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  • This is a course about Justice and we begin with a story

  • suppose you're the driver of a trolley car,

  • and your trolley car is hurtling down the track at sixty miles an hour

  • and at the end of the track, you notice five workers working on the track

  • you tried to stop but you can't

  • your brakes don't work

  • you feel desperate because you know

  • that if you crash into these five workers

  • they will all die

  • let's assume you know that for sure

  • and so you feel helpless

  • until you notice that there is

  • off to the right

  • a side track

  • at the end of that track

  • there's one worker

  • working on track

  • your steering wheel works

  • so you can turn the trolley car if you want to

  • onto this side track

  • killing the one

  • but sparing the five.

  • Here's our first question

  • what's the right thing to do?

  • What would you do?

  • Let's take a poll,

  • how many would

  • turn the trolley car onto the side track? raise your hand.

  • How many wouldn't?

  • How many would go straight ahead

  • keep your hands up, those of you who'd go straight ahead.

  • A handful of people would, the vast majority would turn

  • let's hear first

  • now we need to begin to investigate the reasons why you think it's the right thing to do.

  • Let's begin with those in the majority, who would turn

  • to go onto side track?

  • Why would you do it,

  • what would be your reason?

  • Who's willing to volunteer a reason?

  • Go ahead, stand up.

  • Because it can't be right to kill five people when you can only kill one person instead.

  • it wouldn't be right to kill five

  • if you could kill one person instead

  • that's a good reason

  • that's a good reason

  • who else?

  • does everybody agree with that reason?

  • Go ahead.

  • Well I was thinking it was the same reason as it was on 9/11

  • we regard the people who flew the plane

  • who flew the plane into the

  • Pennsylvania field as heroes

  • because they chose to kill the people on the plane

  • and not kill more people in big buildings.

  • So the principle there was the same on 9/11

  • it's a tragic circumstance,

  • but better to kill one so that five can live

  • is that the reason most of you have, those of you who would turn, yes?

  • Let's hear now

  • from those in the minority

  • those who wouldn't turn. Yes.

  • Well I think that's same type of mentality that justifies genocide and totalitarianism

  • in order to save one type of race you wipe out the other.

  • so what would you do in this case? You would

  • to avoid

  • the horrors of genocide

  • you would crash into the five and kill them?

  • Presumably yes. You wouldYeah.

  • okay who else?

  • That's a brave answer, thank you.

  • Let's consider another

  • trolley car case

  • and see whether

  • those of you in the majority

  • want to adhere to the principle,

  • better that one should die so that five should live.

  • This time you're not the driver of the trolley car, you're an onlooker

  • standing on a bridge overlooking a trolley car track

  • and down the track comes a trolley car

  • at the end of the track are five workers

  • the brakes don't work

  • the trolley car is about to careen into the five and kill them

  • and now

  • you're not the driver

  • you really feel helpless

  • until you notice

  • standing next to you

  • leaning over the bridge

  • is a very fat man.

  • And you could

  • give him a shove

  • he would fall over the bridge

  • onto the track

  • right in the way of the trolley car

  • he would die

  • but he would spare the five.

  • Now, how many would push

  • the fat man over the bridge? Raise your hand.

  • How many wouldn't?

  • Most people wouldn't.

  • Here's the obvious question, what became of the principal

  • better to save five lives even if it means sacrificing one, what became of the principal

  • that almost everyone endorsed in the first case

  • I need to hear from someone who was in the majority in both cases

  • how do you explain the difference between the two? yes.

  • The second one I guess involves an active choice of pushing a person down

  • which I guess that

  • that person himself would otherwise not have been involved in the situation at all

  • and so

  • to choose on his behalf I guess to

  • involve him in something that he otherwise would have escaped is

  • I guess more than

  • what you have in the first case where

  • the three parties, the driver and the two sets of workers, are

  • already I guess in this situation.

  • but the guy working, the one on the track off to the side

  • he didn't choose to sacrifice his life any more than the fat guy did, did he?

  • That's true, but he was on the tracks.

  • this guy was on the bridge.

  • Go ahead, you can come back if you want.

  • Alright, it's a hard question

  • but you did well you did very well it's a hard question.

  • who else

  • can find a way of reconciling the reaction of the majority in these two cases? Yes?

  • Well I guess

  • in the first case where

  • you have the one worker and the five

  • it's a choice between those two,

  • and you have to make a certain choice and people are going to die because of the trolley car

  • not necessarily because of your direct actions. The trolley car is on a runway,

  • then you need to make in a split second choice

  • whereas pushing the fat man over is an actual act of murder on your part

  • you have control over that

  • whereas you may not have control over the trolley car.

  • So I think that it's a slightly different situation.

  • Alright who has a reply? Is that, who has a reply to that? no that was good, who has a way

  • who wants to reply?

  • Is that a way out of this?

  • I don't think that's a very good reason because you choose

  • either way you have to choose who dies because you either choose to turn and kill a person which is an act of conscious

  • thought to turn,

  • or you choose to push the fat man

  • over which is also an active

  • conscious action so either way you're making a choice.

  • Do you want to reply?

  • Well I'm not really sure that that's the case, it just still seems kind of different, the act of actually

  • pushing someone over onto the tracks and killing him,

  • you are actually killing him yourself, you're pushing him with your own hands, you're pushing and

  • than steering something that is going to cause death into another...you know

  • it doesn't really sound right saying it now when I'm up here.

  • No that's good, what's your name?

  • Andrew.

  • Andrew and let me ask you this question Andrew,

  • suppose

  • standing on the bridge

  • next to the fat man

  • I didn't have to push him, suppose he was standing

  • over a trap door that I could open by turning a steering wheel like that

  • would you turn it?

  • For some reason that still just seems more

  • more wrong.

  • I mean maybe if you just accidentally like leaned into this steering wheel or something like that

  • or but,

  • or say that the car is

  • hurtling towards a switch that will drop the trap

  • then I could agree with that.

  • Fair enough, it still seems

  • wrong in a way that it doesn't seem wrong in the first case to turn, you say

  • And in another way, I mean in the first situation you're involved directly with the situation

  • in the second one you're an onlooker as well.

  • So you have the choice of becoming involved or not by pushing the fat man.

  • Let's forget for the moment about this case,

  • that's good,

  • but let's imagine a different case. This time you're doctor in an emergency room

  • and six patients come to you

  • they've been in a terrible trolley car wreck

  • five of them sustained moderate injuries, one is severely injured. you could spend all day

  • caring for the one severely injured victim,

  • but in that time the five would die, or you could look after the five, restore them to health, but

  • during that time the one severely injured person would die.

  • How many would save the five now as the doctor?

  • How many would save the one?

  • Very few people,

  • just a handful of people.

  • Same reason I assume,

  • one life versus five.

  • Now consider

  • another doctor case

  • this time you're a transplant surgeon

  • and you have five patients each in desperate need of an organ transplant in order to survive

  • on needs a heart, one a lung,

  • one a kidney,

  • one a liver

  • and the fifth

  • a pancreas.

  • And you have no organ donors you are about to see them die

  • and then

  • it occurs to you that in the next room there's a healthy guy who came in for a checkup.

  • and he is...

  • you like that

  • and he's taking a nap

  • you could go in very quietly

  • yank out the five organs, that person would die

  • but you can save the five.

  • How many would do it? Anyone?

  • How many? Put your hands up if you would do it.

  • Anyone in the balcony?

  • You would? Be careful don't lean over too much

  • How many wouldn't?

  • All right.

  • What do you say, speak up in the balcony, you who would

  • yank out the organs, why?

  • I'd actually like to explore slightly alternate possibility of just taking the one of the five who needs an organ who dies first, and using their four

  • healthy organs to save the other four

  • That's a pretty good idea.

  • That's a great idea

  • except for the fact

  • that you just wrecked the philosophical point.

  • Let's step back from these stories and these arguments to notice a couple of things

  • about the way the arguments have began to unfold.

  • Certain moral principles have already begun to emerge from the discussions we've had

  • and let's consider

  • what those moral principles look like

  • the first moral principle that emerged from the discussion said

  • the right thing to do the moral thing to do

  • depends on the consequences that will result from your action

  • at the end of the day

  • better that five should live

  • even if one must die.

  • That's an example of consequentialist moral reasoning.

  • consequentialist moral reasoning locates morality in the consequences of an act.

  • In the state of the world that will result from the thing you do

  • but then we went a little further, we considered those other cases

  • and people weren't so sure about consequentialist moral reasoning

  • when people hesitated

  • to push the fat man

  • over the bridge

  • or to yank out the organs of the innocent patient

  • people gestured towards

  • reasons having to do with the intrinsic quality of the act itself.

  • Consequences be what they may.

  • People were reluctant

  • people thought it was just wrong

  • categorically wrong to kill a person, an innocent person

  • even for the sake