A Moral Dilemma

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by daniel_m, Feb 1, 2003.

  1. A railway line branches and on each branch the line runs into a tunnel. there is a run-away train on the line approaching the point where it branches.
    As the points are now set, the train will run into a tunnel in which there are five children playing. They have no reason to expect a trian since this branch is rarely used; if the train enteres the tunnel they will certainly be killed.
    The train cannot be stopped.
    You can, however, divert it, sending it down the other branch, into the other tunnel. But in this tunnel there is one man working - that is why the points were set to send the train into the first tunnel - and he will certainly die if the train enters the tunnel.

    Should you divert the train?

    [borrowed from an essay by Phillippa Foot]
  2. GeeTO69


    5:1... EASY CHOICE..

    HE'S A GONER..

    WHO KNOES...



  3. okwon


    This is a tough one. It's sort of a lose/lose situation.

    However, I don't think you should divert the train. The man is there working and is supposed to be there. He's there because he was sent to work there and he trusts that they will not send a train that direction. However, the children should not be there. Even though they may not know any better, it is ultimately their fault and wrong for them to be playing in the tunnel.
  4. balda


    how would you know that there are any kids ?

    let the man live
  5. balda, for the purposes of this example, let's assume you did know there were kids there.

    would that knowledge change your decision at all?
  6. Babak


    there is always a third option

    [if I had a life motto that would be it]
  7. TGregg


    In our litigious society, I’d let the train pass undisturbed, and then claim no knowledge about who was going to be killed when. See, if you throw that switch and the repair guy dies, guess who is responsible for his death? You. Do you really think the parents of the kids are going to come forward to help you out? Unlikely, to say the least. Do you think the dead guy’s family is going to pass up on a way to take money from you? If so, would you like to buy some prime waterfront property in South Florida from me? So, you throw the switch, and you are toast, legally liable for the death of another. Stay where you are, and hey, you are just a dummy walking around. Say it with me “It’s stupid and it’s how the law works.”

  8. and that third option is.......... come on babak, the suspense is killing me!

  9. TGregg, i can fully understand the logic behind your position.

    just for this hypothetical, let's ignore any legal ramifications of our actions, which of the two options do you consider morally 'right'? save the children, or let the man live?

    ... although, i guess your position could be that that brings the individual the least risk of personal jeopardy is the morally correct action.
  10. TGregg


    There's no question that in a lawyer free world, I'd happily risk my life to save the kids. And be very sorry to the family of the repair guy, should I survive. A lawyer free world would have been created by people who see things fairly, and who deserve the best from eachother. The world that has been created in the USA however, has additional effects of people trying to rob others through the legal system. Since these nameless massess have choosen the "The Only Thing That Counts Is ME!" attitude, I find that I should follow. Although I speak out against it at every opportunity, and vote against it (for what little that matters, try voting Libertarian). But I refuse to be a victim on their altar.

    There is a lawyer show on Sunday mornings, called Handle on the Law. Great show. If you can get it, listen to it. You'll hear people calling up saying that somebody looked at them funny, and they want to sue them to the ends of the Earth! It's amazing. There are two things I've never understood, greed and stupidity. I have struggled, and struggled, and banged my head against a wall (metaphorically) to reach no conclusions. Why do people think they can make money from nothing, ala MagicMoney.com? Why do people think earnings do not matter? Why do people invest in the markets without a single thought of where the money to buy them out comes from?

    It's late, I'm drunk, dog tired and babbling. And yes, I think it's wrong that one should have to consider legal crap in a situation like this. The weird thing is, if I was fairly sure I'd die, I'd save the kids.
    #10     Feb 1, 2003