is determined by arithmetic. Obviously, switching off the switch and pushing the stranger onto the railway tracks would save five lives.
It is conceivable that these acts would bring more pleasure to the greatest number of people in this scenario. The correct choice in trolley problems I and II, according on utilitarianism, is to pull the switch and push the stranger. Even though the actions may cause damage to some individuals, they would be acceptable if they resulted in greater joy for a large number of persons. As a result, utilitarians would reply yes to the behaviors since they would produce more happiness than the alternatives.
In conclusion, both viewpoints have strengths and limitations. One of the main advantages of Kantian ethics is that it prohibits activities such as murder, theft, and dishonesty that are clearly wrong. Kantian ethics are rational, optimistic, and do not rely on the results of actions. However, its major disadvantage is that it does not relieve a maxim from criticism.
This may not be feasible in certain circumstances, such as where sacrificing a few people would do more good. It’s required in trolley I and II problems. The major benefit of utilitarian ethics is that it aims for the greatest level of happiness for the most individuals, which might be necessary in some cases. However, it ignores the minority. As a result, the rights of a few persons could be violated to maximize overall pleasure for most individuals. It’s also ludicrous because most folks don’t want to put their interests before those of others.
That is the handle, and whether you pull it or not, someone will die. It’s a harsh choice to make, but it’s a reality. Then what should you do? Pull on the handle and kill one person or let the trolley execute the other five people? It becomes difficult for individuals to decide what to do when ethics, morality, and death are concerned. What comes first to your mind? Is it the convenience of the entire trolley? Or is it more of a question of how many people will die if you let that trolley roll down its track?
There is always a loss in life. We learn and grow by going up and down. What’s the use of losing something based on our educational knowledge about ethics? People’s lives are deemed to be quite vital that nothing may reverse it. Every individual has an equal right to live a happy existence. When it comes to issues like this, most people think that the life of five individuals is worth more than just one person’s life. Despite the fact that other things may be different, the existence of five individuals appears to be far greater than that of one individual.
It looks like it’s worth sacrificing one to preserve one. The way to calculated the societal equilibrium is determined on people’s morality. When wrong things such as killing individuals happen that can’t be avoided, people should think about what could be the finest consequence. It’s not difficult to determine how many lives would be lost if no one pulled down the handle.
We must think about the future generations. If we lose them, it will be a huge loss to society. The number of people lost is crucial to societal ethics. The fewer individuals die from this type of crime, the better we perform. In this scenario, pulling the handle comes out as being best. It’s not only for the benefit of the other five individuals; it’s also for society’s morality.
Utilitarians evaluate an action as morally correct if and only if it results in at least as much expected utility as any alternative option. And for the most part, Utilitarianism can provide a logical answer in such cases. But then again, every rational individual knows that rape and other atrocities are wrong. However, what should we do when criteria aren’t so obvious? Can Utilitarianism withstand the most difficult moral conundrums?
What exactly is a tough ethical issue? (The “trolley problem” is one example of a difficult moral issue.) Consider the scenario of the “trolley problem.” You’re in charge of a trolley on a track heading to your destination. The bend ahead reveals five people trapped on the track. Your brakes give out, but there’s a switch nearby where you may change tracks onto another line.
Unfortunately, there is one person trapped on that track. So, what do you do? You may leave the trolley to its route and allow five trapped civilians to die, or you may divert the trolley onto the alternate path, killing the lone trapped individual. Utilitarian logic would add up all of the potential benefits and choose between them based on which has the greatest overall usefulness.
We might guess that the “calculations” related to the scenario would be similar to this: If I (the operator) leave the trolley on its track, the lone civilian on another track will survive, but the other five people will perish. The burden of five deaths would be on my shoulders and I would have to deal with each of the families. However, if I turn the automobile off in a different direction, I shall save five lives while only having to deal with one death. Finally, the Utilitarians would determine that the greatest amount of pleasure, or happiness, that may be generated in this scenario is achieved by swerving the trolley from its original track and killing one individual to save five others trapped.
Explain the Trolley Driver, Bystander at the Switch, Fat Man, Transplant, and Hospital scenarios covered in “The Trolley Problem” using the model of Ethan Zuckerman’s “Enochian Dialogues.” Each scenario should be addressed with reference to what the ethical issue (s) are. The trolley problem has the capacity to address a variety of comparable ethical issues all dealing with utilitarianism and consequentialist ethics’ inherent conflicts.
The trolley driver scenario has a problem: the driver must decide whether to violate one man’s rights (the man on the tracks) or allow the trolley to smash, killing five people aboard. The driver is trapped between two equally awful options, and the issue raises the question of which is more ethical: saving five lives than it is to refrain from infringing on an innocent person’s life. Because it is impossible to know if diverting the trolley will truly save the lives, this component adds another layer of complexity.
In the alternative scenario, in which the Bystander at the Switch is not the driver, but someone who has the power to pull a lever that will divert the trolley towards one employee rather than five employees. The distinction between them is minor; nevertheless, it might be argued that it’s more ethical to kill one person to save five lives.
The trolley problem raises the issue of whether killing one person is worse than allowing five people to die or whether murdering five individuals is worse than murdering one. In the first case of the trolley problem, a railwayman faces an alternative scenario in which his oncoming trolley would kill five persons but could be diverted to another track, saving the lives of five individuals while sacrificing one person who was on the adjacent path.
The trolley problem is compared to a surgeon who must choose between saving five people who require a vital organ but will have to operate on one of his patients and distributing his organs among the five who are dying, causing that one patient’s death. The doctrine of foreseen harm states that failing to execute an action with foreseen bad results is morally less blameworthy than performing a different action with identical foreseen consequences.
“It appears to rely in part on the idea that, while the prohibited act may hurt someone, the permitted omission is simply a failure to benefit someone.” Thomson goes on to say that if a person must choose between doing something now and five people dying or doing something else right away and just one person dying, he should pick the second option.
The trolley driver does not turn the switch to change tracks if he does not do it in the present tense, since doing so would result in the death of five persons on the track; instead, he merely fails to commit an act that would have saved the five individuals. The surgeon also acts passively when he does not operate on any patients. If a surgeon operates on one patient without his consent, he is actively causing his death.
In Kantian ethics, the distinction between the two scenarios is that in the surgeon problem, one patient is being utilized as a tool, which according to Kantian moral theory is impermissible. It’s mentioned in the trolley problem that flipping the switch to alter the route of the railway tracks without harming another person is not intended to harm anyone. Flipping the switch, however, results in one person’s death on an alternate track, therefore that individual isn’t being used as a means to save five others on another track.
Immanuel Kant formulated the end in itself idea, which encourages us to act in such a manner that we always consider humanity, whether in our own person or that of another, never merely as a means but always at the same time as an end. The one patient would be killed solely to save the other five patients who might die if he did not receive treatment.
In actuality, this is an excuse made by the utilitarians to justify their selfishness. The utilitarians would disagree with the Kantian viewpoint to this case. Utilitarianism, often known as the greatest pleasure principle, holds that actions are correct if they end in the increase of happiness.
In the first scenario, a utilitarian believes that it is better to save as many people as possible and would agree with Thomson and argue that it is necessary to pull the lever to do so. An opposing viewpoint would hold that pulling the lever is an immoral act, making the bystander partly responsible for the death. Simply being present in the scenario and having the ability to alter its outcome gives one a moral duty to get involved.
If one values five lives over one, deciding to do nothing would be considered an unethical act. The bystander in the first scenario does not want to cause harm; regardless of which way the trolley goes, it will end badly for someone. Pushing and injuring the big guy is the only method to save the five people on the trolley in the second situation.
According to Thomson, the first trolley problem differs from the second case in that in the first situation, you merely redirect the damage, but in the second scenario, you must actually do something to the huge man to save the five workers. In the first case, no worker has a greater right not to be killed than any other; however, according on Thomson’s argument, once you push over a bridge into a river with a massive guy standing there watching him go over – which is what happens when he falls off it – then he does have a right not to be pushed over.
To put the first trolley case in perspective, I’ll give you one that’s similar. An airplane has gone horribly wrong and is approaching disaster, with the potential to kill thousands of innocent people. Regardless of whether they are guilty or not, the pilot of the plane knows that numerous innocent individuals will die if he does not turn it toward a less-populated region, so he does so in order to minimize deaths among innocent persons.
Was it morally permissible for the pilots to change course? Thomson would answer that the pilot’s actions were correct since more densely populated regions have the same right to live as sparsely populated areas, and you are merely redirecting harm to minimize fewer people who is legally allowed because no rights have been violated.
In the second trolley case, Thomson offers a new argument in order to better illustrate her point. A surgeon has 5 patients who need organ transplants and will die unless they receive one, but because they all have a rare blood type there are no organs available. A visitor enters the office for a checkup, and the doctor determine that this person has the needed organs to save these five persons who are on their way out.
The doctor asks the tourist if he would be willing to give his organs, but he politely refuses. Would it be OK for the doctor to kill the bystander and carry out the surgery anyhow? Thomson believes that performing surgery on the traveller is unjust since doing so would violate his right to life. This differs from the first trolley scenario, where you simply deflect harm rather than in the second trolley case, where you must act and do something beneficial for an innocent person in order to save five individuals.
In the first example, none of the employees has a greater right to live than another, but in the second scenario, the big guy has a precedence. A utilitarian would advocate for pulling the switch to kill one and save five in the transplant situation because he is focused on maximizing pleasure for as many people as possible.
Dr. Joel Dvoskin disagrees, stating that in the first scenario it is a consequence of eliminating five individuals. In the case of transplant, you are violating a person’s right because the event may have been avoided in the first place. Thomson claims that murdering someone is worse than allowing someone to die naturally.
In the first trolley case, it would appear reasonable to believe that the individual is morally obligated to pull the lever and protect the five people. In the second situation, a person should not be compelled to throw the large guy onto the track since he is doing so in order to save others, as opposed on being forced into pushing one of them off.
It would also appear reasonable that the doctor should not kill the man for the transplant since it is comparable to the prior situation. Although in each scenario one person is being sacrificed to save five, there are situations where it is not legal to take a life, such as as in the second case and during a transplant. In these circumstances, someone’s right to life is violated, thus making it moral to murder them.
In order to make a solid argument, Thomson must locate the distinctions between the two situations that are substantial enough to justify her standpoint. In other words, Thomson recognizes that in both circumstances an innocent bystander who is not responsible for any of the events has the capacity to save five people rather than one. She presumes there is no connection or conflict between the bystander and the employees, so he has no problem deciding what his decision should be.
The attribute of rights is essential because it enables us to point out the significance of the people’s rights as a “means to an end” connection between bystanders and employees. She claims that, in both instances, the bystander wrongs the individual whose life he decides to give up, but there is a clear violation of his rights in pushing the huge man. The bystanders act of pushing directly infringes on the large guys right not to be harmed.
The third case differs from the first in that it does not infringe on the single employee’s rights; diverting a train does not violate anyone’s rights, but pushing an innocent man does. Thomson postulates that this explains why the bystander is permitted to act by pulling the switch since he or she can improve utility without violating anyones’ rights, whereas in the second example, to maximize utility, the bystander would have to break someone’s rights.
The problem comes when the bystander is not violating the single employee’s right directly, but he is indirectly infringing on his or her right not to be murdered. Thomson addresses this concern by pointing out that while it is true, whether something is direct or indirect isn’t important when it comes to a person’s right not to be murdered.