Introduction to Philosophy: Trolley problems
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×
 

Introduction to Philosophy: Trolley problems

on

  • 1,549 views

Teaching notes from LTCi Siliguri

Teaching notes from LTCi Siliguri

Statistics

Views

Total Views
1,549
Views on SlideShare
1,510
Embed Views
39

Actions

Likes
0
Downloads
2
Comments
0

2 Embeds 39

http://rdcramblings.com 38
http://feedly.com 1

Accessibility

Upload Details

Uploaded via as Adobe PDF

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Processing…
Post Comment
Edit your comment

    Introduction to Philosophy: Trolley problems Introduction to Philosophy: Trolley problems Presentation Transcript

    • The Trolley Problem A simplified introduction to get your brains working after the Christmas break There are many possible sources discussing this problem - these notes are taken from http://people.howstuffworks.com/trolley-problem.htm and https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/ethics-trolley-problem/#.UssxaGQW1Ac
    • The Trolley Problem A simplified introduction to get your brains working after the Christmas break There are many possible sources discussing this problem - these notes are taken from http://people.howstuffworks.com/trolley-problem.htm and https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/ethics-trolley-problem/#.UssxaGQW1Ac
    • The trolley problem is a moral paradox first posed by Phillipa Foot in her 1967 paper, "Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect," and later expanded by Judith Jarvis Thomson.! The trolley problem is a question of human morality, and an example of a philosophical view called consequentialism. This view says that morality is defined by the consequences of an action, and that the consequences are all that matter. But exactly which consequences are allowable?
    • It's a lovely day out, and you decide to go for a walk along the trolley tracks that crisscross your town. As you walk, you hear a trolley behind you, and you step away from the tracks. But as the trolley gets closer, you hear the sounds of panic -- the five people on board are shouting for help. The trolley's brakes have gone out, and it's gathering speed.
    • You just happen to be standing next to a side track that veers into a sand pit, potentially providing safety for the trolley's five passengers. ! All you have to do is pull a hand lever to switch the tracks, and you'll save the five people.! Sounds easy, right? But there's a problem. Along this offshoot of track leading to the sandpit stands a man who is totally unaware of the trolley's problem and the action you're considering. ! There's no time to warn him.! So by pulling the lever and guiding the trolley to safety, you'll save the five passengers. But you'll kill the man. ! What do you do?
    • You just happen to be standing next to a side track that veers into a sand pit, potentially providing safety for the trolley's five passengers. ! All you have to do is pull a hand lever to switch the tracks, and you'll save the five people.! Sounds easy, right? But there's a problem. Along this offshoot of track leading to the sandpit stands a man who is totally unaware of the trolley's problem and the action you're considering. ! There's no time to warn him.! So by pulling the lever and guiding the trolley to safety, you'll save the five passengers. But you'll kill the man. ! What do you do?
    • Consider another, similar dilemma.! You're walking along the track again, you notice the trolley is out of control, although this time there is no auxiliary track. ! But there is a man within arm's reach, between you and the track. He's large enough to stop the runaway trolley. ! You can save the five people on the trolley by pushing him onto the tracks, stopping the out-of-control vehicle, but you'll kill the man by using him to stop the trolley.! What do you do?
    • Consider another, similar dilemma.! You're walking along the track again, you notice the trolley is out of control, although this time there is no auxiliary track. ! But there is a man within arm's reach, between you and the track. He's large enough to stop the runaway trolley. ! You can save the five people on the trolley by pushing him onto the tracks, stopping the out-of-control vehicle, but you'll kill the man by using him to stop the trolley.! What do you do?
    • Take the two examples that make up the trolley problem. On the surface, the consequences of both actions are the same: ! One person dies, five survive. ! More specifically, in both examples five people live as the result of one person's death. ! At first, both may seem to be justified, but most people, when asked which of the two actions is permissible -pulling the lever or pushing the man onto the tracks -- say that the former is permissible, the latter is forbidden! Why?
    • Take the two examples that make up the trolley problem. On the surface, the consequences of both actions are the same: ! It reveals a ! One person dies, five survive. More specifically, in both examples five distinction people live as the result of one person's death. ! between killing a At first, both may seem to be justified, but most people, when asked which person and letting of the two actions is permissible -pulling the lever or pushing the man a person die. onto the tracks -- say that the former is permissible, the latter is forbidden! Why?
    • Why is one wrong and another possibly allowable when both result in death?! It's a question of human morality.! If a person dies in both scenarios, and both deaths directly result from an action you take, what's the distinction between the two? ! Philosophical questions like this have real-world implications for how people behave in society, governments, science, law and even war.! The trolley problem is based on an old philosophical standard called the Doctrine of Double Effect.
    • The trolley problem presents a case of two similar, but vastly different moral dilemmas. ! Those who subscribe to the philosophical theory of utilitarianism would say that both are justified. Utilitarianism is a no-frills view of consequences. If the outcome for five people is good and the outcome is bad for one, the action is justified, permissible and even obligatory.
    • But the fact that your conscience struggles when you consider the consequences of pushing a man in front of a trolley is expressed in the Doctrine of Double Effect.! This idea was first introduced by St. Thomas Aquinas in the late 13th century.! This doctrine says that for an act to be morally permissible, it has to fit certain criteria. ! What criteria would you suggest for an action to be morally permissible?
    • - the outcome has to be a good one. Both examples in the trolley problem have that -- five people survive a terrible accident. ! - the outcome has to be at least as important as the action taken. Both examples cover that, too -- five lives outweigh one. ! - the action can't be taken for the purposes of evil, even if it does result in beneficial good. In other words, you can't pull the lever just because you want to kill the man standing in front of the sand pit.
    • - Finally, the good effect has to be produced by the action taken, not by the bad effect. ! This is the reason why pulling the switch is preferable to pushing the man onto the tracks. ! - By pulling the lever, we are taking an action that indirectly results in the death of the man on the track.
    • - In the second example, we are intentionally pushing the man to his death. Although five people's lives will still be saved, according to Aquinas (and to many philosophers), an evil act never justifies a greater good.
    • Aquinas used the example of selfdefense to prove his argument. As long as the victim's intent is to save his or her own life (a good intent) and not to kill his or her attacker (an evil intent), then selfdefense, he reasoned, is justified and allowable.! Although Aquinas lived 700 years ago, his views on human morality are a cornerstone of Western legal systems.
    • ! The Doctrine of Double Effect is based on Aquinas' observations of human morality.! Philosophers would then want to ask, “where does it come from?” but we shall leave that for another day
    • If that was all too much for you then this should help