Sunday, December 17, 2006
Your Moral Sense
I was listening to NPR today and was reminded of The Trolley Problem. It is an interesting hypothetical scenario which asks you to imagine a trolley approaching five people who are in its path. There is a switch that you can pull which will divert the trolley onto another path where it will surely hit and kill a person who is on that track. Do nothing and five people die. Pull the switch and one person dies. More often than not, participants reply that they would pull the switch.
Then, the question is asked again, but with a twist. You are watching the whole thing unfold from atop a bridge. Instead of one person on another track, one person is by your side. Your choice is between doing nothing (five people die) and pushing that one person over the bridge and onto the track (he dies). For this scenario, most participants cannot imagine the physical act of pushing someone onto the track.
The story link is here.
An accompanying Moral Sense test is here.