Jump to content

The Trolley Dilemma


Neon Genesis
 Share

Recommended Posts

Imagine you're on a runaway trolley and there's no way to stop it and there's no way to get off the trolley. Imagine there are only two tracks you have to choose a direction go in. On one track, there's one person tied to the track with no way out and on the other track, there are five people tied to the track also with no way out. You can't call for help to save the people and you can't get off the track. Your only option is to flip the switch to choose a direction to go in. So which track to do you choose to take? The track with the one person tied to it or the track with the five people tied to it?

Edited by Neon Genesis
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is one of the experiments that has been used to demonstrate that basic moral values are intuitive and genetically based. Most people, without being able to rationalize it, answer the same way.

 

But, then if asked, suppose five people were in an accident and are in the emergency room in need of different organ transplants to live. Should healthy organs be taken from one healthy person (without their consent) to save the five? People almost always answer this the same way.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Imagine you're on a runaway trolley and there's no way to stop it and there's no way to get off the trolley. Imagine there are only two tracks you have to choose a direction go in. On one track, there's one person tied to the track with no way out and on the other track, there are five people tied to the track also with no way out. You can't call for help to save the people and you can't get off the track. Your only option is to flip the switch to choose a direction to go in. So which track to do you choose to take? The track with the one person tied to it or the track with the five people tied to it?

 

Is my mother-in-law on the one person track or the five person track? Just kidding! (I love her, really).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Imagine you're on a runaway trolley and there's no way to stop it and there's no way to get off the trolley. Imagine there are only two tracks you have to choose a direction go in. On one track, there's one person tied to the track with no way out and on the other track, there are five people tied to the track also with no way out. You can't call for help to save the people and you can't get off the track. Your only option is to flip the switch to choose a direction to go in. So which track to do you choose to take? The track with the one person tied to it or the track with the five people tied to it?

 

 

Well, i think the FIRST thing I'm gonna do in the situation as you present here is focus my attention on getting MYSELF off that durn track!!!!

 

The way you have presented this dilemma is NOT as it is presented in that commonly discussed psychological "test".

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, i think the FIRST thing I'm gonna do in the situation as you present here is focus my attention on getting MYSELF off that The way you have presented this dilemma is NOT as it is presented in that commonly discussed psychological "test".

 

You're right, it is not the way it is usually presented. The decision maker is not at risk.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is one of the experiments that has been used to demonstrate that basic moral values are intuitive and genetically based. Most people, without being able to rationalize it, answer the same way.

 

But, then if asked, suppose five people were in an accident and are in the emergency room in need of different organ transplants to live. Should healthy organs be taken from one healthy person (without their consent) to save the five? People almost always answer this the same way.

 

George

What if the one person tied to the track is a child? Or what if that one person is the child who will grow up to be Hitler?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What if the one person tied to the track is a child? Or what if that one person is the child who will grow up to be Hitler?

 

But, that is not what the test asks. It is not my test. In any event, I don't know how one would know that a child will grow up to be Hitler.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're right, it is not the way it is usually presented. The decision maker is not at risk.

 

George

 

Additionally to that the decision maker is not at risk, is another signficant difference.

 

The decision maker also does not initally have a "choice of action" in whether the runaway train hits the 5 people, or the one person. As I've seen it posited, the train IS headed for the 5 people. If the decision maker does nothing, the train will hit the 5 people.

The choice is in that the decision maker stands near a rail switch, that if flipped, will send the train off on a side track, therefore avoiding hitting the 5 people, BUT, there is also 1 person on the side track that would be hit.

 

The question is, letting the train hit the 5 people by doing nothing, or throwing the switch that saves the 5 people, but means the 1 person on the pther track, not presently in danger, will be killed.

 

The psychological implications are much more complex and signficant than it may at first seem. While it at first seems obvious the "right" and "reasonable" choice would be to throw the switch, between saving 5 and saving one, it is more complicated than that.

 

The decision maker had no part in having put those 5 people in danger. He has no guilt.

To throw the switch, the decision maker has taken an action that endangers the one, who was not in danger before.

So it is not simply a question of choosing between whether 5 people will die, or 1, it is a matter of one's own action in lfipping the switch is to choose to KILL by one's own action, 1 person, that was not in danger otherwise, vs just watching the 5 people die.

 

Jenell

 

PS George, actually the trolly dilemma as I've encountered it here is closer to the kind of choice involved in your emergency room/organ transplant scenario.

Edited by JenellYB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

But, that is not what the test asks. It is not my test. In any event, I don't know how one would know that a child will grow up to be Hitler.

 

George

 

 

Well, i can't recall that Hitler ever had his birth name changed, so I'd assumed you know the child was going to grow up to be Hitler because that was the child's name. ;)

 

Jenell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am going to duck - the question. Several years ago there was a couple in the UK who had Siamese twins. The surgeons said if they operated that one would live and one would die. If they did nothing both would die. The couple chose not to choose. They did not want to take an active part in choosing death for one and instead were willing to "allow" both to die. Fortunately they were in the UK which does not respect parents' rights as much as in the US and the surgeons operated. They killed the one that would be a new Hitler. :lol:

 

It is this willingness or lack thereof to take responsibility for the decision that is important and certainly the variations of the trolley dilemmna will reveal that - do I push the fat man off the bridge to stop the trolley?

 

Dutch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use to comtemplate my own trolley dilemma when I was a police officer. What would I do if a man walked into my police station and told me that he had several young children secreted in a dungeon somewhere and that they would starve to death unless he revealed their whereabouts, yet he wasn't prepared to do so. Would I sit him down and deal with him the professional and ethical way and hope that I could skillfully work him into a position of provding the whereabouts, or failing that would I be prepared to beat him within an inch of his life in an effort to extract this information? Thankfully I was never put in that position although I would have gone with the beating. I'm honestly not sure if I would or wouldn't, today. Clearly this scenario also has implications regarding torture to extract info which I know has been a pretty hot subject after Iraq & Afghanistan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paul, ever consider using sodium pentathol? I've always wondered why more use of it isn't made of it interrogation settings.

 

Jenell

 

I considered a number of options when dealing with criminals whom didn't wish to give up valuable information, however we had this little inconvenience called "innocent until proven guilty", that without a wink and a nod from the government, we weren't allowed to breach!

 

Obviously I do say that tongue in cheek, such a principle is invaluable particularly when police are convinced someone is guilty only to be demonstrated wrong. And I have seen that happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service