Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Train Scenario

I think the main issue here deals with your involvement in the scenario.  In each scenario your role changes drastically and therefore the severity of your decision is altered.  Although we would like no one to die, we cannot save everyone, and therefore must choose.  In the first scenario, you are the conductor of the train and have control over who dies in the sense that you choose which track to take.  Naturally, you will choose to change the track in order to kill the fewest number of people.  Most of the class agreed with this viewpoint.  They, like me, think it is best to have the fewest people die. As the conductor, it is inevitable to avoid killing at least one person so it is best to make the decision to change the direction of the train to kill the fewest amount of people, in this case just the one railroad worker. 

            Your role is entirely different in the second scenario.  Unlike the first scenario when you are the conductor of the train, in the second you are merely an innocent bystander observing the situation.  You have an extraordinary ability to know that the train is going to kill five workers without them being able to get out of the way.  In this situation, you have the ability to push a fat man in front of the train to stop it from killing the five people; the one man would die instead of the five.  Even though in the first scenario I said it was better to have one man die instead of five, the situation presented in the second scenario causes me to change my opinion.  In the second scenario, you would be committing voluntary murder if you pushed the fat man, killing him.  You consciously made the decision to jeopardize an innocent man’s life.  The fat man should not unwillingly be put in danger just to save the five people.  If he volunteered to sacrifice himself, however, that would be a different story.  Even if you think it would be a good thing to save five people’s life, you would be put in jail and have to live with the guilt that you actually pushed someone in front of a train.  That’s just wrong in my opinion.  

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