The Trolley Problem
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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. Even if they do spot it, they won’t be able to move out of the way in time.
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.
However, down this side track is one lone worker, just as oblivious as his colleagues.
So, would you pull the lever, leading to one death but saving five?
Now consider now the second variation of this dilemma.
Imagine you are standing on a footbridge above the tram tracks. You can see the runaway trolley hurtling towards the five unsuspecting workers, but there’s no lever to divert it. However, there is large man standing next to you on the footbridge. You’re confident that his bulk would stop the tram in its tracks.
So, would you push the man on to the tracks, sacrificing him in order to stop the tram and thereby saving five others?