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The Fatman and the Trolley


Swan Red

  

32 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you do.

    • Do nothing in both cases
      11
    • Use the lever but don't push the fatman
      13
    • Push the fat man but don't use the lever
      1
    • Use the lever and push the fat man
      5

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Scenario 1: There is a trolley car hurtling out of control towards 5 people who will be killed if you do nothing. There is a lever that will change the direction of the trolley which will result in 1 person not currently in danger being killed. Do you pull the lever.

 

Scenario 2: The same trolley car is out of control but instead of a lever there is a very fat man next to you who if you push him in front of the trolley will derail it and save the 5 people who will otherwise be killed. Do you kill the fat man?

 

Assume that your act is decisive, you may want to alert the people to the danger but for the purposes of this you either act and 1 person dies or you don't act and 5 people die.

 

Is there any moral distinction between killing the fat man by pushing him in front of the trolley car and the other guy who is killed because you diverted the trolley car. If you act differently in the two cases please state whether it's because you think there's a moral distinction of whether you think some other consideration, like the chances of being prosecuted, is decisive.

 

I'd prefer if Des didn't identify Martin Samuel as the fat man as it probably makes it easier to answer.

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assume that we have the same confidence that the 5 people live and the one person dies.

 

I know it's contrived but I'm interested in how differently we view the two acts. I'm not even sure myself at the minute.

I was looking at it in a 'real' sense for me. I'm far more likely to push the lever and tell myself that maybe the innocent bystander will survive (even if I know he won't) than choose to push someone to their certain death.

 

No matter how fat they are.

Edited by cymrococh
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What are the physical conditions of the 5 people on the trolley? I

 

n order to derail the trolley the fat man is going to have to be morbidly obese and probably going to die soon anyway, and will save a fortune for the NHS.

 

If the others are also in a similar state of health it might become more difficult to choose.

 

Also is it possible to try and convince the fat nan to sacrifice himself?

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what if the person asked is enormous, shouldn't they jump in front themselves?

 

how do you know the five aren't nimble enough to jump out the way, after all if one tumbling fat lad can stop it it can't be going that fast can it?

 

it's a nonsense

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I think if you know the result in both cases before you act then you pull the lever and push the fat man under the trolley.

 

Simple maths, no morale dilemma.

 

If you let the trolley hit the five people you may be morally responsible, but if you push the fat man onto the track you are legally responsible for murder.

 

within the parameters of this theoretical situation, i think you can leave legalities to one side. Otherwise you're debating at length something which would in reality be a mostly instinctive choice or reaction.

 

Maybe online during lunch isn't the best time for me to discuss this. Probably best over a pint.

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There's two scenarios with 2 choices in each (use lever or don't; then push fatty or don't).

 

So if you're out for the 'best' outcome (less deaths) then it's a pretty obvious 'use lever, push fatty' decision.

 

Is the point to work out whether you could take a more visceral and direct action (kill fatty through direct contact) as opposed to the indirect action (lever and redirected trolley)?

 

What's the significance of him being fat? Is there another scenario where someone attractive gets pushed?

Edited by StevieC
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I pull the lever, thus saving a net total of four lives

 

I don't push the fat man in case I get done for murder; also I'd be concerned that his family wouldn't be too pleased

I take it you don't get done if you just divert the trolley....

 

 

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what if the person asked is enormous, shouldn't they jump in front themselves?

 

how do you know the five aren't nimble enough to jump out the way, after all if one tumbling fat lad can stop it it can't be going that fast can it?

 

it's a nonsense

 

it's a hypothetical but feel free to swerve it

 

the reason the guy is dead fat is to distinguish the efficacy of jumping in front of the trolley car, as contrived as the example maybe the questions pretty straightforward

 

What's the significance of him being fat? Is there another scenario where someone attractive gets pushed?

 

see above if anyone could derail the trolley car then we should be sacrificing ourselves before anyone else, arguably

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The original version of this I saw was a runaway train. Pull the lever which diverts it at someone walking on nearby tracks. And the other part was the same death to fat guy solution.

 

In which case I pulled the lever and didn't push fatty. Simply because by walking on train tracks you surely acknowledge that there's a danger of being hit by a train. Fat bloke on bridge has done nothing.

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