Trolley Problems

I love trolley problems. A trolley problem is basically a thought experiment in ethics. The basic premise is as follows:

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Δ A trolley or railway car has broken loose and is careening down a slope towards a group of five children playing on the tracks.

IMG_6448.JPGΔ Jack happens to standing at a fork in the tracks. He sees the runaway trolley heading towards the group of children. He realizes he can pull the switch changing the the track configuration and setting the trolley onto a side spur saving the children.

Only he can see that there is a lone railway worker working on the side spur. If Jack pulls the lever the railway worker will undoubtedly be killed. But if he doesn’t pull the lever then the runaway railcar will plow into the group of children killing them.

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Δ What does Jack do? Does he pull the lever and move the trolley onto the side spur?

IMG_6449.jpgΔ Or doesn’t he pull the lever and the railcar slams into the group of children?

There is no right or wrong answer to a trolley problem. Its how people grapple with the moral choice of deciding who lives and who dies and how they justify their actions that make trolley problems so interesting.