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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 hurdling 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

  • you're 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?

  • 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 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 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.

  • Well I think that 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.

  • 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 it 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 principle

  • 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 is

  • how do you explain the difference between the two?

  • The second one I guess involves an active choice of

  • pushing a person

  • and 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 this 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 a runway,

  • thing and 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 them,

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

  • that's different

  • 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