What Is The Trolley problem?

The trolly problem

If you’ve ever taken a philosophy or ethics class, you know the trolley problem well. It’s a hot topic in the world of philosophy, and for good reason.

This ethical dilemma has stumped people for decades. People tend to get fired up about the “right” choice to make. Which outcome of the trolley problem would you choose?

To know that, it’s important to understand the question being asked…

What is the Trolley Problem?

This ethical question paints a picture of a trolley or train barreling down the tracks. You, as the motorman, notice 5 people on the tracks in front of you. You can change tracks to save the 5, but kill one person on the diverted tracks in the process.

The issue with this isn’t the number of lives saved or lost, but rather the ethical question behind it. Is it okay to condemn an innocent person to death in order to avoid the loss of 5 people?

What’s so complicated?

In one way, you are making a decision that saves more lives, but you’re also working against fate. As soon as your hand reaches for that lever, you have become responsible for that person’s death. 

On the other hand, you’re free of the guilt and blame that comes with switching tracks. You are not directly responsible for manslaughter. However, more lives were lost in the process.

What do you think?

Take the same idea but apply it to a doctor and his patients. The doctor has 5 patients who all need different organ transplants. Is it morally correct for a doctor to kill one healthy, innocent person to save those other 5 lives?

It all boils down to the value of one life versus 5 lives. Is it responsible or ethical if you take the life of one to save 5? Is it your responsibility to decide this in the first place, or is all of this up to fate or random chance?

Now it’s your turn to decide what you think the best outcome to the trolley problem would be…