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Monday, February 4, 2013

The Trolley Problem

My students and I have just now begun our unit on Ethics as an Area of Knowledge. Below is the first electronic message board prompt to which I have asked my students to respond. I'm looking forward to reading their responses and, even more so, to the discussions in class that will follow.

One of ways that ethicists explore ethical thinking is by asking subjects to engage in thought experiments involving hypothetical people and situations. One of the classic thought experiments in ethics is called the trolley problem, and it involves a person in a difficult situation. As a subject, you must advise the person on the ethical course of action.

Watch these videos, each less than one-minute long:

Video #1


Video #2:


Now respond to these questions in ~250 words:

In Video #1: If Steve wishes to act in an ethical manner, should he pull the lever? Why? (Really... WHY? How do you *know*?)

In Video #2: If Steve wishes to act in an ethical manner, should he push the man off the bridge? Why? (Really... WHY? How do you *know*?)

Justify your responses!