The Trolley Problem is laughably simple

“There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the correct choice?” -Wikipedia’s description of the trolley problem. Good as any other, i guess.

Personally I’d try to derail the trolley.

*sigh* Okay okay, I’ll play along with the scenario

So. What’s the answer? Easy, flip the switch and change the track.

The premise of the ethical dilemma presented here is flawed; it supposes that you are more responsible for killing the one man than the five. However, that is not the case. If you have the power to prevent the trolley from hitting those five people, then you have the moral obligation to take it.

“But then you’d be a murderer!”

If that’s the case I’d be a murderer either way. Just because I don’t act doesn’t mean that I’m innocent. The only thing that allowing the train to hit the five could do would be to shift the blame for their deaths onto someone else. I’d feel guilty, sure, but I’d feel guilty about letting 5 people die, too.

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