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# The Trolley Problem

rufio

1
Tue 24 Feb, 2004 03:59 pm
Occam, I would think that Ayn Rand would choose to save the five, because like Adrian, she believes in inaction, and she hates it.
0 Replies

1
Tue 24 Feb, 2004 06:36 pm
Rufio wrote:
Sure. But there was human negligence, and there would be no matter who ends up getting killed.

What are you talking about?!? Are you trying to say that the brakes could ONLY have failed due to human negligence?

Rufio wrote:
Then how can brakes kill people but not guns? I mean, barring any human negligence, a gun would be responsible for killing someone too.

They both can. There are cases where people are killed due to a mechanical malfunction in a gun. There are cases where people are killed due to a mechanical malfunction in a brake system. There doesn't HAVE to be any human negligence involved. It's just that there usually is, (humans being more likely to f#\$@ up than machines.)
0 Replies

rufio

1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 12:29 am
Brakes are maintained by humans.

Even if they didn't malfunction due to a problem with maintenance, they probably broke because they weren't made to last forever. At any rate, though, we're not going to play the who-gets-the-promised-land game, we're dealing with one person who has a choice to make - to kill 1 person or 5 people. Not a great choice, but I think we can all agree that the brakes don't make it.

The same goes for guns.

I'm not saying that making brakes that don't last forever is a crime, I'm saying that it's more culpable than anything the brakes could do.
0 Replies

1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 06:04 pm
OK, lets get back to the point here.

You guys are saying that Edward has to choose between killing one person or killing five people.

I'm saying that before Edward makes that choice he has to make another. Whether or not to get involved. If he answers no to that five die. If he answers yes to that then he has to decide between the one or the five. I don't believe that Edward should answer yes. To do so means he is appointing himself as the arbitrator of who lives and who dies. Nobody has that right.
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rufio

1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 07:53 pm
He doesn't have that choice anymore. He is involved already. He was involved the moment he started driving the trolley. Even if he were to leap out of the trolley to escape any moral obligation for the situation, he is still responsbile for that trolley.

No one should have to decide who lives and who dies - but no one can prevent having to sometimes. **** happens.
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1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 08:25 pm
Yes you can. By not deciding either way. C'est la vie.
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rufio

1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 09:21 pm
You can't decide not to choose. That's just choosing to avoid responsibility.
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1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 10:58 pm
Of course you can decide not to choose. In the USA you don't have to vote. If you don't you are... choosing not to choose!
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Craven de Kere

1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 11:39 pm
Making the choice merely once removed. But to be fair, once removed seems to be the point for that line of reasoning.
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1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 11:45 pm
Entirely the point. Let the responsibility lie with the trolley. Don't take it on yourself. May sound callous but, what better option is there.
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Craven de Kere

1
Wed 25 Feb, 2004 11:55 pm
"Better" is subjective. I think my way is better and you think yours is.

Because we don't share the fundamental criteria in the issue a dicussion on "better" can only go as far as stating said criteria. Then it's mostly sez mees.
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1
Thu 26 Feb, 2004 12:07 am
Agreed. That was about the only point I actually wanted to express.
Oh well, onto the next topic...
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dlowan

1
Thu 26 Feb, 2004 02:29 am
Sez you...
0 Replies

rufio

1
Thu 26 Feb, 2004 02:39 am
Adrian, this is not analogous to choosing not to vote, because people are never put in the position where they must. In this case, Edward (or whoever) has to make a choice. This would be the same as choosing to vote for the most popular candidate, because "he's going to win anyway" versus choosing for the one you think would do the best job.
0 Replies

tsarstepan

1
Sat 8 Oct, 2011 08:46 pm
@joefromchicago,
Back in 2004: you guys did not have twitter or a decent enough texting plan. Now all Edward has to do is text or tweet Superman about the out of control trolley.

In less then a nanosecond, all parties involved would be saved. Then Edward could buy everyone a round of ice cream cones from Emack and Bolio.

For updating this thread with the obvious answer I expect JoefromChicago now owes me a large sundae from Emack and Bolio as well. But a pint of Haagen Daaz or Starbucks ice cream would also work.

You're welcome everybody!
joefromchicago

1
Wed 12 Oct, 2011 02:28 pm
@tsarstepan,
tsarstepan wrote:
For updating this thread with the obvious answer I expect JoefromChicago now owes me a large sundae from Emack and Bolio as well. But a pint of Haagen Daaz or Starbucks ice cream would also work.

Sorry, wrong answer. For those who have been waiting breathlessly for seven years, the correct response is: it doesn't matter what Edward does.
Letty

1
Wed 12 Oct, 2011 02:39 pm
@joefromchicago,
I think that I just got the Seven Year Itch, Joe.
0 Replies

Cyracuz

1
Thu 13 Oct, 2011 06:14 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Edward is the driver of a trolley, whose brakes have just failed. On the track ahead of him are five people; the banks are so steep that they will not be able to get off the track in time. The track has a spur leading off to the right, and Edward can turn the trolley onto it. Unfortunately, there is one person on the right-hand track. Edward can turn the trolley, killing the one; or he can refrain from turning the trolley, killing the five.

Which way was the trolley intended to go?

He could turn it onto the track with just the one, but what if that one knew that the train wasn't supposed to drive there, and so it was safe for him to do a bit of work on the track?

I vote go for the route that was intended in the first place. If that kills five people rather than just one, it's unfortunate.
But if you turn to avoid someone who had not taken precautions and shown regard for their own safety at the expense of someone who has done this, it kind of goes against evolution...

Regardless of which way is chosen someone dies. But who is to blame? The driver was powerless to stop it, and his choice was between two evils, so to speak. Maybe the responsibility lay with the one who was supposed to keep the breaks in working order?

But if there were two tracks and time to change which one to go for, maybe there would be time for Edward to open the window and shout for the one guy to run over to the five and clear one of the tracks?

(These problems about "kill one or kill five" are difficult. How do we measure the worth of human lives? In numbers? "Kill the one, because that is less than five dead". That kind of thinking is centered around the greater good, and it certainly doesn't benefit the one. In that context five dead isn't much worse than one. What if the five were a gang of thieves, murderers and rapists, and the one was a hard working contributor to the community? How to decide? Save the one with the nicest shoes?)
joefromchicago

1
Thu 13 Oct, 2011 06:59 pm
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:
Which way was the trolley intended to go?

Why would that matter?

Cyracuz wrote:
He could turn it onto the track with just the one, but what if that one knew that the train wasn't supposed to drive there, and so it was safe for him to do a bit of work on the track?

So?

Cyracuz wrote:
I vote go for the route that was intended in the first place. If that kills five people rather than just one, it's unfortunate.
But if you turn to avoid someone who had not taken precautions and shown regard for their own safety at the expense of someone who has done this, it kind of goes against evolution...

Why should evolution be a consideration?

Cyracuz wrote:
Regardless of which way is chosen someone dies. But who is to blame? The driver was powerless to stop it, and his choice was between two evils, so to speak. Maybe the responsibility lay with the one who was supposed to keep the breaks in working order?

That's irrelevant. The question is whether Edward is blameworthy, not whether someone else might share in the blame.

Cyracuz wrote:
But if there were two tracks and time to change which one to go for, maybe there would be time for Edward to open the window and shout for the one guy to run over to the five and clear one of the tracks?

Not an option.

Cyracuz wrote:
(These problems about "kill one or kill five" are difficult. How do we measure the worth of human lives? In numbers? "Kill the one, because that is less than five dead". That kind of thinking is centered around the greater good, and it certainly doesn't benefit the one. In that context five dead isn't much worse than one. What if the five were a gang of thieves, murderers and rapists, and the one was a hard working contributor to the community? How to decide? Save the one with the nicest shoes?)

Good questions. How would you answer them?
tsarstepan

1
Thu 13 Oct, 2011 07:05 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

Sorry, wrong answer. For those who have been waiting breathlessly for seven years, the correct response is: it doesn't matter what Edward does.

Are you kidding me? This is a dullard's version of the Kobayashi Maru? If Captain Kirk could cheat his way to winning at an unwinnable fixed test then I believe I can too.

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