Have you heard of the Trolley Problem? This is a philosophical question to which there is no right or wrong answer. This problem was first introduced by Phillipa Foot in 1967 which just happens to be the year I was born. I’m really curious to know, what would you do in this situation? Your answer reveals something about your philosophy of life. I hope you will feel free to share.
Warning: This is not a question for those who are shallow or faint of heart. This is an ethical dilemma.
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:
- Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
- Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
Which is the most ethical choice?
I am not going to reveal my answer because I prefer not to sway your viewpoint. Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Explain why you came to your decision.
And to all those creative people out there… there is no option 3. You must choose #1 or #2. No fair creating a third alternative.
I hope there are some budding philosophers out there just waiting to be heard. Go ahead, tell us what you think!
For those who are hesitant to publicly post your thoughts, why not make it part of your dinner table conversation tonight?