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Milano – Verona – Firenze – Roma – Palermo
THE TROLLEY CAR AND THE LAW
IT IS ALWAYS WRONG TO INTENTIONALLY KILL ANOTHER HUMAN BEING a) Do you agree? b) Whatever you think about this topic, do you think you might change your views on it?
What is law and what are we doing here, with a trolley car? We are trying to make the well known very strange You will probably reflect on this lesson also with your family or friends Your way of thinking might change a bit for ever You might become a more critical citizen And you will probably be less happy and tranquil, at least for a while …
You are the driver of a trolley car 5 persons at the end of the track The brakes do not work A side track on the right, at the end one single worker The steer works very well…
WOULD YOU KILL THE ONE (turning the trolley track on the side track) OR WOULD YOU LET THE 5 PEOPLE DIE (going straight ahead and doing nothing)? Obviously, you would die either way What do you think it should be done? What would you do? Are there any differences between what you think it should be done and what you think you would do? If the answer is ‘yes’, why? Can you recall a really happened situation of this kind? What was very specific of this situation?
Let’s see whether the majority here has a consistent way of thinking We do have another very similar trolley car case You are standing on a bridge, looking down at the “5 workers are going to die” scene. The 5 workers are just about to die and you do realize it. No side track with just one worker on it. You feel desperate and hopeless, until you see … … a very fat man leaning from the bridge …. He is so fat that – according to an extensive scientific literature - he is very probably going to die very soon because of Diabetes or one of many other severe illnesses You are a strong young man… What if you push him on the trolley’s track? He would die, but he would stop the trolley car’s run. His death would spare five lives! What would you do?
Suppose now the fat man was standing close to a trap door which I could open by just turning a steering wheel….
A different, but unexpectedly related, case You are a medical doctor in an emergency room Six severely injured people come (they have all been involved in a quite curious trolley case accident…) One is very severely injured, the other 5 are severely injured: you can either cure all the day one (the 5 would die) or cure the 5 (the one more severely injured would die) What would you do? Why? Has our NHS the need to daily take decisions of this kind?
Now suppose you are the chief of a transplant surgery unit You desperately need 5 different organs (liver, heart, lung, and whatever you like)…They are not becoming available rapidly enough. Your 5 patients on the waiting list will very soon die And – unfortunately for you - a nice healthy guy is quietly taking a nap in a close room, while waiting for his esthetical surgery to be performed by a different surgery unit What would you do?
What are the differences (if any) between the different cases we have tried to solve? Is life always untouchable? What about abortion and euthanasia? Do you have strong convictions about this? How do you think the law might help in these cases?
Does our society need moral principles? Do universal moral principles exist? How can we detect them?
Consequentialism / Utilitarianism (Jeremy Bentham) MAXIMISE THE GENERAL WELFARE AND COLLECTIVE HAPPINESS, IN A PHRASE MAXIMISE UTILITY. GREATEST GOOD FOR THE GREATEST NUMBER, by means of COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS Always evaluate the Intrinsic quality of the act itself, and do not consider its consequences (Emmanuel Kant). UTILITARIANISM FACES 2 MAJOR CHALLENGES: MINORITY RIGHTS IMPOSSIBILITY TO GIVE ALWAYS A VALUE TO LIFE
Can we use Man only as an instrument for something? And can we ever use Man as an instrument for something (WITHOUT ‘ONLY’)? Philosophy distances us from real life; let’s quit Philosophy, and go back to engineering